Sunday, July 31, 2011

What a family is...

Is a family ever broken that was never together to begin with?

Addison @ 2 weeks old

When I decided to have Addison I knew that I would essentially be a single mother. I can’t say I fully accepted that fact and thus didn’t (and still don’t) puff up over the pride that some carry with that decision. Single parenting wasn’t a posh ideology for me; it was never part of the plan, but wasn’t enough for me to choose not to be a mother either. I WANTED motherhood, but moreover I wanted FAMILY. A big one. A loving one. I swore I would one day do it ‘RIGHT’—I would return to what I consider the nostalgic focus on the family unit, I would devote my life to being a partner and a ‘professional parent’. It was, and still IS my ultimate dream to have a warm, loving, stable family unit though I never had an example of one in my own life. It wouldn’t be enough to describe my family as a broken one unless we upped that definition to fit the nuances of the word. More appropriately mine was broken, reattached, broken some more, renovated, destroyed, reconstructed…mercurial mayhem and extensions of love.

Addison @ 2/12 months. First ZOO experience!

But what is family really? Is Addison part of a broken family or a piece-meal one? She has a mother, a father, plenty of aunts and uncles, four times the grandparents I had, and a built-in network of friends to grow up with. Yet, like a lot of modern families, there is a lack of unity or perhaps we unite simply for the love of her. Her day to day involves she and I. I spend twenty-four hours a day with her every day and love her more and more each hour. This is not to say it is always ‘easy’, but it IS joyful. It IS what I consider family because the love is constant, pure, undying, and secure. There is laughter, comfort, routine, SECURITY. There isn’t any ego clouding my vision—just the beauty that radiates from the smile of my daughter. To me, that is the definition of family. Not just ‘relations’ of some sort or other.

Addison @ 7 weeks.
 First visit to the Tibetan Museum and making an offering to the Buddha

To be clear, I am devoted to my bloodline as much as I know how to be. However, throughout adolescence all the way to my present near-thirty I have sought out extensions—other committed like-minded creatures to be part of a sangha. Sometimes family ‘obligations’ (I often consider it drama) kept me from developing in the way that I would have liked…but finally I have learned the true nature of family. So rather than going on a ‘woe-is-me-fest’ I will share a piece of liberation. Family is love, support, understanding, commitment. Family is not simply about genetics, marriage, history. Those things are important, but do not embody what it takes to have a successful family. Never let ‘family’ convince you that it’s okay to be abusive in any way because they are your blood. This is part of an ugly cycle and you can break it if you understand that you are being fed an illusion. Do not feel like you are less of a family because society says you are missing parts. I know I need to remind myself of these things quite often, but I am deeply aware that I have more love in my home (which consists of "only" myself and a baby), than was ever even imagined in the house of seven (plus dogs) I grew up in. My family extends to all of those who regularly share love and energy, who bring inspiration, joy, and show they are committed to being loving. 

Thank you to my sangha of people who love and support Addison and I, near and far, blood or not-- I am blessed to know you. Here is to growth and love and experiences to come!

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