If someone asks you to “Tell me about your family”, what would you say? Would the description be about your mom and dad? Maybe it would include stories of dinners together and yearly road trip vacations. Maybe there is no description that you can find that seems to “fit” as a description of the people that shaped your very being. Then, there is also the very real possibility that your description would fit into a not so neat little package about sibling(s) that you don’t like, a mom that you can’t be in the room with for longer than a few minutes, an great uncle that creeps you the fuck out but he’s family, right?
Wrong. So, so wrong on so many levels. Family is not genetic. Family doesn’t give you a bond with the bullshit urban legend of “blood is thicker than water”.
When someone asks about my family, first and foremost I talk about my husband and my children. Then, I go on to some of my friends that might as well have the same fucking last name or at least well matching tats. (lol) I’ve never felt like the group of people that I was born into was my “family”. I can’t remember a single time that I got a piece of exciting news and though, “Holy fuck! I need to call Dad!”. Nope. Has never happened. I don’t make the required phone calls on birthdays. I don’t do “Happy Mother’s Day” or the like.
When someone asks about my family, I am very quick to name off the very few people that I think of as my such. Some of them I have known since I was 13 and some of them I met last year. At this point in my life, genetics seem to take a back-burner while common interests, mutual respect and the ability to relate to someone fulfill that part of me that SHOULD yearn for a more traditional family unit.
At this point is normally where “family friendly” people will make a comment about their great relationships with their grandparents, preach the gospel that is all things sugar and rainbows about a genetic connection that I just don’t get. At this point, is most likely where you, the reader, is thinking “Oh my gosh! This is so sad! Everyone should have a strong connection to their family. Maybe it will grow in time.”
Key words, “in time”. I am 40 years old. My mortality is floating around in my brain and with three boys and a husband, “in time” for this mushy, cozy, lollipop licking picture of family life just ain’t gonna fucking happen. There isn’t going to be family reunions to meet up with cousins that I really don’t care to know. There isn’t going to be a magic wand to make that genetic code into something more than what it is.
With all of that being said, this does not mean that I care any less about my genetic family. But, I am at a crossroads in my life where I can allow a person in my life without really having that “bond” that society has told me that I should have with my immediate and extended family. It’s not there. It’s never going to be there.
There is no doubt that this post will hurt some peoples’ feelings and for that, I could say that I was sorry. But, I’m not. I’m not sorry because this is my honesty. This is me. When something happens worthwhile in my life, I don’t think “Oh god! I need to call Aunt Sally Mae!” and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. When something happens and I just NEED someone to talk to, I have my Tribe. I have my husband. I have people with whom I share many common interests and opinions and many that I have nothing in common with other than the ability to know that they’re going to be honest with me.
*Please note that my childhood, into teen angst and early adulthood was not that fucking horrible. I wasn’t beaten on a daily basis, I didn’t wear shoes with holes, my parents didn’t call me horrible names… by societal standards, I should be one of those cozy, family movie kind of people. But, I’m not. I never have been and I never want to be that person. Most people won’t ever understand and that is fine. These are the times where I like to revert back to the old faithful, “You do you”.
In closing because well, it’s 3:18am and I am finally ready to go back to sleep… DNA does not a family make. Love. Mutual respect. Honesty. The ability to listen. The ability to learn from another person. The gift of humility. The ability to put your own beliefs aside sometimes and just say, “I understand”, THAT is what makes a family. Not DNA.