Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Mother. Father. Children. Throw in a couple sets of grandparents. Maybe a few aunts and uncles. Sprinkle in some cousins. Isn't that a family? That definition doesn't work for many and certainly never worked for me. Even as a child, I was pushing the boundaries of a traditional family. I instinctively knew I couldn't possibly get everything I needed and wanted from my immediate family unit. I considered my mother's best friends my aunts despite having a few biological ones as well. I felt so wholly comfortable and part of families that I had no blood connection to that I spent as much time with them and trusted them as my own relatives. It isn't to say that I didn't or don't have close relationships with my family, but we are a small group and it seems that it is in my nature to want to be part of a bigger family tree. I can't help what I was born into but I can plant my own seeds. And so I did.
I have been "adopted" into quite a number of families, sharing in the good times and bad, the birthdays, the holidays, the milestones. I love the members of these special, beautiful clans with all my heart, just as they have opened their hearts and homes to me. We've already touched on the fact that I'm nuts for kids, but there are some kids in particular, children of my dearest friends, who I love as if they were my own, and I would absolutely do anything within my power to support, protect and nurture them. While I was married I was part of a huge Latin family who's tree had so many branches I lost count, and I absolutely relished in it. All the "tias and tios", the "primos" everywhere we went. It's no wonder I'm still so drawn to that culture and their men! And there is this immense sisterhood that I am blessed to be a part of. . .a group of sensational, inspiring, beautiful women from such a diverse array of backgrounds that have come together to form a family unto ourselves. My soul sisters, and for a girl who grew up with a brother as her sole sibling, it is really an immense treat to experience!
Last night one of my sisters raised a glass of very special wine that she selected for our family in honor of the sentiment I just shared. With tears of joy and gratitude in her eyes, she spoke of the family she was born into, spread out geographically and emotionally, and how it is this family that we have all consciously chosen to create and nurture that makes her feel at home. My heart swelled because I truly understood how she felt. Another one of my sisters shared that it was only in becoming a part of our family that she truly found herself since for all her years prior she had been so strongly defined by her role in relation to the family she was born into. I get that too.
Family is what you make it, what you want it to be. We are not all born into the Leave It to Beaver family that was once the touchstone of our society. Many of us have very strained relationships or deep-seeded issues tied to the parents, siblings and relatives we grew up with, while others have truly remarkable connections to these people in their lives. One is not better than the other. It is our karma to be born into these different situations. It simply is what it is and then it becomes your choice as an individual to decide what you do with that experience. And let us not forget to look beyond our immediate line of sight and take time to honor the human family bound together by the universal energy that exists within us all. This is at the core of yogic teachings, and while it may not be the easiest lesson to grasp for some, I personally believe it to be true and strive to act accordingly.
One family. One love.