This next post I have struggled to think about, nevermind write well. So I will just have to post a mediocre version of what I’m struggling to think about say here. This is the third post in a series of posts about family.
As you all know I moved around a lot as a child, had abusive parents, and wound up in foster care. This has made my understanding of family and especially extended family. somewhat different than I think the average person’s is.
What is family?
Would a family let you grow up with strangers rather than care for you themselves?
In my case, the answer is yes.
This truth has caused me to struggle to understand what family is. Sometimes family is there. Sometimes they’re not. Sometimes they invite you for the holidays or family events, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they remember your birthday, often they don’t.
What is family then?
I have aunts and uncles and cousins and foster parents and foster siblings and … the list goes on. My family is more like moss than like a tree. When I think about family, I think about Easter with Ma and Papa or Christmas Eve with Grandma Grace and Grandpa. I think of cook-outs at Uncle Dave’s and Aunt Kay’s. Or I think of running around Orange and Athol with my foster brother from my first foster home and my foster brother from my last foster home. The line between “family” and “friend” is so blurry in my mind it’s hard to understand.
About a month ago, I tried to sit down and write this post. My cousin had gotten married and I had attended his wedding with family. My other family helped me by watching Hannah. Then my brother, Hannah, and I spent the day visiting my Big Sister and remembering old spots I used to go to with my family when I was young. Yet, all of this mention of family is a patchwork quilt of people I’ve built relationships with over the years. Some of these people I am biologically related to, some I am not. I am not perfect. They are not perfect. But we’ve all been around each other long enough that we know we can count on each other to show up.
Maybe, in the case of extended family, all it is a group of people that will continue to show up. Not always and not perfectly, but in whatever way we can we show up for each other.