My mum has been a real support to me since moving down here. Of course it helps that she now lives just 5 minutes’ drive from us, so it’s super convenient too.
We’ve really needed someone to look after our little boy during the move itself and she’s also been there to help with giving us a financial leg-up, plus a few things here and there to support us out in settling in our house too. And once again yesterday, she was able to take care of J for the whole day taking him off to a nice petting farm, whilst I had to come into London to work on a non-nursery day. Phew, thank goodness for mums who live in the neighbourhood!
It got me thinking about family in general, as I sat on the train in to town today. Who are your family really? Do they only comprise your blood relatives or does your family extend to close friends? I imagine for some even, friends may feel more like family than those they are connected to by genes alone…
“If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable - each segment distinct.” Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Personally, I love both my blood family, my husband of course, and also I feel very close to many friends. There is no doubt that there are moments (and my friends reading this will know what I mean) when one feels so very connected to each other that our lack of blood bond is irrelevant. Our relationship is one of a more spiritual kind. Perhaps we are part of the same light family, or our souls have bumped into, journeyed, engaged and learned from each other over eons of time.
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life.” Richard Bach
Since having a child, I can’t deny that appreciation of family and all it represents has grown tenfold for me. I love my own little 3-person family unit; it feels lovely to say ‘we are family!’ But hey – I love hearing that song too, especially when a bunch of friends are all gathered and we’re just dancing, smiling and singing away, basking in the warmth of connection to one another.
It is with family – be they friends or relatives – that we learn about ourselves. We are mirrors for each other reflecting back what needs to be seen, or heard. There is also transparency; we can be real and who we truly are. For some I’m sure, they will have family members who present a tremendous challenge and for others, they may even be unfortunate enough to have traumatic experiences on account of their family. So in that respect, family doesn’t always = safe. It can be incredibly disappointing and disheartening to deal with some family situations and we choose to go through the ups and downs, and the more challenging of paths, no matter what the personal cost. For others, and maybe this is simply out of a sense of self-preservation, a decision is made to let go of a relationship that is particularly dysfunctional. I personally have had the experience of an awkward and often difficult relationship with my father from my late teens and after many years of forward and back, I did chose to let go. But not let go entirely of the person, more of my expectation of what our relationship could be. In this way, I feel I can also allow some small chink of light into that space we once held, and who knows, in time our personal experience of each other may shift again.
For all they are, and for each foible and idiosyncrasy they share with us, surely we can but love our family – be they near or far, we have chosen each other on whatever level because we’re here to experience this life of ours, and it helps to have a bit of company along the way, don’t you think?
“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” Jane Howard