Friday, December 15, 2006

Family is Who Loves You

It's true: You can't choose your first family. Fate, God, or whatever puts you into a family's hands and you're at their mercy from then out.

Sometimes your birth family loves you. Sometimes, they don't.

It's cruel that we use the same word to describe parents who are loving and caring and do their best to give their children a good life as we do people who burn their babies with cigarettes, abandon their toddlers to "do their own thing," or emotionally neglect a young child.

I propose we don't. From now on, at least with this blog, your family is who loves you.

Of course, much of what I'm doing here has to do with the typical family unit: Two parents and children. That's the family I wanted. That's the family I'm building.

I know I'm lucky. Some people in my life - some people in my family - were born to people who didn't give them the love they deserved. They didn't even give them the love they needed.

Family is who loves you. I may not be able to tell you how to build yourself a non-traditional family - it's outside my realm of experience - but I believe families are made, through daily intention and effort. Don't be fooled by appearances - even the happy families that your friends were just "born" into - they were intentionally created by someone.

I hope much of what we talk about here can be applied to any family, even if that means your two best friends and your dog. Creating a family does take work - but it shouldn't be so hard that it's painful, it shouldn't be hurtful or crazy.

Celebrate those people who behave as family, whether their related to you or not. Sometimes that's a grandmother who loves you and raises you as if she is your mother. Sometimes it's your best friend's family, who knows how to love unconditionally and sees a need in you. Sometimes, it's your adopted daughter from Russia. Sometimes, it's a group of friends you meet through AA.

If you must be around a "birth family" who doesn't love you, don't confuse them with "family." Remember: Family is who loves you. Everyone else is just a bad coincidence.

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