I am just wrapping up a week at the beach with my family. I mean cousins, aunts, nephews, my brother and my sister and her family. We had roughly twenty people in one house, and you could not take a step without bumping into someone you were related to. I would love to tell you it was too chaotic to be enjoyable, but the truth of the matter is that I love being surrounded by the people I love. The kids look forward to it every year, too.
It got me thinking about what makes a family. Is it the group of people you grew up with and started your life’s journey with, or is it the family you have created with the person you married? Is it the people you love but don’t see often, or is it the people you pick up the phone to call when you need a shoulder to cry on? I have discovered that the answer is "all of the above."
There is a certain kind of love that you cannot duplicate between siblings. Hard to imagine that those you fought with in your childhood can become your best friends when you are an adult. I never laugh as hard with anyone else as when I am with my brother and sister. But when I need to cocoon myself from the world, I find myself turning towards my husband and children. And when I want to hear stories about my mom and be with people who knew her before she became sick and passed away, I look to my aunt and cousins. They share the stories – ones that I already know, and ones being told for the first time – about her early years. Then there are those times when no matter how old I am, I just really need to be Daddy’s little girl and talk to him.
Family is what you make it. And no matter how it morphs, redesigns, or turns itself around, it's what will keep you sane and help you remember where you came from. Whether it is the family you were born into, the family you made with the one you love, or the family you create with the friends who are with you on a day to day basis, they all become a part of you.
I saw that so strongly in my children this past week. As they laughed with my aunt, played on the beach with their cousins, hung out with their grandfather, or just goofed off with each other I realized that family is what grounds us. And they give us the courage to become the people we dream to become; they are the cushion that softens the landing when we fall.Family is the greatest gift I can give my children. And? If I do my job correctly as their mother, I will instill in them the importance of family – in any form it comes to them.