Sometimes when I step back and look at my family with my kids and their families, it can take on the appearance of some sort of cobbled together patchwork of not quite perfect stories. Like stitched together pieces that sometimes aren’t exactly the right size, held together by string and intention.
In my own family, I have chosen to have very little contact with my mother and I am growing closer and closer to my father, who I didn’t have a relationship with for the first part of my life. My only blood sister is on the opposite side of the country and my various other family members by blood and marriage are far flung as well. Instead of having the immediate proximity of blood and marriage family, I’ve chosen a hodgepodge of folks for my chosen family. People of all races, genders and backgrounds. Some of my chosen family is scattered across the globe as well.
My son lives with me now but didn’t always. My step daughter lives with her mother. Her father and I are divorcing. But she’s still my step daughter and always will be. My son’s grandparents have all divorced and remarried giving him somewhere on the order of 8 sets of grandparents. He is the first grandchild of all of them and still only one of 3 on all 8 sides. His only sibling is his step sister… my aforementioned step daughter.
When we talk about family, we talk about Nanna So-and-So or Grandpa-So-And-So… not just ‘Nanna’ or ‘Grandpa’ because there are eight of each. Sometimes, when a family member is distant, I have to remind Ethan… “you know… the one that sent you the firetruck that you loved so much?” or “The one who’s house smelled like moth balls?” My son knows my chosen family, in some cases, far better than some of his blood or marriage family.
Family doesn’t fall into neat packages and boxes with well defined corners and edges all the time. Not every family has a mother and a father and 2.4 children who live in a two story four bedroom home in the land of Never a Care in the World with exactly two sets of grandparents who live until an age at which it is perfect to pass on without incontinence or senility. Family isn’t about perfection of roles, a predetermined number, a perfect distance. It’s about ties. A quiet knowing that a person is connected to you. Someone, somewhere has a bond, a tie… something that connects them to you. That… is perfect.