Family. When did ‘family’ become a word that could bring up so many mixed emotions. Happiness, anger, abandonment, love, loneliness, sadness, betrayal, passion, loyalty, selfless, selfish, so many feelings have been connected to this one word.
In the Websters dictionary you find a definition that a family is “the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children” but then goes on to say “In many legal contexts family denotes “individuals related by blood, marriage, or adoption,” but in others the definition may be somewhat broader, encompassing groups of individuals not related by these things.”
The new Urban dictionary says family means “A group of people, usually of the same blood (but do not have to be), who genuinely love, trust, care about, and look out for each other. Not to be mistaken with relatives sharing the same household who hate each other.”
If you look up ‘real family’ in the Urban dictionary you get “Real family are the people that you’re there for and are there for you. You love, trust, and care for them as much as they do you.
When you start researching the word family you find so many interesting things. Were you aware that most Western societies employ Eskimo kinship terminology. What is that you ask? Father, Mother, Sister, Brother, Son, Daughter, Husband, Wife, Grandfather, Grandmother, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, these terms are the Eskimo kinship terminology. This has absolutely nothing to do with why I was talking about the word family but it was fascinating to me. But I digress.
Back to this word ‘family’ and why I feel the need to write about it. This one word has taken on so many different emotions throughout my life. When I was a child ‘family’ meant belonging to a group of people that were supposed to love you because you shared the same blood. This was just expected. Holiday celebrations, birthdays, summer gatherings at each others houses.
After my father died the word ‘family’ changed. Then it meant my mom and my siblings. It meant feeling alone and lonely. The other members of the family structure faded away. The blood bond was broken in some way. It cracked again when each of my grandmother’s passed away as well. Each death changed the dynamics of the word ‘family’.
After I had children the word ‘family’ morphed again. Still it was blood that made a family but now through the birth of a child you combine the blood of two totally separate families into one. But wait, then there is a divorce and now there in another crack. Broken in two halves.
This word ‘family’ is so fluid. So fickle really. There is absolutely nothing that keeps the meaning of ‘family’ the same through one’s lifetime. I think that the Urban dictionary comes the closest to what family should mean. It really should be ‘real family’. The people that you’re there for and are there for you. You love, trust, and care for them as much as they do you. They may contain the same blood coursing through their veins. They may not.
I am blessed with so many people in my life that are there for me. That I love, trust and care for. Some share the same blood and lots to do not. As I get older I see the importance of true love for other human beings and that it should never be taken for granted.
When I was a child it was something I thought would always be there but it wasn’t. Real family love needs to be nurtured and appreciated. You need to love with purpose and don’t expect it to just be there when you need it. If the love of ‘real family’ is something you value then take the time to make sure those you consider ‘real family’ never doubt that is how you feel.
It always starts with you.