As my own family has officially become an unconventional one, I can’t help but contemplate what really makes a family, a family.
It’s a topic I’ve always found intriguing. I grew up with a somewhat unconventional family, most of my Aunts and Uncles that were there for every holiday, every special event, weren’t “real” family. They were my parents oldest friends, my blood relatives were people I saw once every couple of years. Aunt MR and CV were there, at least twice a year for all the big holidays, they were there for graduations, whenever it counted – that makes them real enough for me.
I also grew up with Uncle Bill and Uncle Bill, who weren’t a part of every holiday celebration but they were there for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember every being told that they were gay, they were just my Uncles, they loved each other and they loved us and love was all that mattered.
As an adult, my interest in this topic has lead me to watch a myriad of television shows, reality and otherwise, that seem equally intrigued by the topic of what a family is. I started with Big Love on HBO and I eased into the reality TV waters on TLC with Sister Wives, The Duggars (who might not be terribly impressed to be considered unconventional, but 19 kids doesn’t sound very conventional…), etc. I watched these shows about families that were very different from mine, but couldn’t help but notice that they was no denying that they were families and in some ways not really that much different to mine.
I think about this more now that BK lives with us. We have a family calendar that we keep all of our events that impact the whole family – there’s one on there for tomorrow -BK and I are going to the Farmer’s Market and there’s on on there for Thursday – DH and I have a night out planned. Plans that affect our whole family unit, go on the calendar so when BK is planning the menu for the week, he knows Thursday is just him for dinner. If DH wakes up and wonders where we are on Saturday, a glance at the calendar reveals that we’re at the Market.
To avoid confusion, we say that BK is my brother and people have to be around us for less that about 10 minutes for that to seem like it must be true. (I may or may not have bitten him for bad behavior recently and he certainly gives me plenty of brotherly sass.) Of course in truth, BK is a friend who moved into our house and helped make us a family. It’s still something that kind of takes me by surprise, how people become a family – most people would say our family started when DH and I got married but I would say that was a tentative first step, but that true sense of family didn’t come until we really started spreading the love around or maybe I just need more coffee.