A couple of conversations with different people lately have left me thinking about family, what it means to be family, how to make and keep those strong, lifelong relationships of love and trust and honesty.
I think my whirlpool of thoughts stem from Little Monster, as they often do. I got to thinking about my blood relationships. What's great about them? What do I want to change? How do I nurture my relationship with Little Monster so that we can love and trust and be honest with each other into adulthood?
That last one is a really hard question. I'm lucky with my blood family. I have strong and loving relationships with them. That's not to say everything about our relationships is always perfect but there are many people out there who constantly struggle to have positive relationships with parents, siblings, extended family. I think there are a lot of reasons for it. Oftentimes, people are just different. They grate against each other and, with all the will in the world, they struggle to find common ground. Other times I think there's such a weight of expectation of what your family should be that it stops people from appreciating what they are.
For most of my adult life, for a number of reasons, I've been a big believer that families can be made, not just born and constructed from the same DNA. There is an urban term 'skin and bones' which refers to when your friends become your family. Some of the people I've met along the way fall in to that category. Some of them have been around most of my life. Some of them I've just met in the last few years. Some of them I've only ever met virtually. All of them are family to me because of what they are and what they mean. They are family because they don't judge me for what I tell them and they're family because I know they'll be there, physically or otherwise, no matter what happens. One of those family recently told me that a friend she met online is going to live with her. The circumstances that led to that inspire me on many levels and just make me believe more firmly in building family. Isn't the greatest accolade to choose someone to be family?
To build that kind of relationship with Little Monster, I know that I'm probably going to have to work harder at it than a lot of people. I'm not naturally open. I tend to keep things internalised, at least until I've resolved them. And there's a reasonable chance that Little Monster will inherit that from me, so I'll have to work doubly hard. But I know that I want to offer him that kind of relationship with me. If families are chosen and not born, I want him to choose me one day.