Family is an interesting concept, isn't it?
I imagine there was a long period of time where family was everything- biological family, specifically in this sense. Now, though, it's amazing the gaps that can grow between siblings or even parents and children.
I haven't spoken to my mother in over three years now- probably closer to four. The more I learn about the person she is, was and has been, the more I know that I want to keep my life entirely separate from hers. My husband and I will be going to the OB/GYN clinic tomorrow to discuss me having surgery to reverse my tubal ligation, so that I may be able to have children. My children will never meet their maternal grandmother, and I honestly have no regrets about that. In all honesty, they will probably have very limited contact with my sister, as well, as she is so much like my mother it's painful.
My sister flew into town tonight to spend a week with my father, who's health is deteriorating. My husband was able to point out habits of hers that are dysfunctional, but so much a part of her very personality at this point I had failed to even notice them. She looks more like my mother each year. I fear her behavior may follow suit.
Now, I've been going through treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for a while now, and have fallen in with a group of gentlemen that I feel truly safe around. Let me stress this: being a double rape survivor in the midst of the deepest parts of therapy and symptoms, finding an entire group of men that I feel safe with borders on the miraculous.
I shot a text message off to one of the guys from our little group tonight, as I was feeling stressed out and anxious about seeing my sister for the first time in years- and I am, by far, in the worst condition I've been in since she's been alive, emotionally speaking. She'd never met my service dog, and she'd never met my husband before tonight. When I mentioned the appointment I had tomorrow, this friend of mine stated, quite plainly, that he wanted to be the godfather, or at least an uncle. While, from some people, this would have upset me and come across as pushy, from this friend made me smile. I truly believe in the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child. This man is one of several I truly and completely would love to see my children grow up around. This group is very diverse, but the ethics and morals that comprise these people's personalities are incredibly comforting and reaffirming. I could be in the middle of a bar fight that I started, on the losing end of a dozen people or better, and I know that any of these guys would do whatever it took to get me out of that situation safely. This is what I think of when I think of family. Biology has nothing to do with family to me, not after the things I've seen. There are people I'm biologically related to that I would be proud to know if they weren't relatives, but the opposite is also true, clearly.
My husband's family is far different than mine. They appear to be very close, and are nearly always warm and friendly to one another. Except they don't ever really open up to one another. Ever. It's so nice to see a family that gets along, but it's startling to see that things that wouldn't phase me about my husband would make him incredibly uncomfortable in his family's home. He doesn't walk around without being fully clothed in his father's home, and he's just so... tethered. Does that make sense?
My family has never really hidden their feelings from one another, but there's been a lot of hidden motives and intentions behind what feelings were shared. We were open, but our family's definition of honest is open for speculation. Trust wasn't ever something we had with one another. Nothing was sacred. My mother called me a whore after losing my virginity to a rape as easily as some parents tell their children to eat their broccoli.
Are these the only options? Are there no other kinds of families? I can only hope that the hippie-dippie families of TV Land aren't so unrealistic. I have talked to my husband a great deal about how I would like our family to deal with one another, and he agrees. We don't expect unquestioned authority, and we don't expect it to be without it's problems, but we do expect honesty and loyalty, both between parent and child and between siblings. I will never do anything to betray my child's trust- I may make some choices about their lives they don't appreciate, but I will not do it behind their back. I don't expect them to follow my ideals blindly, nor do I expect them to practice a religion because it's mine. I simply expect them to be respectful of my ideals and beliefs, and not to choose the ease of ignorance over treating others as equals.
I'm thinking a lot about godparents today. I know my husband's best married friend (he has two best friends that are both amazing people) seems like the obvious choice for godparents for our children, but they seem pretty unsure about having children of their own. His other best friend, who is quite single, is an absolutely awesome guy, as well, and comes from the type of family I hope to build. Because of his "single" status, he seems like the less obvious choice, but my gut instinct tells me that he would be the one to take to the job of being a true godparent, should the need arise for someone else to take care of our children.
I know this will all be sorted out in time...