Last week, my friends Jenny and David posted this beautiful video on my Facebook page and I knew I had to write about it for the Bliss Blog. Families come in all configurations. I was raised by two heterosexual parents, in the NJ suburb of Willingboro, with a younger sister, in a multi-generational family in which at one time or another, each of my grandmothers lived together with us. My maternal grandmother was one of 13 children, so I had lots of aunts, uncles and cousins who would frequent our home, or we would visit their homes. Although my father’s side of the family was smaller, there was the same sense of closeness that it exuded. Although most of the elders; including my parents, have since ‘re-located’, I remain in contact with my cousins on both sides of the family, knowing that we are there for each other in times of celebration and sorrow; what I call ‘oys and joys’.
I remember back in my 20′s beginning to understand the concept of ‘family of choice’, since I was blessed to have been immersed in one at a counseling center in Glassboro, NJ where I went to undergrad, called Together, Inc. (great name for the concept of inclusivity). There are times when family of origin just isn’t able to meet important needs for love and support. I am blessed to have both a circle of family of origin and those who showed up by Divine Design, who grace my life remarkably every day.
In my circles, I am delighted to witness families that include 2 parents of opposite sex, 2 parents of same sex, solo parents, hetero couples and same sex couples, poly triads and ‘moresomes’, multiple families in the same house or community, single friends sharing living quarters, unmarried couples of either gender mix, multi-generational homes, where elderly parents live together in the same home as their children and grandchildren. There are also divorced parents who not only amicably, but cooperatively and lovingly live near each other and share co-parenting. In my home, I am a widowed parent with a son I raised solo (well…with my village of loving friends and mentors for Adam who we had adopted when he was nearly 5 and before he came into our lives, we were foster parents for a little boy from the time he was 4 months until he was 18 months old) since Michael died when he was 11.
I am all for increasing the sense of community so as to make the world a more loving place. Gone are the days when married, hetero parents who have 2.5 children with a white picket fence surrounding their suburban home, is considered the norm. Some may feel threatened by that phenom; but it is the truth and in no way does it undermine ANYONE’s choice. My take is that love is love is love and is no more valid when shared in that more ‘traditional’ way and is no less valid when shared in a ‘non-traditional’ manner.
The photo above is of my friends Annabella and Dene and their four legged furry kid named Quark who took a cross country truck trip with Annabella this summer via Twilight Wish Foundation, when she offered the gift of fulfilling the dream of a lifetime for an octogenarian named Margarette. I’m certain that she has been enfolded into Annabella’s family.
May you expand your definition of what loving family means.