I got home from work tonight and sat on my bed to check e-mail. In walks the cat, then a roommate, then a dog, then another roommate, then another dog, and before I knew it the whole family was sitting on my bed. All six of us, which no doubt tested the limits of my bed frame. As we talked about our day I looked around and felt a surge of gratitude. I thought to myself, my family is pretty damn awesome.
Some of us have awesome families that they’re born into, and some of us have awesome families that we create. Like many people, I’ve created my own family. It’s a blend of someone I’m related to by blood (my sister), someone I’m not related to (my best friend) and a hodge podge of neurotic animals.
The three of us (six if you count the animals) live together in the same house, and have done so for several years. We have ongoing daily group texts. We generally eat dinner together. We split up the household chores. We share the shopping. We all have our own separate lives and separate spaces and separate friends, but we also do some things together. We tease each other. We make big decisions together. We give each other emotional support. We share responsibility for the animals. We laugh. Each of us contributes to the household and the family in our own significant way. We are all smart and cool and independent. We are each very different, yet we have a lot in common. It works very well for us.
Some people think it’s weird that there are three adult women living together in our house, but I like to think of us as the middle-aged version of the Golden Girls. Except we don’t wear shoulder pads. I’m Dorothy of course.
People have different reasons for creating families. Some of the most common include: their birth family is toxic or abusive, they’ve been rejected by a family who can’t accept them for who they are, they live too far away from family, their family is dead, or they were raised in foster care. But the fact is, the “traditional” family isn’t the norm anymore for many of us. And you know what? That’s OK because where your bio family may be lacking, you have the ability to create a family that is healthy and works for you.
Creating family is empowering. It’s a gift to choose to surround yourself with people who unconditionally love and support you. So who’s your family? Think about things like:
- Who is there for you when things are rough?
- Who do you list as your emergency contact?
- Who do you call when something exciting happens?
- Who do you trust with your kids or pets?
- Who puts up with you when you’re crying or depressed or annoying or cranky?
- Who likes you just for you, not for who they want you to be?
- Who can you have an issue with, and talk through it?
- Who do you really want to spend holidays with?
- Which relationships are easy and mostly drama free?
The people who like you for who you are, the people who will be there for you when something goes wrong, the people who don’t judge you, the people who love you unconditionally — those are your family, whoever they are. Embrace them. Celebrate their awesomeness. And if you can all live in a big old house together, even better.
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