Family doesn’t necessarily look like what it used to. Yes, the traditional nuclear family does still exist, but existing alongside them are the families that we create outside of that container.
This has been on my mind lately because of my own non-traditional family. To start with, I am in a long-term, ‘til death do us part relationship with my soulmate and we choose (at least for now) to not be married. Make no mistake, though, he is my family through and through. He is my best friend and the one human who I can live with. He is the one I make ridiculous rap videos with that will never see the light of You Tube. He is the one who I can completely fall apart to. He is the one who has effectively made it safe to be me by embracing all aspects of himself, of me, of us. We always start with love and to me, we have created the most beautiful way to be a family.
Then there is my son. He and his fiancée just had a baby girl 7 months ago and she is the sweetest little thing. (By the way, did I mention she is also brilliant? She really is!) Along with that beautiful baby, my DIL has a daughter who is 3 years old. This little girl, oh my gosh, has rapidly wiggled her way into our hearts in such a powerful way!
I watch the way my son parents her and I am filled with such joy and pride. He is all in – there is no mention of “your daughter.” I watch the way my daughter-in-law parents and invites him to co-parent. There is no possessiveness, no differentiation between “my daughter” and “our daughter.” They are parenting their children together and there was never a question that it would be any other way. They are beautiful humans who, together, have created the most beautiful way to be a family.
I watch how my True Love joins me in co-grandparenting the little peanuts. There has never been a word about “your” grandkids, only “our” grandkids. He fully supports the ways that we can stay connected. Because we live 1200 miles away from them, there are a lot of FaceTime calls and videos and quite a few weekend flights. Sometimes (okay, often) I wish we were geographically closer, but I find that there is such beauty in being able to watch them parent in their own way, without interference or feedback from me. The distance makes it easier for me to remember that they’ve got this. For us, we are creating the most beautiful way to be an extended family.
No matter what your family looks like, I hope you celebrate it. If there are ways you wish it could be different, don’t stuff down those feelings, but also look for the hidden blessings in your current situation. Knowing that there is no permanence has helped me move through the tougher times. Now it makes me appreciate and celebrate all the little joyful moments. Above all, we all evolve as we re-define what family looks like. I would love to hear how you have created your most beautiful way to be a family.