What is family?

Post date: Jul 13, 2011 4:57:08 PM

Webster’s Definition of FAMILY

1: a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head : household

2a : a group of persons of common ancestry : clan b : a people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock : race

3a : a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation : fellowship b : the staff of a high official (as the President)

4: a group of things related by common characteristics: as a : a closely related series of elements or chemical compounds b : a group of soils with similar chemical and physical properties (as texture, pH, and mineral content) that comprise a category ranking above the series and below the subgroup in soil classification c : a group of related languages descended from a single ancestral language

5a : the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children; also : any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family <a single-parent family> b : spouse and children <want to spend more time with my family>

6a : a group of related plants or animals forming a category ranking above a genus and below an order and usually comprising several to many genera b in livestock breeding (1) : the descendants or line of a particular individual especially of some outstanding female (2) : an identifiable strain within a breed

7: a set of curves or surfaces whose equations differ only in parameters

8: a unit of a crime syndicate (as the Mafia) operating within a geographical area

I wish I was part of #8 sometimes.

Kidding, just kidding.

Some other ideas include:

· The family is the first essential cell of human society.

o Pope John XXIII

· To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.

o Barbara Bush

My brother-in-law has traveled to Ft. Bliss. I’ll write about his deployment ceremony at another time. He’ll be leaving soon for Iraq, leaving my sister Mandy, his wife, and two children behind. When I looked around at the ceremony, I realized that this is another one of those experiences where we learn that “family” isn’t just about the people that you are “related to.” Family is the people that are there for you, when you need them to be. Family = the people that have stopped what they are doing to show that they care.

Something we have seen firsthand.

During the last 7 years since Natalie’s birth, she spent over 300 days IN THE HOSPITAL. That is almost one entire year of her life. There were some people could not handle what we (my husband and myself and my child) were living through, so they wrote us out of their lives. They never called. They never stopped by. They never let us know that they cared. We’re not mind readers, so without any sort of contact we moved on.

But in the midst of that, came some wonderful friendships. People that we never knew even cared, called. They sent cards. “Strangers” sent gifts. Anonymous people from all over the world sent Natalie cards and letters and gifts. We forged new relationships and made new friends and grew closer to each other along the way – that will happen when you are forced to live in a tiny hospital room. We learned a lot about what it takes to make a family.

I feel guilt. Natalie is an only child. She’ll not have the relationships that I have with my sisters. She’ll not have the knock-down-drag-out fights either, but those are the things that brought us closer together. I can tell my sisters (and sometimes my baby brother) anything and they can do the same for me. We can be honest with each other. We can tell each other when we think we have screwed something up, and conversely, we’ve gotten better about praise. (Praising your siblings can be a hard thing. These are the people that I competed for my parent’s attention with as a child. Praising their achievements sometimes feels like a hard pill to swallow, but we’ve gotten better at it.) I would do anything for my sisters and my brother. When they hurt, I hurt. When they worry, I worry. When they don’t worry, I still worry. It’s in my nature.

After Jason, my siblings are the first ones that I call when I need someone to talk to. They keep me sane. And Amy, the sister I am closet to in age, has always had a knack for calling at the worst possible time. There was this one time in the hospital when we were learning about putting in a NJ tube. We have Natalie wrapped in a blanket and were getting ready to put the tube in her nose, for feedings. And who calls? Amy, that’s who. It’s like she knows...

And so I feel guilty, that my child won’t have that. I want Natalie to know that even though there will be people that let her down, there will be far more people that won’t. And 2 of those people are her parents. She can’t change others. She can only change the way that she reacts to others. This is something that she is struggling with today, in first grade (second grade next fall). She’s my daughter. And as such, she wants everyone to like her. She’s a people pleaser and she can’t figure out why some kids just don’t want to be her friend. It’s a hard thing to explain to Natalie and it’s a hard thing for me to grasp. Why are there some people that no matter how hard you love them, no matter how hard you try to please them, no matter how much you try to be a friend, why are there some people that don’t like you? I don’t have the answer for my daughter. I think that I have figured out that while it may vex the soul, and she may hurt, it is important to vent, get the frustration out, and then move on and concentrate on what really matters.

“As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

-Joshua 24

(C) Jim Grot - www.grotis.com

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