I wonder if I asked you what you thought the meaning of ‘family’ was, what you would say. I’m asking because I’m away on a short break currently with my family. My elderly parents in law, my youngest son and his girlfriend, my eldest son and his girlfriend and their baby daughter. I hasten to add that we are not all away together at the same time, some have been and now gone, some are saying for a little longer, and some are just staying one night. Never the less I’m still calling it a family holiday, because it is.
And what a lovely family it is. I think we all bring something to the relationship. The eldest members of the family bring unending love, family history and stories. They also bring cake, and chocolate! The young brothers each bring something. The youngest a sense of fun and energy. When you are with him you feel swept along on the sense of urgency and laughter he brings to the family, his girlfriend often has to calm him down, and sort of bring him back to reality! None the less she is full of fun and together they remind us not to get too old, and stuck in our ways.
My eldest son has recently become a dad, and he has grown up considerably over the past year or so. That doesn’t mean to say he has given up all his youthful characteristics. Not by a long way. We often share a silly video of cats doing stupid things, falling off tables, ending up in boxes and hiding in the most stupid place. He has a wicked sense of humour, and still appreciates all the quirky things that I love him for. His girlfriend is a very sensible young lady, a very hard worker, has great vision for their future, is strong willed, and passionate about her families wellbeing.
Now that’s funny, because her passion for her young family is mirrored in my passion for my family, for those who I am blood related to, and equally to those who have been brought in by other members of the family, my parents in law and my sons girlfriends. I love them all in different ways.
Being in the middle of the family, I think that hubby and I hold it all together. We are a stable part of the family, and through our mutual respect, love and friendship for one another show everyone how much we value each other, and what we feel about them. Don’t get me wrong it hasn’t all been plain sailing, but together as a family unit – we have weathered the storms.
In all this, I haven’t said about the two most important members of the family. I’ve mentioned my hubby, but haven’t said very much. Of course I could say something about his long standing suffering about being my wife, or his endless supply of humour – not always when it’s needed. The sacrifices he has made during our time together, or the joy and laughter he has brought us. But of course these are the characteristic that are running through the family, from father to son, and from son to son. And what I love in one, I see in others, and love them for that too.
And another piece of the family jigsaw – my granddaughter. And although she is not a year old, she too has the characteristics of the rest of the family. Someone who knows her own mind just like her mum, that great sense of humour like her dad and her gramps and of course her unending energy like her uncle. If she has a little bit of each one of us – she will go on to do great things.
I think you may have gathered that I feel family is vital, as a network of support and loving. As a place of safety and security in an ever complex world. We laugh at the concept of the bank of mum and dad, but we wouldn’t have survived the early years as young parents without the support of my husband’s mum and dad, and hope to be in the same position to help our younger family members if they need it. And I have no doubt they will. Their support was invaluable when I wanted to go back to work as a young mum. Actually I didn’t have a choice, I had to go back – we couldn’t afford for me to stay at home! They looked after our sons, took them back and fore to school while I worked. And for that I’m very grateful. I know their lives were enriched by the experience. I hope I can repay my sons in the same way.
Family life isn’t always such a rosy picture. I know from the own experiences of my direct family. But we need to learn from past experiences, past mistakes, and try and avoid them in the future.