Saturday, July 28, 2012

We Are FAMILY...

Holy cow.  I am so freakin' excited.  It's down to TEEN days that I will watch my son graduate from boot camp!
Family dynamics are fascinating.  It's so interesting, complicated and complex the manner in which a family interacts with one another.  Sibling to sibling, mother and child, child and father.  No two families are alike.  Expectations, discipline, communication and the very moral code of specific familial units are different from family to family.
What strikes me as most interesting is the differences among extended familial relationships.  Grandchildren to grandparents.  Aunts and uncles to nieces and nephews.  The mashing of several families under the umbrella of the matriarch and/or patriarch. 
In most circumstances, the eldest members of a family set the tone of the extended family.  They establish traditions ~ vacations, holidays, birthday celebrations and the like.  They are typically the Grandparents (although some families are lucky to have the great-grandparents still alive to take that spot).  They love unconditionally, they give unmercifully.  I quote Bill Cosby:  "They are trying to get into heaven".  Nice to everyone in their final years of life.
Life experiences, tragedies and successes also often define a family.  A sibling fights with another sibling over what to do with a parent's estate after passing.  A parent is upset with an adult child over decisions they have made in their journey of life.  An aunt passes.  A child has a serious illness.  An uncle becomes a missionary and moves 3,000 miles away from the rest of the family.

While in the journey (forking a thousand different directions), specific spots in the family unit are fulfilled.  Sometimes it coincides with birth order, sometimes personality.  The eldest of a family may be the organizer, the planner of events.  The baby of the family may be sassy, opinionated and sometimes hard to please.  The middles may go with the flow.  The most social, however, may be the party planner (despite birth order).  And we all know that the women in the family are most likely delegated the responsibility of communication efforts with all others (let's face it boys, you just don't like to talk.)

In all the mass chaos of a family, an underlying pattern becomes established.  Mutual respect, trust, unconditional love, moral codes ~ these items are defined typically by the actions of the eldest in the family.  If they love and support each other and their children, their children typically do the same for them.  And then their children.  And so on.

When there is a break in the pattern, a rogue maneuver, a "black sheep" (yep, they do exist) that goes against the moral code of the family, they typically experience one of three things:

1.  Exorcism from the family.  "Way to go, Sully - we're BANISHED!" ~ Monsters, Inc.

2.  A chink in the armor.  I'll forgive you now, but will forever remember your misgivings.  (otherwise known as "Keeping tally".  Reference #1 above - enough mistakes and #1 usually occurs).

3.  Forgiveness is granted, mistake is forgiven and life moves on.

Families, by its very definition, is as follows:

a. A fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children.
b. Two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another, and reside usually in the same dwelling place.

When the black sheep doesn't "follow the herd" having shared goals and values, it makes all the other elements of the family conflict.  Communication is thwarted.  Trust is abandoned.  Unconditional love is challenged.  And the entire family unit suffers.

I'm a black sheep.  To an extent.  Divorce shattered my family.  It divided it into two camps.  My siblings and I chose sides.  Relationships went forward with years of non-communication.  And the unit?  Well, it's no longer a unit.

And I almost repeated it.  I divorced with a 3 year old son.  I shattered his familial unit.  His father and I did not agree on any item of co-parenting: discipline, religion, education or health care.  Ever.    And our unit?  After about 12 years, it became virtually non-existent.

I am thankful every single day of my life that I met my husband.  Even when I'm mad at him and want him to sleep on the couch.  Not only did he bring me into an extended family that does unconditionally love, respect and trust one another, but he influenced our family to be the same.  He fulfilled the role of father to my son, especially when he needed it most.  He forgives more than anyone I know (except for my son... Bubba has the most forgiving heart in the world to those that don't even deserve forgiveness).  He trusts each of us to do the right thing.  And he has our backs every single step of the way.   

Someone mentioned they felt it was weird that I would go to my son's graduation from boot camp.  They questioned why I would be involved since he is married.  That statement is beyond foreign to me.  Not only do I want to revel in his successes, I want to support the ones he loves the most.. his wife and child!  Being there for Kate is just as important as watching my son march through those doors.

So I will go.  With hubs by my side.  To unconditionally love and support all of our kids.

Because that's what families do.
Oldie... but I love it.  Shows our fun side!

Have a great Saturday, friends.

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