Everyone desires to be a part of a family….
Hmmm.. ok… let me rephrase that.
Most people in society want to belong to or be a part of a family.
That’s a better statement.
Being a part of a family is one of the beneficial and positive attributes of living. Having that sense of belonging fulfilled is an amazing success. Most people who live feeling angry…bitter…and resentful can attribute some of that emotion to not having a family.
Growing up, I loved watching Full House and Family Matters. These two shows embodied what it meant to have a family… at least to me. LOL. You had real people with real issues that stuck together. They were there to support each other, uplift each other, cry with each other, and keep it real with each other.
These shows portrayed the funny moments that happened within families, as well as the difficult and challenging ones.
I felt that I subconsciously gravitated towards these shows, because I longed for a family of my own. I didn’t grow up in a home with both parents. Additionally, I didn’t grow up in the most positive atmosphere/environment. I experienced some terrible things from individuals who held the title of “family”.
I didn’t grow up where things were kept “real”. Things were never really explained to me. I never had heart to heart talks with my parents. I was never “schooled” on matters that were pertinent for me as a child and it didn’t change as I transitioned into womanhood. I never forget when I was in the 6th grade, I was in the bathroom with a bunch of girls who were talking about the period ending. Here I come saying that I didn’t hear the bell ring and that the period wasn’t over. The girls busted out laughing so hard that I actually began to cry. I went home that night and told my mom what happened. A week later she gave me a book about periods.
I didn’t grow up in a family where I felt comfortable enough to share my feelings 100%. If I liked a boy I kept it to myself. Actually, I remember being in the 5th grade, sharing with my teacher through our daily journal writings that I liked a boy in my class!!!! If I was feeling sad and emotional I did not express my feelings to anyone, because I didn’t have anyone who cared enough to listen.
Growing up, I never understood what it meant to spend quality time with your family. Hanging out, playing family board games, watching family movies, going out to eat as a family never existed in my home. If I ever did these things with my family, it was far and few in between that I don’t actually remember. I do remember doing these type of activities with church members whose hearts were so big. They would take me and my sister out to have fun. To be quite frank, most of my familial experiences came from church brothers and sisters who cared about my sister and me.
As I grew, I began to realize that family was not limited to just your mother, father, sister(s) or brother(s). My understanding of family began to broaden and I developed a deeper understanding of what family meant.
I’ve learned that family really is a group of individuals who love you, care about you, and will do whatever they have to do to help you in this life; ultimately to help you become a better person. It is a sad reality that some individuals who are our biological family don’t fit the description of what it means to be family.
From a personal standpoint, I know that my mom only did what she knew. She was raised in a home where there were eight children. Her mother and father were not wealthy. It breaks my heart to say that they were actually very poor. Their meals were fetched from someone else’s garbage. They struggled a great deal back in the island of Jamaica. When my mom started to raise up a family, she did what she experienced growing up— and more often than not people raise their families the way that they were raised.
This is a debilitating trap if your familial experience was not pleasant. Thank God that I learned from my childhood family experience of what not to do when I decided to have a family of my own.
Truth is, I work twice as hard to ensure that I don’t fall into the trap of my past. I work twice as hard to make sure that I talk to my children, and that I take them out to different activities. I work twice as hard to listen to them when they speak to me, in order to ensure that I establish an open communication system with them. This will provide a platform where they (hopefully) always feel free to tell me everything they choose to without the fear of being judged. I cannot say that I am perfect, because I still struggle with the ‘lack of’ that I experienced with family growing up. There is so much room for my personal growth and I am looking to improve myself every day.
I also believe that because I experienced a great lack of things in my childhood in regards to family, I subconsciously look toward other people for acceptance and love. I’ve learned through my life’s quest that not everyone that you meet will ever equate to family status, even those deemed biologically as your family.
Let me share with you what family is not.
If someone only cares about you because of what you can do for them, or what they can get from you—they are not your family.
If someone constantly seeks to tear you down, belittle you and misrepresent you, then they are not your family.
If you ever feel like your relationship with your family is one-sided, meaning you are the one that always initiates conversation, you are the one who always tries to support family events, then maybe they are not your family. I say maybe because sometimes our family truthfully cannot be present for various reasons beyond their control, and they do fit the example of what family is. This type of situation requires discernment on one’s part, so that you can know the hearts of the people that surround you.
If your “family” does not seek to encourage you, uplift you, love you unconditionally, represent you appropriately, and show forth their love and loyalty—it is wise to reconsider the title of family.
I know for a fact that my mom loves me and has done her best to care take of and raise my siblings and I. I know that my sister, the other half of SisArias United is a pure example of what it means to love someone. I mean she is family. She will encourage and motivate you, while at the same time let you know the truth about when things are just off in your life. I appreciate that a great deal. She will sacrifice for you, and deny herself for you. That is family. I have other friends in my life that fit under the family title, but one in particular has shown that she is more than a friend… She is family.
I met her 3 ½ years ago….I would like to consider this a divine appointment. I had just had my 4th child, and he was about 2 weeks old at the time. One day my husband handed me a flyer from a local church that was conducting a small group gathering for stay at home moms. Being that I had just resigned from my job to homeschool my children, I felt that it applied to me. However, I didn’t want to go. I wouldn’t know anyone! My husband encouraged me to go… and you guessed it…. I went.
When I got there, I was the only one with a newborn baby, but all the moms were so friendly. We engaged in small talk to acquaint ourselves, and soon after another young lady walked in with a newborn! Our babies were actually the same exact age…only 3 days apart!
That was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Three and a half years later I not only call her
my friend… but she is my sister… she is my family.
This beautiful soul is one that loves with her whole heart. She is not selfish and is willing in a heartbeat to put what she has to do to the side to help me. She has been a voice of reason, an ear to my complaints, a babysitter, a leader and a blessing to me. She constantly checks on me and treats my children as if they were her own. She supports me in my endeavors and her presence is strongly felt in my life.
Because of my sweet friend, I’ve more fully understood that family doesn’t have to be your flesh and blood. Your family are those ever present people in your life that only have your best interest at heart. They honestly want to see you succeed. They are not jealous of you and they do not try to sabotage you. They keep it real, even though the truth may not be the sweetest sound to your ears… they love you in the good, and they love you when there are differences in opinions… they are TRULY your family.
I’m grateful for this understanding of what a family means to me.
I don’t want to waste another second of my energy on dead-beat parents, and weak familial connections. Live, Love and be Strong…. ultimately, making sure that you are the best representation of what family is within your circle of influence.
~Love is the answer~