Change is good, especially when it comes to “family”

Wow, what a year it has been! WOW, what a December it’s been!!! I don’t think even provides enough space/memory for me to write it all down—and I think even my most devoted blog followers might give up if I tried. 😉

(But I do have to plug that I’m posting two blogs, so please check out both!)

For this blog, I’ll focus on the one topic I’ve attempted to write about several times and never actually published … family.

Everywhere I turn, family pops up. The most recent issue of moonShine review is all about family. My friend, Leslie, is about to publish a book, and it’s all about family (see an earlier post). My fiancé’s life this year has been all about family. And my life, always but especially this year, has revolved around family.

This year, I reconnected with some of my mom’s side of the family. My 90-year-old uncle lives by himself (his wife died two years ago), and he was recently diagnosed with cancer. I visited and found him to be a great guy—sound of mind and sweet as can be and tells the greatest stories (more than once, yes, but I don’t mind). And I visited an estranged uncle and aunt who I spent a large part of my childhood with and always loved so much. We had a wonderful time, and I realized I missed them so much!

Meanwhile, my sister has reunited in much the same way with other relatives. And, credit to my brother, he has always been connected, especially to my dad’s side of the family, and still is (and he visited our 90-year-old uncle recently, too).

In other words, we’ve been bridging family relationships and doing it in all sincerity and with good intention. But you know what they say about “best intentions.” Yes, all of it has backfired on us.

I’ll be honest. My family is screwed up. My father died in 1993; my mother can’t let go … and she tortures us because of it. Well, mostly she punishes “the girls” in the family (my brother is often exempted, but he is her caregiver and works hard to keep her happy). Right now, Mom’s not answering my phone calls (last week she hung up on me). My uncles are fighting with each other and with us. My sister is in tears and can’t sleep.  Personally, I’ve been there; done that. I’m upset, but I won’t let it wreck my life. I love them all, but I also realize if love is not enough for them, then I can’t let that take over my life.

So, as you can see, even before this issue of moonShine came together, family was on my mind. But then I saw that it was on everyone else’s mind, too. All the stories in this latest issue are about family, and many portray the dark side, the tough stuff. In my publisher’s note at the beginning of this issue of moonShine, I expressed my views on family, and I’d like to share and expand on that.

To me, “family” is the most complicated concept in our culture (obviously, given my own experiences). Even though we’ve come a long way in our understanding of the definition of family, we’ve got a long path ahead to complete the journey. We all have the family we grew up with. Whether we’re still part of their lives or estranged, they are part of us. Then we have the still-favored traditional family to strive for—the husband with wife and 2.5 kids. But we also have what society calls “alternative couples” who hammer away at antiquated laws and bigotry to gain the freedom to marry and have a family. And we have career women, like myself, who have chosen to forego family until later in life—even if it means giving up the idea of children and maybe not finding that someone with whom to grow old.

For me, and many like me, we’ve made our circle of friends our family, depending on them as we would a sister or brother and, if we’re lucky, choosing wisely and gaining family members who truly love and support us for who we are. (Personally, I’ve been very lucky. My circle of family bears and bolsters me beyond what I ever thought possible. And, though I won’t have the two-legged variety of children at this age, I have my forever love, I have my four-legged kids, and all my friends’ kids, too!)

I truly believe—even in the midst of strife with our own blood, even in the midst of struggle with society itself to define who we are—we are challenged to accept all these definitions of family. We are called to break the patterns that bind us and to revel in whatever makes family meaningful for us. We are challenged to be wiser than previous generations. We are called to expand our definition of family to friends, partners, four-legged children, and more. We are incited to welcome siblings beyond blood, siblings of mutual experience and understanding.

Today, we are pushed to look beyond birthright to see not only what our parents made us, but also all that we can embrace beyond. Parents bear us, but we create who we are.

I wish for each of you everything you strive to accomplish in the coming year. And I wish for you to find family in the way that supports and loves you the most.

Happy New Year,

P.S. THANKS to all who check on my blog and really want to read when I post. Your comments always make my day!


~ by Anne Kaylor on December 29, 2011.

6 Responses to “Change is good, especially when it comes to “family””

  1. Hi Anne,

    For as flawed as “family” can be, we keep on loving everyone – especially when they push us away. Like you, I have come to realize that I cannot become consumed by family drama. I will continue to support them and love them all – family and friends. What more can we do, right?

    Happy New Year!


    • Once again, you are absolutely right. I am wowed that you are a fan of my blogs and always are the first to comment! And, yes, you’re right – it takes a long time to realize we can move beyond the past, but when we do, I think we make our family relationships stronger for it—at least for ourselves! LOL. Happy New Year to you, as well!

      • Hi Anne! This is Ann here, but wordpress has me logged in from my blog and I don’t know how to change it. I’m new to the blogosphere.

        Such true and perceptive thoughts about family. This stuff tends to be so complicated that it’s hard to write down anything much that’s coherent. Nice post! Obviously, a LOT of thought went into it.

        Just came by to check out your blog. I followed you. You need to post something new, girl!

        I just started a new blog/site for my e-publishing venture. Currently most posts are recipe-based. Check it out if you want: I’ve never messed with blogs before, so I need to make it spiffier (it’s a real word. lol.), but I don’t know how yet. It’ll happen tho.

  2. Thanks for tuning in, Ann! Yes, I do need to write more, hoping to VERY soon, as in this week!

  3. Anne, this is my first time here but not my last. I think I’ll be checking in regularly from here on out to see what you’re up to. As Yoda might say, “interesting you are.”

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