You know when we all were teenagers and we wanted to be a part of a different family – one more perfect than ours? We would complain about our distant father or our mother who always wanted to know where we were going and when we’d be home. We’d write sad poetry and share them with our friends who also wrote sad poetry. We swore we hated them and swore we wanted “so and so’s” life. We wanted another family; anyone’s but ours’.
Well then you grow up and you realize that was a bunch of crap. Your family still isn’t perfect, but it’s yours. Even though you fall into weird holiday routines with an absent sibling or parent, you adjust to enjoy it anyway. Eventually your childhood home may be sold and you’ll start to call wherever your mom or dad is, home. You hate missing your brother or sister being so far because of their busy schedule or yours. You hate the new routines and taking on adult responsibilities like paying bills, being broke, and trying to make life matter on your own.
Some people may fall in love and marry their perfect man or woman and some may not. Some may hold on to emotions from long ago and still prefer a different family. Some people haven’t grown up yet. But as I’m approaching my 25th birthday when evidently part of your brain matures enough to start thinking about other people besides yourself first, I’ve pondered what really matters in a family.
1. Love – you gotta love them… you kinda have to.
2. Support – you gotta know which way to lean for a steady shoulder, even if you have been your own for so long.
3. Each other – My family is spread apart and on different sides of the country, and another one between my freedom and his restraint, but we’re all alive and sometimes that’s what should matter.
It’s taken me a long time to see my family as they are, accept who they are as they are, and want them to be who they are. It’s taken me a long time to want a brother again. But even though nothing’s perfect, they’re still my family who loves and supports me. My teenage Jennifer wanted a different Jennifer as well as a different family. But looking at things today: I wouldn’t change a damn thing about who I am. So why should I want to change my family?
The basic point is this: When you’re a teenager, your life sucks. And growing up and taking on responsibility sucks. But calling your mom after a hard day at school or work and her still saying, “It’ll be okay” is why you wouldn’t change her. Hanging out with your dad as he tells you he’s proud of you and he admires your drive for going for what you want is more than enough to keep him the way he is. And punching your brother in the shoulder as a joke at the vending machines in secured visiting room feels just the same as punching him on any regular day at home, except that it’s not. But there’s the hope that some day, my brother and I will be good friends with families of our own. And our kids will probably want different families while they’re hormonal and discovering deodorant. It’s only a part of life.
And we all know, life’s not perfect.
(Love your family – they’re the only ones you’ve got!) ❤