Family has a lot of definitions. Many of them just aren’t that easy to incorporate into the language we’ve been given. My history doesn’t allow for many, if any, easy answers that work well in banal situation, but most of the people I know have a few of their own too. “Cousins” , “Aunts” , “Uncles”, that never shared blood. People that became sisters and brothers, where the word “friend” with best in front or not, just didn’t cut it.
Our daughters recent 4th birthday was a big and obvious example of this. 30-40 people showed up, as they do for her birthdays. About 10 were my wife’s family and mine through marriage. One was my son who came with one of his real mommas (I’m his birth mom). The rest? They were mine, they were Asha’s, but they weren’t blood. They are more, and I don’t have the words to explain that to the new people we’re meeting in this new neighborhood we’ve moved too. My very friendly and kind new neighbor asked who was Robyn’s family and who was mine, and I found myself stuck with ” Well, this is my..Christina..um..”
These people are my friends, but they are a lot more, they are my family, they are my daughters’ Aunts, Uncles, Grandmas etc. They have been with me for years, they were all there the day she was born. These people banded together, rented huge storage space and scoured their own networks to fill it to the brim with furniture and baby gear when I had nothing. They made sure I knew I could have this child and that I had support this time, I had family to give her. They have stood by us no matter what and never questioned if I asked for help.
This year, one of Robyn’s old friends, that has become a big part of our family, made a two-hour trek with three kids to stay with us for the weekend and prepare for this party. She stayed up until 3-4am designing and making belts for the Aquabats costumes my friends/family were donning for this insanity. She herded children and made last minute shopping trips, she costumed up herself and never missed a beat. She’s totally one of my heroes.
Add on to this amazing group, my sons’ family. I gave him up when I was 17. I picked his amazing mammas, and couldn’t have done better had I made them myself. His family has known me since I was a teenager. They have, been the only template I had for what a family could and should be. They are my family as well as my sons’, as well as my daughters. They are kinda heroes for me too. How do you define such a thing to someone in the course of getting to know you, chit chat?
I work with the Transgendered/Intersexed/Genderqueer community, and by work, I mean live, breathe, cry, rejoice and hug them. They are a large part of my life, the practice is small and intimate, we know each person, each family, each tragedy and triumph. Some of them are also family and friends.
Should I say “These people? They are brave, loyal, sincere, honest and giving. These people are who I want to be like when I grow up. “? That’s the closest I can come to an easy explanation and I’m not sure that’s so easy to understand.
It’s a mixed bag with very little that’s easily explained. Though it might seem cliché, this last weekend, at my daughters party, when I had no words and couldn’t explain or make it easier for a stranger to get it or understand? All I could come up with was that I was really really blessed because, all these people? They CHOSE me, they CHOSE my daughter and my wife and my family. They made space in their lives to make us family too. How fucking AWESOME is that?? How fucking amazing are they?