Saturday, June 23, 2012

What is a Family?

I was told shortly after Bobby died that the boys and I were no longer a family. "A family has two parents" was what I was told. "It's been over a year. You really need to get out there and meet someone and get married again, if not for you, then for your boys. I couldn't imagine my kids not in a two parent family, even if one parent is a step-parent. How do you celebrate holidays without a family?"

So much of our society portrays it that way. In 1992, Dan Quayle blasted fictional TV character Murphy Brown for having a child out of wedlock. Although he was chastised by the media for his comment, eighteen years later in 2010, an article was published called, "Dan Quayle was Right". Just recently, Ann Coulter told Jillian Michaels (the fitness woman from the TV show "The Biggest Loser") that she was a narcissist for adopting her little girl from Haiti and raising her without a father. Lastly, in reading other widows' blogs, I read one where a widow recently got remarried and, as she put it, "I'm so happy to be part of a family again!" - the implication here being that she and her children were no longer a family after her first husband died.

None of this helps me because long before I heard or remembered any of this, one of my first thoughts after Bobby died was that my boys and I were no longer a family. We were now just a "statistic". Single mom, two boys without a dad, what good could possibly come of this? I couldn't get it out of my head that we were no longer a family, and I so feared that I would pass that along to my boys. (I don't think I did....they still refer to dinner time as "family time").

Although I know in my head that families come in all different shapes and sizes, I still struggle in my heart with the concept of whether or not my boys and I are a "real family." Every time I think I'm making progress and start to hesitantly feel like "maybe we ARE a family", I read or hear something that makes me doubt that progress and sends me back to the starting line. Even now, two years later, in 2012.

I know I'm responsible for my own feelings and actions, but I do wish I had as many people (or more) telling me that my boys and I are a real family as I have people telling me that we are not. So far only one has.......

1 comment:

  1. Wow...people are AWFUL! You and your boys are absolutely a family, and the evidence is that you have "family time" together, you share a home, you share love, and you are related and bonded as only a family is. To say otherwise is to denigrate the relationship between parents and children.

    On a (somewhat) related note, I used to take offense when people wouldn't say my husband and I weren't a "family" because we didn't have kids. Yet, we had chosen a family relationship of husband and wife, had that love and bond, shared a life and a home, and had "family time." (Plus, the cats called us "Mommy" and "Daddy.") :) When he died, I felt like my family had been taken from me (even I will admit it's crazy to call one woman and two cats a "family" -- they were part of our family as a couple, but there needs to be more than one human to make a family).

    Also...what a thoughtless thing to suggest that you remarry, "if not for you, for your boys"! I'm sure any man would love to know that you don't really want a husband, but that you want him to be a stepfather, so that's why you're marrying him. That sounds like a great way to set up a sham family that is destined to fall apart, and certain isn't built on FAMILY VALUE #1 - LOVE.

    Sorry I'm ranting -- I'm just really upset that people would say such awful, untrue things to you. Not to mention that people still feel that way.

    By the way, my boyfriend's mom and siblings are coming to visit us this week, and I keep talking to him about "when your family comes..." even though there isn't a father figure in the picture. Doesn't have to be -- they are still a family. There are plenty of people out there who see it that way, and I hope you will continue to see it that way as well.

    Hugs to you, my friend.