The meaning of family

You'll read in this blog about my mixed relationship with the circumstances of my birth, about the blended family I am active creating, about the time in my life when I struggled to care for two small children, one with a rare disease. It's the heart of who I am, where I came from, who I am becoming. I use the term family broadly to include the people we are connected to through birth or genetics, the people we have chosen or who have chosen us, ancestors both human and spiritual. All of these relationships weave together to make what I call "family".  

I'm taking a few moments to define this because the way we define or talk about family is of critical importance because our definitions--the ways we place boundaries around what does or doesn't count as "family"--has academic, political, social and practical consequences. I spent many years as a single parent, beating myself up for not having the right kind of family, before realizing that I must not passively accept the definition of family that society has created for me. When my son, Ayrie was diagnosed with his disease, I found myself relying on family more heavily and in different ways.  The struggle and loss brought us closer together and we have blurred traditional lines related to money and living arrangements.


Our culture offers us a very limited range of perspectives about what family looks like or feels like that have been bound by time, place and culture.  We must actively search for the meanings and terms that are right for me.