Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Family By Choice

My friend Kate is this amazing person who introduced the phrase "Family of Choice" into my brain. For personal reasons, her biological family is out of the picture. She now has a family built out of her husband and child AND a bunch of really great friends. She counts them as her family. She treats them like her family. And her life is richer for it... she'll tell you that herself. She's surrounded herself with people who really LOVE and support her... they might not always agree on everything, but there's a real unconditional love in each relationship.

I love it.

Dave and I have a good friend who is recently divorced. We've known him for years and really love the guy. He's in a position where his biological family isn't really in the picture either. He counts us as his family. He has a new girlfriend and wanted US to meet her and wanted to know what we thought about her. I think that's kinda funny. Not in a "ridiculously laughable" sort of way... but in a "WOW, I didn't realize that we meant THAT much to you" way. We care about him a lot and have tried to support him and his kids as best we can through this rough season. It's nice to know that the affection is returned. We know that if we ever needed help, he'd be Johnny-On-The-Spot with whatever we needed. We're totally family.

I love that too.

This isn't a rant about how much biological families suck. I don't think that's really very accurate.

OK, maybe SOMETIMES it's accurate.

But Kate's got me thinkin'... who's in MY "Family of Choice"????

My godmother is someone that I absolutely adore. She hears my heart when I'm stressed or worried... she isn't judging me based on past mistakes... she hears where I'm coming from even when I'm angry and I say crap that I probably shouldn't. She supports me as a Mom, daughter, and as a GIRL. She laughs over life's craziness with me... and grieves over the sad, hard parts along wtih me. She cares about my husband and kids and prays for us. She's also funny as all get-out and likes my Grammy's Bourbon Slushies as much as I do! ha ha! I'm not related to her biologically... but I consider her parents (now in heaven) to be another set of grandparents to me. Begonia (that's her nickname NOT her actually name!) is absolutely in my Family of Choice.

My friend Alison is definitely in The Family of My Own Choosing too. She somehow manages to hear my heart, keep me in check, AND not be judgmental all at the same time. We don't do everything exactly the same. We disagree about some issues... or give more weight to some things than the other does... but we LOVE each other. We love each other's kids. We might even give each other a kidney (God, please spare us from THAT sort of adventure!) if we matched. Somehow... I think we would. I don't have a sister. But I have Alison. Her kids are a little older than mine, she's been married a bit longer... and it's good to have someone, who's already been down certain roads in life, to learn from and grow along with. Also? She cracks me up on a level that few people reach. Alison's definitely in my Family of Choice.

Don't worry, I'm not running down my whole list. It turns out, as I've been thinkin' about it, the list is really pretty long. The list of people who love and care for my family and support us through thick and thin... it really surprised me. (I'm in the slow class... what can I say?)

It's really easy to let the people who get under your skin and drive you crazy get all your focus. They DO drive you nuts after all. I'm choosing to set my orientation in a different way. Rather than have my "list" of family members who drive me bonkers because of meanness or idiocy, I'm choosing to count my blessings... and the number of people who love me because they CHOOSE to rather than because they "have to" due to shared genetic code or marriage. Why waste time investing even "mental time" (versus personal time) paying attention to people and relationships who really are just a time suck? Why not count up the good stuff... the relationships that make life richer and fuller because they add to and back you up when you need it the most? I'm counting the people who simply share real life with me... the good, the bad, and the ugly parts... and see even the cruddy side of my shining personality and love me anyway from now on!

So... who makes it to YOUR list??


Let's BEE Friends

12 comments:

  1. My biological family drives me insane, but I know they'd all take a bullet for me, so they count. My inlaws, however, I'd like to junk punch on a daily basis, so we avoid them. My family is my husband and my kid, and everyone else is either a relative or a close friend. :)

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  2. @MamaMash... You just crack me up! I think some degree of insanity is just part of the family label right? I mean does ANYONE actually have a SANE family? I don't know anyone that does!

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  3. My best friend Chris - she is always straight with me, and has been instrumental in teachingcme more appropriate life boundaries. I don't know what I would do if she was not in my life.

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  4. @Mrs Lemon... I know JUST what you mean. Literally. Appropriate boundaries has been the topic of discussion around our house a LOT lately! They're so crucial to keeping relationships healthy!

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  5. I have 2 *bonus* moms, an older *brother* who even looks related, and a college full of *sisters*.

    Great post, Sarah, and so very true.

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  6. @Dana... I'm right there with ya buddy! Now if only I could get all of my "Family By Choice" here for a holiday... hmmmmm...

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  7. So so true. And you know the Rufi's are my second family. :)

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  8. I can totally relate to this! In addition to some bio fam, husband, and kidlets, I also consider some of my closest friends my family. Actually, those close friends are often the ones I turn to first, outside of the peeps in my immediate fam. We met, started as friends, but now they're sisters and I consider myself lucky for it. :>

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  9. That Kate is one smart cookie, huh... I love her concept of Family by Choice... my list is long, too; very, vErY blessed to have a circle of peeps like I do. It took me a long time to accept my list~ when I was younger, I really wanted some of my biological family to rise to their genetic status... but as I've aged & come to many a realization, I am more then content to let that notion go & allow in those "non-genetics" into my close circle and hijack "family status."

    It's a liberating feeling... because you know you've surrounded yourself with that unconditional love that we all need. Who really gives a flippity-flue if we share genetic material anyway?! Family needn't always be about chromosomes... :o)

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  10. @ Carri... :) I totally LOVE that the Rufi's are your family. Tim's totally gotta be smiling about that too!

    @Karen... I'm with ya there too. I definitely turn to my friends ahead of family. Of course... proximity plays a large part in that. We don't live anywhere near our genetic families! Sometimes, those great friends can meet needs on a level that family just can't.

    @Nes... I love that your peeps have "highjacked the family status!" That's hilariously fabulous. And I hear ya on wishing some people would just get their poop in a group and act right. Meh... sometimes, genes are over-rated.
    FREEDOM!!!!! ;) oxo

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  11. My extended family drives me nuts at time but they've always been there for me:) They come first for me. I have several good friends I can rely on but the other ones, not there when it's important. Sad, but true.

    It's great that you have GOOD reliable friends in your life, especially when you're family lives far away!

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  12. I love this post, especially I have family members that are not of my choosing. Thank you for the reminder to focus on the positive and the wonderful "family by choice" that I do have!

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