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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Redefining Family

Perhaps better than redefining would be to say recognizing family.

As Chris and I shift from no longer being two who became one but suddenly three, there are yet again some remarkable changes. Changes that bring delight, changes that make us fight, changes that kick our asses in the most unpredictable ways.

I'm old enough to know better. Does not mean that I know exactly what I'm doing, but there is a more settled feeling of "rightness," not as in being right but as in knowing right from wrong, or simply living the life I want to be having. What started out as a survival skill to make up for gaps became a network of extended family: more than ever I feel surrounded by friends who are there for me, us two, and now us three. I wonder sometimes how I came to deserve such a rich life. We were children together and your kind parents kept inviting me over for dinner; or we were teenagers experimenting in an unfilmed version of every coming of age story that existed; or we were twenty-something newly anointed adults who recognized a kinsman wounded soldier when we met one; or in our thirties, we celebrated our graduation into the normal together by starting our traditions of make-believe family; or simply, even recently, we met and are and have potential. No Dickensian moment ever feels complete without a faery family member present.

And it is you adopted family members who bring the magic. Not to say we do not appreciate our real family, but their love and kindness is expected and celebrated in a bond that is no less but different from what I speak of here. Even if we never hear from them mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins and such always have that everlasting claim. My parents are of the sort who always insist that blood is thicker than water, but in my case water goes down easier and I'm held and moved and supported by the people who have more randomly entered my life. Friends are often more present and more consistent so we let everyone know that these special friends are Uncles and Aunties. I don't think of blessings as something religious but I count them in the numbers of once strangers who are now people I'll know forever--as one put it, "I have to warn you, I collect people, you know, and once you're a friend I expect you in my life forever." And through pregnancy, birth and parenthood you've taken not only an interest but offered so much. I may never end my existential questioning but you ground me with your simple kindnesses.

Chris told me that having a child separated the friends amongst his acquaintances. He and I are as usual different in exactly how we define or maintain friends but I know where we meet is our appreciation of people. So while I'm not sure exactly what he meant, I think he was referring to the same experience of newly/re/forever connecting with beloved people, a byproduct (or perhaps another facet) of becoming The Parent of Zenas Satoshi Burns.

Chris is still in a state of wonderment. Just tonight he said, "We made him. He didn't exist and now he's here forever." I don't know anything about having a child yet. I suspect it's one of those things you discover only in hindsight as you move forward, just like the unfolding of my own self. But by his very existence Zenas serves as a lens to re-experience and re-evaluate. We can't wait to rediscover our own childhood books and games. We will do our best to guide and support him as he takes his turn at all the awkward phases in life. And we are not only happy and proud, but rewarded, to share him with you.

1 comment:

  1. And I am so happy to be one of the people who you are sharing him with! Love what you wrote about family, the "blood" one and the one we make on our own...i couldn't agree more. Viva los amigos! They really do make life bearable, don't they?