I came across a blog recently while surfing, by lauraauthor.com titled ‘Family’ (check it out people…). The blog about her family and what it means to her was interesting. I can’t say I agree with her sentiments, because I don’t – actually not in the slightest. Her assertion that she needed to prove herself constantly to her parents and sibling was alien to me. Here’s her final comment, just in case you don’t have the time to check the whole blog out, (which would be a pity however):
To me, this is family. Family is about proving myself. Not proving that I am one of us but rather proving that I am a capable independent and don’t “need” them. Perhaps that sounds harsh. But it’s how I’ve been raised and learned to think. Toughen up–or you won’t make it in this cold world.
For me, family is ‘about’ lots of things. It is a shared background, a shared upbringing that means I don’t have to explain my opinions or myself. It is about a deep sense of belonging to something bigger than myself, of me being part of a whole and that ‘whole’ is my family unit. It’s also about responsibility towards others; my siblings and my parents, to be the best person I can be, not only for me, but for our unit also. Yes, I want to be independent and capable of standing on my own, yes it’s important to be an independent thinker and accomplished in this life as I do agree it is a tough world out there. But I view it from a different perspective; I feel that I don’t ‘have’ to do it alone because I am not alone. My family offers me unconditional love and support. My sisters and brothers want to spend time with me when they can. I am not a person they ‘put up with’, or see because it is expected and we’re family and vice versa. My relationship with my siblings and my parents is borne from actually liking each other and wanting to spend time getting to know the adult individual when we’ve known and grown up with the ‘child’ sibling for so long. Even in saying that, I am twelve years younger than my oldest brother and his experiences of our family and my parents is vastly different to mine. It is that shared history, yet shared ‘difference’ that is exciting and challenging and in our case bonding. And for that I am truly grateful.
It’s funny that I found this particular blog after just returning from Australia where I have spent the last few weeks visiting my sister and two of my three brothers. This always makes me very introspective because I only get to see them once a year. Even in that, I am extremely lucky! I miss them terribly throughout the year but especially after I’ve just come home because I know it’ll be at least a year before I see them again. In the past, festive holidays used to be spent crammed around my parents table where I and all my siblings and their spouses or partners and children would spend the day lapping up each others company and usually playing card or board games into the wee hours of the night. Now however, with only one sister still in Ireland, we don’t quite ‘rattle’ around my parents’ table but we’re not far off.
Having said all that, distance is a great motivator too. It means for three weeks of the year, I get to see the best of my siblings; there are no fights, no issues, just harmony and cohesion. Its amazing what I learn each time I visit them. As each of them heads what seems ever faster towards middle age, I see them in a light I may not have were they still here in Ireland. We may all have taken each other for granted, we may have seen each other only rarely, but I don’t ever envisage us not getting along. We are one of those families where each child stays part of the family; mind you we are far from children now. Do we all seem similar? – Yes. Are we boring? Oh, far from it. In her blog, Laura said that when it comes to family, if someone uses the word love, is it because of the blood relation and innocent memories? To me, family is something to be grateful for but it is also an exchange. For Laura the exchange was about ensuring they knew she could stand on her own two feet. For me, family is knowing I can stand on my own two feet but because I am part of a family, it is also the very gratifying knowledge that I don’t have to!