Just a few of the people who make us feel like family…

My divorce hearing was over a week ago now.  It feels like a lifetime ago already.  Shaky-legged I walked through a door in my life and it closed.  And I am content with the new place I am.  I am more than content.

At the time Juan and I separated, one of the most bitter emotions I felt was the loss of a sense of “family”.  I had grown up in a happy, if normally dysfunctional, nuclear family.  Two parents, two kids, two cats, two cars in the garage.  That was family to me.

Living far away from both sets of our parents Juan and I had been family to each other.  Max completed our picture.  When they placed him in our arms and we looked at the perfect picture–a mom, a dad, a child, we felt whole.

With Juan gone, that first year, it felt like we were never quite enough, as though something was missing.  It was just the me and the baby at dinner, me and the little one at bedtime.  I felt a little like an amputee.  There was a tingling sensation there, reminding us that part of us had been cut off, that something was missing.  But over time I healed.  It happened so slowly I barely noticed it was happening.

Like a crab who loses a claw and regrows a stronger one, we have redefined family.  Now our “family” includes people of all different ages and races, people who let themselves into our homes as we let ourselves into theirs.  We dealt with the loneliness in our home by opening it wide open, by claiming others, blurring boundaries.

Almost every week we are eating dinner communally with some part of our urban family.  There is always bread in the center of the table, wine being poured, hugs hello and goodbye.  

When all the kids got lice last week, we used it as an excuse to order in Thai food.  Later we sat like monkeys grooming our young, in it together–community.  A broken washing machine in one house is not a cause for despair (or maybe only a little despair).  It is an excuse to do a laundry party at another house and to sit and play guitar while the clothes tumble.

Late in the evening last night, my dear “brother” brought me to a party of his good friends and did what I needed someone to do, something that I had dreaded for years.  He made me get out there.  Yup…He took by the hand and with a sense of humor that only he could get away with–he introduced me as an adorable single woman, looking to meet someone interesting.  Did they know anyone?  Yes it was baptism by fire, but I needed the little kick in the pants to get myself into a new frame of mind. 

Sometimes family is a place to retreat, and sometimes family is what propels you out into the world.  But family is the place where you go when you need to be reminded of your best self, when you need to fill up your heart, when you need to recharge.

At dinner last night, I told the newest member of my family that if and when I do meet someone and fall in the love they will need to fit into this crazy, messy, huge and spontaneous family.   We giggled thinking about how this poor guy would rap his head around it, me and all my beautiful baggage.

For its not just “Love me, love my child.”

Its more like “Love me, love my child, love my dear soul sisters and their kind husbands, my guitar teacher, my guitar teacher’s wife, my across the street neighbors, my mentor and his wife, my comrades at work, my housemate…and all their children…Love me, love all my dear ones.  Love me…love my family, my big huge messy urban–we ain’t related but we’re family family…”

Good luck guy…who ever you are. 

8 Responses to “Redefining family”

  1. KT Says:

    No need to wish him “good luck”…. he’ll be the lucky one!!

  2. Maggie Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with KT.

    As usual, you’ve painted an incredible portrait with your words. You really are a fine, fine writer — and you’ve got something to say, which makes it such a treat to visit here.


  3. shelbi Says:

    once again meg, you have put words to feelings i could never wrap my own mind around…i was a single mom as well….i remember those nights, those lonely feelings of missing the ‘family’ that i had to mourn. i am so happy for you that you have this amazing community of love to surround you and your son. and also that you can now close the chapter of a painful season. divorce is never an easy process to ‘live’ thru….but you made it thru and are now on the other side…..be proud of yourself. 🙂

    may only beautiful and hopeful love come your way as you rest in this new chapter that awaits you 😉

    much love,

  4. Jena Strong Says:

    What an amazing community – family, Meg. We should all have open doors and shared resources and lice parties (boy, that would have been so much more fun with friends…). It is the antidote to our weird modern-day isolation from each other.

    I also so appreciate that you share this here, and that your blog is an extension of it and not a replacement for it.

    Backwards is the new forwards – this is how life should be.

    With love,

    xo Jena

  5. GreenishLady Says:

    I love that family – that tribe – that you have drawn about you. It sounds like such a wonderful support, such a safe place, such fun! You are an inspiraton in the way you have travelled your journey.

  6. Erin Says:

    As someone who does not have a community (not from lack of trying mind you – just never seems to happen no matter what I do), I envy you. Thank you for sharing your blessings with me.

  7. Jen Ballantyne Says:

    Oh Meg, your writing is just superb. How do you manage to convey the feelings and emotions so beautifully? As always I am in awe of your talent, your wisdom, your heart and soul. Keep sharing as you really, really do have something to say that is so worthwhile hearing and I am thrilled that people want to hear it more. Take care my darling, you and your family, I count myself part of it, you are my soulsisterontheothersideoftheworld xxx and I am so lucky believe me I know it.

  8. angharad Says:

    tribe is just the word for it – a chosen family.