Saturday, November 8, 2008

the family way

every family is unique. we all have our own traditions. our own inside jokes. our own battles. our own dynamic.

i grew up in a small summer resort town off the coast of lake michigan. it's beautiful with it's historic downtown and clean neighborhoods. a perfect place to raise a family. or at least that's what i thought when i was little. i always felt like i was different growing up in a town like this. our family wasn't the mom, dad, sister, brother, dog kind of family and obviously still isn't. never will be, in fact. that used to bother me, but not so much anymore. i have been blessed with the family that God chose for me.

i grew up in a predominately female environment with my mom, my grandma, and my sister who is my elder by 8 years, meaning... i have 3 moms. my grandma, the leader; my mom, the encourager; and my sister, the hammer. interesting that my discipline came from a sibling. i am extremely close to them and value their opinions, which are usually all extremely different making my indecisiveness even more fun when seeking advice.

my grandma leads by example living a simple and fulfilling lifestyle. marrying once and sticking to it, even through the hard times. she handles tragedy with grace and strength that i haven't seen in any other human being. she's compassionate, hard-working and absolutely hilarious. she's neither vain nor high maintenance, rude nor impatient. appropriately nicknamed saint midge. a good person the have at the helm of a family. she has her very own blog that i wrote in the beginning of this year. she's just wonderful...

my mother is a free spirit and while she is my mother, she is also my friend. we have our arguments. but without fail, she is the one i call at 3 in the morning when i can't breathe because i've been crying so hard or because i am sick and need advice on how to feel better. she's the one who encourages me. the one who "gets" me. she knows i am happier when i am surrounded by big city unknown. her favorite expression is that the apple didn't fall far from the tree. which has been shortened to just "apple....tree". she's always been the yes mom which growing up was great but later on in life i've had to learn on my own that you can't always get what you want. she's a good mom though. she's always encouraging me to press on with my goals and my dreams. when i need her, really really need her, she's right there.

and then there's my sister. being 8 years apart we have had some hard times relating to one another. we grew up in different decades for one! we are also very very different people. she prefers the safe small town living while i prefer adventure and big city living. she's short with straight naturally light blonde hair and i am amazon with crazy curly almost brown hair. we both have blue eyes. i tease her a lot, calling her june cleaver. it's not an insult. it's the highest form of a compliment. my sister is a great mother. i know this because she's practically one of mine. growing up she was not my playmate or my little bit older sister i could go to for advice, but she was always the one to set me straight. and i *hated* it. we had our fights that were over absolutely nothing, like me breathing wrong or her looking at me mean from across the room but hello, we are sisters. we antagonize. but sometimes she was right, and if you have a sister you know what i mean when i say that i hated to be wrong. nothing could flip my switch more than that.

now we're both adults. i'm 20-something, she's 30-something and our differences remain. but somehow we are able to talk to each other like intelligent human beings. we laugh together on the phone, mostly because she's the funniest person i know. i make fun of her, she makes fun of me, and we have a good time. if i ever had someone to look up to though for a good role model for a wife and mother (other than my grandmother) it would be her. my niece and nephew are two of the most beautiful children on the planet. i'm sure my brother in law had something to do with that too. but they are well behaved. my nephew is hysterical just like his mommy. he is polite and sweet and just plain great. it's because his mom takes the time to show him what is right and what is wrong. she lives in such a way that he doesn't have to hear it to do it. he just follows her lead. when they grow up she will give good advice, she will be at every school function, and she will be happy and excited about being there. not because it's her job as a mom but because she really truly loves her children. she has dinner on the table every night even though she hates to cook. she does it because she wants that for her family. she appreciates the lifestyle that she has and doesn't take it for granted. she has a wonderful doting husband who fawns over her not because she begs for it but because how can you not love someone who tries so hard to make everything perfect for the ones she loves? she is also my number one protector. always has been, always will be. she can rip me apart but if anyone else says a peep she is the first to defend me. she is my sister, no matter how different we are.

sometimes the only way you can get to know people are through the words of others. i am not always forgiving with my words. i get frustrated and angry. i get down trodden and annoyed. and sometimes the people that i love the most in this world are the ones to get hurt by this. it is NOT intentional. my writing is not meant to sting or burn. it is meant to get out a thought or thoughts. as a writer there is a constant script. always something brewing in the back of my mind. always something to say. writing things down always makes me feel better. even if down the road my feelings change, what was written is written. it's how i felt.

my family, no matter how far away i live or how many fights we have, will always be my family. they are my soft place to fall when life goes awry. so know this, there may be times when i am frustrated and i vent, but they are MY family and i love them dearly, because no matter what, they are mine. mine to vent and cheer and write about and i wouldn't have them any other way.

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