Lots of little girls dream of growing up to be princesses or brides, of meeting their prince or future husband, getting married, having kids—you know, the whole story, the happily ever after. I don’t remember my dreams from when I was a kid; those have been lost to the past and I’m perfectly fine with that.
But, I do have dreams now, and I would love, love have a family of my own.
This is not a scientific challenge. I know how babies are made and I’m pretty sure I could manage to get myself in the “pregnant way” with not too much effort. Yet, a family is more than just a new life and a birth and, to be honest, you don’t need to have children to have a family. Two people together can be a family: two men or two women or a man and a woman. Your friends can become your family (but, that’s not what I’m talking about here, not yet at least).
Let me tell you a story, an incident—and that word matters—that happened to me not too long ago. I was driving in upstate NY with my parents in the car following my brother, who had his wife and their two kids in the car with him, and this other car got in the middle. As the following car, I pulled out behind and moved forward and my brother had to speed up a bit to catch up to me so that I could block traffic for him to get in front again.
In the middle of this, my dad, a classic backseat driver, at one point finds either the lane change or the speed or something incorrect and he yells at me: “Be careful! He has his family in there!”
Without missing a beat I snapped back at him: “And I don’t have mine in here?!”
I was furious with him because a) it was distracting but b) of course I knew my brother had his family in the car with him. They were my family too! But what my dad was referring to was the difference between family and family and it stung.
It stung because that’s what I want for myself. It stung because even if I do find some woman silly enough to marry me and she is also outright insane and therefore willing to procreate or adopt with me, would my dad and my mom, would my current family see them as my family?
This is not an irrational or unsubstantiated fear. I know my family and I have already seen how most of them have dealt with things (marriage and children and religion) that don’t fit their idea of how the script should go, of how it should be followed. They are not so good with acceptance; they are barely okay with tolerance. They deal because they must—please, understand, they are not bad people, and it mostly comes from a place of love—but they are never going to be the “open arms”, “everything goes as long as you’re not hurting anyone”, “it’s all okay” type. Frankly, at least I know what the party line is upfront.
Growing up with my religious background, I wasn’t close to my extended family. Sure, I knew some of my cousins, as in a handful I can pick out of a crowd, but there were never any large gatherings or picnics or that sort of thing. I don’t resent it but it’s not what I want for my kids, if I have them. I want them to have the benefit of coming from a large family. I want them to know all of their cousins, the ones already here and the few more I can easily see in the future.
The thing is, I have my friends—yes, now we’re back to the friends as family statement. My friends who come from every creed and color and background are going to have a lot of kids and their kids are going to grow up to be friends with my kids. I always joke that I found my little brother in my twenties and I did. I didn’t know he would be a tall, strapping Polish boy, but he is, and he’s mine and no one else can have him. I always wanted a twin and I found her too in my late twenties; let’s just say we’re fraternal.
My kids are always going to have a family. The sad part, the part that scares me and keeps me up at night, the part that makes me wonder if I’m going too far to not just want to get married to another woman but to want it all, is that I don’t think, at least it won’t be in an easy or smooth fashion, that my family is ever going to be part of my family.
My kids, if I have them, will be just fine. Children are resilient especially when they are loved and they will be loved.
I just worry, though. I don’t think I’ll ever stop.
p.s. The title of this posting is a second derivative: first I stole it from a beautiful piece of fanfiction by powergrapes who stole it from the lyrics to the song “Kids” by MGMT – go and have a listen.