“In every conceivable manner, the family is a link to our past, bridge to our future.
- Alex Haley
In addition to the quote (above) from Roots author, Alex Haley, there are so many other exceptional quotes about family. But what is a family? The definition of a family not only varies from culture to culture and household to household, it often differs from person to person. So I guess the better question is, what defines family for you? After reading what my friends and fellow travelers have written, I would like to enter another quote for consideration. “Family is, a unique and personal, lifelong endeavor, engaging in the process of learning how to deeply love.” - Dolph Clinton (Yes I quoted myself)
I wasn’t the child cradling dolls, pushing toy strollers, dreaming of becoming a mom. Babysitting was entertaining, but I never thought I’d want to be an actual mom -- until I realized I might not be one. Weeks of trying turned to months, then years -- I learned phrases like chemical pregnancy, failure to thrive, loss. It just wasn’t my destiny. And then suddenly, inexplicably, it was. I was terrified. Still am. Mostly, I recognize the luck involved -- the sheer and total miracle that these little hellions running loose on campus are mine. Motherhood tests every boundary and truth I’ve ever known.
Pablo, Family Member
My family is a pillar in my life and I try to be the glue for the different individuals that I consider to be a part of it, friends included. To me, being a part of a family means making them aware that I would do almost anything for them and that nothing is more important to me than them. I try hard to be a reference for my family and try to keep people happy and connected. The relationships with the members of my family and friends are one of the things that bring me the most joy in life.
Four years ago my brother was born and I never thought that it would change my life the way it did. Being as though his mother and our father died a year later in the same car crash, I quickly became his guardian as well. I had to take responsibility and learn to decipher legal documents and school applications to help my grandmother. I had to teach myself how to share attention which I’ve never done before. Everything I do is more crucial now that Shaun’s here. I am now laying the building blocks for him and I’m so nervous.
Drew, Family Member
I’ve grown up in a small family with one sister, both parents, and a handful of close relatives. With so few relatives my sister and I have been each other’s biggest support systems since we were young. Jokes and humor have always been a big part of my family but the more I learned that humor in our family was used to combat struggle the more I value my ability to laugh and stay positive during tough times. Shoutout to Mimi in her nursing home in Illinois, you’re so strong and I can hear your smile through the phone. Love you Mim!
Being a brother is ubuntu; I am because we are. I exist fully because of the sacrifices my siblings have made for me and because of sacrifices I choose to make for them. When there is need, we just show up. Regardless of blood, there’s innate selflessness. Their happiness is mine; their pain and sadness is mine as well. In dispute, as one of my non-blood brothers reminds me, “being related is more important than being right.” Being a brother is a choice. Born or chosen, I will lovingly struggle to stay in relation; that’s brotherhood/sisterhood/deep friendship. Ubuntu!
I am a product of my parents. Positive and negative. Mom’s ideal that she’s always right and dad’s stubbornness are things I’m still working on. My mom blessed me with her work ethic and her determination to grind through tough situations. She gave me her compassion and her strong, in your face feminism. My dad blessed me with what loyalty truly looks like. He taught me to always show up, no matter the circumstance. He showed me what it looks like to truly serve a community for years. Out of all of the things my parents ever did for me, the best thing they ever gave me was their support.
I’m the youngest in my family; two sisters and one brother. I recently became the godfather to my sister’s first daughter Josie. I have a lot of maturing and growing up to do in order to be the brother I want to be. I know the love I have with my family is unconditional, but being a loving brother and being a good brother do not always go hand in hand. I need to work on communicating with and supporting my family, and find the balance between my independence from and my dependence on that part of my life.
Father of two beautiful little girls. Six years ago I never knew how important, special the word Father would be to me. Every day I wake thinking of ways to make life even more special for them. Teaching them not only their ABC’s and numbers but how to learn, teach themselves. When Hasana was born I quickly researched how our brains work and understand things. I am a perfectionist so I want them to be better than I ever could be. This is the most important role in my life. Its fun and I learn so much from them every day!
My mother says ‘You’ll always be beba, because you’ll always be my baby.”
And I think of maple keys.
How they are created by and attached to their trees, until a random windy day carries them off. The world challenges them to be their own entity, and they do so. They plant themselves and grow into trees mirroring the one they came from.
I guess I’m only so different as a human than a key in that I can move around after having grown roots of my own, and one day, hopefully, I will get to reciprocate the nurturing and care I received.
I grew up with nine cousins in a five-mile radius of my house, and two living a 60-second walk across the road. Aunts and uncles served as babysitters, sports fans, and parents in my upbringing, creating bonds that only shared childhood experiences can create. As old friendships give way to adult ones, my cousins take up a permanent fixture in the trajectory of my life. The term “cousin” feels inadequate for the love, support, and confidence that they give me, but I’ve come to embody the label as one of my most meaningful roles in life.
Check out Kara's blog MyQuestionLife.com