Sunday, February 20, 2011

Family 28 / 30

Tonight is the final installment of the thirty days of writing.  I know – the title says its only day twenty-eight of thirty, but owing to the two days I missed, twenty-eight out of thirty is where we ended up.  That’s better than I feared, but not the 100% I was hoping for.  Still, by anyone’s measure, 93.33% is a pretty good mark.  It is an ‘A’ in any class, and good enough to earn you a magna cum laude in university.  If I succeed at 93.33% of the things in life, I’ll be pretty happy.  So I am content with that score, and happy that I found time, nearly every day for a month, to put some words on ‘paper’ and to make the time, if only a half hour a night, to write.  I showed myself that I have the dedication to pull it off, and I’m going to face my current writing projects with the same dedication – I’ll do it every day, but I won’t beat myself up if I miss a night here or there because something more important came up.

The odd thing is, this whole process did show me a couple things about what is important, and one of those is really standing out for me right now… family.

No matter how you define family, and no matter how you feel about family, I don’t think that anyone can deny that family is the most important thing in most people’s lives.  Sure, there are exceptions, and once upon a time I thought I was one, but I think those exceptions are rare.  Our families give us our sense of connection to the community and greater world around us.  They provide the basis for our morality and our ideology – for good or for ill.  In some families, they provide us with the strength and support we need to get us through bad times, and in others they show us how to look inside ourselves to find that strength when it isn’t offered to us.  They hold us up, so that we can reach higher.  When they hold us down, they teach us to strive even harder.  Even the ‘worst’ family in the world still teaches its members a lesson, how to survive hardship.  And I used the quotes around worst for a reason.

Judging another’s family is no business of mine.  Sure, there are times when I wonder about the parenting techniques and skills of my fellow Haligonians.  There are times when I hear stories of family behaviour that makes my skin crawl and makes me long to dial 911 to have someone, somewhere, arrested.  But just because I disagree with the way a family conducts itself, with the manner in which they raise their children, doesn’t make my family any better than theirs.  Sure, there are some absolutes – if you are abusing your children or the other members of your family that must be stopped.  But if you don’t show love to your kids they way I do to mine, that’s no judgment on either of our families.  That’s your family, not mine and at the end of the day, how you live together and love each other is none of my damned business.

My family, on the other hand, is my business and I am proud to relate that it’s doing just great.  We walked for a while today on our way to see Sue, whom the boys thought was pretty darned cool.  Griff made growling noises for hours afterward, and Noah is sad that there are no more dinosaurs and wishes they would come back to life.  But on our walk to the exhibit, Noah was lamenting how long it was taking, and asked if we were really going to see dinosaurs.  I joked (and here’s where you should feel free to judge me for my stupid comment) that we weren’t going to a museum, we were in fact walking off into the wild so that we could leave him in the woods.  He laughed, and hugged me and said “No dad, we can’t do that.  We’re a family.”  I damned near cried.  First, because he knew that I was joking, and that told me a lot about the strength of family that Shannon and I are building, but also because he knew, even as young as he was, just how important family is.

My family has undergone a lot of changes in recent years.  Some for the better (hello to all my Koenig family members!) and some for the worse (would have loved to learn about your wedding when it was happening, rather than a year later little brother!) but all of those changes, the positive and the challenging, are just part and parcel of what makes my family what it is.  And I love it just the way it is.

So whatever you are doing today when you read this, find someone who’s a part of your family.  Maybe they’re family by blood, maybe by marriage.  Maybe they are a friend you have come to love as family.  Maybe they fit into your definition of family in a way that I can’t understand, but you do.  Whoever they are, and whatever they are doing, tell them you care.  Let them know, in some way, that you value them and that your life would be less without them in it.  It will make their day, I guarantee it. 

Thanks for reading.  We’ll talk again soon but I gotta go now, I have two little boys to kiss on the forehead while they sleep.

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