A few weeks ago, something had happened in our family, and that had led us to a rather deep discussion on the couch. There we were, our couches facing parallel on either side of the living room, facing each other like a debate team.
But there were no debates, and I feel fortunate to have a family, where I have both the opportunity to speak, and listen. There is no interrupting. Virginie and the kids have gotten into the habit of listening thoroughly, asking clarifying questions when appropriate, and only then, making a statement about there opinion.
For those who don't know me, I am a former member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Often referred to as the "Mormon Church". Most of the beliefs I held have been challenged, and for the most part, I'm happy with my belief system. Beliefs about God, the purpose of life, loving self and others have been refined to make way for ones that make me proud to be who I am.
There are a few that have stuck with me though. One of those is about family. During our "deep talk" I asked the children what words came to mind when they thought about the word "Family". They came up with two: Love, and support.
I've reflected on these two qualities a lot lately. It's driven me to ask many questions about my own extended families. I don't know about anyone else, but it's far too easy to loose contact in Virginie's and my extended families. Understandably, we all have busy lives and taking care of our own immediate family unit becomes the most important.
And yet, I feel like I'm making excuses for family sometimes.
About 2 years ago now, I renovated our old house. It started off simple, but quickly grew to a mountain of work, I felt excited about, but perhaps overwhelmed by. I spent 6 months replacing floors, replacing drywall, counters, cupboards, plumbing, leveling, and painting. I would get up at 5:00am, go to work, finish at 2:00pm or 3:00pm, go to the old house, and work till 11pm. Then start the whole process over again. As I neared the end of the project, I began to ask myself one fundamental question:
Where was my family?
What I mean is: Could I rely on them? What were the expectations? Had they even been set? I realized that even though the LDS church had taught us to "put family first", we had not taken the time as a family to define what that actually meant.
The moral of this blog post? I still believe the family to be the fundamental unit of society. But I believe we cannot assume to adopt any belief without defining it's relevant application to us. For my extended family, many live far away. It's not appropriate to expect them to come and help. But we have to talk. We have to define what a family looks like, and have the confidence to encourage others to fulfill that vision. Without it, we will all have different ideas, and that just creates a culture of misunderstanding.
Family. They are relationships we can build, when we love someone.