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Sometimes it isn’t easy to figure out exactly who your family is. If we were all honest with each other, we’d admit that some people we are related to by DNA aren’t exactly what we’d call family while others who share no genetics in common are. For our family, this has been a hard lesson to learn and one that sometimes we just didn’t want to admit to ourselves. It isn’t that our blood relatives aren’t family…we’re more than good there. It was realizing how many “family” members that we had that aren’t the cliche’ family member.
Take the lessons that my Emma has learned for instance. Emma has been hurt by people in the past that she thought were her family only to have them walk away from her for whatever reason. Her biological father is one of those people. She hasn’t seen or spoken to him in 6 years, he’s never truly helped financially support her in the 8 years since we divorced and honestly? At this point, she could really care less. She doesn’t want much to do with him or his family including the half brother she now has. For her, those people are exactly that. “Those people.” She made that decision herself coming to the conclusion that if they didn’t want her in their lives then she didn’t want them. In fact, she actually made me stop updating her on things (like the birth of her half-brother) because she didn’t want to know.
Why? My guess is that it hurts too badly, but she’s never said that outright. I could be really wrong, but I know my daughter and am pretty sure that I’m not. What she has done is ask me why her biological father will be a “dad” to his girlfriends daughter and to the new half-brother. She gets a bit upset with me when I tell her the exact same thing that I have for 8 years when she has asked the same type of question.
“I don’t know.”
The irony is that I tell her that telling someone that you don’t know the answer to something is a cop out. That it isn’t an answer and that it is unacceptable to me. The thing is though that I can’t tell her the truth. I refuse to hurt her like that at such a young age. Someday, when she is old enough, I will tell her what I truly suspect. That they ignore her and pretend she doesn’t exist solely because she is my child. That they have allowed their hate of me get in the way of being a true family member to her. That they never accepted her as part of them even going so far as to call her a “thing” when I was pregnant and telling me straight out that the “thing in my belly would never be part of their family.” Why do they hate me? Honestly? I really don’t know. I stayed with him for 6 years; putting up with his drinking each night, with him not working, with being treated as a literal maid for 6 years and being forced to clean for 9 people just about everyday, of being tormented that the baby *I* was carrying was the girl when his three sisters had all given birth to boys (it was treated as if it was the end of the world that I was giving birth to the granddaughter.), with 11 evictions in the first 2 years of my daughters life. Maybe they hate me because he used my leaving him as a way to justify a new drug addiction. I left for her. I left to provide a better life for her. Maybe they simply don’t understand that or maybe they don’t care. I’ve never been entirely sure. I won’t tell her the truth right now so I simply tell her that I don’t know.
It used to bother me. It used to bother her. Then we learned what family truly meant and suddenly, it didn’t matter so much to either of us.
Emma is almost 11 now. She’s very much in that age where she needs her Dad. When she says Dad though? It isn’t my ex-husband she is calling. It is my Tom. They share no blood relation. They don’t even share a lifelong bond. They don’t look alike and he can’t share in the stories of her birth and the first few years of her life.
He’s still her Dad.
He is the one she calls for when she’s scared of something that Mom can’t handle. He is the one that teaches her how to camp or about chimpanzee’s at the zoo. Who takes the time to answer her question about a goose’s butt (see photo below and no, I don’t remember the specific question lol) or about whatever she happens to be asking about. He is the one that she fights with when she’s feeling particularly bratty. He is the one that grounds her when she needs it.
He is Dad.
Family today isn’t necessarily what family used to be. The “nuclear family” that was described many years ago. These days, families are made up in ways that years ago would have never been possible. One in 12 married couples are interracial today and there are more than 125,000 same sex couples raising kids together. More than 1.5 million American families have added to their family through adoption. Less than 40% of children don’t live with their biological family and only 62% live with both of their biological parents. Those stats are awe inspiring to me and we will be one of those 1.5 million families touched by adoption before too much longer. How? My Tom is adopting my Emma. We may not be that idea of what the perfect family was, but we are still a family and together, we’re perfect.
As the American family has evolved, Honey Maid has as well. From their classic honey grahams to Teddy Grahams, Honey Maid products have served the American family for 90 years of change. Still made with real honey and wholesome grains, they’re the perfect addition to your family snack night. They’re a staple in our house. Honey Grahams get used for everything from pies to a simple peanut butter and graham cracker snack. Teddy Grahams are more often than not the snack of choice during family game night. Emma really, really loves the new Teddy Grahams Birthday Cake flavor and for some reason, I can’t tell her no when she asks for them. Holidays wouldn’t be complete without Honey Maid either and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
November 21 is National Adoption Day and today? I couldn’t be more proud that soon, we will be a family touched by how awesome adoption is. Family isn’t always limited to those who are related to you. Family is also those who are there for you and who love you…even at your worst. For us and for so many other families across the nation, family is something to be treasured since it was so hard to find.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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