Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thoughts on Family

I've been emailing back and forth with an old friend a lot the past couple of days, and she's been asking some pointed questions about my family. And of course that got me thinking.

You see, I have what most people would consider an unconventional family. When Irish Woman and I described it to our pastor, he called it "biblical", because noone in the Bible had 2.5 children and a nuclear family.

Some details:

I'm married to the Irish woman, but she's not my first wife.

I got married to Junior Bear's mother when I was young and foolish. We stuck it out for a few years, but it didn't work. I did however, get a great son and a taste for Asian food out of that.

I married Little Bear and Girlie Bear's mom when I was getting over Junior Bear's mother. Here's a hint: Never get married on the rebound.

That being said, I don't regret marrying either of these two women because they gave me three wonderful children.

Little Bear was in utero when I met his mom, but I've raised him as a son since he was born, and he is my son in every way except biology. I never asked about how he was made, and when he found out about the situation, it didn't change a thing between us.

I don't differentiate at all between the kids as to who comes from whom, or who's related to who in which way. We're all family, they're all my sons and daughter, and they're all brothers and sisters. For the most part, the kids don't make any distinctions either way.

Of course, the ex-wives love their children. But the Irish Woman loves the whole brood.

I am the oldest of 5 brothers and sisters. I'm only in contact with one of my brothers at the moment.

My mother gave me an ultimatum over the first wife, either she goes or the rest of the family goes. I stuck with my wife and child, for good or bad.

When my mother died, I got back in touch with my brothers and sisters, but made it very clear that I wasn't interested in a continuing role in the family drama. Unfortunately, my two sisters and one of my brothers chose for some reason to not accept that. So, I keep my distance, but I'm not hiding. It's not hard to get in touch with me if you want to, and the rules for being a part of my life are pretty clear: play nice, or take your ball and go home.

Moving beyond all of that, I have a really large extended family made up of people who have touched my life throughout the years.

My oldest friend is as close to me as my brother, and she keeps me honest by dancing around and pointing out hypocracy or muddled thinking.

I have brothers and sisters around the world from my time in the military, and although we don't talk all that often sometimes, they're always in my thoughts and prayers.

My kids, wife, and I have been adopted by several other families as one of their own, and we have a great time with them at every step.

There's the Hoosiers, of course. Hoosier Mom and Dad adopted the Irish Woman when she was a teenager, and have always been there for her. I met them and their family at the yearly Hoosier Roundup, and Little Bear and Girlie Bear were calling them Grandma and Grandpa by the end of the first day. The rest of the Hoosiers are the big, noisy, loving family that I remember from my family in North Dakota when I was very young, and they just threw us into the mix with the rest of the kids and their kids. Everyone is Aunt that or Uncle this.

We also have another set of adopted grandparents that the kids call Mammaw and Papaw. They are the parents of Little Bear and Girlie Bear's godmother, and they consider us as much family as we consider them.

So, the point of this rambling is:

  1. No relationship, including blood, is worth your sanity. If they can't treat you right, they don't deserve the privelege of being a part of your life.
  2. Genetics doesn't make a family. I love Little Bear no matter who his biological father is. I'm his dad. Hoosier Mom and Dad have loved and cared for Irish Woman for decades, and didn't bat an eye when we asked Hoosier Dad to walk her down the aisle.
So, enough with the emotional stuff. I'm going back to being snarky for a while.

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