Who your family is, is who you want it to be

**for my children**
Today I received an email from my aunt, sharing with me a conversation she had with her daughter at bedtime.  It seems Miss K, who is slightly younger than my Doodlebug, was talking about me and kept referring me as Aunt Lisa. My aunt tried again to explain to K that I was her cousin even though I was much older than her other cousins and that my mom was really her aunt. K stated very clearly that she knew that already. I imagine it sounded a lot like “duuuhhh mom, I know that!” Then she asked if she could just call me “Aunt Lisa” because she likes me that way. My aunt, the woman who I have called my “other mother” for 35 years and still call on Mother’s Day even though she now has a child of her own, she turned to K and said:
“sure Lisa gets to be whatever you want her to be for you…”
I wish I could have hugged her. I know it seems like an insignificant thing but to have her let her daughter take control of the kind of relationship she wants to have with me, or anyone else, is wonderful!
I take my kids to visit family. I use proper “titles”. I teach them to write thank you notes. I assist them in making phone calls. I send pictures and updates. I do my part, as their parent, to make the initial connection available.
The rest is up to them and the other person. If they “click” – great. If not – fine. There comes a time, however, when I have to step back, the connection has been made, the seed planted and it becomes my child’s job to water it (and the other person). This is the moment where my child will learn to feed their own family garden. As they grow, they will learn that some flowers never bloom. Sometimes, you have to plant seeds from other garden’s flowers and take them into your garden, as your family. It’s a tough lesson, but one that must be learned.

Tending your garden of relationships is so hard. It can be heartbreaking. Watering the seedling for years and never seeing growth. That is when God sends the wind, carrying a seed to our garden, becoming our family. The family He has chosen for us even if it’s not “from our garden”. It is so important to me that my kids know that family is more than just the people you were born to, and that sometimes, even if you water it right and feed it and give it sunshine and love – it just won’t grow.

And that’s okay.
Because somewhere you have an “aunt” that isn’t your aunt, a grandma that is really a neighbor, and  a sister that you’ve never met, all growing strong in your family garden.
Make your family, with the seeds God blew your way. Don’t plow the seedlings under, but feed what blooms; and plant your seeds in gardens that will water you.


4 thoughts on “Who your family is, is who you want it to be

  1. Carolyn (temysmom) says:

    Seriously one of the best posts I have ever read. Ever.
    I have family members who I have tried all my life to get along with and for one reason or another we just have not clicked at all. Sad but true. Then, there are other people who have been distant relatives or not related at all who are more my “family” than my real family. We have a weird generational thing in our family. My father’s first cousin is my age and we grew up together. Love her. My real first cousins I don’t even speak to anymore. And… my Uncle’s second wife (they married when I was an adult) is more an Aunt to me than his first wife ever was.
    Family is funny isn’t it?

  2. Sassafrashill says:

    Oh, I love serious Tadey! This is beautiful – it made me cry. Most of my ‘family’ are ppl I’m not kin to at all. You’re absolutely right. Family is who you want it to be. And I choose you, my sister. MWAH!!!

  3. Eryn says:

    This is a great post, Lisa! My MIL has 4 female cousins that grew up like sisters, they were all born within 2 years of each other. Tom grew up calling them “Aunt Rhonda” etc.
    It was very confusing for me when I was meeting everyone when I was trying to figure out how his grandmother had so many kids, but they’re all very close. I think it’s wonderful.

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