They’re weird. It doesn’t matter if you have the “traditional” set of parents – married in their 20’s, never had an affair or gotten a divorce, or maybe your ‘rents never got married and split 3 years after you were born (eh em..). I’ve seen immeasurable versions of what family means to people and they’re all completely unique.
Each one has those quirks, those in jokes that only those involved would understand. For example, my cousin (actually my Mum’s best friend’s daughter) always takes the ribbon off the Christmas crackers and puts it on my fingers, where it stays until it starts cutting off my circulation a few hours later. She’s not a relation to me by blood or marriage but she’s my best friend, cousin and sister rolled into one. I actually only have 3 sets of cousins officially related to me, but i still refer to my Mum’s other best friend’s children as family members.
Looking at my Dad’s side, i’m not hugely clued up on his blood relatives, but my Stepmum’s parents are quite involved. Not to mention, i count some of my ex’s family members as part of my own, which is the thing people find weirdest about my family. Even i admit it’s unusual! I think it’s a combination of me not being great socially and spending huge amounts of time with these 2 people over nearly 2 years. I’ve never been great at clicking with others so i’m reluctant to let go when it does happen, especially as the thought of losing them was the reason i stayed in that relationship longer than i should’ve.
I think the biggest contrast to my family is Tom’s. His parents are together, his sister is married and all his brother-in-law’s family are in long term relationships or married. They’ve merged two complete family units together into one big one and it’s nice, if a bit of a shock for me! I know for a fact the feeling is mutual for him and my family. I love spending time with his family and it’s great to see the dynamics in the room. Obviously everyone is centred around Ashleigh – Laura and Chris’s 2 year old daughter – and she knows it! I’m very much the newcomer at the minute and i’m pretty quiet in large groups but i don’t feel hugely anxious with them.
There’s always going to be those who don’t fit quite in with the family norms, and Tom and i are definitely those people. I suppose it’s less obvious with my family – who very rarely all get together as not everybody gets on, plus there’s far too many of us!
Neither of us could be described as people that like other people, despite both choosing jobs that involve interaction with others, not to mention Tom works a hell of a lot and doesn’t have much spare time. I guess that makes us the black sheep? I mean i know i am! I am the emo cousin everybody has, the crazy one who dropped out of university and spent years unemployed and miserable, bouncing from horrible relationship to horrible relationship and dabbling in illegal things that i probably shouldn’t speak about on a platform that my family members read! The only “normal” thing i’ve done was moving out in my early 20’s and supporting myself financially (most of the time…i’m not perfect).
Putting our unreliability to one side, i’m confident that we’ll find our way when we start our own family. Whether or not that means we get more involved with our larger family groups, or we just stick close to our immediate family…i’m not sure! All i know is that i’m unbelievably grateful to have another group of wonderful people i can think of as family and i hope that will never change.