As I grew up I never really had a secure definition of family. I have three brothers and one sister, all with different parents. There’s no one mother and one father in the equation. I’m closest with my brother from another mother.
Funny how it just happened that way.
As a child I didn’t identify the labels and titles that are put on families today. I didn’t know what a single parent household was, blended families, dual parenting, divorced, stay at home dad, single father, widowed, orphaned family, etc. If these titles did exist I was unaware and it didn’t matter. I didn’t need a legal guardian because someone was always watching over me. They may have been a blood relative but just as easily not related.
I did go through this temporary stage where I thought that in some way I was less than the other traditional families. It didn’t last long because I had so many caring people around me that it didn’t matter. I mean I’ve had co-workers that loved me deeper than I could ever overlook. My “aunts’ from the OHA Office of Hearings and Appeals in Baltimore, MD. Diane, Karen, Judy, Vernice, Terron, all of them, they aided my navigation through college; women, money, career, you name it…they were there. They were and still are extended family. There was never a void of love and caring in my life. My mother, grandfather, uncles, even friends were a huge part of my definition of family. I’ve been a part of many extended families in my life. I’ve learned to look at the best of the extended families and exemplify them in my life. The roles that I’ve been exposed to have had a huge impact on me and my decisions. As I matured I grew desiring what I didn’t have…the nucleus of family; husband, wife, grandparents, kids, dog, etc. I don’t like the whole half-person, step-something, titles. This not what I choose for my family, I don’t agree with the media projection of the “modern family”. This is the norm now, perpendicular to what I want for my family.
I don’t want half and step children in my family. It’s a little archaic but that’s what I want. My dating preference has been predicated on dating a woman without children. Equally, I want to be the full package to my wife; not my girlfriend or baby momma, my wife. I will be the husband, father, uncle, God-father that I’ve seen in my life. I’ve gathered all those roles and made them into one role for me. What I didn’t have as a child, I desperately want for my children, that selfish commitment to my family. I think that’s the goal of a parent…making sure your children are better off than you. You can keep those negative black male stereotypes, I want to remind people what’s possible through my example. Sounds kinda arrogant but why follow a negative trend. I never liked stereotypes, especially about family.
Family is your beginning, it’s your nucleus.
It’s not the people who support you when you are doing wrong. It’s the people who try to stop you or talk you out of doing wrong. It’s not the friend that’s around when you have a new car…it’s the person catching the bus with you. Family is not the people who are your relatives, it’s the people who really know who you are. They can detect when something is wrong, they know when you’re not happy. It’s not always the people who raised you but it’s the people who love you. I have friends that are not related to me but I have a deeper bond to them than some of my family members.
I pursue the traditional family that I’ve wanted around me. I’ve learned that family is what you make it. That’s my message…just because your environment has been fractured or inconsistent, it doesn’t mean the family you start has to be dysfunctional or flawed.
My mother had me enrolled in Girard College, a school for boys when I was about 13 years old. Attending GC was the biggest catalyst for success in my life. It affected everything exponentially in my life. Girard or GC is a boarding school and I lived on campus with 30 other classmates. I enrolled in Girard when I was in 7th grade, and when you live with that many “brothers” for five years, you are family. Attending Girard College and graduating with the great class of ’88 changed my life. I didn’t know I would inherit all the families of my graduating class. So my family identity encompasses many families…but I’ll address that in my next blog: Brotherhood: 2 of 3
“Family is the most important thing in the world.” Princess Diana