I am the youngest in a family of six. Or at least I was until very recently. At 50, this isn’t something I’d expected to change, but it has. I’m still the baby, and I’m still 50, it’s just that if you count my parents, I am now #7 in the family lineup. Lucky #7.
Discovering and connecting with a previously unknown sibling has opened up a range of emotions I never imagined even existed. Overwhelmingly, this has been – is – an awesome and wonderful experience. But I won’t deny that it has been a strange ride.
Finding my brother (and his extraordinary wife, who is already like another sister) is the easy part. He is cool and funny and talented and, well, amazing. He’s my brother, what else would he be?
But realizing that your clan held a different structure reminds me of just how fluid the notion of family really is.
Like many adults, I have friends who know me better than some of my blood relations. Whenever I visit my best friend from childhood, for example – we’ve known each other nearly 40 years – it is as if we were together just the day before. Because we choose to be friends, we never feel the need to keep up with any false expectations. We see each other when we can and keep in touch as much as possible in between. Neither years nor oceans have ever kept us apart. Ours is the easiest relationship I have.
When it comes to my writing, I have a (largely online) community of women writers – most of whom I’ve never even met in person – to turn to. This sisterhood of scribes gets me in ways that nobody else can and being linked to them is a lifeline to my otherwise solitary existence as a writer.
My partner, my love, in many ways knows me better than anyone else because he knows me now, even as now updates constantly. Although we’ve only been together a few years, he has heard my history but, most importantly, he is a part of who I have become, so this sets his role apart from the others, as well.
And the beautiful woman I claim as my daughter, my gorgeous Coralie, is actually no relation at all. I was her foster-mother for a year in her teens, but our relationship, again, is unique. She fostered me as much as I did her. Through her I learned about maternal love and the powerful bond these two positions have in life – mother and daughter – from a perspective I’d never before experienced since I have no biological children of my own.
Through Coralie I also enjoy the role of grandmother. Lovingly referred to as Mamouche – a French endearment – I’m considered the spare granny. Coralie’s kids already have a full-set of grandparents, but one can never have too many, I suppose, so I fill in some sort of gap on that front, as well.
And then there is my role as aunt – Auntie M they call me. I feel so privileged to be the aunt of my four – now five – amazing nieces and nephews. I am somewhere between an extra mom and super cool (their words, not mine – really!) older friend.
My oldest brother and his wife met when she and I were roommates in college. One of my favorite people on the planet is my Godmother – again, no blood relation but our bond is one I treasure to this day. My partner’s adult daughter and I are still getting to know one another, but I think of her as my own…and on and on the extended connections go.
My family comes from a range of places and relationships – some are blood, some are not; some I know intimately, some I have never met. I love my family and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Lucky me; lucky #7.