This family of two has cherished being a duo, but finds themselves evolving to a different kind of family.
What is the right size for a family?
When my son was born, I was overjoyed. And very sad. I was raised by divorced parents, and had multiple step parents over the years. I’ve never believed that “nuclear” families was the only way to go, but I had also never thought about being in a family of two, with me as the only adult. But, my son’s biological father has a child from a previous relationship and didn’t want more. So when I realized I was pregnant and didn’t want to abort, that was the end of that. My wee family of two was born.
For the next few years, my son and I were each others’ focus. In retrospect, I consider myself lucky to not have had to try to maintain and nourish an adult relationship while learning how to parent through complete exhaustion, returning to work, first steps, first falls, and all the rest. My son got complete consistency (one parent, one set of rules!), and didn’t have to share my attention with an adult. And because I’m his only parent, I got *all* the hugs and smiles and love. Which is not to say it was easy, or is now, but there were definite benefits—from my perspective—to a family of two. We are very closely bonded.
A size of two works really well. Though, when it comes down to it, it was never really just us two.
Our family also extended to people like the very close friend who lived nearby and has a daughter of a similar age, who breastfed my son at eight weeks when I ate far too much garlic and he was unwilling to nurse from me. The sister who has two kids older than mine and never found any of my numerous parenting questions or concerns to be stupid, or at least to let on that they were. The mom who would come from five hours away to stay with me every two months to help me catch up with laundry and give me a guilt-free break for an evening. The guy who built a robot for my son and brought making music back to my life. The life-long friend who would come to my place for dinner and wine whenever I needed some adult conversation. These people, and many more like them, were also part of our family.
More works even better.
Now, the family count has expanded even further. Over the past seven years of my son’s life, I developed a strong network of amazing women through countless “women and wine” nights in my living room (because going out was difficult, being a sole parent). My mom and stepdad moved to town last year and absolutely love taking my son for sleepovers. Neighbours and fellow community members who were acquaintances until recently are becoming larger parts of my life. Having their own kids, getting to know my family, we’re becoming closer, depending on each other, and looking forward to having each other in our lives for years to come. Separately, my son’s family has increased: his paternal grandparents have had a relationship with him since he was one, and his father decided he wanted contact with him a few years ago. They all spend time with him every second weekend and he has an older half-brother to argue with.
Big families work too.
Our “everyday” family of two is morphing as well. I am involved with an incredible man who has a wonderful daughter just a bit older than my son, and we’re in the process of combining our households—a rather terrifying and exciting prospect for both of us. Learning how to be an “everyday” family of four is already interesting, and we haven’t even found the right house, yet.
Four might also be pretty fantastic, from the looks of things.
I’ve never been altogether convinced that the concept of family has anything to do with blood, or who you grew up with. My idea of family includes the people you can depend on, and who can depend on you. Who you love and who love you back. It’s fluid, adjusting as needed with the path life takes.
Whether blood family, “everyday” family, or chosen family—family always comes in the right size.
This is #1000families post number 171. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.
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