Tuesday, June 14, 2011

On Family

I grew up in a two parent home. There really isn't much to say about this because I have friends who grew up in one parent homes or stepparent two parent homes or absent parent homes and for the most part, if there were things we struggled with as kids. those struggles weren't all that different for each of us on a very fundamental level. And what was different or more difficult for some to overcome eventually became what makes our goals, priorities and desires different as adults, thus adding to the diversity of who we are. And these people I know despite or actually mostly *because of* the shape of their families are all normally functioning people who want to be good and contribute in any way they can to the communities around them.

Well, except for the fact that they're friends with me so they must all be off in some way or another or at least have terrible judgement.

I also know people who grew up in two parent homes that have struggled their whole lives to deal with a childhood lived in a cold steel structure because their parents thought the right thing to do was stay together despite abusive situations or unhappiness or the fact that they hated each other's guts and could barely keep the steak knives in their appropriate places at the dinner table.

Because building relationships and family is hard. Really hard. First you have to find someone you're attracted to. Then one of you has to convince the other that you're worth each other's time. Then, as time goes on and you get past the "You put ketchup on your eggs?? I put ketchup on my eggs too!!" conversations and into the "Here are our individual hopes and dreams for the future. Can we work on them together? Do we want to work on them together?" conversations and THEN into the "I REALLY FUCKING HATE IT WHEN YOU DON'T PUT THE KETCHUP AWAY AFTER BREAKFAST!" conversations and on and on. And then there are those nerve wracking moments every so often where you put the foundation you've built in question and make sure you still want to do this with each other knowing how terrible it can be when the answer is no. And each year and layer of life adds another piece of the puzzle and a little more complication and work to all of this.

But yet, we still do it. Even though from a biological standpoint, we don't have to anymore. There are as many of us as there are cockroaches, our only enemies on the food chain are other humans (well, and bears probably) and we already can't support what we've built to sustain our species forever. Not to mention the fact that a few people keep making these promises that the world is going to end soon. So by all accounts, we should be giving up on all of this work. But what continues to make us want to form our little family units anyway despite this progression into…a lack of necessity?

Possibly something big like love? Or possibly something boring like stability? Or possibly when it boils down to it, the fact is that its WAY more fun to get deep into life when you have a sidekick to experience it with you. And whatever trouble you get in or goals you do or don't reach or shit that gets thrown your way, its always easier when someone is there to pick you up off the floor or make you laugh or ask you to do the same for them when they need it.

Right now, there's this unbelievably weird and inexplicable idea in our society that the only real and recognized type of sidekick is one that fits into the very specific category of being the opposite gender as you. And it doesn't matter if you've thrown your whole heart and being into someone that doesn't fit this specific requirement and it doesn't matter if you've gone through the work of building a home or adding to your family or helping each other through illness or change in career or extended family gatherings or taking the dog out for walks in -10 degree weather. It doesn't count.

The people who think this way want you to believe that there's a god somewhere that made this rule. That, for whatever reason, this god made us to be *exactly* the way we are but our love for each other doesn't count unless that one little box is checked.

So to those people, I ask-is it worth it to you? Is all the work you do to maintain your household and family, worth what you get from it? Do you feel like if tomorrow brought a layoff notice or a cancer diagnosis or a sudden desire to see the pyramids in person, do you feel like you have someone to back you up? When your kid gets a fever in the middle of the night or needs help with homework or discovers what kinds of things can be done with a book of matches, do you feel like you've got someone to help you share the responsibility of keeping them healthy and guiding them on the right path? If you don't have this, is it something you wish for?

And if any of that is true, can you please explain to me what right you feel you have to deny this to someone else? What authority do you think you have to go into someone's home, point your finger and say "Your family isn't real."?

Because I just don't get it. I don't get how we can possibly think that not only denying someone the equality of recognition when it comes to the shape of their family but *passing into law* something that will *legally* separate a person from their sidekick and their families during the times they need each other the most is in any way acceptable.

This is not a matter of having a difference of opinion or religious belief. It is plain and simple a matter of cruelty. And what I hope more than anything else is that it stops. For the sake of my friends, their families, their love for each other and the already immense amounts of work they put into keeping each other together in this weird, backward society of ours, I hope that it ends. And I hope *if* there continues to be some among us who refuse to recognize the shapes of families that look different from theirs that they keep it to themselves and maybe in some future, see the error of this ridiculous, hateful thinking.

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