The Brady Bunch gave America a glimpse into a blended family when it began airing in 1969. Now in 2014, step parents, half siblings and blended families are quite frequent. It’s not abnormal for children to share only one parent and have siblings double their age. It’s not uncommon for marriages to become divorces and then new marriages. I’m not here to judge any of the above situations but they do make family trees quite complicated.
You see, my family tree cannot be easily confined to a single tree. No, my family, well, we need a whole forest.
Many trees, blended colors. This might be close to my family forest. // Source: Etsy
Now, before I get started trying to paint my own family forest for you, I want to make myself perfectly clear: I don’t believe family is about blood or DNA or branches on a tree. Family is defined by those who have made life-long impressions on you, those who you celebrate, commiserate and emotionally connect with and those who you couldn’t imagine not in your life, who have impacted you beyond words. *steps off soapbox*
I have three siblings – an older brother (Germany), a younger brother (Tubesocks) and a younger sister (Moo). I also am the oldest, youngest, middle and only child. Perplexed? I am the oldest of my dad’s kids (me, Tubesocks and Moo), the youngest of my mom’s kids (Germany and me), the only child between my mom and dad but the middle child overall.
Let’s take it one step further, Germany has a daughter, Beauty, who is one month older than Tubesocks. I used to babysit Beauty, Tubesocks and Moo during the summer. One day, I overheard a conversation between Beauty and Tubesocks, they couldn’t have been more than 9 at the time. They were trying to figure out how they were related to each other, if Beauty was Tubesocks’s aunt or if they were cousins. I just told them it was complicated because I don’t really know the answer to that one. I’m Beauty’s aunt and Tubesocks’s sister but Beauty’s dad isn’t Tubesocks’s brother (or half brother or step brother, for that matter). My head hurts.
I also have called 10 people grandma or grandpa in my life including a great grandma who is over a century old (yay for good genetics!). So, if we’re getting technical, I obviously can only have four genetic grandparents – a mother and father to my mother and a mother and father to my father. But my step mom has her parents, which makes two more grandparents. But they divorced when she was young and then remarried, so that’s two more grandparents. Plus, Gma R, my step mom’s step dad’s mom, is still going strong.
We haven’t even touched on aunts, uncles, cousins or children of cousins (or first cousins once removed according to Wikipedia; they’re considered nieces and nephews in my family.)
And then Mr. PB’s family. His family doesn’t involve as many steps as my does; his mom’s side is actually pretty simple to understand. His dad’s side gets a bit confusing, though, because his Gma M has been a long-time foster parent and even adopted some of her foster children. So Mr. PB has aunts and uncles that are by blood, by adoption or by association after growing up with Gma M as their mom, adoptive mom or foster mom.
Family can be complicated and crazy and a million other things. But I cannot wait for the opportunity for Mr. PB and me to celebrate with our families, our loved ones on our wedding day.
Is your family complicated as well? Are you in the same boat as me with steps and halves and lots more people to love you?