There's something to be said for having a huge family. Whether it is your natural family or one that has been put together over time, a family can be a wonderful support system.
I do not know if I have ever mentioned it here, but I was adopted. My little brother was too. My mother had endometriosis and could not have children. After seven years of trying, my mom and dad decided to adopt. I do not know how the process went for them, if it was hard or bankruptcy expensive. My mother passed when I was 15 so I have not gotten to hear all the stories. It seems that right when my family was becoming an awesome functioning unit, it was destroyed. My father ended up remarrying soon after, which was a nightmare. That marriage ended at the end of my junior year in high school, and he was quickly on to the next. His last marriage has stuck, albeit rocky, for the last 16 years. My father has been sick for a while, and my brother is also. My little family has been falling apart constantly since that day in 1991.
I started my own little family back in the fall of 1997. Big'K made her introduction into this world to a mother who had no idea what she was doing. We barely made it through the first five years, but managed to both survive and grow along the way. Big'K's father passed away when she was three. There is a theme here. I know. I saw it too. She had never met him and only talked to him once on the phone, but she was rocked and devastated by his death. I talked fondly of him through her whole life and in some way he was her knight in shining armor. When Big'K was five I was deployed in the Army and ended up leaving for a year. Part of which she spent with my father and stepmother, and part of it she spent with my BFF and Juice (who was not juicy back then, and in the last two months has become juicy no longer. but it is the name I have given him here so it will have to stick).
My BFF and I met on a job back in 1998 (this is a post in itself). When I was a bumbling mother and Big'K looked like a poor little homeless kid. As I said, I was a bumbling mother. Doing my best, but really not very good at it. Which is quite sad, because Big'K was truly one of the easiest babies ever. We ended up becoming best friends and this has stuck for almost 12 years. Not long after us meeting she became pregnant with Big'R and had her in 1999. I spent most every weekend over at BFF's house with the girls and Juice. In 2002 the twins, Lil'R and Mid'K made their appearance. When BFF offered to keep Big'K while I deployed I was nervous but knew in my heart it was the right thing to do. We were friends but at that time were not too terribly close. This is where everything changed. After I came back, the bond between BFF and I was very strong, and the girls were best friends. Juice ended up leaving for overseas when the twins were only a year and a half old. Leaving my BFF, who had no intention of ever being a single mom, alone. With three kids. Not very long after he left Lil'K made an appearance. I had always been a single mom. I knew how that life went. The BFF and I made a little family. The two of us with the five kids. We became an awesome functioning unit. Granted we got a ton of 'OMG look at the two lesbians with all those kids' looks. But we made it. Juice was gone for three years. We had our little family and we rocked it.
When Juice came back things were rocky in the beginning. He had left with one wife and three kids and came back to two wives and five kids. He came back to a family that did not have a place for him as he saw it. We had become very accustomed to doing everything. The BFF and I cooked together, handled all the household chores at both houses and managed the kids. He eventually found his place in it all and we are now one huge family. He has a picture on his desk at work of all five of the kids. They all call him dad and know that when they need him he will be there. He checks on the kids and I and is quick to help with no matter what we need. We are an awesome functioning unit.
Recently this unit has been tested and has proven stable and solid yet again. Juice finally realized he had a problem with the juice and got himself dried out and off the vodaka (how we pronounce it when being goofy). It took two weeks and the BFF and I kicked back into high gear and got it done. I have also had two surgeries in the last couple of months, and BFF has been having a lot of Dr. appointments. Yesterday, Lil'R had to have her tonsils out and her sinus' roto rootered. When she came out of surgery she was like a wild animal and was having trouble breathing and bleeding a little too much. So what should have been a four hour trip is turning into a three day ordeal. With the BFF being stuck in a city two hours away in my car with no changes of clothes and me having the other four kids and her truck (that seems to not always wanna run well). It works. It just does. Probably because it is all we know and because we work so hard at it.
For a long time neither my family or hers really understood it. Why would complete strangers do so much for another? Why not?? The phrase 'it takes a village to raise a child' came from somewhere, did it not? My great aunt has told me tons of stories where the men would head to the rice fields and all the women took care of the kids. Every ones kids. We have our own version of a village. And it works well for us. Matter of fact, if more people would make these bonds and form their own little families things would operate a lot smoother for some families. I guess not everyone can do that. I know we can and have...and although they are not my natural family...they are my family. The one I chose.
We support each other, comfort each other, pick up the pieces when one just cannot keep going, and so much more. We are emotionally, physically, and spiritually supportive. We cheer each other up and offer an ear when we need to complain. We accept the children as our own. We love the children as our own too. We discuss major decisions and life changing events with each other. We help out in every area that we can to keep our family afloat. We cook together, eat together, share and laugh together. We have rough times as every other family does, but we get through it because we have each other and love each other.
Because in the end that is what makes a family...love. And we have been blessed with a ton of it!!!
To my BFF: you are an amazing mom and are doing an awesome job!! I love you girl. Hang in there.
Are you lucky enough to have an extended family? Who are they, how did you meet, and how do you share your responsibilities? I would love to know!!