Let me tell you what I learned in school today:
An “intentional family” are two or more people who are not related by blood or marriage but call themselves a family and usually share much of their lives with each other.
Today I am sharing with you my intentional family. As I have ended up in many places over these years I find I end up with a lot of intentional families, you have probably already heard of some of them but I do not want to try to recall which posts those would be in. It could be a scavenger hunt for you though, if you are up for it.
After deciding that Dal was not my thing and taking some time to consider what I wanted, I was offered a room to rent, food to eat and a family to call family. Thinking about it now, I actually did not know much about these people. The only way we were connected was through paddling, I worked at a place, they paddled at a place. Bam. Intentional Family. Little did I know that within…months of being part of this family I would feel like I had lived there forever. In just a little over 3 months time, it will have been a full year that they have had to deal with me :-) I say that with humor…hoping they take it that way too.
Without giving too many details about this group of people, I think they deserve the privacy, I will tell you this: Most people do a great job of making a house a house. Once you become part of this “house” you feel as though you have a place but usually no purpose. Then there are those who make a house a home. In this home you feel like you have a purpose, not just as the person who sleeps there. You have your values and beliefs and you can be proud of them. I will admit, I am a ball full of high expectations for people and that is likely not to change any time soon. I am a handful when I have problems and I usually do not shut up about it until I am certain they will not return. In THIS home, you feel like you were meant to be there all along. Sure, nothing can change the bond and understanding between a parent and their daughter but I like to think that you can come pretty close. That is my naivety shining through, always thinking that people care as much as you do. I am optimistic enough to believe that my struggles and re-directions happened for a reason and that I was meant to end up in a family who have equally as high moral expectations of me (even when I sometimes do not want them). To be apart of something that has taught me more about family in a short year than I have experienced in my lifetime is rare. I say this because I learned how to be an only-child in my family and while my parents (from what others have said) did a decent job of not making a classic stereotype of an only-child, I still was very much alone to my thoughts and was in my own world.
So, what have I learned about not being an only child…
1) “Yours, Mine, Ours” is a very real thing.
My only ideas about what it was like to have siblings came from watching a few brief episodes of 19 Kids and Counting, Jon & Kate Plus 8, The Brady Bunch and the famous, “Yours, Mine and Ours” (the old version with Lucille Ball). The plus to this is that I now know who my clothes are going to, the downside is I get to watch my once favourite clothes be worn by someone who wears them much better.
Also, “hand me-ups” is a thing now.
2) “It WAS clean” is something I end up saying in my head a lot.
Growing up being the only young person to do chores means you watch your own work. One minute something is there, you remove it, it is now gone. Being in a slightly larger family, one minute something is there, you remove it, the empty spot is replaced with something else by someone else. Trust me, it took me awhile to figure out this strange magic.
3) You have to label things.
Or colour coordinate them, shower poofs and tooth brushes are great examples of things that should not be shared.
4) I can get laundry done a lot more.
Rather than having to wait for a whole load of only my stuff to be ready (which, when I was at home could take at least the week), the perk is someone is always laundering something so…do you mind throwing this hoodie in too, please?
5) Coordinating weekends is not a one person show.
I use to wonder how odd it was that parents would get all their kids signed up in the same activity, close to the same time. “Where’s the freedom in that?” I would think. Extra time is freedom, people. For example, in one weekend, there was a double sleepover, a 5-hour long college shopping adventure, a paint store adventure and a shopping mall extravaganza.
6) Competition exists everywhere.
Maybe this is just unique to this situation but I find myself hanging from a chin-up bar a lot more often than I used to. Or competing against a husky during a run is a lot harder than it sounds.
7) More people, more opinions, more dinner conversations.
This comes in handy when writing research papers. What is your take on the evolution of childhood?
8) Asking “How was your day?” is a long process.
The day of someone who works, someone who studies in college, someone who studies in University and someone who studies in grade school can easily set the tone for the remainder of the evening. Whereas previously asking the question took as much time as answering it.
9) I thought I needed an alarm clock. Having other people who get up earlier than you do will do just fine.
If for some reason you have overslept your allotment of sleeping hours, someone will always make sure you are not too comfortable in the warmth of your bed.
10) You are almost never alone.
While I enjoyed my early days sitting in my room imagining worlds and creating the next vaccine to cure stuffed animal cancer (which was really just over stuffed parts of a toy sheep), I think I secretly longed for company. I will tell you straight up that the thought of associating with another child disgusted me but yet I feel like I had always missed something. It is the idea that though you may not be doing the same thing together, the comfort of human warmth surrounds you everywhere. It is something that I never really felt up until these last few years.
What I am describing to you might just be your ordinary every day living. But, to someone like myself, your ordinary is far from my ordinary. It is amazing the power that family can have on you. Family you are born to, family you acquire. I am enough of a realistic person to know that I cannot reach every person that I meet, but I do think I hold enough optimism to try and give it a go anyhow.