I come from a big family who came from big families. My grandfather was one of eight siblings, my mother is one four siblings, and my mother and each of her siblings has had three kids. Now those three kids are all starting to have three (or more!) kids.
Except for me.
I’m married, and, if things go according to plan, we won’t ever have kids. Or, as some of my family members have put it “start a family.” Now, I take issue with that phrase…
When the last time one of the members of my enormous family asked me, “So when are YOU going to start a family?” I couldn’t help but reply, “I already have!” For a moment, I almost felt bad for getting snarky, because her eyes lit up with glee, “Really!?” “Yup, you were there when I started.” Glee turned to a look of confusion, slightly startled. “Remember when Aaron and I got married? Done!” Family. Fucking. Started. No kids necessary.
Which is not to say you have to get married to start to family, but my particular family unit happens to be just me and that guy I married. Does that make MY family any less “familial” than my cousin, his wife, and their three-going-on-four kids? Because I’m pretty sure I feel as crazy about, and as close to my family of two as anyone feels towards their family of five or six.
The members of my little family are not related by blood, but apparently neither was I blood related to the woman I called my “aunt” all my life. When I got old enough to learn she wasn’t blood-related, related-by-marriage, or anything like that, I was shocked. But afterwards I loved her and didn’t consider her to be anything less than my aunt. (Hell, the same can be said for adopted family members!) I also have blood relatives that I wouldn’t even pause to throw a rope to if they were drowning on a warm day and I was wearing an uncomfortable jacket MADE of rope.
Blood… children… a family needs not these things.
Just like any family complete with kids, we have our rough times, and we both tough it out. We, at times miserably, stick together, and work on the relationship. Because we’re a family and we love each other, gawd-damn-it. In fact, I actually fight harder to keep our family together and in healthy working order than I will with my family of origin, because he and I are my favorite family — the family that I got to CHOOSE.
And when I think about what’s best for my family, yes, I’m really just thinking about what’s best for Aaron and me (and, sometimes, the dogs — but that’s a totally different post). But I do actually think, in my mushy little brain’s inner monologue, “What’s best for my family?”
Because, even if there’s only two of us… hey, that’s all it actually took to start my family.