My family is not broken

image courtesy Google Images

I’ve been watching Mad Men a great deal lately.

I like it for the sap, the storyline, and the amazing clothes.

The men in my house like it for Christina Hendricks’ boobs. And maybe I do too a little.

Several episodes I’ve recently watched have made use or mention of the phrase “broken family” or “broken home.”

And I get it. It’s a phrase. People use it. I can even see how it applies a bit. I get the imagery.

“What God hath joined together let no man tear asunder,” or something to that effect.

Well, great. I’m happy that people have a picturesque tableau in their minds and all that.

But guess what, people? Fairy tales are shit. Cinderella’s feet probably got sweaty and fogged up in those glass slippers (I had a teacher in seventh grade who wore clear pageant shoes all the time and her feet did that), and I bet Prince Charming spilled his chamberpot a time or two. And ‘happily ever after’ could totally mean that Cinderella walked away with a tidy divorce settlement and lived independently off her alimony.

I’m not saying people never last forever.

They do.

People stay together through thick and thin and wrong and right. Stubborn people. People who don’t say going in, “if you do x, y, and z, I’m done. DONE.”

In my experience, those are exactly the things that end up happening.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying let someone hit you or hurt you or tell you you’re worthless. Please don’t do that. Please.

What I’m saying is that just because people have a fairy tale picture in their minds as some sort of abstract goal, nothing – NOTHING – backs that up as being true.

I had a pretty wedding. Friends cheered me on and family ate cake.

But it was makeup on a bunch of acne scars, and…well, shit happens.

The next time I was married because I wanted more than anything to be connected to one person – this person – forever.

And I have been. Will be. Through it all.

Our family is strange. It’s true. I watch tv every night with the love of my life and one of my best friends, who also happens to be the father of 2/3 of my children. They talk about football. We all laugh and hug and kiss all the kids.

My kids run down the driveway every day to catch the bus with no clue that people think our home is “broken.”
Lucy, Max, and Ava don’t love each other half way. That shit is full on.

Our situation is rare but it’s not broken. It’s exactly the opposite. We are each better because of the way we choose to live.

Max throws the football with Josh, plays chess with Dan (who actually has enough patience for it).
Ava paints nails with me, plays ball with the boys, shares her old clothes with the baby.
Lucy steals iPhones out of pockets indiscriminately, and we all turn on Yo Gabba Gabba or play peekaboo at least once a day.

Give and take. Live and learn. We pick up shoes and we do dishes and we cook meals. We bicker and fight and annoy the shit out of each other all in turn.

And we do it not to fix something that’s been destroyed, not to put a mask on something that’s completely false…

We do it because we are the whole. We aren’t a broken family, a blended family, or anything like that.

We’re a family.

The end.

5 thoughts on “My family is not broken

  1. Emily, you really need to get a copy of some of the original Grimm’s fairy tales… the Disney versions pretty them up, but in the originals, they are quite disturbing – its been awhile since I read Cinderella, but the prince finds her b/c her glass shoe cuts her foot and he follows the blood trail (thats probably wrong, but who knows – I remember alot of blood and some such stuff)… yeah, that was totally rambly

  2. After my first divorce I felt this way-well my first husband and I remained friends through it all, so I never felt that first family was broken either. Matter of fact, I still feel like my first ex, and his wife are an extension of my family thru my sons. But when my second husband walked out while I was ill? I feel like in many ways he did in fact did break my family, with some help unfortunately. My sons took their stepfather walking out worse than my divorce from their dad. And my daughter who is from my second marriage feels her home is broken and expresses it often. Because I had a stepdaughter, and she barely sees her sister now. None of her siblings are ever in the same house and her sister is never home when she visits her dad. I think the term in it’s original use is outdated, but if the divorce was traumatic- or perhaps for second families like ours, then the family is really broken afterward. In a nuclear family the kids stay together post divorce, and in a blended family…they sadly and often just don’t. I wish for all my kids heal…all of them…even the one I was a mom to for 6 plus years who is no longer considered my child. Thanks for posting-this brought me back to how I felt a few years ago. I posted lots of blogs like it too.

  3. I know you’re describing only your own family, here, but as a person whose parents divorced when I was 12 (as did my spouse’s, oddly), whose father then divorced his second wife (as did my mother in law her second husband), who has to negotiate a complicated battlefield of 20 year old grievances every time I have a birthday party for one of my kids, or there is a holiday, or someone gets married, “broken” is the perfect word to describe what happened, and continues to happen, to me.

  4. A broken family is a family that no longer works. It ceases to function…hence, it’s broken. All families are imperfect, not all families are broken. Your family clearly works.

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