Dear Atticus, family matters

Dear Atticus,

Today is your grammy’s birthday! Nothing would make her happier than for you to let me sleep through the night. Just saying.

Love this shot of Mom.

This seems like a good time to talk to you about family. When I was growing up, I was close to many of my aunts and uncles and cousins. I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house. My definition of family has always included all those other people, the aunts and uncles and cousins that I still spend my holidays with. I had a sense, growing up, that family was the most important thing, the one thing you could count on. I love my friends and I want to make them a priority, but I don’t necessarily feel that I learned how to do that. The people we focused on were, for the most part, people we were related to.

I cannot give you the same experience. You will not have three loving grandparents and an extra helping of aunts and uncles. You won’t have dozens of cousins. You have some older cousins, and you may one day have some younger ones. But there’s not going to be someone close to your age who you will see regularly, who will be part of your childhood and holiday memories. I still see the people who were an important part of my childhood, and that is what I would wish for you, mainly because it’s what I know and it feels safe.

That is not to say that I always felt as if I fit in, even in my own family. Because I didn’t. So even if we cannot give you the same volume of family, your dad and I want you to know where and with whom you belong. That is one of our priorities, to make sure you know where your place is – with us, with our extended family, with our church family, and with our friends. We have thought a lot about the things that made us feel grounded and safe and how we can do the same for you.

I have to admit that it frightens me a little bit that our idea of family will be changing. Not only are you coming, but my cousins are getting married and starting families of their own. We are all getting older. The family I have seen at holidays my whole life will have to adjust to these changes. But the scary part is balanced out by knowing that we will be learning how to make a place just for you. The good news is that the parties that have already been thrown in your honor have reassured me that people are excited about making a space for you. Or, to be more exact, there was already a space in all of our lives, and we are excited about you coming in and filling it for us.


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