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How Defining the Meaning of Family Has Changed For Me Over the Years

Updated on April 1, 2012

Since I Can Remember This Was My Family

Trying to Define Family

Having a carousel of a childhood my thoughts on defining family and how that's changed have been a carousel ride, going round and round, and round. In reality, until I read the question posted by Peggy W "What defines the meaning of family for you? Has it changed over the years?" it's something I haven't thought about in years. .

As you can see in the picture, by the glimmer in my eyes my dad has always been my heart, along with the pets we loved and have had as long as I can remember. In the beginning it would be what I would call the perfect family unit with mom, dad, uncles, aunts, papas, grandmas, etc. Even the pets were considered part of the family and probably why they are such a huge part of my life today. The older I got the more that definition would change and here's how.

My mom, aunt and I at my grandparents
My mom, aunt and I at my grandparents
Sugarfoot and I with our pretty scrawny Christmas tree
Sugarfoot and I with our pretty scrawny Christmas tree
Are you seeing a theme here? Flicka my horse, my dog Charlie and I
Are you seeing a theme here? Flicka my horse, my dog Charlie and I
My son at his birthday party
My son at his birthday party
My dad and my heart at Universal Studios just a few months before he died.
My dad and my heart at Universal Studios just a few months before he died.

It's Not Always Forever Anymore

Up until the time when my parents separated and then divorced, I guess I thought we were like everybody else in the neighborhood and the typical all American family. We had barbecues with our friend and neighbors, I played with the kids on the block (I was a tom boy so mostly boys), mom and dad worked, school, etc.

Then when I was probably about eight or nine things started to change. My father, along with my uncle began going to church pretty often and sometimes I would even go. My mom was never the church going, saying grace, well you get the idea type. She was what I thought of then as the life of the party and always wanted to be the socialite about town, which was pretty cool when your that age. The arguing began, (well my mom yelled while dad sat there and took it) when dad stopped drinking, cussing, and not wanting to be the "family" mom wanted us to be.

About a year later (if that long) I came home from skating one night and mom wasn't there. It wasn't that unusual then because she liked going to see the "girls" (so not the case) but this time I knew there was something different. When I asked my dad and he told me she had left and was staying with a friend I knew I had to be strong for him. I don't blame my mom or my dad for the separation now, people change, but let me tell you then was a different story. It wasn't her leaving it was the lying to me about things afterwards.

My mom would come to visit me and take me to lunch in her big old fancy black Bonneville, and told me the story of how she was staying with a girlfriend from work and it was her car. Then when I was at the skating rink one night a few of my so called girlfriends came up and told me how they had met my new step father and step sister at the rink on Wednesday night. I told them they were nuts and wanted to know if it was some sort of a joke. You see I never went to the rink on Wednesdays only on the weekends and my mom knew it.

After realizing she had been there and they were telling me the truth I called my dad to come get me. When he told me the truth, that she was living with another man and his daughter and he didn't have the heart to tell me she was lying to me. It was like I went to this whole other side that I can't even explain. My dad was crying and I had never seen that before and never wanted to see it again. The worst part of it was at that moment I wanted to hurt the one responsible for his tears more than life itself and that feeling lasted for years.

I assure you that night my definition of family changed and it honestly was something I never wanted to be a part again because I saw the destruction and hurt it could cause. As the years passed I turned to suppressing every emotion possible and when I visited my mom I terrorized my step father while my mother watched on a regular basis. I called him every name in the book and even threatened his life once (ok more than once) when he wouldn't take my mom to the doctor. I was needless to say, out of control.

I apologize for the length of this story but I guarantee you that if you think about this story just for a split second when getting ready to explain how the definition of family in your house is going to change to your children, maybe you'll tell them the truth, together and leave the lies for someone else.

I am blessed to this day for my family, my dad, his love, patience, and unbelievable dedication to being a great dad and grandfather. My father never remarried, shoot he never even dated because it was all about me. He helped raised my son due to my inability to stay married, bouts with sobriety, and in my opinion my lack of knowledge as to what it took to be a great mom. I did ok I mean there was no abuse, etc, but it was nothing like what I thought he deserved.


Family Defined Now

Family now consists of my closest and dearest friends, my pets and those that are still in my heart. I have gained the ability to trust again and get a little closer anyway. It's funny because some of my friends have families which I've watched grow into what I would still classify as your typical definition of family and I sit in awe. But I guess it's not so typical anymore is it?

Have an incredible day!


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    • Charlu profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Florida

      Hi visionandfocus Thanks for your wonderful comments and know that now all is forgiven and I realize that it made me the person I am today. I wonder sometimes how anyone could hate, want revenge beyond life itself, and numerous other destructive emotions could exist in such a young child and thank God everyday that he watched over me The worst part is seeing it ten fold in others today and the new consequences it brings.

      My only wish and prayer is that maybe others will try to explain situations in truth and allow their children the respect that they not only deserve, but will appreciate beyond belief later in life. We all make mistakes in life (I can't even begin to count) whether it's relationships, etc., but it's how we deal with them that can affect so many. Have an incredible day and thanks again

    • visionandfocus profile image


      5 years ago from North York, Canada

      Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. I had tears in my eyes as I read it. Children of divorce have it so hard, and when parents do not tell them the truth, it just makes everything so much worse for everyone concerned. I suppose we all live and learn and each person is doing the best they can at any one time. It's easy to judge and hard to forgive, and no-one's perfect, and that's a lesson in itself. Tough when a child has to go through all that. I wish you well and trust that your inner strength and cherished memories sustain you.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      There are many people and they have own thought. There is not a rool that we love a oposite sex.

    • Charlu profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Eliminate Cancer I know this is gonna sound weird but I kind of think of it as the trust test that some therapists do. If I can fall back without hesitation knowing they will be there to catch me, that's trust with love, faith, and considered family to follow.(I don't really do the test) I know, strange but true. Thanks for sharing and your wonderful comments. Take Care

    • Eliminate Cancer profile image

      Eliminate Cancer 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      I am divorced. My parents were divorced. I love your look on it - family is where there is love and commitment.

    • Charlu profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Peggy Thanks for the wonderful caring comments and votes. My childhood just made me strong enough to handle other obstacles in life and there are still a lot of good cherished memories. Thanks again and I love your hub

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Charlu,

      I could feel the pain pass right through these words you used in telling this story about the divorce that took place between your parents and the reason why. That was obviously so hard on you and your dad.

      There is an old saying..."You can choose your friends, but not your relatives." So true. Thank heavens you had your devoted dad by your side all of those years. Some kids do not even have one parent by their side, sadly.

      Animals are always so loving, giving and non-judgemental. It is no wonder you love them so!

      Thanks for sharing this very personal part of yourself with the rest of us. Enjoy the balance of your weekend. Voted up and useful. Perhaps it will help others.


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