Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Anti-Harried Wives Club: Family Is Not About Blood

I'm paraphrasing Jesus here, but he says "Who is my mother? My Brothers? My kin? My Mother, My Brother, My Sister is whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven!"

Blood does not make a family! Family is about a spiritual connection formed by doing the Will of God. Occasionally, blood and grace co-exist in a beautiful harmony. For example, think of the Martin Family (the family of the Little Flower) -- where the Mother, the Father and the youngest Child are all recognized Catholic Saints.

For most of us, that is not the spiritual reality of our families of origin or our in-laws. The world being what it is today, its going to be uncommon to have a Martin like experience at the Thanksgiving table tomorrow.

That's why, I can't take those digs at my life personally. Of course, no one in my extended family is going to think that it's a good idea for me to stay home another year, keep homeschooling, avoid overcommitment in sports, have another baby, or avoid spending too much money on Black Friday sales. My little Catholic life doesn't not make sense on a rational level.

Again, women can fight dirty. It's the verbal jabs at my parenting, my messy hair, my imperfect behaving children, and my overweight child producing body that really hurt. Seriously, sometimes I think actual fist fights around the Thanksgiving table would be better. A black eye seems an easier injury to nurse afterwards than the vague "emotional flu" that can sometimes follow me for days after a tense Holiday gathering.

I am Christ's little Sister, however. He gets hit, I'm going to get hit. When I think about how much I love him, it gets easier. I'm less "harried" at big family gatherings.


  1. We decided not to have Thanksgiving with my extended family. This year, and last year. We just finished up our Thanksgiving feast, and my husband commented on how wonderful and happy he was. After Mass today, our friends gave us hugs and kisses and wished us well. My goal, I feel, is to raise our kids much differently, and maybe once we are finished having this baby, to welcome the poor in our home more often. Blood is not family, even though we have to love them. But it doesn't mean we have to spoken poorly too, treated badly, and treated to rudeness every holiday. And we are not required to be in relationships that are unhealthy. That includes blood relatives. I am so grateful to God for all He has given me. I have been so blind....I'm so grateful for His patience and His love. Happy Thanksgiving to my Carmelite sister (family :)

  2. My parents (particularly my mother) don't approve of the choices I've made with my life -- my mother never quite forgave me for deciding not to go to law school, and to be a journalist instead. She still calls my choice of vocation a "waste of education." I have very different values from them -- they are very conservative, except for my mother's belief that women should be ambitious in their careers (and I think this rises from the fact that both of them came from working-class, relatively poor backgrounds, and education/work was the way out of it, for both of them). Anyway, spending holidays with them has, to put it bluntly, often sucked.
    However, now that I live thousands of miles away from them, and they're getting on in years, I do wish I lived closer, and I could make an effort to spend holidays with them. And I decided to visit them with my daughter next spring. It's getting to the point where their barbs barely sting, because I know my time on earth with them is limited, and I want to make an effort as long as I can.