This I Believe

Jill - South Vienna, Ohio
Entered on January 11, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family

I believe in family. Family is more than parents, siblings, and shared blood. My family grounds me to what I am while allowing me to decide my own path. They do not judge; they only support and guide.

I grew up in a non-traditional way. After twenty-seven years of marriage my parents divorced when I was seven. For most kids, this would be the beginning of a childhood spent splitting time on holidays and weekends, stuck between two warring parents. For my sister Jessica, my brother Chandler and me, this was not the case. The first few years were rough, but even then, we were all together for holidays and birthdays. Even in the worst of times, they never wavered as a parenting team. My parents regained their friendship and established a new norm in our family. Mom helps to clean Dad’s house. Dad shovels Mom’s sidewalk when it snows and they have even been known to go see a play or movie together. Dad lives on my mom’s seven generation family farm, and his elderly mother lives with Mom.

Someone once asked me if I wish my parents would get back together. I had never considered the idea, and I was surprised when my answer was an adamant “No”. The fact that my parents don’t sleep in the same bed or wear rings on their left hands, has no bearing on their commitment to our family. They are much happier now than they could have been if they had stayed married.

Nine years ago when my sister married, she and her husband remodeled a one-room schoolhouse on the farm and moved in. Mom lives in a small house just around the corner. Technically I live with Dad, but I consider all three houses to be my collective home.

Each Sunday evening we pile into Mom’s house to eat dinner. Mom and Dad sit next to each other and enjoy their brood as our family begins to grow. We are loud and probably obnoxious as we laugh about our lives, share our stories, fight about politics, and smile at our differences.

I consider my siblings to be the most important relationships in my life. In the past five years, my sister and I have grown especially close despite a twelve-year age difference. I absorb her knowledge as I experience the world though her son’s eyes. As Chandler and I move into adulthood we remain close because of a tight bond formed from growing up together. My siblings have blazed the trail for me. They support and advise me and if I ever loose sight of the important things, I’m sure to get a thump on the head.

My family has no preconceived notions of what will make me happy, they only expect me to figure it out and pursue it. I will find my own way in life mostly because I will always know my way home. I believe everyone needs a ground. I believe the strength of the child directly reflects the strength of the village. I believe in family.