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When you hear the words ‘dysfunctional family’ you automatically get a picture in your head, don’t you?  Mine is of a woman with a bucket load of kids. They are dirty, teeth decaying, living in a rundown trailer park with non-running, rusted out cars in the driveway, grass growing three feet high around the flattened tires and for some reason there are always sheets on the clothes line out back. (Don’t judge me…it’s my word picture!)

I really don’t like the word dysfunctional though. It implies broken or wrong or somehow less. I am also fully aware that if you were to look at my family from the outside, you would definitely put the label of “dysfunctional” on it.

Let me try to scratch the surface. I have 6 younger siblings. Five of us were adopted and two are natural children to my parents. I am just a white girl but I have a Korean brother, an Indian brother and two other siblings that probably qualify as white kids too. The two babies are toe-headed darlings who out did me in height and number of children! I have an ex-sister in law that I consider another sister. I have three kids who have two dads, but the two that share one dad call the other dad, Dad, and had him walk them for their weddings.  All three of my kids share ALL the grandparents from all the families and when my son was young it was not uncommon for him to ask,” How is she my Grammy again?” I now have a grandson who, near as I can count, has 7 grandmothers, 3 of which are great, great grandmothers, 7 grandfathers, more aunts and uncles than can be counted, assuming you’re only counting the ones that are actual blood, well, except for my adopted siblings or course, and….well…two grand dogs. One of which has been sent to live with the ex’s family.  One of my sisters is dating my ex-brother in law and I’m pretty sure my youngest sister has more guns than socks! She definitely has more guns than kids, which is a lot!

In addition to this, I now have another set of ‘parents’ in Maine and two more wonderful adult kids and their spouses in my life. Which also adds another grandson and his lil’ sister who live in another state with his adoptive parents…which, I think, somehow, makes them our kids as well!

So…Ok! I get it. We could definitely be labeled dysfunctional with a capitol D. But the thing that I know about all these people is that I love and care about them, and they love me. We sit around when we have the opportunity to be together and share life and stories, wine and laughter. We call each other when we need a good laugh and we pray for each other when we need comfort. We know each other’s lives and we have somehow managed to remember heart when the official paperwork has said we are not really related.

Yep! If you look thru a tinted window and view my family, you will probably call it dysfunctional. But I think if you look closer you will just call it Family. Because those things that make people family cannot be labeled or decided or scrutinized by anyone other than those who live in it and make it happen every day. I am a lucky lady to have the Family that I do. I wouldn’t want to give any of these people up because someone else decided they didn’t qualify or that by being connected it somehow makes us dysfunctional. Because at our house, around our table at the end of a long day, these people are my Family. And that makes me very lucky indeed.

Oh, for those of you wondering, no, I do not have a clothes line out back. But I’ve heard sheets dried on one are really amazing. Hmm… maybe I should give one a try next summer!

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