This weekend we went to spend some time with Kyle's extended family, and to be honest it was marvellous. They're imperfect but they love and respect each other. There are the usual little complaints that each family has about the nutty cousin, the crazy uncle, the flamboyant aunt, the (insert descriptive here) brother, etc. But what struck me is the ease of which I have when I'm with them, which incidentally translates to both sides of the family. I adore listening to his grandparents tell stories. The teasing, laughing and good natured ribbing that is so new to me.
Two-ish years ago when Kyle and I first started dating I began to really learn what family is all about. I truly feel that I've never really felt that I've ever been unconditionally loved by my parents. Whether that was their intention or not, what matters is the feeling that is left behind and, I've always been made to feel that it was my fault. I've actually been told I am difficult to love, and that they don't love me the way I would expect a family should because I don't behave a certain way, speak a certain way, or interact a certain way.
As a result, I've spent nearly 40 years of my life feeling like I didn't play well with other children, and that I was familial awkward (as opposed to socially awkward...social I totally have down!)
Seriously...I'm like Seinfeld, Elaine dance awkward!
Turns out that I've just had bad examples but because of it I'm now finding myself learning how to be family with Kyle's family, and with my own extended family. But sometimes I find that I am so awkward it is crazy because I don't really know how to accept, well, being accepted and even more so being LOVED! (GASP!)
Because of this I find myself talking to my own cousins and Aunties/Uncles more often and with significantly less trepidation. It's kinda awesome getting to know all of them in a real and honest way. My Auntie Jean often teases me on Facebook and truth be told, I adore it. It makes me feel loved and known and part of a family. Zehra often sends me encouragement when I am clearly deflated, and I know her love is unconditional. THIS is family and I'm learning to trust it.
My children look at Kyle's mom as their grandparent and I hear them so often telling her (and us) and his sister Cara how much they love them. I don't remember, particularly with my daughters, the last time I heard them say that to my parents or their father's mother. To quote our oldest, "Wendy is the grammy I've always wanted!"
I'm so grateful to have his family love us like they do. The unfortunate repayment, from me, that they get is my sometimes awkwardness. I don't always know how to accept what they so generously give me and the kids. I don't know how to not be afraid to stay open and unguarded with them at times, though I try. And I'm learning...because I have amazing family that has chosen me along the way. And I'm becoming someone I'm really proud of, because of them.
Luckily, my kids naturally show their love, trust and appreciation, which means that as parents Kyle and I are somehow getting it right. And that I'm so grateful for, even if it means his family has to deal with my crazy assed way of showing it.