This past weekend we drove down to Madison to go to my grandpa’s 84th birthday party. We left Saturday afternoon as soon as I was done with class, picked up my sister, and arrived after 8pm. Frankly, I was surprised my grandparents were still up. We stayed up and visited a little bit, letting Little Bear run around before bed. She hasn’t spent much time in that house, just an hour here or there when we are driving to Milwaukee, so there was a lot to inspect before bed.
The next morning we spent visiting with my grandparents and watching Little Bear. She climbed up and down the stairs, pulled cards and games out of drawers, carried my grandma’s stuffed bears around, ate snacks, and was adorable. In the afternoon, my parents, three of my mom’s six siblings and their spouses, and a handful of cousins came over. We did what do best. We ate, took photos, and sat around talking. Everyone oooh’ed and ahhh’ed appropriately over Little Bear. We talked about the most recent great-grandchild born a few weeks ago, and the 11th great-grandchild due in the fall. We talked about the weather, we talked about old family stories.
Before we left Monday morning, Little Bear sat on my grandma’s lap totally relaxed listening to her tell stories and sing a finger counting song she sang to me when I was little. She giggled and let my Grandpa dance her around the kitchen on the tops of his feet.
In the car on the way home I was struck by how easily my family has welcomed Little Bear into their midst. Relationships with my family weren’t exactly rough but they also weren’t exactly smooth over the course of my multiple comings-out. I was worried that my family wouldn’t reallly know how to relate to Little Bear, but I’ve been happily suprised at every turn. She has been welcomed whole-heartedly into the big mess of people that is my family of origin in such an unquestioned manner that amazes me.
Families of origin are certainly messy, complex, and painful. But occasionally they can also be beautiful and easy. Here’s to my family, in all their imperfection.