We are family - Part 3

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So here it is: Part three.

I’ve loved sharing with you the good stuff AND the bad stuff in the last two parts, because what I’ve learnt is I’m not alone. We all have family in different measures and means, and EVERY family is dysfunctional in some way or another. Loss is also, unfortunately, such a common part of life. I had so many people comment or message their thoughts to me and yeah, it’s not an unusual thing.

I guess that’s what happens when a bunch of humans are always together, we’re bound to screw things up for each other eventually.

After all, I am not a perfect mother and my husband is not a perfect father (although he is pretty close). It’s incredibly daunting that we now have shared responsibility to raise a child up in a certain level of dysfunction. But we also have the opportunity to leave the mistakes of those before us in the past.

We’ve set a new family culture. Our new leaf has been turned.

On July 21 2017, Olly and I stopped being a couple and became a family. But I’ll be honest, as soon as Ashton was brought into this world I felt washed with instantaneous love and fear all at once.

I was terrified, not just because of how creepy my hairy, pink, wrinkly old-man baby looked, but because I knew he was irreversible. I was terrified because I knew my life would never be the same and also because I realized I never wanted it to be the same again anyway.

It’s an incredibly odd thing that a baby can just absolutely pivot your aspirations and dreams. How is it that this tiny wee person can suddenly defy gravity by turning your world upside down and becoming the centre? This wee bug who couldn’t even smile at me to tell me “hello” had me wrapped around his miniature finger from day one.

I was still the same person, my husband still the same man, and yet we were completely irreversibly changed for the better. Love to us was no longer just a feeling, it was a thing. Our love for each other had externalized and become vocal. It cried, pooped, fed, eventually laughed, now it crawls. Our love is in human form, moving from place to place.

We are still learning to be a family. We still take Ashton out when perhaps he should be sleeping. We want to have friends over, we want to drink, we want to spontaneously go to Denny’s at almost midnight just because I feel like a milkshake. We are slowly figuring out (the hard way) that we can’t just go do those things anymore. Sometimes we can, but not all the time.

There are things Olly and I feel we haven’t accomplished yet, things we are frustrated at not being able to accomplish because of this new life we created. We wish we still had two incomes to live off. Sometimes we’re still selfish.

The gap between a young adult and a parent is a big one. It’s one we both haven’t mastered. But I’ll tell you something: Ashton doesn’t care yet.

We’re the only parents he’s ever had and as far as he can tell we are perfect. To us, he is perfect too.

In him are our two histories combined. He represents our past, now smooshed together in a way that will never be un-smooshed. Every ancestor in our family line is there somewhere in the sparkle of his bright little eyes and in the breath from his little button nose.

He’s our future too. Forever those after me will be European and Asian. Forever they will pass on our family traits. Ashton ties our two, very different, family cultures together. In fact he’s proof they weren’t actually all that different to begin with.

We’re all still figuring this “family” thing out. But I’m not going to waste my energy trying to emulate something perfect (let’s be honest, it’s never going to happen) and I’m not going to worry about it either. We’re making mistakes on our own terms, as well as learning and loving. That makes us perfect, no matter what.

Rachel Chen