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  • Writer's pictureMaria A. Mansfield

On Family, Birthdays and Babies

I am always so grateful for my family. They are a gift! Every single one of them!

My husband as I write in my book is amazing. He’s not only my husband -he’s my best friend! I can tell him everything. Perhaps the biggest proof of his love was when he took care of me all the years I was sick with depression and anxiety. I admit he’s a quiet and reserved guy, yet he loves me in silence with real actions and a faithful heart that cares consistently for the boys and me. This kind of love just gets me every time because it’s so precious.

My upper school sons are my heroes. I am proud of who they have become. They wake up early, go to school, do sports or music and then come back home and do a ton of homework.

They have a great work ethic and I love how they care about others. They have an open relationship with their Dad and with me and are both very respectful. I'm always amazed at their depth. I’m honored to call them my sons. We belong together.

Then there’s my core family and my extended family. I still have my Mom and my two sisters and my brother. Love them all! My Mom is like the anchor in my family. She knows us. I’ve always admired her faith. My sisters are like friends to me and my brother was always whom I admired growing up and now we still stay pretty close. One of my sisters came to visit me recently and we shared such a good time. Her visits always seem too short and we always enjoy spending time together. We chat, sip tea, grab a movie, shop and visit beautiful sights when she’s in town.

My husband’s family they’re all so nice! I love my Mom-in-law we get along great! I’m in debt with her for life for having my husband. She visits every year and it’s always so enjoyable! I felt like from day one my in-laws adopted me as their own daughter! My brother and sister in law are very sweet. We stay in touch and visit with them when we go to Buenos Aires. I’m blessed to have a family and so many nieces, nephews who care about us too.

And there’s the other family: “Family isn’t always blood, it’s the people in your life who want you in theirs: the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.” -Maya Angelou.

We probably all have this kind of family on some level because this is the family we choose. Our closest friends who know us yet still care unconditionally.

But whatever our family system looks like, we have to know we’re still blessed to have them. I know you’re thinking, but you don’t know my family. I might not, but I know mine and trust me, every family goes through stuff in life. There’s laundry in everyone’s family. It's just we don't know other families as much as we know our own. Still, I cherish my whole family -even my oldest sister, my Dad and my Father in law, who’ve already passed. I enjoy all my family every time we meet, while I still can.

See, there are no perfect families. In chapter 17 of my book, “Life is Worth Getting Better” I titled it, “Which Perfect Families?” I write about families and how they come in all kinds of sizes and combinations. I mention some of the challenges we face as parents and how our kids grow and mature through the experiences they have to face. I want you to be encouraged because even in the best of scenarios, families are still not perfect because they are made of imperfect people. Yet whomever we have in our life today to call our family is a gift. Families are forever.

I know sometimes it’s hard to get along or to see eye to eye with some of our family members. I get it. But we belong together. We have a history. We really do go way back! We don’t need to explain ourselves when we’re together. They know us. They know our story. That’s a gift.

Sometimes we're affected by the comparison effect social media has on our lives. I honestly believe we should not compare any part of our lives to others, especially our families. Social media is great and I love to stay in touch, but personally I think, it’s become almost like a contest of who does what, where and how. Feels to me like comparing is never a good idea anyway, but at least for our families’ sake, they should not be a part of it. Everyone is unique. I like to think that each one does the best they can with their set of circumstances.

How can you start to compare that?

We tend to compare how other families look from the outside with how ours looks on the inside. How’s that fair? We think that everyone else has it all together and we’re the only ones who struggle. -Really? I’m sure we’d be surprised by how much we have in common with the families we admire if we could only watch from the inside. What we cannot see, is that every family struggles with something. Pretty much every parent I know is under pressure. Any kid can have a bad day or a rocky season. At the end of the day we all face some kind of difficulty.

This month was my birthday and my family made it really special. The day before, my husband had taken me to the Mall. Then on my birthday, a florist’s van drives up our driveway and I’m thinking he’s lost! -But no! The flowers were for me! What a pleasant surprise from the boys! The arrangements were beautiful! Then at night they took me out for dinner. I felt so loved that they carved out time on a weeknight to go celebrate my special day. I had a magnificent time! I still get excited about my birthday. I think it is because after being sick for so long, I feel so much joy now that I’m recovered! I love what Larry Lorenzoni said: “Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest” I love that!

Two of my nieces are expecting babies. Another one already has a one-year old little girl. She’s adorable! Although, that makes me a Great Aunt! Goodness! I keep telling them that I’m too young to be a great aunt! It’s just that my siblings are older. But seriously! What a gift to have these babies born into our family! They are not even born yet but they’re already a total blessing. Don Herold, said: “Babies are such a good way to start people! I am already praying for them just as my Mom prayed for us, and the grandkids. Family legacies are forever.

If your family adds up to twenty-two people, five or or just two, be equally thankful. Seriously, lots of people who don’t have a family would love to have our family. Yes! Our family! We hardly recognize what a gift it is to be alive and to enjoy the blessings of birthdays, family and babies. Let’s remember to be thankful for our life and our family.

Be encouraged today to love your family again, call them or text, tell them how much they mean to you. Remember to forgive the ones who have offended you and move on because they are truly irreplaceable.

Sickness and other challenges have a way of bonding families like nothing else will. I can tell you that during the years I was sick it wasn’t easy. Everyone seemed to be affected. But afterwards, we grew stronger together. We bonded. We forgave and moved on. Today I look at our boys and the experiences they had to go through didn’t break them, instead they strengthened them and forged in them an emotional maturity beyond their years. You can’t order that online. You have to go through it.

Being a family doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. It’s about the enormous privilege we get to grow together and be a blessing to others, knowing we're part of a larger purpose in life. Being a family doesn’t mean we’re perfect. Newsflash: There are not perfect families, but having a family sure feels perfect!


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