I recently happened upon some paperwork from my son's high school. It's now going on two-years-old, back when he was in the 9th grade, back when my wife and I were knee-deep planning out some academic strategies for him. It listed both his academic and family history. The academic stuff I was accustomed to. But seeing my family in black and white letters (other than the ones I blog) threw me for a loop. The descriptions of us were clinical, anesthetized, devoid of love.
I was: "Stepfather" (a word I've come to loathe over the years)
Mom was: "Mother" (as always)
My baby girl was: "Half-Sister"
Upon seeing the words, "half-sister", I was transported right back to the moment when I first read them: sitting in an administrative office on one side of a fully occupied, unnecessarily large conference table. Upon reading this now my face twisted up just as bad as it did while I was sitting at that table reading over this same report. I was hurt. I was disgusted. I was insulted.
How dare they call her "half"! I remember thinking. What does that even mean? How do you have a whole family with half-members?
They don't know how my son at the age of ten jumped, both feet in, not just one, to care for his baby sister. He didn't half-help his mother get ready for the hospital when she went into labor while I was driving from a different location to the hospital. He never half-rocked her to sleep once she was born. He never half-fed her. He didn't walk halfway to the trash and leave her dirty diapers on the floor when asked to throw them away (although he does do this with everything in his room). Conversely, his sister has NEVER half-loved her brother, NEVER half-hated him as little sisters so effectively do nor only half-terrorized him. During their more tender moments she's ever asked to be half-picked up when she is tired or requested half of a hug.
Of course I know my son and his sister have two different fathers so they have only their mother as the shared parent and their source of shared DNA. But in our home, they are 100 percent siblings who receive 1000 percent of their parents' love. My daughter is none the wiser and my son has never considered otherwise. I don't anticipate them changing course from this path and should they ever decide to I am fully prepared to fiercely shut down one and/or both of them.
My mother's father was Dad to the six kids he had with my grandmother and he loved the three she was already a mother to when they met as if they were his own. As a child, my uncle and aunts were my uncle and aunts, period. Similarly their cousins were my cousins and continue to be to this day.
I know it's just paperwork and unfortunately every blended family isn't bursting at the seams with love, joy or basic cohesiveness. But where there's love there is family. I'm happy that this family love is stronger than any paperwork generated by a school, doctor office or government agency.
Long live all forms and styles of family!
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