Ohana Means Whatever You Need It To Mean
We all come from someone and some place. Whether we are close with our biological parents or our families are no longer with us, whether we have made our own family and or consider friends our family—family is practically a survival necessity.
In today’s world the idea of family has shifted. It is no longer standard for a family to be a mother, father and 2.5 kids with a mini van and white picket fence. Family has changed to include gay couples, single parents, multi-racial and ethnic families and so many other variations.
My family has changed and developed throughout my life. When I was born, I came into a family of two older sisters, a mom, and a dad. My early childhood was picturesque: the “perfect” image of a family. When I was eight though, the whole family dynamic shifted when we adopted a new brother and sister from Russia. Two years later we went back and adopted two more boys. My family now consists of nine people, a blended family filled with drama, trauma, different backgrounds and languages and views on the world.
What does it mean to be a part of a family that is changing and expanding? It involves listening to our parents who are generally older and wiser than us. Some of us had parents who were strict, others laid back; but every home had some kind of rules and expectations.
But what happens when you move out of that home? You don’t stop being a part of the family—but you don’t necessarily need to adhere to the rules of the house anymore.
I am currently living at home after going away to college and graduating with a humanities degree. It’s been an adjustment to go from complete freedom to living under my parents’ roof again. But unlike last time, during the elementary and high school years when I was expected to keep a curfew and ask them permission to go over to someone’s house, I now have free reign over where I go and when I come back. I usually tell my parents anyway just in case something bad happens to me; but I am still expected to take out the trash when I see it is full, help feed the dog and clean the dishes.
I can only imagine how my family dynamic will continue to change as I move out and grow up. Many of my siblings are gone from the house and the tight-knit family that would share family dinners every night has definitely morphed into something still close and loving, but with adult siblings and parents who I consider to be more my equals than ever before.
As a 23-year-old single woman, I have also been told by society that I should start to think about my own family. When will you start dating seriously? When will you get married? When will you have kids? How many will you have? As women we are expected to have answers to each of these questions and begin planning for our inevitable futures as a mother from an early age. I have always wanted to be a mother so I was never scared by this, but the older I get and the more I realize that my parents and grandparents were having kids around this time, I know I’m in no way ready to be a parent. It’s moments like these that show me I am an individual with my own life timeline before me, though still part of my family unit.
Family can be a wonderful thing. While it would be nice if everyone had a loving, stable family, I know that’s not the case. What I do know is that you can make your own family; no matter who’s in it, we are all better for the people we consider and know to be our blood.
FEATURE PHOTO: ALEKSANDAR POPOVSKI/VIA UPSPLASH