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What does family mean to you?

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During the month of September, SheHub will be focusing on family. While to some, family simply refers to anyone who shares the same bloodline, to others, family can have a plethora of meanings.

SheHub spoke to women from across the globe, and asked them to share what the word means to them.

Tanesha Burley (Atlanta, Georgia, USA)

My family is a reminder that my existence isn’t accidental, but rather a part of a divine, beautiful and complete plan – I’m so grateful. My family reassures me that I’m not alone and that we have a built-in emotional and spiritual safety net because we have each other.

When I look at our big and similar smiles and feel the love that fuels our silliness and laughter, I am at peace knowing that no matter where I go and what I do, we chose to live this existence together, and that’s comforting beyond belief. My family reinforces my courage when I’m afraid, my tenacity when I feel like giving up, and my ability to find joy and laughter even in the darkest moments. Simply put, they are a source of my strength, and I can’t imagine life without them.

Amy Renton, pictured above (Canada)

So many words come to mind when I think about what the word family means to me…from the most obvious one: love, to something more obscure like “foot massage”. I have personally learned that family is beyond flesh and blood. It is about loving another person unconditionally, being 100% available to another person who depends on you for their livelihood, emotions, education and pure laughter.

My husband and I bought a sign, “Live Laugh Love”, around the time our daughter came into our life…those words truly describe our family down to the last letter to this day. We are fortunate to experience all three of those words everyday with our daughter, who grew in our hearts instead of our body. Our family is beyond flesh and blood.

Carla John (Canada)

I never thought of myself as particularly maternal while I was growing up, but in my late 20’s when I was suddenly faced with the realisation that I might never become a mother, I was actually shocked at how much I wanted a child. At the time there were no same-gender families to look to for guidance on how to navigate through society as a lesbian with a child. Added to that was my awareness that I had bought into the big fat lie that gay people can’t be good parents.

I’ve worked with LGBTQ youth (some were barely teenagers) who have engaged in sex work to survive on the streets. Where are their families? How does someone who is supposed to love them unconditionally just throw them away? So, family isn’t always determined by DNA, sometimes you literally have to create a new family in order to save yourself from the pain of your biological one. I have been truly lucky to have a loving and supportive family and I can’t imagine who I would be if they were not a part of my life. Others aren’t so lucky.

Today I believe I truly know what family means to me. It means always being a soft place to fall for the ones you love, it means making sacrifices now so that you can build toward better things for the future, it means showing up when you are needed (whether or not you are called) and so much more. One of the greatest lessons I have learned is how powerful a connected family can be, they have an understanding that for better or worse, we are all in this thing called life together so let’s come together to help make it a life worth living.

Kisha Hugh (China)

When I think about my family I think about people who love me unconditionally and push me to become my best, even when I don’t believe it. They know me better than I know myself and have stood in the gap to ensure that I am emotionally, physically, and spiritually well. They bring me joy, provide me with wisdom, laughs, and love. As a school counsellor working in China, I am away from my family for 10 months a year. At times it proves to be difficult because I am outside of the realm of their embrace, but we find other ways to keep our bonds tight.

I find when I miss them the most I will go into my kitchen and start cooking our favourite recipes. As the meal comes together and the familiar fragrance of home fills my kitchen, it transports me back into their arms through memories and good times. Family isn’t supposed to be perfect, but they should be consistent and be able to express love for one another.

Through thick and thin and our ups and downs, my family will always represent the truest definition of what home is to me.

Leah Coleman (Manchester)

Family. We argue, we fight, we fall out but most of all we love each other and when life starts to get tough we come together like a strong unit and battle anything together, as one.

We support each other, nurture each other and lean on each other all at the same time. To me, family is the most important thing in the world! They are the people who share everything with you from your best moments to your worst, they know you better than you know yourself and accept you and love you for who you are. ️

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