Letters from Emmy: We Are Family

May 05, 2015 By Emmy McCarthy 0 Comments

What does family mean to you? This month, we explore the concept of family, traditions, how people stay in touch and what happens when it all falls apart.

This is what I have learnt in my thirty (ahem) something years on this earth, family is not just who you are blood-related to.

I had a small immediate, but much larger extended family childhood. My father is an only child, my mother the eldest of six. I have multiple cousins, second cousins, third cousins and more. All of whom have played a role in my life however fleeting.

At 20 I spread my wings and left my home country. It was the first time I was truly on my own, with my family far away.  It was my first experience of the expat/international lifestyle and I loved it. It was the first time I truly understood that family can also be what you make it, about the people you collect on your way, about those special deep forged relationships which can occur when you are all far from the ones you love.

I learnt that there are people who will still listen if you call them in an emergency in the middle of the night, and that there are people who will happily wear plastic tiaras with you and dance on a bridge across the Seine at 2am.

When I had my son, however, I learnt a lot more about what family really means when you live away from your traditional support network. I am still learning every day, learning how to keep the people I love present in my son's life so that he will grow to love them as much as I do, I am learning to build a support network for our little family here so that we have people to turn to should bad situations arise and who are confident that they can turn to us as well should they need to, just as they would turn to their families.

It can be hard this lifestyle we choose as international parents, it brings such joy and incredible experience but the flip side of that is that it stretches our family web.

This month we will be talking about the concept of family on the website. We will take a look at what family means to our community, how people stay in touch when they are far away. We'll look at family traditions and also what happens when families fall apart.

It is a very appropriate theme for the Amsterdam Mamas community, a community born out of the desire to support each other as we navigate this parenting gig. We are family, a new kind of family but family none the less.

Happy March!

photo credit: Evil Erin via Flickr cc

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