Jewish Journal

What is a Family?

by Ilana Angel

July 9, 2012 | 9:50 pm

I have primary physical custody of my son during the school year and he goes to his dad’s every other weekend.  During the summer however, we split his vacation two weeks on, two weeks off.  It is nice for my son because he can settle in without major disruption.  That said, it is really hard for me.  Two weeks is a painfully long time to not see him.

He has been with his dad for 3 days of his first two week visit and I am sad. By sad of course I mean I slept in his room last night and it’s not just me either.  His cat has been sitting in his room for three days waiting for him to come home.  When I walk into the room she looks up, realizes it’s only me, glares with complete disappointment, and goes back to sleep.

My son is two years away from going to college so summer vacations are good practice for when he goes I guess.  I really love my kid.  Not only because he is my child, but because he is a wonderful human being.  He makes me laugh, think and dream.  He is going to change the world and do remarkable things one day and I am excited to watch him carve out his path.

My son is on a “family vacation” with his dad.  It’s his family, and a vacation, but I’m his mom and I’m not there so it feels a little odd.  My son has never been on a family vacation with both his parents.  He is on a trip where people will assume his stepmother is his mom and that makes me sad.  It’s selfish and silly, but that is how I feel.

With my son out of town I am leaning on my Englishman and he has been wonderful.  He has a daughter away at college so he understands what it feels like to miss a child so much.  When I hear him talk to his baby who is so far away my heart melts and I hope to have that connection with my son when he goes to college.  By hope of course I am certain I will.

I am counting the days until my son comes home.  By counting of course I mean marking each passed day on my calendar with a big red X.  He is in British Columbia, having a fantastic time, and we speak every single day, but he is with his family.  I am blessed that his father loves him and that his stepmother has embraced him in the way that she has.

Instead of focusing on the fact that I am his mother, I need to teach myself to focus on the fact that my son is loved by many people, and has a large family that is made up of many parts.  I love my Englishman and I love his children.  They are not mine, but they are a part of him and they are wonderful young women.  I am blessed to know them and their dad.

Family is what you make it.  I have my delicious mother, fabulous sisters, divine brother, incredible son, terrific friends, and the Englishman and his kids.  These people are my family and I am grateful.  A family is a group of people that love you and you love.  We are given a family but we also create a family.  That is truly one of the greatest blessings.

I am a wonderful mother and I don’t need to prove that to anyone, or get confirmation from anyone other than my child.  He knows the role I play in his life, and his family, which makes me happy.  I love my family and with age comes the confidence to embrace it rather than define it.  I am a very lucky girl and believe it is because I am keeping the faith.


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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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