My daughter made me cry yesterday, on mothers day. She didn't mean to, and it wasn't because of some thoughtless comment - well, I guess it kind of was...
We were talking about pets, of all the mundane conversations, and she was asking whether we'll get another cat when Meg dies, and if we did, whether it could be hers. I pointed out she already has her own pet (Misty the Rat) and most kids don't get their own pets anyway, and I would have loved to have even a rat of my own growing up but that just wasn't an option in my family, and she said the loveliest thing :
"They weren't family, they were just people who lived in the same house as you. We're a family."
With all the soul searching and reasoning and logic, all the hundreds of times that I've revisited aspects of my childhood and teenage years, this comment suddenly brought new focus and gave everything sharp edges.
She's right, of course, and while I'm aware her knowledge of my childhood entirely consists of what I've shared, and is shaped by the language I've used and body language I couldn't conceal if I tried, that clarity - that absolute simplicity - reminded me that for her, and for Noah and Smiler too, family is all about safety and security and warmth and love.
That's what my family - our family - is to us.
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