Family Friendships & Destiny: Is that how it works?

Family Friendships & Destiny: Is that how it works?

I have been thinking a lot lately how some families gravitate towards one another.  Over the twenty some odd years’ we have been parents, I have noticed how both families and their children gravitate towards each other, especially when it is not forced.

My husband and I have friends that are primarily couples, married about the same length of time – some slightly less than our soon to be thirty years and some slightly more. They all have children, again some slightly older or younger than ours. These are the couples we socialize with, attending graduations, family gatherings, birthday celebrations, and extra curricular events the children find themselves involved in, such as theater, band concerts, or sports. Truly, it is a great group, one in which most of us “click” and conversation is easy.  I never feel like I have to “work” at our gatherings, which is a true blessing. We feel accepted for who we are, just as we accept the other group members for themselves, as well.

The group dynamics have never been forced, it just “happens”.  From experience, I know if the interactions were forced, we would not have continued to attend group functions.  So, how does this happen? I started to wonder. Is it an unspoken sense of shared values and beliefs that connect us?  Is it similar personalities or child-rearing philosophies?  Or, is it the differences that draw us towards one another?  Some of us have families near and some, further away.  Maybe we gain a sense of family by being with our friends.  I would like to think so.

The reason I started thinking about this is that our youngest son is an athlete. Actually, he has many of great skills in many areas.  However, athleticism, and truly loving the sports he plays, is somewhat of a novelty for our family.  This year he met a student through track who has a brother that was friends with our oldest son. He really gets along with this fellow student athlete, just as our oldest son really got along this athlete’s oldest brother. The older brothers met through band, theater and shared classes, not sports.  I guess the platform does not matter.  We find ourselves getting to know this family all over again because now, our two youngest boys are playing competitive soccer with each other! They even play similar roles on the team – defensive backs. Instead of seeing this family at band concerts and theater productions, we are seeing them at soccer games! This developing friendship is what started me thinking.

There are other examples. Our middle son has a great friend whose siblings are much older. The two boys spend a great deal of time together. Again, friendship has extended to this family to the point where I walk with the boy’s mother once a week for exercise. We have also shared some meals together or gotten together for conversation around the fire pit. We look forward to seeing them at the boys tennis matches and school events. If we did not have sons of similar age, I doubt we would get together with this family. So, is that it? Our children help us to gravitate towards other families through common interest and age? Maybe. I do not think that was true when we grew up.

In addition our oldest son has found families similar to these through his college roommates over the last four years. He has been included at family gatherings and we have included their sons at ours.

So, what are the attracting factors? Similarity? Common belief’s? Common values? Convenience? Having children the same age? Or, something more? Could it be possible it is something we have no control over, like destiny?  I will probably never know, and will definitely keep pondering over how it all works.  But, however it comes about, it feels good to know we can share in the lives of some wonderful families in our community – and have them be counted as wonderful friends.


Writing to Connect

Writing to Connect

The blog writing experience has been very positive for me. I started this past March with the writing challenge posed by TwoWritingTeachers blog challenge called Slice of Life. It was a good fit for me since it is filled with teachers and most of the blog pieces are about teaching, students, and education. The educational community is one to which I have chosen to belong.

In the last twenty-four hours, it has become evident that my writing is enabling me to use my voice to connect with people. A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece that called for action from parents who were questioning any  of the assessment policies our school district was using. I asked for help, as I spoke out, and it seemed others were not. Now, I know that there is at least one other parent who today is speaking out.  Thank you.

Previously, I also wrote about the end to a long time club that I led for our local elementary school. I do not plan to write much more about what brought about the end of that activity. Suffice it to say, the word has gotten out and I am hearing many different reactions.  I know life is busy.  I know teachers have an extraordinary amount of tasks and responsibilities to complete on a daily basis. This, I also shared when I met with the principal last week. I am definitely not a teacher basher! I want to be one, for goodness sake! However, I do not think that part of the message was received. I was seen as a complainer, a complainer about how others’ actions affected me without regard to the other things going on at the school.

You see, one of my problems, let us call it an intensity, is that I notice everything! I truly wish I didn’t, but I do. It’s been a tough year. My mother in law died this spring. My sister was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Those things, along with the rest of life, were on my plate, similar to things that were on the plate of those who made me feel my efforts with garden club had become disregarded. Intentional or not, I felt the staff did not value what I was doing. And, yes, something important is now lost.  Yes, it was about me.  It was about me because it was my time, my loyalty, my effort, and my dedication that was not valued.

Writing to connect was one of my objectives for starting a blog. I seem to have a voice, things to say, stands to take, and experiences to share. One of the risks of writing is that you will not be able to connect to an audience. This has happened to me as well. I wish I knew my parents were reading this blog everyday. I wish I would receive a comment from them. I was hoping the blog would serve to fill in a divide that has somehow occurred after years of living in a different state. It did for a short time. But, that time is gone. It’s been month since I struck a connection with my parents due to something I wrote. I was hoping my writing would let them get to know the woman I have become, the experiences I have had, and my plans for the future.

Writing is powerful. It has the ability to draw people closer or push them away.  Writing has the ability to connect human feelings, thoughts, and  ideas with those around us and those who read our words. It also has the ability to make one misunderstood, need clarification, or anger those who disagree with what has been put on the page.

Writing is connecting, for better or worse.  It seems I have written long enough to have experienced both.