Erin's Journals

Monday, February 19, 2024

Just a thought… Grandparenting is 50% wishing the little ones would quiet down, and 50% wondering what they’re up to when they’re being so quiet. [Erin Davis]

My heart is so full today. It’s Family Day Weekend for much of this great and beautiful country of ours; some provinces have other names for this day and others like Quebec, parts of Newfoundland and the Territories don’t mark it at all. But if you don’t mind, I’ll share a bit of family-flavoured sweetness and, unlike last week, it won’t be of the canine variety. Although I will tell you that with every passing day, Livi and Dottie are settling in more as sisters who adore their other sister Sammy.

Some viewers of last week’s video blog asked what breed they are, and I didn’t mention (as I had in the past) that they’re all Havanese. I first met one when we lived in a condo at Bloor and Jarvis. His name was Rupert and his dads just adored him. And now I clearly know why!

Ah yes, family. As we can tell you first-hand, it comes in all shapes and forms: ours is made up of two adults with whom we have no genetic link and one granddaughter who is ours, but not born to our child, but whom we love wholeheartedly. And then there’s our grandson about whom you’ve heard plenty. We are completed by them and will forever be grateful for the time we get to spend fulfilling that most precious role of grandparent.

There’s the family of friends we have: those with whom we chat daily via text or email (more rarely by phone) and who are always on our minds and in our corners. When life falls apart, they’re there to help us sew it back together. Friends like my local pal Nancy – always just a thought away – and my podcast partner Lisa who has even shared her therapist with me. (Side note: that man is helping me in ways I haven’t even been able to count yet. I thought no one could understand what’s been going on in our lives in the past 9 years, but here he is explaining that our decisions, some of which make me shake my head in hindsight, were but choices I/we made based in grief. It’s that kind of clarity that shines so bright a light that it fills your soul. And guides the way.)

We have our real family: my sisters and Rob’s siblings who are always in touch, some more often than others, and with whom we have varying relationships. With whom we share not only DNA but family histories: maps into those murky experiences that make us who we are. They’re the people who may not fully understand us, but recall the circumstances that may have made us who we are. And, of course, one cousin among all our (non-sibling) relatives – one – who keeps in regular touch. This is what wills are for! LOL

I’m grateful to call so many people here in the ethereal world of connection by heart friends as well. Most readers and viewers and listeners I have never met, and yet I feel your arms around me more often than you can imagine. Urging me on. Forgiving me when I ask for it. Offering strength when it seems my reserves have been leaking without my noticing. I always know you’re there.

What is Real Family? Family is where the love lies. Where there’s a softness and compassion and understanding that comes from knowing one’s heart. I always say that when someone close to me apologizes for something they fear they did: I know your heart. To me there are no more forgiving words in my own language.

Real Family is not a father and mother and children and grandchildren; real family is where the love and soft place to fall lie.

Our company happens to be named Real Family Productions, thanks to the Rob, Erin and Lauren who made up our little pod when we were choosing its name. I fear now that it might, to some, sound judgmental or phobic and for that reason I’m in favour of changing it. “Oh your family isn’t real; ours is.” I would despair if anyone with whom Rob and I work ever inferred that as our take on families. For that assumption could not be more untrue.

Real Family is love, understanding and an ability to care and be compassionate. I wish you that on this long weekend (for most), in whatever incarnation you are fortunate enough to find yourself.

Thank you for being part of mine.

Rob WhiteheadMonday, February 19, 2024