What makes a family?

Kinderling News & Features

Shevonne Hunt hosts Kinderling Conversation every weekday at 12pm.

This weekend I went to visit a friend who has a newborn baby just five weeks old.

She’s like a newborn herself, eyes blinking and wide in this new world she has found herself in.

It can be confusing in that new world- there’s a new language to learn, customs and cultures to adjust to. It takes time and mistakes to navigate your way through.

I remember it well, and it reinforced for me something I didn’t know then.

When your baby is born you don’t instantly become a parent. Your identity as a mum or dad takes time to understand. What does it mean that this small human relies on you for everything? Who does that make you? Who are you- emotionally, intellectually, spiritually?

Just like taking on a new role at work, it can take time to feel like your new title fits.

My youngest is now four, and now that both my children are walking, talking, individual little people, I have started to see the shape of my own family. What it is that makes us a family, and what that title means.

Listen to Kinderling Conversation:

1. The way we laugh together

There are some things that my kids do that I think would make anyone laugh.

Like the time Arlo lost it at his dad because he couldn’t climb the wall like Gecko in PJ Masks. Or when Darcy cried for 20 minutes because her ice block was too cold.

These days they crack jokes that put us all in stitches. We laugh together (instead of at each other). It’s a kind of special delight in each other, that we can make each other laugh. Usually they’re jokes about farts, but whatever works, right?

2. The way we eat together

Each week night we crowd around a fold down table on fold out chairs in our kitchen. It’s a little bit cramped. Everyone talks at once. No one finishes a sentence. We talk about everything from ninja games to what the word “literarily” means to how a burst water main was fixed at work. It’s loud, chaotic (sometimes frustrating) and I love it.

It’s our time together, when we drink “lemon with bubbly water” (a signature beverage in our house) and attempt to catch up on the day that’s just passed.

3. The memories we share

Now that we’ve had six whole years as a family we have memories we share that are uniquely ours.

There are the stories about Nono who used to peel beans with Darcy, and how he was a spectacular cook. How when Arlo was born he had a ski jump nose and no bum.

There was the time we went to the Blue Mountains and it snowed, or the trip to the zoo when Darcy split her lip.

Memories are the stories that weave us together and make us feel a part of something.

4. The way we relax together

You can’t feel comfortable in front of just anyone wearing your mismatched PJs and pink rabbit slippers, but it would have to be one of my favourite ways to relax.

Staying in on the weekend and getting into our PJs early, snuggling up together and watching TV.

Waking up in the mornings and having everyone pile into the same bed, jostling for space, cuddling and tickling (or pretending to sleep while they do all of the above).

When you don’t have to be anywhere, do anything or say anything. When it’s a simple pleasure to just be together.

5. The way we are in the world together

When we’re out and about I feel like we’re a unit. We fit together like a jigsaw puzzle- one small person with one big person.

If we’re around strangers we stick together for support and a sense of home.

It’s an emotional connection, and it’s taken time to get here.

I still have so much more to learn, but it’s quite nice to stop for a moment and see where we have come to now.

It’s a moment in time that has been shaped by each year we’ve been together; every change in my children, and the changes they have wrought within us.

And each step of the way we’re defining who we are – to ourselves and each other.

That’s what being a family means to me. What does it mean to you?