At the Helm

There is a vision we see when we’re young. Of the family structure. Whether it’s on a TV screen. Movies. In the homes of our friends or extended family. Maybe even in our own homes. We might read about it. Though shifts in the portrayal of this vision have begun to spread, there is a stereotypical view of what, in fact, a family structure should be. What’s healthy. Who’s better equipped to raise girls. Boys. Mother or father. Both if you’re lucky. Sometimes, if you’re unlucky, neither.

When my first daughter was born, her mom and I were barely in our twenties. Yet my mother in law praised us, unnecessarily at times. Over the top and constantly. One day I started wondering why she always sounded so surprised. Why it seemed such a shock. That we hadn’t somehow let this child perish out of our youthful stupidity. One evening I told my wife, I think everyone thought this was going to be a total shitshow. And when it wasn’t, our family started thanking us for, well, being good at doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing. We wouldn’t truthfully become a total shitshow for well over a decade.

And when that traditional structure does fall away, we’re left struggling with the loss of that vision. The home. The people who hold it together. The decision making. The expected shared stresses and milestones. Equal support from both, for each child. A partnership. It becomes a long, learned process to settle back in. To let go of that old vision. To step up and define new roles. Accept the life changes. To not only keep that structurally compromised ship afloat, but to man it like you never have before. Like your family depends on it. Because it does.

All these years later, I’m not sure I’d consider myself lucky to have lived in a home with two parents. Being what it was. Problems being what they were. I know enough nowadays to know that the visually ideal nuclear family is often only superficially lovely. Underneath it’s a big ugly shitshow. And at times not worth the price paid in the end.

Anyone who knows me from a hole in the ground knows that I’m an advocate for the non-traditional family structure. In any way it falls. In any way it’s healthy. Whatever it may look like. Whomever it may consist of and why. The forced vision of the accepted dynamic just doesn’t work for everyone. Plain and simple. The world has changed. This life, right here, has changed. And I’ve grown far less concerned of painting that picture of percieved perfection.

From one sunrise to the next, this is my home. We are atypical in many ways. We don’t always eat together. We have our own house rules. Some days, we barely function. We struggle with schedules, transportation and being overwhelmed. My kids don’t play sports. We don’t always travel together or go to church at the same time. We play a lot of days by ear. We don’t dress up. We argue. And we do not all hold hands and sing Kum Ba Ya at our magical scheduled bedtime then post about it on the internet. There is no fanfare.

We are not that supposed standard of traditional. But our core is exactly what’s necessary. We do what we need to do to support one another. We accomplish small goals with baby steps. Larger ones with perseverance. We compromise for each others well being. We respect each other. We are grateful. In a calm environment, we figure things out together. We keep our sense of humor. We practice empathy. We rely on our comforts. We stay together. We are healing. And we love.

Occasional shitshow or not, we find what works for us as a family. Proud to captain this ship alone.



18 thoughts on “At the Helm

  1. I think you made a good point that as long as it’s a healthy environment for the children and family, then that’s ok! It doesn’t matter what your family structure looks like. You’re setting a great example for your girls, Sam!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, luckily my kids have friends with *all sorts* of different home lives. Add that to their own situation and there isn’t much that isn’t normal routine in their minds. Hopefully they won’t have preconceived notions of their future home structure so long as it’s healthy for them! Thank you so much 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes, what looks to an outsider like a traditional picture of family is just plain wrong. We often show the world what we want them to see.

    I’ve reached a point of not giving an eff anymore…but then, I backtrack. My mom reads my blog, I have lurkers from my real life who refuse to acknowledge that I write a blog. They form images in their head about what our family life is like based on what they read on the blog while lurking, and what they see when they see me/us in life.

    It’s still not accurate.

    So I too embrace the non-traditional nucleus family even though by all appearances, ours is exactly that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s a big part of it. Either others pushing that “perfect” standard we have to shoot for, or like you said, people being just plain wrong about your life. I’ve struggled with that a lot here in the way of the disservice it does to my family, me and my life to not talk about battles. When I do it would appear we are just that…a shitshow. Then I finally understood that I’ve only been judged in my life by those who have had no interest in knowing me, unwilling to spend time doing so. That in itself has allowed me the freedom to be out with a lot which has helped the acceptance of myself. The truth is that every family unit has to do what they need to to survive. Every one is different, and there’s no way it can be judged unless you’re living it…or contributing to it. My girls and I are different from many. But not to us!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re a good captain, Captain Sam !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like this. ♡ I see a twin in that pic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She really is…😢😢😢 I’ll have to find one of the space in her teeth like I used to have. I hated it but she has no problem, embraces it fully!


      1. Good for her🤗🌻. I’m glad she does and she should. I love ♡ sp aces and freckles.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. What more could you ask. Hang in there and keep it all together..together

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Not enough time to say everything I want to. So I’ll simply say, you’re a great father and I’m proud to know you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Having been raised by a single dad of four, after our mom died when she was only 42, I know that as long as there is love, there is no one family structure that beats out the rest. Families are messy and sometimes total chaos and frenzy, but with any luck and a whole lot of love, they are our anchors, too. Thanks for the reminders.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry to hear of your mom. I lost mine early last year. Thank you for sharing this with me. I’m always comforted hearing of dads that raised kids alone and that the house didn’t go up in flames and everyone made it out unscathed 😂😂😂 (for the most part!) It gives me hope that normalcy is exactly what you make it. Chaos at times but as you said, an anchor nonetheless!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Another moving piece Sam. You’re an inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

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