the lip crew on family
Family is often born of blood, but it doesn’t depend on blood.
‘When I think of family, I think of volcanoes. Some lie dormant, while others erupt. All we can do is build a home next to the chaos and dodge the lava. And once we dust off the ash clouds, the soil is fertile. Ripe. Beautiful things can grow from exhumed pain. I think of the family I was born into; the family I’d like to keep, and the ones I wish I could cast off, like fallen debris after a storm. Except there’s no real way to scrape out the DNA from within you, and there’ll need to come a time of quiet acceptance. When I think of family, I think of the impact of two generations of divorce. I celebrate every day I stay married. Two years, six months, and counting. I look forward to the next generation of my family; my unborn children, nephews and nieces. Children have a way of propelling us forward, away from the dark morasses of the past, hurtling us into the present. Small children, babies especially, have this magic about them.
There’s nothing like the scent of a newborn. Tiny fresh soul, so sleepy, eyes half-closed against a world that’s still too bright. I hope that for them, family will be less volcanoes and more oases. And maybe, by holding their tiny hands, mine will unclench and make way for a brighter, softer future.’ – Raidah Shah Idil, Writer
‘The most comforting thing in life is knowing you have a select few people that are going to support you no matter what. These people are called family and it doesn’t just have to be those who are related to you. To me, the definition of family is the people who are there through thick and thin and who are able and willing to share every single aspect of your life with you. Not only is your mum, dad, brother and sister your family, but your very close friends, girlfriends and boyfriends are as well. Some people grow up without a blood related family and often feel like they are missing out. This is why it should be globally recognised that family doesn’t just have to mean blood. Anyone who you love unconditionally and who reciprocates these feelings is your family. You are never alone without these people. These are the people who will laugh off your mistakes, cry with you, stand by you and just sit there in silence when that’s all you really need. It’s about comfort. Families don’t have to come in packs of 50 or 20; they can simply be those two people who are always there and promise to be there for the rest of your life.’ – Simone Murcutt, Writer
‘To me, family is a distant thing. I’ve been living away from home for almost seven years now. And not just away from home but also halfway across the world! People often ask me how I could just up and leave my family like that, but to me, it wasn’t about leaving my family; it was about leaving the place I was in and looking for a new start. Unfortunately my family didn’t factor into my decision and I do regret that sometimes. I know that people in the previous generation in my family have stayed in one town their whole life for their parents and their family, and kudos to them for being loyal. Yet I hear them complain about never having travelled much or lived in a different city, let alone a different state or country! I think exploring like that is one of the best things anyone can do for himself or herself, and it will always mean leaving friends and family behind. You can always choose to go back, though, or they can follow you. There shouldn’t be a whole lot of guilt associated with choosing a path in life that you want to follow. That all being said though, of course I miss my family and I realise whenever I visit them that they are exactly what a family should be – that awkward group of people that knows you and you know only because you’re related, but you always fall back into the old ways of talking, without any hesitation. That’s what family should be – comfort.’ – Bridget Conway, Editorial Assistant
‘Family means a lot of different things to everyone. Family can be the ultimate source of comfort, or the root of your anxieties. Family can be your own personal support team, the reason that you find the strength to follow your dreams. They are the shoulder that you lean on when it all seems hopeless and the people who are the first to celebrate when you succeed. They might be your very first bully, destroying your dreams with casual (or not so casual) cruelty. You can spend the rest of your days living a life that you hate just to try and please them. They can cause you a mess of issues and insecurities that you struggle with. We always hear that “blood is thicker than water” and that “you can pick your friends, but can’t pick your family”, but I don’t think that’s true. Family is important, but when you have a toxic relationship with a family member you don’t have to passively accept their abuse. Even if your family is wonderful and supportive, “family” doesn’t have to begin and end at DNA. Friendships can be just as strong and loving as a family bond and you can have friends that are a family.’ – Sigrid Cross, Writer
‘In high school, a friend of mine was set a writing task in English class. She was told to describe three different scenarios for her family: A dream scenario, a nightmare scenario and, finally, her family’s current reality. She recently found this historical piece of work and was quite surprised by what she had written. The reality was accurate for what her family life was at the time: she was living at home with her three older brothers, mum and dad. Her dream scenario was that she and her family lived in a mansion and lived a worry-free, lavish lifestyle and her nightmare scenario was that she and her family lived unhappily in a cardboard box with no TV.
Reflecting on this, she realised that, at 16 or 17, her concept of happiness and what she considered a good, full life was one that was dependant on the absence or presence of material possessions. Was this a standard desire for someone that age? Or was what she had previously considered “living the dream” something perpetuated by something or someone else that influenced her at the time? If asked to undertake the same task now, would she have a similar response? I suspect not, but all of this got me thinking about values; where do they come from? And how and why do they change? My answer? Trees. Now, hear me out.
I like to think of myself as part of a big Doolan family tree. Gangly, with a wild set of leaves on top, and I am just one branch on that tree. Holding me up is a solid trunk of family values and histories that, no matter how hard I may try sometimes, will always inform who I am.
The thing about that tree and being that branch is that I can choose which way I let my leaves sway, or how much stock I take in the wind that tries to knock me down. And I know that at the base of me there is a set of strong roots that will always ground me and, simultaneously, support me to branch out and grow my own way.’ – Brianna Doolan, Writer
‘I’m writing this a few days after my best friend’s wedding, who I have known since kindergarten and who — as cheesy as it might be to say this — feels more like a sister than someone I met when I was three. I think it’s important to make distinctions between the family we’re born into and the family (or families) we choose because it’s easy to feel far away and detached from the people with whom you share DNA. Even when you are grateful for the support and love of your biological family, chances are there are times when being around them is exhausting, unhealthy, challenging and tense. My mother, a very family-oriented person, believes strongly that your family is the greatest support system and source of love in your life and you should be willing to help whenever you are asked. I’ve had problems with this reasoning for a long time because for many of people (probably most people) it’s just not true and for others, like me, I’ve gotten great love and support from my friends. Or have felt a sense of family on micro levels that pass but are no less significant. I don’t believe “family” in the literal sense that obligates us to feel or act a certain way, and it shouldn’t be controversial to say that. I think family really is what you make of it and that can come from absolutely anywhere. – Shannon Clarke, Writer
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