Who knows what I mean when I say “chosen family?” These are people that you choose to think of and treat like family. You weren’t born with or adopted into them. You choose each other.
I am an only child. Ask any of my past girlfriends or my wife, they will tell you. “Butch is the quintessential only child.” Growing up without the benefit of a sibling is a drag. I see it with my mom – one of 4, my dad – one of 5, my wife – one of 2, and my kids.
Having a sibling may suck when you are young, but the benefits are legion. You learn how to share – everything. You learn how to take a joke, and a punch. You learn to handle competition. You grow up with a peer who will always love you, share your memories, team up against and love/hate your parents with you, and who understands where you come from. A different kind of family than us only children have. I can’t do anything about the fact that I am an only. Believe me. I would have preferred to have a brother or sister growing up, or 3. But I didn’t.
But I do have a chosen family. Let’s call her “Snoopy.”
Why Snoopy? You may have noticed that I don’t use the names of my family in posts. Friends, either. [Only one exception recently because she has a bigger social media presence than me and she wanted to share. So I used her first name. Normally, no.] So I asked my bestie, Can I write about you and, if so, what name should I use for you? She didn’t have anything handy so I made hilarious suggestions for her. Eventually she came up with “Snoopy,” perhaps to avoid being referred to as Tallulah, Gertrude, Delilah, or Guinevere (all of which I had gleefully offered as options). So, Snoopy, it is.
Snoopy is my (chosen) sister. Or, the closest thing I have ever, and I believe ever will have, had to a sister. Snoopy is my best friend. And sometime after that, she became part of my family. She loves me unconditionally. She gets me, on a visceral level. We have so much in common that it is scary. Except she loves the Yankees. It was almost a deal breaker, but I already loved her too much when I found out. What are you going to do?
Seriously, even our moms have met and are like, wow, you two are pretty similar. My kids consider her an aunt. I think of her daughter as my niece. She was my Best Man and I was her Best Butch. We aren’t sisters, though. Indeed, Snoopy has her own siblings.
But Snoopy is the closest I will get. She listens to me. She calms me down when I am upset and helps me think through things. We have fun together, support each other. She does for me what family does. I know that if I need her, she will be there. I am talking about a ride-to-the-airport, watch-your-dog, unpack-your-kitchen, pick-your-kids-up-from-school-
I’m pretty sure she gives me way more than I give her. I love you, Snoopy. Thank you for being my friend, my chosen family.
Even though she isn’t Butch, it is butch to treat someone like family when they aren’t. Be Butch.