18 September 2005

Family vows

As we prepare for another stressful time, especially for the children, in relocating back to Australia, we say farewell to all of our American friends who have been so welcoming and returning to our family and friends in Australia. It has been over two years and the younger children have fading memories of life in Australia and the friends they had. They are understandably nervous and this leads to irritations and fretfulness, some tiredness and feelings of being lost.

It's not hard to forget wedding vows when everything is easy. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or worse, till death do us part. The covenant we made as husband and wife with God and many others as witnesses often fades into the background. But when things start getting difficult or stressful it is time to return to those vows and work out their meaning.

I realised that each of the conditions of the vows (for better, for worse, etc) all relate to the external or physical side of the husband and wife. Despite changes in any of the externals (other than death) we remain married. This permanence or durability also includes our children. We also need to consider our family structure.

We're not an informal democracy with president, vice president and citizens.
We're not a monarchy with King, Queen and subjects.
We're not communism with communal property and no individual rights.
We're a family.
This involves more than a contract - it is a covenant, or a family bond.

This is a big difference. It means that whatever happens, wherever we live, our family remains. We each have a commitment to be part of the family and contribute according to our abilities. The result is that even though stress levels rise, there is a constant base from which to work.

Our children have noticed this view isn't universally acknowledged in some of their conversations with others. Whereby the children would normally describe their doings as "We did this" or "We do that" others more often say "I did this" or "I do that". This is not to say each child doesn't think of themselves or act as an individual. They just have an innate sense of belonging that only a family can give.

I never contemplated this family bond when Lana and I married almost 16 years ago. It is hard to image how a family operates, especially if you have never considered the matter. We have only come to realise this as the children are growing and asking the questions we should have considered a long time ago.

Always growing - always learning.

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