Family is one of the most important things in life.

I Won't Apologize For Hanging with My Family 'Too Much'

No, I will not apologize. And yes, I mean that.

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Growing up, I was the girl who had to stay home for family dinners. I was not allowed out on holidays with friends. I was at every family party. And honestly, I was always with my family!

At a young age, I did not know any better. I enjoyed the dinners, I enjoyed the game nights, I enjoyed the family parties. When teenage years crept up, that is when I began to realize. Not EVERYONE hung out with their family like I did.

I did not think about it too much, but one day, everything changed. My friend approached me and stated, "You always hang out with your family. You hang out with them way too much."

At that moment, I pondered her statement and questioned myself. Was I doing something wrong? Was she right? Was this such a thing?

Years passed and I am now here to say, I will NOT apologize for hanging out with my family "too much." Everyone may have their views or opinions, but I will not change mine.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying time with the people who love you unconditionally.

Creating special bonds with your parents and siblings, making unforgettable memories, and cherishing the word "family" is so important in my eyes.

Although I may have missed out on a couple get-togethers with friends, parties, or events, I am content with the memories I do have.

As I surpassed adolescent years, I began to realize the reason for my parents wanting to spend time together as a family.

I would see stories on the news about tragedies occurring in different families. I would see children without parents or abusive parents. I would see children cry that their parent did not come home for dinner the night before.

These stories and events painted the big picture for me.

I was so damn lucky. Why would I apologize for hanging out with my family too much when there are people out there with no family?

It was not logical.

With time, the events got worse. We are now in 2018. Children are being separated from their families in this country. Children are trapped inside homes with abusive parents with no way out. Children are losing their parents to drugs. Children are losing their parents to drunk drivers. Children are losing their parents to cancer.

Although these events are not new and have been around for decades, it stings my heart.

Being 20 years old, looking at my parents and pondering back on these past years, I am beyond thankful.

I enjoy coming home from college and spending quality time with my family because I will never know when one of these tragic events could happen to our family. In the blink of an eye, your family can be taken right from under you. Hug your family members tight.

And, yes, mom and dad, I will be home for dinner.

Next time you have the chance, sit down with your family. Whether it is a quick conversation for 20 minutes or an entire family game night, it means something. Trust me, there is no such thing as hanging out with your family "too much."

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I'm The Girl That's Best Friends With Her Grandparents

My Nan and Pap are my heart.
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To My Very Best Friends,

You guys are my world. You are the sweetest, kindest, most beautiful souls I have ever known. You are the most generous people in the world. You would do anything for anyone, and you never expect a thank you or any recognition. No one deserves to be recognized for their unbelievable kindness more than you two. I know that I could never find the words to thank you enough or to explain how much you truly mean or how great you really are, but I will do my very best for the very special people who give their utmost each and every day. I'm so proud to be the girl that's best friends with her grandparents.

So, Nan and Pap, here's to you:

Breakfast dates have always been our thing.

You have always brought us to the local diner for as long as I can remember. I cherish these dates. There is nothing more comforting to me than to walk into that restaurant and see your smiling faces sitting in the booth near the window. You guys listen to every word I have to say, and care about every little detail of my life. Sitting across from you with the morning sun shining on your faces melts my heart and brings so much peace to my soul. I can not even tell you how special these times are for me. I get to press pause on the pressures of the world and sit down and laugh with you guys. You are always just happy to be with each other, and happy to spend time with me. I love you so much for the beautiful souls you are.

You believe in me.

You believe in my writing, and you support my dreams. You read every single one of my articles, and are quite certain I'll write a book someday. If I ever make it, if I ever achieve my dream of becoming an author, I will dedicate every word, cover to cover to you two. You guys have cheered me on my whole life, and held me together every single day, through the worst times and the brightest. You are my rock. You guys have been a constant throughout my entire life. You have always been by my side. I can always count on you. I have always been able to run to you guys. Growing up, you were right next door so I was lucky enough to run up the grassy hill and come bounding into your house. Even now at 22, I find myself driving out to your house several times a week running right into your arms. You have always been home to me.

You guys are my everything.

You're my voice of reason, my smile, my sunshine every day. Your laughs bring so much joy to my heart. You are my protectors and safe haven. You are my sense of direction and every ounce of faith I have. Your kindness humbles me beyond words. Your love for me has given me more than I could ever ask for. It is everything I am. No one can make me laugh, or comfort me like you two. You are every bit of reassurance I have in everything life throws my way. You are my confidence. You hold me together, and you are my drive to succeed in this life. Your strength has been my greatest inspiration

I cherish each and every moment spent with you guys. I appreciate you more than I could ever say, and I love you with all of my heart.

"I love you as big as the sky!"

Love,

Your Granddaughter

Cover Image Credit: Hayley Gulesian

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Blocking Toxic Family Members Can Be Just What You Needed

It isn't an easy choice but it can be the most rewarding.

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I haven't written for the Odyssey in quite some time due to this large issue in my life that I feel some people may also need to hear. Watching your parents go through a divorce can be difficult in itself, but what about having to remove one of your parents from your life at the same time? It's something I don't think many people could imagine doing. However, sometimes you are forced into the position between choosing what is best for your mental health or what is expected of you. For me, I realized that I needed to put myself first.

I realized that I am my own person. How I present myself and how I act and what I choose to believe in is how the world perceives me. I was faced with a parent who did not let me be who I am. The way I thought had to be in line with theirs. What I openly spoke about had to be in line with that parent's thoughts. This also, in turn, meant I had to revolve how I was perceived to the world around that parent's family. I had to abide by these societal norms and do what someone else expected of me. I realized that was ludicrous.

This parent was also abusive. They were toxic and manipulative and I could not stand idly by and just take that from them while also trying to become an independent young adult. I was forced to sit and watch one of my parents transform into someone I didn't recognize anymore. I had to watch them ignore any kind of reality checks and continue to feign innocence. I watched one of my parents mentally manipulate people I once called family into believing lies. I kept my head down and shut my mouth and kept taking the abuse. Now I'm at a point where I can confidently say that I am no longer afraid.

I was forced to cut ties with a parent that raised me, cared for me, attended school functions, fixed toys, bought me my first phone. I was forced to chuck out priceless memories for my own sanity. I could not sit idly by and allow myself to endure one more second of lies or abuse. I had to stand up for myself for once in my life and I blocked most of my family. I blocked cousins, aunts, uncles, and godparents. I changed my phone number that I had since 6th grade. I gave no warning and disappeared from my family's lives. Do I have regrets? No. I would do it again if I had to because I am so much stronger than sitting there and taking it.

I will have one less parent at my college graduation, which I am fighting so hard to achieve. I will have one less parent at my wedding. My future children will have one less grandparent. I mope in these thoughts but then I have to remember the other side of things. I will not have an unsupportive parent at my graduation and instead will have those that were there every step of the way. I will lack someone who was toxic at my wedding. My future children will never have to face the same abusive, toxic situations that my parent put me through. It was a difficult decision to make but one that I know in my heart is worthwhile.

Cutting a family member out of your life is difficult enough but cutting a parent is unimaginable. However, no one deserves to go through abusive situations. It shouldn't matter who the person is; if someone is treating you less than you deserve to be treated, they have no use being in your life. You should always be your first priority. You should never have to endure something for the sake of others. I am here to tell you that you are more than that and that cutting out a family member could actually be the best thing for you, even if it's incredibly difficult. I did it and I'm still here. It made me realize who my real family was, and there will never be enough thank you's in the world to show my mother just how much I appreciate her.

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