As I left the nursing home, where my birth mother currently resides, I was angry. I’m always angry when I see her, even though it's once in a blue moon, and only because I have to. You see, the nursing home is just her current scheme to gather attention and pills. It’s a vicious cycle with her, where she moves from one plan to the next, yet somehow always accumulating those two things. And then eventually she gets tired of it, and moves onto the next.

Currently, she wants to move out from the nursing home into an assisted care facility, where she is “independent.” Tensions are always high with her, but I was just extra angry leaving today. As I arrived home, my stepmother, Holly, was able to tell I wasn’t too happy. I usually just return home and shrug it off, and continue on with my life. But today, I shared a moment with my stepmother. She pulled me aside, and she just goes “We’re your real family.”

I pulled her in for an embrace and said into her ear that I love her. “We’re your real family.” Indeed she was. Indeed she Is. She is, and her soon to be eight year old daughter is, too. Because family isn’t just blood. Family is the people who you love, and love you. I mean, yes my real mother gave birth to me. But I think truly loving someone and being family has more than a physical aspect. There’s a mental, and emotional aspect to it. It’s about a bond.

A family member is someone you love and someone you can count on and that is always there for you no matter what. Blood does not define that. We all have people in our lives that are family. Your best friends, your family friends, the ones who look over you. Perhaps you have a best friend who practically lives at your house, or a step-parent who has taken you in as their own. I’m blessed to be surrounded by people who love and care about me, and I’m lucky enough to call them family. I think in the crazy twists and turns of life, we often forget the meaning of family. We also often forget that family isn’t just blood.

The most influential people in our lives are our family, actually related or not. In the midst of my anger, I realized it was silly to be upset. I mean, yes my birth mother is aggravating and challenging, but at the end of the day, she is just another crazy life twist and turn. My real mother, and my real family, is sitting right beside me, supporting me every step of the way. I hope that you too, can sit back and relax, and take a second to remember who your true family is too, no matter what the situation is, blood related or not.