As I go through this adventure called life, I have come across what the norm of a perfect family should be.  The “complete family” which is typically made up of a father, mother, children, and a white picket fence. My reality isn’t the norm because I grew up without a father, my immediate family consists of my twin brother George and my mother Harline. Although, growing up without my dad may have not been ideal, I believe that a family doesn’t need to be perfect; it just needs to be united.

I have two stories to tell, but they are interconnected by my belief. The first happened when I was seven years old and I lived with my mother Harline and my Aunt Monica. At the age of eighteen, my aunt Monica supported our family. To make ends meet, she worked two jobs and was in the military, all while attending university.  On a typical day, my brother and I waited for my mother to pick us up from school. I started noticing that my classmates were being picked up by both their parents. It made me question if my family was not complete. Although I questioned not having a father, when I spent time at my friends’ houses, I noticed sometimes how their parents didn’t seem to care about spending quality time with them.  Then I compared them to my family. My mother and aunt took advantage of  every minute they had available and spent  quality family time with us.  This made me realize that although my family didn’t fit the “ideal family”, I never felt anything was missing. In fact, it made me feel really grateful.

The second happened two years ago. In 2015, I wanted to study in a different country, but I didn’t know how I would feel being away from my mother and brother. I decided that I would try a semester in Puerto Vallarta where a few of my family live. As the new school year began, it was a rocky start being without my mother and brother, in a different country, with a different language and new friends to make. However, because of the strong bond that I have with my family, I never doubted my decision. As the months passed, and Christmas came I remember passing by all the presents under the Christmas tree and as my family was handing out gifts to one another. I looked all around me, and I took a step back and realized that this was my family, my complete family.  In that moment, I felt something had changed within me. It made me come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter if I’m without a father or missing my mother and brother, as long as my family is united, I’ll never feel that I’m “missing” the norm of a perfect family.

Through my experience, regardless of the imperfections my family may have because we do not fit the “picture perfect family”, in my eyes they’re perfect. What truly matters in a family is the unity, connection, and the bond they share. This I believe.