Okay….so we are watching a new-for-us television series called Parenthood. It concluded its final episode in 2015, but we have just now discovered it and are binge watching. It’s what we do….binge watch our favorites. I need to belong to a support group. Hello, my name is Pam and I want to be a Braverman. OH.MY.GOODNESS! I SO seriously do!
This show involves a middle-aged couple and their four grown children with spouses and families of their own. It includes the crazy dramas, joys, and sorrows that every family faces, but through it all….they are there for each other… time and again. They manage to tunnel through the frustrations of parental control and the anger and jealously of sibling rivalry to reach the core of love and loyalty embedded in family. It reminds me of the essence of the extended family of yesteryear where several generations spent time in close proximity to each other’s lives enabling them to love, support, guide, encourage and hold one accountable to a higher standard.
The Bravermans display their familial fierceness in, sometimes extreme, efforts to get together for holidays, dinners, game nights, road trips, and support everyone’s children in sports, plays, and special moments. I SO love that. That is the part that grabbed my heart and made me want to be a member of that family. It is not the fictional personalities of these characters that have drawn me in, although I find them to be very likeable in all of their flawed brokenness. I like their unique quirkiness of birth order. I like that they don’t all agree. I like their gritty honesty with each other in their moments of anger and pride that usually strengthens rather than damages their relationship. I like their humor found in their shared roots and reference points of growing up and in those awkward and embarrassing moments of disclosure. I like the way that they truly love each other through all of their imperfections. It mirrors real life problems and struggles and I can relate to these characters on so many levels with my experiences as a daughter, a wife, and a mother. What would I have done or said? What have I done or said? It is a great platform for good conversations. Sadly, though, I can’t relate as a sister. I have a half-sister and some half and step siblings, but we were so far apart in age or geography that bonding never happened. Probably my fault more than theirs, since I was the eldest. I could have done a better job. I will own that one.
When I was little, I was an only child, as was my mother, but my grandparents came from very large families. They understood the inherent importance of family and staying connected. Some of my best and most treasured memories of childhood came from going to family reunions….a non-negotiable tradition during the lives of that “grand” generation of sisters and brothers. When they passed away, that wonderful priority of family gatherings went with them. Because of those gatherings, I grew up desperately wanting to be part of a large family and it fostered my desire to have lots of children. Lots turned into a blessing of two wonderful sons….now I wish that we had more…if two were great then more would have been exponentially ….greatER.
I might think this show was purely fiction and only the creation of an imaginative writer, however, I do know some real life Bravermans. I’ve discovered that those families always involve at least four kids. Is it a magic number of children and their collective energies that allow for Braverman-ism to sprout wings and fly or just the personalities of the parents that foster it? Probably a little bit of both. Whatever the reason…..I confess than I am more than a little jealous. It has given me pause for much reflection with both nostalgia and regret. I am disheartened that we didn’t do a better job of making it happen with our own children, that we didn’t set the traditions earlier or more consistently, that perhaps we didn’t encourage enough or instill a bigger sense of family. I realize that it must steadily grow into being throughout the years. You can’t force it to happen with a grand stand attempt at a family vacation, and I certainly wouldn’t want to gather people together who didn’t want to be there. That would defeat the whole purpose. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE and adore my family and they are awesome…but I do,
secretly not so secretly, wish we were a bit more like the Bravermans. I will file this with my lifelong dream of wanting to live on a farm with big trees, lots of land and animals….probably never gonna happen.
For those of you lucky enough to BE apart of a family of Bravermans, I salute you! (Will you adopt us please?) For those families still growing, I encourage you to take heed of the importance of building those traditions and keeping true to them so that.….you too can have what the Bravermans have one day. Strong families go a long way to solving lots of societal ills.
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life” ~ Richard Bach