Every Family is Different, and the Same

Somerville is home to enormous diversity. Our school system reports that over 50 languages are spoken by the families of Somerville. Eu não falo português, mas estou tentando.

I grew up in a place where I didn’t hear another language spoken besides English until I was 14 years old. I’m glad my daughter is growing up in Somerville and will be surrounded by other languages. (If you meet her, try her Italian – it’s not bad.)

Our enormous diversity doesn’t end with languages, though. Families in Somerville take many different forms, and I’m glad to be meeting them throughout Ward 2.

I grew up in a place where a family was often defined as one man, one woman, and the kids. But even then, even with that narrative, it wasn’t that simple in reality. Family was whatever you needed to make it work in a small town.

Maybe it was mom and dad and the kids, but just as often it also included an uncle or an aunt that couldn’t live on their own. Or the grandparents you were taking care of living in the house with you. Or the cousins that moved in for years because their parents were away and couldn’t care for them. Or the aunts and uncles who moved in to help take care of the kids and the farm.

Reality is complicated, life is hard, and it’s vital to be good to each other. It’s important to accept each other.

Here in Somerville families are sometimes two dads and their child. Sometimes it’s two elderly sisters living together as they have for 30 years. Or two women and a child, along with the friend who lives with them sharing the duties of cooking, paying the rent, and picking up the kids from their after school activities. Or three generations of relatives in all sorts of configurations filling a triple-decker. Or a collective of artists and therapists raising their children in a cooperative home.

All over Somerville, family is more than who gave birth to whom. Family is who we surround ourselves with, the people we love who are an indelible part of our lives, the people who make us whole and help each other through the years.

Each and every family has value. I’m glad that many of these are protected and recognized by domestic partnership laws and the legality of gay marriage, but beyond legal recognition it’s important to say that each family is unique and welcome here.

I steadfastly support the right of every family, regardless of makeup, to pursue life, liberty, and happiness here in Somerville.