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Challenge: Finding Your Village

The Family We Choose

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This is what 38 years of friendship looks like.

Easy. Real. True.

38 years ago, our mothers asked each other to be godmothers to their new daughters. 27 years after that, we were each other’s maids of honor. Fast forward another 3 and we are godmothers to each other’s babies.

And all the moments of all the years in between are just too good to reduce to words.

When we were younger, I idolized her incredible spirit of adventure, her fearlessness, her inimitable ability to make everyone laugh, her giant heart that embraced everything and everyone. I still do.

But now I admire how she didn’t sacrifice those qualities on the altar of adulthood. Instead, she effortlessly parlayed all of them into her marriage, her children and her work.

In all these years, our relationship has changed many times over. We haven’t lived in the same city in almost two decades, but that only seemed to make us closer. Geography is a distance for cars, not for the heart. Sometimes we take for granted the people we see every day. But when your visits are limited to four a year, you make every second count.

We don’t talk every day but there is nothing that I wouldn’t – that I haven’t – told her. Even though our discussions have evolved from homework and boys and beer to house repairs and potty training and Disneyworld trip planning, we have always spoken the same language.

Because when you suffer through the humiliation of braces and bangs, the heartbreak of bad boyfriends and being left out, the craziness of family vacations and holidays, the pain of divorce and death, and the joys and struggles of marriage and children, well, that’s more than friendship.

Your bond is forged by the awkwardness and anguish and exhilaration of growing up together. Of growing old together.

Here we are today. Moms with unwashed hair and food on our shirts. (And if we’re being entirely honest, it wasn’t just food from our kids). I don’t clean my house when she comes over. We don’t pretend our children or our husbands or our lives or ourselves are perfect but we sure all love each other a lot.


And we have kids who love each other so much they think they are actually related. We have never attempted to dissuade them from that notion. Because family isn’t always defined by blood lines.

Because the family we make – the family we choose – is stronger than DNA.


A version of this post appeared on Cameron's blog Lucky Orange Pants and on Scary Mommy. Cameron is a reformed lawyer who lives with her husband and two boys in Virginia. She writes about parenthood, loss, love, and UVA basketball at Lucky Orange Pants. Her work has also been featured on Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Yahoo Parenting, The Mighty, YourTango, The Good Men Project, and Babble.

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