By: Kiley Peters
Family is important - this is not a new discovery. However, I am a huge proponent of self-discovery and what I have realized over the last few years is that understanding more about each member of my family has helped me understand more about myself - why I am the way I am and do some of the things I do - and that...that is big.
I have a father, mother, sister, and a large, loud and rowdy extended family and I love them all with every ounce of my being. I grew up in the same house as my father, mother and sister until I was 18 when I left for college (30 minutes from home) and what I've discovered is that I am just starting to get to know them -- as adults. I know my father likes to stand in front of the television and eat unbuttered popcorn in pajama pants that are pulled up too high and my mother makes cute little signs for literally everything in her closets (nail polish, scarves, plasticware, etc.) and my sister will hug a tree and make friends with a squirrel before buying an overpriced bottle of water. I know them as my father, my mother and my sister, not Toby, Patti and Paige. It's like I have three brand new wonderful people to get to know!
These three people are, arguably, the three most important people in my life and it has taken almost 30 years to realize, they are adults and individuals who all have separate lives - and insecurities and moments of triumph. So much of them is ingrained in me and all these new tiny bits of strength, vulnerability and slipped curse words here and there help me to, not only get to know them better, but also understand more about myself. Life gets tough. The last few years haven't been easy on my family, but as I said, it has been an eye opening experience getting to know each one of them as their own person and I've learned so much from it.
My father has been my hero my entire life. I'm a daddy's girl through and through. He has sacrificed so much to always take care of my mother, sister and myself and I will always be grateful for that. In the last few years, my father has stepped down from the pedestal I put him on and has become Toby, my peer. As he has stood on level ground with me, I have found, through tears of laughter and tears of pain, that I get my passion and enthusiasm from my father. He loves so much and cares so much and hugs so hard. His passion and enthusiasm towards life are two qualities I have been especially privvy to in recent years - or maybe I've just now realized what they mean - and I admire him so much for embodying these attributes. Now, I also inherited Toby's motion sickness and fear of scary movies...so not all of the traits I got from him are the best, but I just avoid amusement parks and thrasher films and we're fine.
My mother is so open and caring. She has many wonderful qualities, but one has become very evident over the last few years and I credit her largely for instilling it in me: be comfortable in your own skin. She always taught my sister and I not to care what other people think and be proud of who we are. Growing up, my mom was mostly a mom and a wife because those were her priorities. Now that we've grown up, it's been fun watching my mom become Patti. Not a mom or a wife, but Patti. Patti who goes on annual trips to Vegas with her girlfriends, co-chairs local committees, gets tipsy from one RumChata Martini and hosts parties with the cutest, craftiest decor. She does what she wants -- because she can. Patti is much stronger than I ever realized, growing up, and I am so proud of her for being such a strong woman who is entirely comfortable in her own skin. Knowing I have her strength within me gives me the peace of mind to know I can handle anything that comes my way. (For the record, I can also handle more than one RumChata Martini...)
I could go one forever about my sister. She is my favorite person in the world and the best, most selfless person I know. She is the most loyal friend you could ever ask for, one of the smartest and kindest people you'll ever meet and appreciates the beauty and good in the world more than most will ever even be able to comprehend. My sister is two years younger than me but a whole world wiser and if there's anything I've been lucky to have rub off on me from her, it's to be better. As I listen to Paige talk about how much she loves her friends; and cares about the world and the environment and mentoring students; and really has her sh*t together (even though she could work on her time management skills)...no one has life figured out better than she does. Paige knows what matters and demonstrates it in her daily life and witnessing this makes me want to be better. It makes me want to be a better person that my little sister, this wonderful woman named Paige, can be proud of.
I know that's a lot, but it's just the beginning. There's so much more to learn, so many questions to ask and stories to be told. I acknowledge I might be a bit late to the game with this realization of understanding your family are their own people too, but I'm grateful at least I figured it out. I'm looking forward to learning more about Toby, Patti and Paige's most embarrassing stories and proclamations of life. I don't know how I got so lucky, but my father, my mother and my sister are three of my best friends and I wouldn't trade this pack of weirdos for anything.
Taking a deeper dive into understanding your family is better than the best self-help book you could read or melodramatic Lifetime movie you could watch. So sit down, start asking questions and pay attention, you're in for a treat.