It’s easy to see ourselves as a leaf on a family tree, but I’ve come to realize that really we’re a strand in a tapestry of a family tree. I am my parents’ daughter, I was the younger sister of an older brother, I’m a cousin, a niece, a wife, a mom, a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law, a mother-in-law, and so on, and so on. But it’s not just about those relationships, but about how all of those relationships interconnect.

If I were just a daughter, I would just have a relationship with my parents, but because I’m all of those other things, I have other relationships. Sometimes, I have to take time to help my parents, and sometimes I have to take time to help my in-laws. I also must spend time with, and maintain my relationship with my husband and with my now-grown children. When I choose to or must spend time with any one of these people, that means that I necessarily take time away from any others. When one relationship sours or soars, it affects all of the others. When you pull on one strand in a weaving, you distort the image as you disturb all of the others that make it up. The trick in life is knowing when, and with what amount of tension, to pull on each strand, so that the image stays intact and not distorted.

Sometimes it’s easy to pass judgement on others in our lives that are struggling with their part of the tapestry. They also have interconnected relationships that they are trying to hold together and maintain the integrity of the weaving. Let’s just all try to concentrate on the strands in our control, and have some compassion, empathy, and understanding for others holding onto to their strands.

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