“We’re an ‘all in’ family.”

It was one of the first things my future mother-in-law said to me way back when I was just a 19-year-old girl meeting my new boyfriend’s family for the first time. The way she said the words struck me, the pride in her voice evident as she explained that their close-knit family did things—most everything, really—together. If one person was in, they were all in.

And it was true.

By the time that boyfriend got down on one knee a few years later,  I knew the statement “when you marry a man, you marry his whole family” couldn’t possibly be more true. I said yes without hesitation, and what a blessing it has been to be part of this “all-in” family.

Being part of an all-in family means there are quick phone calls most days of the week just to check in and see what everyone else is up to.

It means that each and every holiday—big or small—is spent as a whole with way too much food, good drinks, and even better company. Birthdays are celebrated with a full chorus ready to sing “Happy Birthday” in off-key voices, and candles are lit, re-lit, and lit again so the kids can take turns blowing them out as the adults grin and look on. 

Being part of an all-in family means help is never out of reach. Whether we need someone to watch the kids for a few hours, take care of our home while we’re away, or pitch in on a renovation project, all hands are always on deck.

It means a whole lot of love to spare for each new member. It means overflowing hospital waiting rooms as sweet babies prepare to make their grand entrances into the world, and a welcoming committee so filled with joy and anticipation that it’s almost palpable. 

Being an all in family means enjoying the little moments of life together just as much as the big ones. There are sleepovers, lunch dates, movie nights, and lake days. We get together on Sundays to watch football and swing by each other’s houses just to say a quick hello whenever we have the chance.

It’s a promise of “be right there” anytime there’s an emergency—day or night—and a lot of text messages saying “Do you wanna . . .?” and “What are your plans on Saturday?”

Most of all, being part of an all-in family means that there’s no shortage of love, no loneliness, and no lack of support.

I rest easy knowing that no matter life’s circumstances or what curveballs are thrown our way, there will always be a whole tribe of love surrounding me, and most importantly, my children.

Being part of an all-in family isn’t perfect; if it sounds exhausting to constantly be surrounded by relatives . . . well, at times it can be. But truthfully, six out of seven days of the week, it’s just a really, really big gift.

Marrying into such a close family was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I’m so thankful each day that I said yes.

This family of ours? I don’t know where life will take us or what our future has in store, but I do know this: If they’re going . . . then I’m all in.

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward