The Powerhouse Museum's Boulton and Watt steam...


Imagine a Steampunk-esque miracle contraption with gears and chains, cogs and levers, and even a little smokestack if you’d like.  When everything is running smoothly the machine can do anything.  It can fly!  It can swim!  It can grant wishes!


I like to think of a poly family like one of these Amazing Machines, within which we are all individual pieces.  We each have a function and a speed at which we work well.  When things are as they should be we are an unstoppable force, but if a piece needs maintenance of something gets caught in the gears the whole machine is impaired.  As a family, as opposed to a group of individuals, we have created a system of woven interdependence wherein the health of the individual maintains the health of the whole.


We all have bad days, and we try not to take our frustration out on those we love, but even if I don’t throw a shoe at Hubby he can usually tell when I’m in  poor mood.  Most of the time he tries to fix it.  If for some reason he can’t he tries to be supportive.  Whether or not this puts him in his own poor mood it still weighs on him.  Seeing someone we love hurt, sick, or unhappy is never an easy thing for anyone.  When I’m stressed, he’s stressed.  When he’s stressed, the same process is repeated between Hubby and A.


This ripple effect comes into play most profoundly when one or more of our relationships is having a rough patch.  When Hubby and I argue it puts him on edge and off kilter in the rest of his life, including his time with A.  When they have issues it causes the same uneasiness between us.  Depending on the severity of the problem, it also tends to affect the relationship that A and I have built.


One of the best solutions here is maintenance.  Obviously the more we tend to the machine the better it works, but maintenance means more than that.  It means being aware of the health of the machine and catching small issues before they become large ones that could break one or all of the parts.  It means keeping the gears oiled.  With our family that means checking in on each other and creating better bonds that are less likely to break under minor pressure.  It means communicating even when emotions run high to avoid one of us snapping. It means understanding when a family member is venting, not taking it personally, and trying not to turn our own venting into an attack.  It even means not being afraid to slow the machine down for a moment, let an overworked gear cool, and ask for some assistance if there’s a large enough problem.


I have a lot of faith in our Amazing Machine.  She’s done a lot of unbelievable things in the past couple years, and there’s a lot of spark and life left in her still. We’re still learning how to maintain her, as much like any self-made contraption she didn’t come with a troubleshooting manual.  Sometimes that means surprises.  Sometimes that means moving things around a little.  What it always means is that we are finding our rhythm together as the nuts and bolts settle and everything falls into place.


We are an Amazing Machine!


Go now, build something!