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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Brady Bunch...

Blending families is an interesting thing... it can be very rewarding depending on the people involved.

I can say I've been involved in family blending in a couple of different ways, and for me, it's been pretty great for the most part.  When I met my ex husband, he was a divorced father of two.  I met him at a bar, while I was out with a stunning girlfriend... you know the kind... the one who makes every man's head turn when she enters a room, rendering me invisible.  Part of the allure of my ex, was that he came over and asked me to dance after chatting with her a while... she was shocked that someone would choose me over her, and I think that was part of the bloom on that rose... that he actually noticed me.... the fact that he was a fantastic dancer helped too...

While we turned out not to be a good partnership, he gave me some of the best gifts I've ever had... my two sons, and my step-son and step-daughter.  I've spoken about the step kids and kids before, but my relationship and the relationship of my family to them is of interest here.  My parents accepted my 6 year old step son and 4 year old step daughter as though they wer their own grandchildren.  That's a model I plan to follow.  Family is important, and to me, whether other people's kids come into my life through blood, marriage or relationship, it's my job to be supportive and loving.  A soft place to fall, an ear to listen and a shoulder to lean on.  In essence, I have always tried to treat my step kids the way I would want them treated should my ex remarry.

The other very important part of making a blended family work, is to respect the other parents involved.... I have been extremely fortunate there as well.  The woman who was my ex-husband's first wife, has been a tremendous asset to my boys' lives.  She facilitated a relationship between my sons and their siblings.  That was the coolest act of kindness.  She didn't have to do that, but recognized how important family is, despite our differences... it's hard being a second wife.  There is always the spectre of the first wife there, but she modelled a wonderful example.  She chose to accept my kids as the siblings to hers, without judgement.  How classy!

In my current relationship, CG has two beautiful kids. A daughter and son.  They're smart, funny, articulate and kind.  They're kids he can be proud to say he raised.  We have that in common.  Our kids aren't perfect, but are certainly good people, and somehow we all seem to fit.  When we spend time with the kids, we laugh, interact and talk and it's good.  We've even started having family dinners together every other Sunday.

I enjoy every minute I'm given to spend with his kids, and we genuinely like each other... I get to spend good estrogen time with his daughter, and his son fits right in with my two clowns... My boys genuinely like CG, and best of all, our kids like each other!   Ok the fact that CG and I are in love with each other, and show respect for one another doesn't hurt either... life is very good.

The point I need to make about respecting the other parent, is I know there has to be something wonderful about CG's ex-wife.  I see CG so much in his children... The amazing people they are, is in a big way due to him as their custodial parent, but their mother contributed half the DNA to make them who they are. While they live with him, they look forward to the time they spend with her and with her family.  Let's face it the man I love saw enough in her to choose her as his life partner, even though that wasn't to be.  Because I trust the judgements he makes, I trust his choice was based on something special he saw in her.  Looking at things that way helps keep things in perspective. 

She and he ended, just as my ex and I did... it happens...  They have remained cordial just as my ex and I have.  The fact is, that's what's best for our children, and it causes way less drama for us.

I have also been on the other side of the coin.  My ex-husband had a girlfriend for about seven years after we split up.  I remained respectful of her and her time with him.  I never called him unless there was an emergency.  I ensured she got a nice Christmas gift from the boys, and that they treated her with respect as well.  There was a chance she could end up being their step mom, and I knew how that felt.

Not everything has been easy in my step, or ex relationships though...While I have remained quite friendly with my ex, and with one of his sisters, my ex parents in law never did care for me. They're born again, while I'm baptized but non practicing Catholic, and the fact that my ex husband had the first divorce in the family when he and his first wife split was very hard on them and the rest of the family... They really liked her, and I was very different in some ways.  I wasn't really ever given the chance to be accepted, and that's rolled down to affect my kids, and their contact with their paternal grandparents.   While I'm not perfect, I would never have kept my sons from their family, had there been any overatures made.  I will never understand the lack of contact.  I tried to set the ball rolling, even having the whole ex family over the day after Christmas about 7 years ago.

I hope later in life, I get to see I've done the legwork to let the people in my life know I love them.  That I have been the sort of grandparent my parents were to my nephews, my kids and step kids, and their kids....and that I have given them enough modeling to carry on that legacy. I hope too, that I was kind enough that my kids, grand kids and step kids think enough of me to put me in a NICE home... one with a pool and pretty yard boys would be great!

better late than...


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