Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The blending of families

The relationship we have with my husband's ex-wife and her family is unusual. My husband and his ex-wife were married very young, had a son they named Jonathan, and after a couple of years divorced.

When we first started dating, things were a little tense, as is expected. I can't imagine how it feels to be the ex-wife watching someone you once shared dreams and aspirations with start a new life. But life went on for everyone and the day came when everyone realized that it would be in Jonathan's best interest if we all just got along. So everyone just put their differences aside and started our new blended family.

I met my stepson when he was 5, he is now 14 and a well-rounded teen who has the ability to make all his parents proud and completely frustrated at the same time, just like any other 14 year old. He is a good kid, there is no doubt about that. I believe his stability is based solely on the relationship we have with his mother and her family.

About once a week, we get together for dinner. On weekends, we all go to my stepson's various sporting events. In fact, we probably hang out with her family more often than we do any of our other friends.

When she had her daughter, we came to the hospital to visit her and the new baby. When she and her fiance moved into their new home, we went over for dinner to celebrate their good fortune. When my children were born, they were there to welcome the new babies. Sophia and her daughter are only nine months apart, so they are ready-made friends.

I like it this way. I like the thought that Jonathan feels he has one big extended family, with all the parents on the same page. There is no bad blood, no name calling, no fighting. It's just one, big family. We celebrate birthdays, christenings and births together. In my opinion, we share holidays better than many families who are actually related.

Sadly, this is not the norm and when I talk about our family, I often get strange looks from people. "How do you do it?" is the most common question. Honestly, I wasn't there when they were divorcing so who am I to judge the demise of their relationship? The only thing I contribute is my ability to realize that Jonathan has a mother and father and I am neither one of those. I am huge part of his life, but I know my boundaries and I think that goes a long way. The real credit goes to my husband and his ex-wife for being able to put their past differences aside and focus on what's really important: their son. I have much respect for them for this.

Sometimes marriages dissolve, but when kids are involved, they're the ones who have to be a part of both families. It is in their best interest to see healthy relationships rather than angry and bitter ones. I feel extremely fortunate to be part of this family.


Anonymous said...

I remember a Celtic Fest a few years ago when Sophia and Savannah were brand new, and both families were there with Jonathan, passing the new babies back and forth, and engaging in tag team parenting...it was wonderful to see - particularly as I WAS there to see the divorce! It was really amazing. Congrats to all! - hopey