Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Can Respect That.

I came across a letter that I wrote to Alex and Adam's mom several years ago.  It was a letter that I wrote to let off steam, but never actually sent to her.  Have you ever done that?  Written a letter just to get all of your feelings out but never mail it?  I wrote it at a time that there was a conflict between her and Roger, regarding the kids of course, that resulted in a court date.  Sometimes when I write a letter like that, and then read it again years later, I laugh at myself because I was so ridiculously over the top!  When I read this letter, however, I didn't feel that way this time.  In fact, as I read through the letter this time, I thought about how much of it still rang so true.  It was kind of sad and disappointing.

See, I don't respect it when a parent doesn't parent.  What I mean by that is, if you are a parent, you have responsibilities, emotionally, physically, and financially, whether you live with that child or not.  I don't respect it when a parent can't or won't take the time to see their child.  I don't respect it when a parent tells their child they will do something and then doesn't do it.  I don't respect a lot of lip service and no action.  I don't respect a parent forgetting to pick up their child or being extremely late (for no good reason and not letting them know).  I don't respect empty promises and I certainly don't respect it when a parent has been asked for help with their child and won't give it.  When our children have experienced the other parents not fulfilling their parental responsibilities, Roger and I have been the ones to see and console their disappointments.  It is heartbreaking.

At the same time, I imagine that being the other parent can also be quite difficult, especially if they are not very involved in their child's life.  So, when it comes time for an event for your child, and you put your differences aside for the sake of the child, I can respect that.  The night of Adam and Christian's graduation, Adam's mom was more than amicable.  She was willing to join us for pictures, she was pleasant, and we enjoyed a friendly chat.  She was a minority in a group of our family and it must have been scarier for her than for me.  I can respect that.   A few weeks later we had a graduation open house for the boys.  Both  of the other parents attended (Adam's mom and Christian's dad). It was at our home but they came anyway to celebrate with the boys.  I can respect that.  Both of the other parents were willing to bring the food I asked them to bring for the party.  Neither complained.  I can respect that.  The party was a huge celebration with lots of the boys' friends from church and from school, lots of our friends and co-workers and next to nobody that the other parents knew.  They came anyway.  I can respect that.  They even seemed to have a good time, but it must have been very humbling for them.  I can respect that.  They put it all aside for one day for the boys.  They were friendly for the sake of the boys. I can respect that.

I don't know what it is like not to be involved in my children's lives. I think I would rather die than be on the outskirts of their lives.  Consequently, I cannot really relate to the other parents and how they must have felt being at the party.  The stress they felt during the week long build up to that day.  The anxiety they must have endured on the drive over. Their nerves as they arrived.  I cannot relate because I was on my home turf and they were the least of my worries that day.  It must have been hard, but they did it anyway.  I completely respect that and thank them because I know it meant a lot to the boys. 
Congratulation, Adam and Christian!  We are ALL very proud of you both!  Job well done!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Families Unite

I have to admit that I have been a little wrapped up in family plans over the past few weeks.  The boys, Adam and Christian, graduate on Thursday, and it seems like every conversation in our house somehow revolves around graduation, or exams or the graduation open house party.  It is an end of an era and I am beginning to think that I am just keeping myself busy so I don't have to think about this end.

As graduation day approaches, it goes without saying that our events will include the other parents as well; Christian's dad and his family, and Adam's mom and her boyfriend., as this is an important day for all involved.  I can't say I am really looking forward to the gathering of parents, but I really want it to be a nice and fun time for the boys.  It is important to me that it be stress free and fun for them, and so, I swallow my pride  and my feelings and shout:  Families Unite!

Since we don't really communicate with the other parents unless absolutely necessary, I don't know how they are feeling about the "big gathering" but I have to imagine that they are about as excited about it as we are.  The difference is, we get at double dose of other parents, and they just get the single dip.  Regardless, feelings need to be set aside for the good of the group.  My hope is that the other parents realize this as well and work together with us to make it a great occasion for Christian and Adam.

This is one of those moments in a blended family that a traditional family just cannot relate to.  I don't care if there are disagreements with your in-laws or your sister wears her clothes backwards, it really just doesn't compare with the awkwardness and tension of all inclusive time with the other parents.  I suppose all blended families don't feel this way.  I understand there are even families where the divorced parents get along and are able to be friends and/or treat each other as respectful human beings.  I envy you.  I wish we could all get along and be friends.  It might be weird at first, but the fact is we have the most precious commodity in our lives in common - our kids.  Since I realize this camaraderie will probably never happen, I resolve to just do my best, and be as friendly and welcoming as I would with anyone else.

Last year at Alex's open house, her mom was quite appreciative.  I think she saw and realized perhaps, just how important Alex is to me.  She thanked me for all I had done, and willingly helped out when I asked her.  She hugged me when she left and thanked me again for all I had done.  If I had to over analyze the situation, as I am often prone to do, I think she may have been thanking me for all I had done for Alex over the years.  It was really nice to hear.  What she doesn't realize, though, is that for me, that just comes with the territory of being a mom.

If you have some family events coming up, where families must unite, just remember to be kind, be friendly, and put it all beside you for the sake of your children. I know it is hard, and probably the last thing you really want to do, but won't you have a better time if you are not filled with loathing and anger?  Think about the great time your child will have when they see Mom and Dad getting along.  They don't need to know how you might really feel, because the important thing is how they feel on their special day.