On ex-wives and new wives
This Christmas Eve, there will be fourteen at our table. Every year, the familial combination is a bit different depending on who’s available,
but this year our little crowd will include
Dan’s sister and her husband,
my brother and his partner,
and our kids, including Alex and her fiance.
Oh, and of course Alex’s mom Glenna and her partner, Steve (yes, I do mean Dan’s ex-wife and her boyfriend).
For many, many years, people would tell me that I should share the story of how our blended family all gets along so well. Interestingly enough though, now that I actually have a platform to write from,
it is a story that seems so fixed and normal to our reality that I even forget to mention it.
There has been an open letter circulating recently, however, that was written by a woman to her ex-husband’s second wife. In it, she expresses her heart-felt gratitude and love towards this woman who loved her daughter as her own. It is a wonderful story of healthy and mutually respectful co-parenting.
After reading this post,
I realized I had some things to say about co-parenting and blended families, too…
When people have asked us, over the years, what our secret to success has been,
each of us (Glenna, Dan, myself, Alex) will point fingers at one or the other and say, ‘It’s all because of her/him/them,’
but the reality is that it has required an investment of trust and acceptance from everybody that has sat at our table at one time or another,
from grandparents to aunts and uncles to cousins and neighbours and friends.
Sabotage can come from any direction, but love coming from every direction can work unusual miracles.
And, if I were to respond to that letter that has been making the rounds and write my own,
from the vantage point of the second wife.
I would say,
Thank you, Glenna, for trusting me with your daughter.
I realize only now, the immensity of your generosity in letting me openly play my part in her life.
Thank you, too, for encouraging her into the arms of my family, and my ways….
Our approaches to parenting have not always been the same, but that never has been an issue,
as we each have always respected and seen the value in each other’s opinions,
and talked through whatever issues have come up until we all agreed.
This is where it started,
but it quickly became so much more because, ultimately, sharing a daughter means sharing a life.
Glenna, time and time again you have brought joy and laughter and hilarity to our birthday parties, our Sunday dinners, our celebrations, our family weekends.
When Alex’s siblings were born, you rushed to the hospital and loved them at first sight. And now, you are their Glenna.
And when my mom was dying, you washed my dishes, ran my errands, comforted me, and held my baby.
These are the sorts of things a person never forgets,
and definitely not the sorts of things a woman generally expects from her husband’s ex-wife. You are so much more than that, and at the same time not that at all. You are simply ‘our Glenna’.
You have been there for all of the important stuff, Glenna, and cheered us all on in equal measure.
Everybody has played a part in making this work,
but you, Glenna, welcomed me into your heart without a moment’s hesitation,
and that paved all of our way.
Peace at Christmas
Some people manage to keep Christmas craziness and chaos at bay,
this is something I have never quite been able to manage.
To be perfectly honest,
I truly and desperately want to find everybody the most perfect gift, wrap with creativity and whimsy, plan and prep marvelous feasts, attend every beautiful affair, make my own cards and send every relative a personal letter complete with recent photos, experiment with fun new cookie recipes as well as make all of the traditional favorites, and still find time to curl up with my family and watch all the holiday favorites whilst drinking home-made cocoa with always real whipped cream,
all this at the same time as starting my own business.
Here’s what I have come to realize that I direly need to accept.
Much of this may only happen in my head,
and that’s ok.
Time to say it again Karen,
At the very least, I will certainly manage food on the table, a few presents under the tree and happy kids,
and what more could we really want, when this is so much and all I have ever wanted,
anything else is beautiful gravy.
God Only Knows
Alex introduced us to this lovely little piece,
and given that Love Actually is one of our all-time favourite Christmas movies,
and that we are a family that tries to keep believing in magic and possibility,
it does seem like the perfect way to end this year.
Merry Christmas everybody. Thank you for all of the love, all of the comments, all of the encouragement. It has been a beautiful and interesting year and I look so forward to all that is to come. Treasure your homes and your loved ones and yourselves. Together, we can create peace at home.