On the blend…

Blended families.

We think of the classic Brady Bunch situation, or the more complex arrangements where there are young children, remarried parents, custody and shared parenting. With effort this can work well, but often leads to headaches, holiday melt downs, and logistical nightmares.

What happens when old people, with grown children, pair up? Not a lot written about that…

Studley had two twenty-something children when he divorced his wife, and my children were college-aged when their dad and i split. Our courtship was fairly non-traditional, but after hanging out together for a few years, it was inevitable that our spawn would be introduced.

With my kids, it was a more organic process. In the early days of our relationship, they were either living at home, or at university and coming home fairly often. They’d spend time with us, we’d go out to dinner, hang out, watch movies, and they grew attached. Studley and i were also in the more enthusiastic stage of dating, and maintained an open relationship*, which meant he wasn’t my only date. There was only one other man they met, and neither liked him. They were “Team Studley” from the start…

Studley’s situation was quite different. His eldest lived out of state, and his youngest was away at university. There was also a bit more stress regarding the parental divorce, and no way for him to have a civil relationship with his ex-wife. It took more time for him to feel comfortable introducing his children to his “girlfriend”.

Things gelled a bit when i attended his son’s wedding a few years ago. Some combination of me being polite to their mother, and the kids seeing what a couple of dorks we were on the dance floor, seemed to break the ice. Their dad was happy! There have been a few other holiday gatherings over the years, more time spent together, closer connections, and conversations going deeper.

i was honored when his daughter introduced us to her trail family as “her parents” when we met her during her Appalachian Trail hike in August. Allowing things to proceed at their own pace was the right thing to do. It took time, but it took!

This year, his kids wanted to meet up somewhere for Christmas. We settled on renting a condo in Big Sky, Montana, with the goal of exploring somewhere new and getting outside to enjoy the snow. Not being quite as old and crusty experienced with travel planning, they chose the absolutely most expensive travel days for airfare!

Montana

Snowshoe hike. i’m on the left, and Studley is in the middle. It was -2 F  (-19 C). We did not die. 

Calling on my inner travel ninja, i was able to save a lot of money by hacking flights together, adding a 2 day layover in Denver. This allowed for a very quick stop with my son and his family the week before Christmas! The bonus? Studley’s daughter would be traveling with us – a chance for some ‘cross spawn’ time!

Over the years, there have been a few other opportunities for my kids to meet his kids, but they’ve been limited because they all live in far off places! Louisiana, Washington, DC, Colorado Springs and Izmir, Turkey! Doesn’t make it easy to get together for Sunday brunch!

It was an absolute delight to see my son and his wife connect with his daughter. She didn’t mind hanging out with the two grandcritters, either.  She enjoyed her time, and we’ve since had discussions around building some future holiday plans where we’re all in the same general vicinity to make the bigger gatherings happen.

Non-traditional? Whatever that means. The blend extends. 

gratuitous gamma pic

Gratuitous Gamma pic… they are adorable!

 

* We still are in a ‘non-exclusive’ relationship, managing a comfortable degree of ethical non-monogamy. We have, however, become quite particular about such arrangements, having been burned to a crisp a few times by people who are batshit crazy claim to understand what this means, and then try to change the ground rules. 

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28 thoughts on “On the blend…

  1. Y’know, that snow shoeing shot is the BEST group photo ever. Next time someone says “line up for a group photo” I’m going to insist on Michelin Man parkas, beanies and goggles. That way, no one looks drunk/mad/dorky/has eyes shut-mouth open.

    And kudos to all your kids for working those genes.

    • That’s an excellent point! And with the Raccoon balaclava on my noggin, i don’t have to worry about my hair, either! i can say that i’ve never looked better!

      The genes are good with this little tribe… those are pretty, pretty babies. Smart, too!

    • They do. i was very aware of the complexities of blending with young children, given that my older brother and sister were dealing with that from the time their children were only a few years old. My sister, and her first ex-husband, did a very nice job of staying connected, and working together – even when he remarried, they stayed a clan, all working in support of the daughter. My brother and his exes? Not so much…

      • It can be very hard to rise above personal animus and remember that your children are innocent bystanders to the wreck of your dream of love. In our case the blending is the merging of Jesse with us when we adopted him. In spite of the fact that he is our son, my parents never got the hang of treating him like he was truly their kith and kin. Now my mother doesn’t understand why he does not have much to do with her…

        • Your mother made a decision that will haunt her… Very sad.

          With Max, he was my grandson from the moment we met, and that will never change. Bloodline is of no consequence. i am in awe of how hard my daughter-in-law works to keep this little boy connected to his bio-dad, who is deployed in Korea for a year.

        • Daughter-in-law calls us all “Team Max”. She shares pictures freely with her former in laws, and makes sure there are FaceTime dates with his dad overseas. The first year she was with my son, they all took Max out for Trick or Treat – Mom and two Dads. It’s beautiful…

    • What seems to have worked well here is patience. Not trying to shove the “new mommy” / “new daddy” into the lives of adult children.

      that photo makes me smile. in that moment, i was probably as happy as i have ever been in my life. not necessarily a flattering angle, but i was so full of joy… very glad that Studley took that picture.

  2. That’s a good state to be in. Some people are always a bit surprised when they see me, my children, Kirsty and her boyfriend, getting on very well. But why should we not?

    And happy birthday to the blog too. Im glad you’ve persisted when lots of others have just given up, or been swallowed by the shorter social media forms.

    • You and your ex are clearly on “team daughters”. That is as good as it can be! My grandson, Max, who has a different bio-dad than his sister, has 8 grandparents. What a lucky kid! That’s a lot of people to love him!

      i’ve stopped blogging, thinking i had said all i wanted to say, several times. My restarts were always due to feeling a need to hoark up things i needed to say. This tells me that it works for me. Suspect i’ll keep at it for a bit longer. Facebook is a superficial quagmire, and i’m mostly using that to promote local charity events.

        • Other than my daughter-in-laws parents, everyone else has split and remarried (or re-partnered). The kid will make out like a bandit on birthdays and Christmas! My ex and i have decided that we’ll start an educational fund for him, rather than flood him with toys…

  3. thanks for sharing. Just as people are unique the families that form are unique. We have a blended family. It blended (sometimes blended?) back when the oldest child was not yet in high school. Things work out and then some things don’t. It is what it is.

    • Whenever i’m asked to provide advice for new parents, i usually say “Don’t take any advice that doesn’t feel right – every family finds a balance, and only you can determine yours”. That remains true for the cycle of ‘family-hood’ i guess…

  4. Yes, blended families can get tricky. My second husband had two teenage daughters and I had an eleven-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter when we got hitched. One of his girls lived with us for most of her high school years. My son opted to live with his dad and his girlfriend when we moved from SoCal to the Sierra foothills when he was about 14. That was beneficial because he learned that dad wasn’t always the good time Charlie that he appeared to be on visitation weekends. 🙂 My daughter pretty much considers my husband to be her father, although the joke in our family was that he wasn’t her “real” father, just the “rubber” father. (fake one)

    Sometimes I wish that my kids had enjoyed a stable family life with just one set of parents but then I think, who can argue with four parents,and six or eight grandparents who are on your side and rooting for you?

    • i had wondered if it would have been better if i could have stayed married, sucked up the things that weren’t working for me with my ex-husband. But then he met and married the most marvelous woman – the kids don’t like the term ‘step mom’, so we came up with ‘bonus mom’. She brings so much to their lives, it’s absolutely wonderful! My children have four very different, very functional adult parental units, and i think they’re good with that now. We are all on the same team, and we all have different strengths…

      And then there’s my grandson, Max, who has 8 grandparents — all loving him, cheering for him, and supporting him as he grows up. It may be a bit confusing, but i’m pretty sure he’ll figure it out…

  5. Well done to you, Studley and to your spawn.
    I suspect tthat blended/non-traditional families are now the norm. And goodness knows that hissy fits, misunderstandings and sometimes hostility can occur in ‘even the best of families’

    • They are certainly more common than they were when i was young. We had one single Mom in the neighborhood when i was growing up – i used to babysit for her 3 children. Even though it was an unusual situation for our street, i don’t remember her being treated badly by others…would be interesting to track her down now and ask!

      We’ve had our share of scuffles, but given how far apart we all are, those rare moments when we do get to spend time together are considered precious, and we work pretty hard at not letting the little things escalate into big things.

  6. My old man used to go to the house he bought, where my mother and her new husband lived, to hang with the boyos, he was always super cool even when my lovely (insert sarcasm) mother and her born again batshit hubby made little shitty remarks, he didn’t care, it was about the boyos… you and Studley are doing it right, so keep on keepin’ on Grannie!!! LOL!!!!

    • Taking the high road is the only option – it is not only best for the little ones, it grants supreme license to bitch and all that!

      It’s not nearly as easy dealing with Studley’s ex-wife, who continues to try to screw him out of his last dime because of her unfounded fears of being destitute. She’s sitting on a fortune from an inheritance, but it’s never enough, and she won’t let go… dealing with her in person for his son’s promotion ceremony after she had basically told him SHE couldn’t afford for him to retire? That was an exercise in sucking it up… he never let the kids know what she was doing.

      It’s “GammaFae” – which has some festive science connotations. i love this job more than any job i’ve ever had… and i liked being a mom, and a geek…

      • Colorado Springs? i hope you sampled the local cookies from the dispensary, lol!!! and i just noticed that the link from your site to the lounge takes you to Savannah’s, which i believe dovetails nicely into the philosophical wu-wei the lounge practices… i could tell a story about my lovely mother, who may have something in common with Studley’s ex wife, but it’ll get to the lounge soon enough, let’s just say the back spasms have been the least of my worries and that the end of 2017 and the start of 2018 have been a rough one for El Kono…

        • You are a wise man. i am retired, and shall never have to work again. That means no more pissing in a jar for this ol’ broad… Colorado is SUCH a civilized place. Manitou Springs is the place to stop if you’re ever out that way. i can make some recommendations… Will be sad when The Boy gets out of the army and moves away.

          I have no idea why i set up the links that way, but i’ve fixed it. Been meaning to update my blogroll, and give this site a fresh look, but you know how that goes. It’s everything i can do to find some clear headed time to sit down and write, let alone do housekeeping!

          i hope your year improves… january in this part of the world is pretty rough. i’ve been tracking a lot of people who are dying. as though the people who are seriously ill hang on through the holidays out of sheer will and then just throw in the towel after the turn of the year. this cold shitty weather doesn’t help. hang in there!

    • i hate that word as it applies to this 55 year old woman. i don’t like “companion” (sounds like a dog). “partner” implies we’re living together (we’re not). “significant other” is trying too hard, and kinda dated. i refer to him as “My manfriend, because he’s too old to be a boyfriend” or “because i’m too old to have a boyfriend”, and that’s become part of my standard schtick. There’s not much vanilla about how we roll, either! True statement!

      But Gamma? That’s me. i had never aspired to be a grandma, and encouraged my children to do their thing, breed or don’t breed, and that they should choose carefully how to proceed as it is on them to raise any children they bring into the world. Imagine my surprise the first time i met one year old Max and was immediately, completely and permanently smitten! Something very different about it, but i love being GammaFae…Can’t wait to take the little shits camping, teach them how to bowl, and fix me a proper Manhattan… i’ll be THAT Gramma…

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