Generation Gap

After six weeks living with my daughter and her husband while they welcomed their new squab, i have had an odd transition home this time. Re-entry after a long trip often has challenges. Beyond time zones and jet lag, it’s re-learning which way to turn my sink fixture to get hot water, reacquainting myself with where i keep the utensils in my own kitchen, and reestablishing the muscle memory to get me from my bed to the toilet in the dark of night.

But this time? Also feeling the distance. The experience was intense, the relationship with my daughter and her husband stronger and closer. And that little human? How do we not attach when they first start focusing those little eyeballs on our faces? i am not one to go squishy-gooey over babies, but they have a way of stealing hearts if you spend a little time with them.

Another feeling that has also taken me by surprise? The sadness that my parents were never able to see both of my children become parents. That they didn’t have the chance to meet these adorable spawnlets. They also didn’t get to see my surprise transformation into “Gamma”.

It’s a by-product of being born the youngest child of older parents. Mom was 34 when i was born. Dad was 39. Even though i was a young mother – dropping my daughter when i was only 24 years old – my parents were still pretty old when i became a breeder.

My kids were high school age when Dad died in 2001. They remember him, and know him through my stories, but didn’t have as much time with him as they did with my mom. Many happy hours spent talking shit with her over friendly games of poker (she showed no mercy) provided a foundation for their relationship. Their favorite side hustle with her? “Tell us more embarrassing stories about Mom when she was little”.

She happily obliged. The more embarrassing, the more she’d embellish the tale.

The next generation of my clan – these three little critters – will never know my parents. Maybe if they show interest in genealogy when they’re a little older, i can share some direct lore with them. Go through the endless silly pictures. The primary school projects on finding your roots sometimes tease out a few tales.

thoughtful bebek

i barely remember the tales my mother told me of her grandparents. There are bits and pieces written down, photos in black and white with spidery handwritten notes on the back. Eastern European names without many vowels. Tired farm women surrounded by a dozen unsmiling children. My father’s family history is much less clear – his parents were dead before he married mom, and he was an only child of immigrant parents. Not much written down.

And so it goes…

christmas critters

i will do what i can to teach these new little humans about their ancestors. But it’s just a little sad that they will never get to meet in person.

 

 

What to expect when you’re expecting abroad…

The arrival of a baby is a big deal in any culture. That magical combination of expanding a family, cementing a bond between parents, and good ol’ biological survival of the species. As expected, we found some cultural differences when The Girl shelled out her progeny abroad!

Two hours after the baby was extracted, The Girl, her husband, Metin, baby Ada and i were getting settled into the hospital room. The Girl was mostly naked, with the new baby laying across her chest.

fresh bebek

The first visitors arrived – two close friends who are also expecting a baby in the summer. Just a quick “hi”, hugs, and they were about to leave when the next wave of visitors arrived. Metin’s mother and father stopped by, followed by his oldest brother, his two teen children, his younger brother and his wife, and their 3 year old daughter. It became a party!

Meanwhile, another friend (American ex-pat) showed up with a bag of snacks – cheddar cheese may seem like a strange thing to bring to a hospital room, but it’s hard to find good sharp cheddar here! It was a thoughtful gift…

i was a bit boggled at the number of people now crammed into a fairly small hospital room. In addition to the three of us and half-pint, another 11 people were in the room, some spilling into the hallway. It was at this moment a nurse told us the larger room they’d requested was ready – time to pack up mom, baby and gear and move to a different room – on another floor of the hospital!

During this transition, i expected some people to leave – silly me! Two more friends showed up! As we tried to get settled into the new room, the baby was crying, and a first time mother was attempting to nurse a brand new, fairly confused newborn.

The Girl and i exchanged a few glances – “This is bullshit!” she said (knowing that most people in the room wouldn’t understand it). The baby continued to cry. People were still gathered while she attempted to put the baby to her breast – most of the menfolk staying in the hallway. i told Metin that a little privacy would be fucking awesome!

Turns out, in Turkish culture, this is expected. If friends and family do not immediately stop by the hospital for a brief “Welcome Baby” visit, it means that they don’t care. We explained that in the US, groups of people visiting people in the hospital after the birth of a baby would be quite inconsiderate.

Lesson acknowledged, and compromises proposed. After returning home the following day, The Girl asked if the family and friend visits could be done in smaller groups – maybe 5 – 6 people at a time. Metin agreed, and visits over the next few days were done in smaller doses. It worked out pretty well…

official grannies

Other observations:

Attack of the Random Grandmother: During the first hour in the hospital, trying to change a tiny diaper on a squawking baby, there was a knock at the door. It was a woman visiting her own family, who had heard the baby crying, and stopped by to make sure the baby wasn’t in danger. “What’s wrong with your baby? Why is it crying?” When The Girl and Metin took Ada to her first pediatrician appointment, there were plenty of other helpful grandmas telling them that the baby was too cold. The Girl is perfecting the smile that says “Thanks. Fuck off.”

Thermal Management: Layers upon layers upon more layers of clothing are required to keep an infant alive in a fairly temperate climate. While The Girl was in labor, a nurse came in to the room to inspect clothing brought to get the baby home. She looked at the three outfits, shook her head and said “That’s it?” If a baby sneezes, it’s not because she’s clearing her nose after a feed. She must be freezing. Their pediatrician laughed – he said it is always easy to spot babies of non-Turkish mothers! He said it’s perfectly fine to not bury the baby in too much clothing and blankets. i suggested they get this in writing to ward off overly helpful street grannies…

Three weeks into the new family venture, and Ada is thriving. Parents are gaining confidence and comfort, and we are all starting to get more sleep. The days have a battle rhythm. Metin returned to work this week, i’ve been focused on meals, cleaning, laundry and making sure The Girl gets showers, plenty of fluids, and sleep.

ada

i’m sure there will be more culture clashes in the future. But for now, they’ve got this…

 

 

 

 

 

We’re captive on the carousel of time…

Seven years ago, The Boy and i hopped a plane for Istanbul to spend Christmas with The Girl. She’d accepted a job in Izmir the previous summer, and at the age of 25, moved here in July, 2011.

We spent Christmas Eve in a hotel, building the most beautiful Christmas Tree from beer bottles collected from the executive lounge. This year, my own tree is once again nestled in a box in my garage, five thousand miles away. That is perhaps the only similarity between that holiday and today.

2011: She knew no one when she moved here. She had made a few friends, was sharing an apartment with another English teacher at her school, and had a 45 minute commute to work via public bus.

2018: Her collective of friends is glorious, many couples including Turks and ex-pats. They surround her with love and support. She met and married a good man, bought a home, and continues to thrive as an English teacher in a private school.

2011: She’d studied Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies at university. Not Turkish. Giving herself a crash course in the language during her first few months in country, she’d become conversant, and was able to take care of her personal business, connect with her students, and serve as an able tour guide.

2018: Fluent in the language, she can generally do rapid fire translation for me in real time. She has no trouble conversing with her in-laws, and has built friendships with vendors at the local shops. Unlike Europe, the vast majority of Turks speak no English, so she learned this by necessity.

2011: The Boy was 23, still attending university full time, and fighting The Demons that led me to believe he might not live to see 25. We were close, but i lived in constant fear of That Phone Call.

2018: He is married, with two children. After a stint in the Army, he’s made a home in the great plains, surrounded by extended family. A good government job, a fierce and gorgeous wife who has managed to tame the wild beast… When he and i were here seven years ago, this was an unimaginable future.

2011: i learned enough Turkish to order food and beer. To find a toilet. Navigate an airport or two. It wasn’t pretty, but i could generally pantomime my way through a transaction.

2018: After several visits, and over a year of online studies, i probably have the conversational skills of a small child – animals, colors, numbers, food. No problem with food/beverage, or shopping. i’ve even managed to have a few short conversations with my son-in-law’s family! They are probably more surprised than impressed, but are very supportive.

Christmas 2011

2011: The tree that year was beautiful. All that mattered was that we were together. The Boy and i were outside our comfort zone, traveling for a holiday in order to spend time with The Girl as she charted a new course for her life.

GammaRay with Bebek

2018: The tree this year? Pretty gorgeous. Seven years ago, this was also an unimaginable future. A gentle reminder from the universe that we really don’t know where we’re going…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Hello Baby!

3 a.m. It’s always 3 a.m.

After a week of lounging, walking, watching movies and Netflix, there was a knock on the guest bedroom door at 3 a.m. “It’s time! We are going to the hospital!”

The Girl had packed a bag. i was in my night shirt, but quickly threw on clothes, tossed my phone charging cords/brick into a small bag along with my toothbrush, and met them at the door.

A week past her due date, with a known big baby trying to make an entrance, the labor didn’t progress enough before there were minor signs of fetal distress around 2:00 pm. We were all a bit astonished by the speed of the staff as they whisked The Girl off to an operating room.

Her husband and i waited – only about 15 minutes later, a nurse arrived with a tiny bundle of squawk! All the fingers, all the toes, and an expression that said “Screw this! It’s cold out here!” Weighing in at 4 kgs (9 lbs), she’s almost outgrown her newborn clothes!

It was just over a week ago (on the 14th), but it seems longer. When i delivered my two spawn via c-section, i was in the hospital for about four days. The Girl was released 28 hours after delivery – high quality health care here!

For the past week, Mom, Dad, and baby are all getting used to each other. That dazed feeling of “We made this?” and “It doesn’t seem real!” and “Holy shit! We are totally responsible for this tiny human and we have no idea what we’re doing!”.

Welcome Ada

When the last grandcritter arrived, i had a fairly well defined job. Entertain the 3 year old big brother, cook/clean and take care of household stuff. This time, i had more of a ‘front line’ involvement – The Girl couldn’t lift or bend, and needed some help getting around. Taking the 3 a.m. to morning shift with the baby, making sure the exhausted parents get some sleep.

cutie

A week into the adventure, The Girl and her husband are gaining confidence. i only lend a hand when asked – and am focused on cleaning, cooking, laundry – with the added challenge of having only a basic working knowledge of the local language – but i’m proficient enough to shop!

There are several stories to share about culture shock and adjustments, but right now i’m operating on about 4 hours sleep. It will have to wait…

As excited as i was to welcome the new member of the clan, i’m just as excited to watch The Girl and her husband become parents. Somewhere along the way, her dad and i didn’t completely screw up… She’s got this.

perfection

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of babies – ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.'” – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

The hardest part…

Tom Petty got that bit right. The waiting. The countdown to “Due Date” seems to go into  slow motion during the final weeks of pregnancy.

i arrived in Turkey* almost a week ago. For the first time in my life, i bought a one-way ticket out of the country. My daughter let me know she was expecting right before i left for an extended trip to Spain in mid-April – she was about five weeks pregnant. As i trekked El Camino, i added weeks to the count as we crossed Spain. By the time we got home, she’d cleared the first trimester.

She and her husband traveled to the states in July, where we orchestrated a gathering of our entire clan – including my ex-husband and his wife. The first time we’d all been together since… well… pre-divorce (2004). When The Girl got married, The Boy was in the Army and couldn’t attend the wedding. The logistics were complicated but we were all together for a few days. It felt good.

The Band with Chorus RS

The rest of her pregnancy has gone well. Her school had hired an assistant/team instructor, so the transition to her maternity leave was seamless. She gets great medical care here – even with some cardiac issues, visits to the emergency room, and specialists in September, it didn’t cost her more than about $15 out of pocket**.

Yesterday was her due date, but Bebek has shown absolutely no interest in arriving on schedule. According to her obstetrician, “She’s very comfortable in there.” Bebek is already about 8 pounds. At the weekly check up yesterday, the doctor went through status, risks, options. The current plan is to let it ride for a week, with two check ups, and if nothing is happening, the delivery will be on Monday.

So we wait. We walk. It’s about 6 kilometers round trip from their home to the weekly bazaar. Their home is about a kilometer from a beautiful walkway along the Aegean Sea. It rained yesterday, so we wandered/waddled inside a gigantic mall.

Missing my travel buddy, who opted to stay home for this open-ended visit. We’ve discovered how much mindless fun it is to play with chat filters. We are dorks. We have enlisted the entire clan in this endeavor. They are dorks, too!

i’ve re-learned household routines, shopped, and planned meals to keep them fed. Put together a stroller that has more bells and whistles than my first car! Figured out their washer and dryer so i can assist with laundry.

Seeing her and her husband work through the preparations… Watching him help her put on her boots because she can’t bend over much… i’m excited to watch them become parents! They’re going to be amazing!

The waiting… Damn… It’s going to be a long week!

waiting

* The country, not the poultry.

** She gets 20 weeks paid maternity leave. Her husband gets two weeks. Paid. Her health care has been stellar, with very little out-of-pocket expense. She is a US Citizen, working and living in Turkey. The US has GOT to get its shit together on health care and family leave…

Rings a Bell

If you’ve been on board for any portion of my Trailer Park journey, you probably know that my relationship with my siblings has had many moments of “what the actual living, breathing FUCK?” After Mom died in 2014, our relationships were further tested as we worked through tons of her belongings. As executor, i was pretty stressed – meeting the intent of her instructions to me, both legally and morally.

Spending time with my sisters earlier this month, i was reminded that we’ve covered a lot of turf in the past few years. One particular exchange bubbled up into my memory bank…even though it was not discussed during our recent visit.

~~~~~~~~~

10 May 2016 – E-mail from S to DF: Mom was adamant that each of her daughters get a diamond ring which she put in the safety deposit box. I find it funny that they have just disappeared!  The one thing that Mom wanted me to have and it is nowhere to be found.  DQ [note: DQ is sister S’s daughter, and was Mom’s caretaker] knew Mom’s wishes and she would NEVER keep them.  No one else seems to be looking for them!

11 May 2016 – E-mail from DF to S: It’s taken me time to respond because of the absolute rage I’m experiencing (still) that you are accusing me of stealing the rings. This has been the angriest I’ve been in decades… I am STILL in a rage, but only now has it cleared my head enough to respond. Mom told me about the rings. I knew where they were supposed to go. They were not in the safe deposit box, nor any of the lockboxes at home. Not once did I ever suggest that DQ had taken them. Not. Once. I noticed Mom wasn’t wearing them during her hospitalization in July. I assumed they were safe. I can’t magically pull the rings out of my ass. I can’t go back in time and figure out where they are. I am beyond insulted that you are accusing me of EITHER stealing them OR not giving you something that Mom wanted you to have.

11 May 2016 – E-mail from S to DF:  I am sorry that you are so enraged about the rings.  There is nothing I can do to make them show up either.  If you don’t have them then you don’t have them.  I just want to make sure that DQ is NOT accused of taking them. Please call me – we need to talk.

12 May 2016 – E-mail from DF to S: I don’t have anything more to say. I’m furious. You accuse me of stealing (because you are worried that someone will accuse DQ of the same), question my integrity? This is not recoverable – words have consequences. It can’t be ‘talked out’.

Shortly after i sent this, i had to get in the car and drive to a regional university – i was giving a presentation that i’d worked on for months, pushing myself into new technological territory. While driving, i started getting calls, texts. i ignored them all. Arriving at the university, i took a deep breath and read my messages from S:

12 May 2016 – E-mail from S to DF: You are correct that words hurt and sometime things are said in anger that are not truly meant.  There is NO EXCUSE for the things that I have said.  To question your integrity is totally uncalled for.  For the anger and hurt that I have caused you — I’M AM TRULY SORRY!!!  What I have to tell you is that I found the rings.  Mom had put them in a box of costume jewelry that she knew I wanted and it had a ring box in it.  I took the box but never opened it.  I already had regrets for the things I have said before I found them and this makes it even worse.  Yes – I deserve it!!  I am extremely SORRY!  They mean nothing to me any more!  Losing my sister over them was not worth it!  I will send them to you to do what you want with and hope that someday you will find it in your heart to forgive me!

She found them

That all happened over two and a half years ago…

In September of this year, S and i planned our trip to Florida to spend time with sister, T, i suggested that she bring the rings – and that perhaps it would be a good time to distribute them. As S and i were preparing to leave for the airport and head home, we put the rings on T’s kitchen counter. There was no need to bring up any of the demons around the mysterious temporary disappearance of the rings.

It was 6:30 in the morning, and we were all pretty groggy. None of us were really sure which rings came from which of Mom’s three marriages, but we let T choose first. The set of two – probably from Mom’s annulled starter marriage – came to me.

We hugged. Made plans to get together again. It was what Mom had wanted – and although it took us four years, and a shit ton worth of angst to execute, we did it. And i have completely forgiven my sister…

Mom liked getting married

 

 

 

Balancing Act

Balance. With each passing day, it becomes more important.

If i lose my balance at this age, i can break a hip. Falls are the leading cause of accidental death for the elderly. As with any other skill, it must be practiced – which explains why i watch the news on TV while perching on one leg. Frequently screaming obscenities at the television when the news is particularly stupid. Balance is more challenging for me when i’m standing still.

But i have not been standing still. So far this year, i’ve been out of town, or out of the country, for 18 weeks. Given that i haven’t poked my head out here since August, here’s a glimpse of what i’ve been up to since my last post.  If you want more detail, just ask! Hoping to have some time next month to write more…

  • It’s not just about balance, but flexibility. Studley’s daughter, Pixie, moved to Alaska last spring. We decided to visit her before it became too cold and dark. Two weeks of exploring a few tiny corners of the state left us both ready to go back for an extended visit!  In two weeks we barely scratched the surface. We also deployed our small town tactic – stop by the local VFW or American Legion hall for a beer. Drink cheap, talk to locals, and find out what’s going on in town.
  • Speaking of what’s going on… We went to our first regional “burn” – like Burning Man, but on a much smaller scale. We felt quite at home among the 500 or so burners assembled at the site of a reclaimed strip mine. My days of sleeping on dirt are mostly behind me, so we brought our teardrop camper. One of the requests by the organizers was that we find a way to disguise the camper to better blend into the temporary tent city. i think we did ok…
  • Speaking of camping… We’ve been off in the woods a bit this autumn. That little metal egg keeps us plenty warm down to freezing. The bourbon helps, too.
  • Speaking of bourbon… Haven’t seen much of the extended family this year – in large part due to me being gone for months at a time. When my Florida sister, T, was selected for a significant honor this month, it presented an opportunity to reconnect. Oldest sister, S, has had a tough year – she beat back another round of cancer (Lymphoma), and finally retired. We decided to grab some cheap tickets and head south. A lot of water under these bridges, but there indeed be bridges. Baby steps.
  • Speaking of babies, i miss the crap out of these two li’l critters. Max is 3, and Ellie is now 1, and they are so much fun! But The Boy and his family are 1,000 miles away. That’s harder than i expected. Even more fun? The Girl is due to shell out her first child in a few weeks – which means i’m packing a large suitcase, and preparing for a trip to Turkey (the country, not the poultry). My third grandcritter is about to arrive – and will be living 5,000 miles away.

There’s more. So much more… but i seem to either have time to live hard, or time to write. For the moment, it’s going to be “live hard”. Operation “Speedball to the Finish Line” is well underway…

Road nuggets

Somewhere between London and Philadelphia, the fever hit. i have spent the past week dealing with a mild case of the flu, while managing re-entry after being away from home for a month. Some random nuggets…

  • Thirty days. That is the longest i’ve ever been away from ‘home’ as an adult. This is mostly because of The Job, which i no longer have. Studley and i were very deliberate about pushing our comfort limits, and we’re still sorting out how we feel. Not seriously considering life as ex-pats, but some gentle experience should we ever choose that route.B1
  • i missed my pets. If i am going to do this on a fairly regular basis, i probably should not have pets. My live-in pet sitter had a pre-planned trip in the middle of that 30 days, so i scrambled to hire people, and find a friend, who could cover those 10 days. One of the most stressful aspects of being gone – and most expensive. i took to feeding treats to the street cats and dogs. cIMG_6363
  • Air travel is still pretty awesome – about 12,000 miles flown on this trip. How long would it have taken by ship? Who knows? Luggage lost on the way to Athens, but it found us a couple of days later. British Airways thought we hadn’t shown up for our flights TO Athens, so they canceled our return, but still managed to get us on a flight home. For all the barking about how shitty air travel is, it’s pretty amazing when you stand back a bit…izmir to istablnu
  • Turkey – Izmir is a lovely city – about the size of Chicago. The public transit cards include use of buses, ferries, trams and bike share. To the people who consider this a ‘third world country’? Rethink that shit… We were out and about alone, day and night, and i NEVER felt unsafe.10
  • Plumbing – in Turkey, there are bins in the toilet stalls for the collection of used paper. The plumbing systems and sanitary waste processing facilities do not handle toilet paper. Surprising how fast you get used to this. On the plus side? Most toilets in Izmir (public, private) have built in bidet functions. Surprising how fast you get used to this, too. Exploring options to upgrade my home toilet…IMG_6268
  • Language – We started using an app (Duolingo) to learn Turkish about two months before launch. The Girl emphasized the need to be fluent in numbers – enabling basic commerce. We thought we’d done ok. We were wrong. i DID have a really cool conversation with my son-in-laws 2 year old niece about colors and animals. i think this topic requires a separate post, as there are numerous examples of how things worked, and didn’t, and many lessons learned along the way!b13
  • Baggage – The Girl had a list of things she wanted us to bring, and we hauled another bag of Christmas gifts from The Girl’s Dad and his wife. We had to bring the big suitcases. Limited to 50 pounds each, we still had to deploy two roll aboard suitcases, along with our standard travel backpacks. Didn’t leave a lot of space for our personal belongings – so we packed REALLY light. Turns out, i can live for a month with just a few shirts, trousers/leggings, a dress, a fleece jacket, raincoat, two pairs of socks, one extra pair of shoes, and four pair of undercrackers. Excellent training for what lies ahead…55

Fierce…

She was born and raised in a small village on the Black Sea, but married and moved to a larger city years later. Ayse is 65 years old, and a widow. We met her while visiting friends of The Girl.

The Girl’s friend, Sevda is married to Pete (from the US). They had a son, Ender, about a year ago, and Ayse spends time with them, helping with the little boy, and managing the household. Ayse has four daughters, three (including Sevda) are engineers, and the fourth is trained as a social worker.

We are working on learning Turkish, but our skills are rudimentary at best. With translation assistance from Sevda and The Girl, i told Ayse that she should be very proud of raising four smart, professional daughters. “In my family, everyone must do something.”

Ayse did not go to college herself, but clearly understands the value of education.

As we picked up Ender’s books, we started sounding out words – numbers, colors, animals. She looked at Sevda with a very determined look on her face, threw a side eye toward Pete, and spoke at length in Turkish.

Sevda said she is going to study English, and was inspired to tackle it because we were trying to learn Turkish. She also said that our Turkish is already better than Pete’s, and thinks he should make the same effort after living in Turkey for so long!

Ayse is a thin woman, wearing modest clothing*, taking the occasional break to go out on the porch and smoke. Her eyes are sharp, and her face looks younger to me than her 65 years. Despite Sevda telling us that she has had trouble with her back, she picks up Ender with ease, slinging him onto her shoulders, her back, turning him a million different ways as she carries him from room to room.

“She could juggle babies! Wow!”

Sevda showed me her garden, which includes herbs, peppers, greens. “That’s an olive tree! We just had a harvest, and made olive oil! Pete and I were picking them from the low branches, but my mother climbed up the tree! She has practically build this entire garden herself! I’ll send home some of the tomato sauce she made this summer!”

As we said our goodbyes**, Ayse invited us to visit us in her home town when we visit again. i told her that we’d help her practice her English if she’d help us practice our Turkish!

In the car on the drive home, i was commenting on how fierce Ayse is – “She is extraordinary! She is fierce, smart – and can juggle babies! How cool is that?”

The Girl seemed a little sad as she said “Yeah… I think she’s sick. Cancer. Not sure of the details, but it’s not a great prognosis…”

baby juggling

Image found here. A famous ‘baby juggler’ statue in Oslo. Who knew?

* In Izmir, women are free to choose to wear modest clothing (hijab) or not. Based on several visits here, and observation, i’d say around a quarter to a third of women – of all ages – make this choice. 

** Saying goodbye in Turkish culture takes approximately 30-45 minutes. There are a dozen words for “goodbye” and the process is complicated, but heart felt. We are still getting the hang of cheek-kissing (right side, left side, right side again for family… i think…)

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.