Tongiht I went to dinner with my husband, my stepdaughter…. and her mom (so my husband’s ex-wife). And, it was her birthday! The thing is I really like her. She’s a genuinely nice and interesting person. I think of her as a friend, as well as my stepdaughter’s mom. People often talk about how amazingly we all get along and how we should teach classes on how to be a good extended, modern family!
I made a joke recently about her being my “sister-wife.” For those of you who haven’t ever heard of the HBO show Big Love, it centers on a polygamist and his three wives. They all live next door to one another and help raise each other’s children (among some other obvious plot lines regarding polygamy). I wasn’t thinking of anything salacious when I called M my sister-wfe. I was thinking rather of how, in today’s world, it takes more than two people who work for a living to raise a child. One day, M was out of town and she called me in a panic to ask if I could find (in a small town) a set of pearls for R to wear during a choir concert (who requires their students to wear pearls to sing?) that night. I was fairly new to the city, and I had a semi-stressful but mostly amusing time running all over town during my lunch break — but I found them!
I was so happy I could help, and I felt ridiculously proud when I saw my stepdaugther on the stage singing and wearing those fake pearls.
I knew M and J in college, and I liked them each individually (I knew them before they started dating) and as a couple. And, I hadn’t seen either of them in more than 20 years before I ran into J again and started dating him. They had been divorced for TEN YEARS by then. They had both gotten WAY past any problems as they sought to create a good relationship for their child. But even so, I feel it is very important to know that you are marrying not just a man, but an entire family. Most people are talking about in-laws when they say this, but I”m talking about the ex-wife’s family! They all came to our wedding. We all have Christmas dinner together. I like them too.
My advice if I were to teach this “how to be a modern family class” would be to focus on the positive things that exist in your relationship with the ex. To focus on how you are all engaged in the business of raising this child together. To be glad for backup and support. To be kind, and to expect kindness.
Did I mention that M is an accomplished graphic artist and that I often use her services for freelance design?January 4, 2016