Family

family

Our family. Purple is my immediate family and blue is my husband's. Other colors represent new family members coming in from the outside. The red X's mean divorce. The smaller people are stepchildren, though their size is not an indication of age.

Having a baby makes you think a lot about your own experiences growing up. My parents were always diametrically opposed when it came to childcare, even before they divorced. Dad was the cool parent. We built model airplanes and blew them up with fireworks. We played with my He-Man action figures. He let us watch scary movies. Thursdays were McDonald’s and The Simpsons at Dad’s house. We could keep our rooms any way we pleased. Mom was the disciplinarian. She made us clean our rooms. No posters were allowed; that would damage the walls. Meals were always on time and somewhat healthy. We weren’t allowed to see rated R movies, even in high school. Or curse. My friends didn’t believe me when I said I wasn’t allowed to say “butt” or “turd” until I demonstrated firsthand. Naturally I gravitated more towards my father. In fact, it wasn’t until well into college that I gained any kind of appreciation for my mother.

My husband and I agreed before we got married that we would be a team. Kids wouldn’t be able to run to one parent to get permission for something the other disagreed with. I just hope we can stick to our guns and compromise effectively as V gets older. Though some things I thought were okay before we had the baby seem less okay now- like cursing. I’m not sure I want V dropping the F-bomb in front of friends and family.

More than anything though, I hope my husband and I can stick together. It’s really a novel and foreign concept to me. Parents sticking together forever? Come on! Who does that anymore? We both came from divorced families. My parents divorced when I was in third grade. I was the oldest and therefore the most effected at the time. My two younger sisters call our stepfather “Dad.” I use his name. My husband’s father waited until both children were out of the house before getting a divorce and remarrying. I’ve heard that this is actually worse for the children because the only family unit they’ve known has suddenly and irrevocably been shattered. After seeing how well my sisters adapted and how shocked my husband’s sister was I’m inclined to agree.

Here’s the thing though about divorced kids: it’s virtually impossible to walk down the aisle yourself without thinking “I hope this lasts.” Marriage is work, there is no doubt about it, but it’s also a matter of expectations and compatibility. It’s hard to even imagine my parents married now. They’re so very very different. My mom clicks with my stepdad wonderfully, as does my father-in-law and his wife. It’s enough to make you wonder how some people get married in the first place. When my sister got married, most of us wished for the best but expected the worst. The worst happened. It’s easy to see such things from the outside looking in. When my husband and I got married, we both stepped into the agreement hoping very hard that it would last.

After all, Christmas is crazy enough already without another divorced family.

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