I remember the instantaneous excitement I felt when the girls came home from school and enthusiastically reported that Anna got a part in the play. As someone who did my own share of performances in junior high and high school, I was thrilled to see her so excited to experience the unique kind of magic that being part of a cast and a show produces.
This was her first year with a role, a costume, and a solo. I wanted to be with her for all of it and to celebrate it all. When mapping out the rehearsal and performance schedules, my heart sank. She would not be with me the evening of the show. She would be at her dad’s.
As word got around that Anna would be in the show, my mom made plans to travel back in from Oregon, and Anna’s paternal grandparents from Texas made their travel arrangements as well. Anna’s time was going to be at a premium and everyone would want their share. I messaged her dad a week or so in advance and asked if we might all meet for ice cream after the show to support and celebrate Anna. I had already previously agreed that he could have my Friday night that week to allow her grandparents to spend more time with her.
When he responded a week or so later that ice cream after would be fine, I felt so lucky. It is the only word to describe our situation some days. I feel lucky that my co-parent and I can be flexible with our schedules. I feel lucky that we continue to support our children’s relationships with their extended families to the fullest extent possible. I feel lucky that our families support us despite our divorced status.
With St. Patrick’s Day falling a week after this picture was taken, you can see why in this season I value and appreciate how lucky we are. This extended and blended family coming together to support one child, requires all of us to do our part. It requires all of us to focus on family.
Many families are not so lucky. I regularly hear reports of ex in-laws bad-mouthing the other parent and the only reason the parent learns about it – the children tell their parent what they heard. Some families are not able to move to the forgiving and forgetting part. Some families lose sight of how family changes for every member except the children. Children do not have former grandparents, or ex-aunts and ex-uncles. They just have family members. And only the lucky children have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, step-parents and step-families who remember this.
Here my former mother-in-law has her arms around my sister’s son (who was born after we were divorced). My brother in the back is happy to have another tall member in the form of my daughters’ stepbrother. My former husband and his wife crowded in next to my mom without hesitation. This is our family. We have kept the focus of how, for better or worse, we are connected as a family through our children. Lucky us.