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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Introducing the Children - Oops!

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I'm amazed at the genuine fun I have with Mr. Wonderful's daughters and the friendships that we have.  Each one is smart, energetic, interesting, and so much more.  I shared the way we were all introduced and while things are good these days, there have been some bumps along the way.  There have been some major ditches into which we have crashed.  And the truth is that there remains uncertainty that will continue to create issues ... relationships post divorce are complicated and there are many loyalty conflicts between parents and children, children and partners, children of partners, etc.  It's not easy even in the best case scenario.

A few bumps: When we were still new to each other, Mr. Wonderful and I tended to spend most of our free time together.  "Free time" for a single mother meant whenever the children were with their father.  So as often as we could, we would plan to be together.  He has more regular parenting time, so we included one or both of his daughters in our time together.  Soon, there were complaints that I was just "always around" and he spent "so much time with me."  Clearly, I was stepping on some territory and I wasn't used to feeling like the outsider. 

The first time we introduced all our children to each other was halfway through the Christmas season.  My three came to to hang out at their home and we tried to be low key, letting everyone just do their own thing - video games, movies, etc.  At the same time, Mr. Wonderful and his girls were finishing with their Christmas decorations - their first holiday post divorce.  Then we all went to dinner and it sort of shocked me to hear "Table for seven, please."

My children were their rompy, enthusiastic selves and it certainly was a shock to the system of the calm and orderly ways of Mr. Wonderful's home.  I sensed that we may have been intruding on their decorating tradition and I think our presence highlighted the change from their intact family to one with divided homes.  I can't blame his girls for resenting that.  I try to think about how my teenaged self would feel about the situation.

Lessons learned - first introductions need not be so long and would be better in a neutral space.  We would have done fine to just meet for a meal.  Also, I needed to respect the one-on-one time that Mr. Wonderful had with each daughter.  I now try to encourage those times to instill security in their relationships with their dad. 

Crashing in the Ditch: Things came to a head when Mr. Wonderful voiced my deepest fears and said that he underestimated the impact young children (mine) would have on his family.  I felt him pulling back and I was crushed.  These words still echo in my mind.  I am very aware that for Mr. Wonderful and his girls, my children may be a roadblock in the journey.  My prayer is that as they know them and bond over shared experiences, they will see how delightful and dear each one is. 

Once Mr. Wonderful indicated he was still interested in pursuing a relationship with me (and my children), I asked that if he ever did come to a place where he knew he did not want to be involved with a woman who has younger children, that he give me the respect of letting me know and ending things.  I trust him to do so.

I wish things were simpler and that connections happened more quickly and with more predictability.  I wish that I didn't feel insecure over my very own beloved children.  As I've read and learned to be realistic about expectations, I feel more confident that our path is very normal, good even.  Still, the outcome remains unknown and now that all our children are involved, we are even more vulnerable. 

Daily I remind myself to find my identity in the Lord, to trust Him for the outcome of this story.  I believe He will protect each of the persons involved and still hope for a bit of fairy tale magic.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Moody Monday: The Hard Part

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source: Starbucks Blueberry Muffin
After waking with a terrible headache this morning, I am feeling much better after ibuprofen, coffee and a blueberry muffin.  I love blueberry muffins.  Life is feeling pretty great right now.  It's not perfect and I have struggles, but the overall sense of being is very positive these days.

My children are at delightful ages and this season is one where I am seeing fruit from hard work in previous days.  I'm very much in love with Mr. Wonderful and enjoying this time of reciprocated emotion.  I'm happy.

Sometimes I feel like I'm operating in two parallel worlds.  They do cross and intersect, but I have a longing for more integration.  I'm not sure what that looks like or even what it means. 

At the same time, I understand that the more combined our lives may become, the more susceptible I become to loss.  It still feels risky to depend and want so much.  So this is the hard part: I sense a need to be even more vulnerable, but that feels scary.  I will extend greater trust and believe the best.

What are you believing the best for this week?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Introducing the Children

I'm just coming off a week of extended time with my guy and his family and it was truly wonderful.  They helped me feel comfortable and welcome.  I was struck by how dear this group has become to me and how familiar we are together.  It's been less than a year since I met Mr. Wonderful and soon after his daughters. 

Some people recommend waiting a considerable amount of time before introducing children to their date.  For me, my chidlren were such a part of me, that I needed my guy to meet them and know this aspect of who I am.  Part of getting to know me, is to know them.  This is how it happened for us.
We were both aware that the other had children from the time we first spoke on the phone.  I could tell how important the girls were to him, it is part of what I admire about this man.  The fact that his girls are tween/teens meant that they were aware that he was dating and asked lots of questions about each date.  He was very open and honest. 

My children were aware that I was going to see a friend, and so one night when he came to pick me up, he just stopped in for a few minutes to say hello.  We had been dating for almost a month and seeing each other only during the times my children were with their Daddy.  This night, I hired a babysitter because of some schedule changes.  Mr. Wonderful greeted each one, made them laugh and then we left together without much fanfare.  From that point forward, my little ones were able to put a face to a name.

The same day I met his oldest daughter.  I was not apprehensive, but also didn't quite know how to predict the situation.  I imagined how strange she must have felt.  Mr. Wonderful was relaxed and open.  He made things comfortable for both of us.  I remember feeling a great deal of admiration for his parenting style. 

It was a week later that I met the younger daughter.  I was struck by how much she looks like her Dad and how delightful she was - so sweet and polite.  I was glad to see the family dynamics with both girls and dad interacting. 

Our introduction to the children was very low key and as natural as possible.  While Mr. Wonderful is the first man I've dated since divorce, my three were used to having a sitter while mommy went out with friends.  Mr. Wonderful had dated several woman since his divorce and his open style of parenting meant that his girls were aware and even curious, asking questions about the ladies he was seeing and how he felt.  

So the introductions went well and all continued rosily ... actually not so much.  I think we handled the initial stage properly, but then we made mistakes that created some resentment without even realizing it.  I'll share what we did wrong next. 

Does anyone else have a story to share about introducing their children to a date?  Or perhaps you were the child and your parent brought a date home?  Any questions?  I would love to get some feedback from the children and share that soon, too!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Midsummer's Night

One of the things that I remember most from my childhood was that it was just plain fun!  I think my mother could make any chore or humdrum day a fun one, if I would cooperate.  So I try to do the same for my children.  Looking for fun keeps me feeling young, too!

So today we are celebrating the longest day of the year and the first “official” day of summer.  It doesn’t take much to create a sense of fun and so we used what we had: hanging lanterns, smoothie mix, water balloons and the ultimate thrill of staying up late!  We enjoyed the late dusk on our deck bathed in the glow of colorful lanterns and launched water balloons onto the lawn.   As it darkened, we were thrilled to see fireflies emerging and we cooled the day’s heat by sipping on icy smoothies.  It wasn’t much, but it was fun, for even me! 
I don’t know that this particular event will be a stand-out in the collective memory of childhood for my three little ones.  But I want them to remember that Mommy took extra time to make life exciting, interesting and fun. 
What do you do to help make ‘mundane’ days more interesting?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Moody Monday: I Didn't Realize....

Well, that was just the most fun I've had in a long while!  I didn't realize that I was overdue for a vacation and I soaked up fun with some of my favorite people on the planet.  I truly relaxed - taking a break from responsibility and let myself be spoiled.  It was delightful!  I didn't do any writing (except in my journal) but I depened relationships and feel very inspired.

Now I'm having a bit of a hard time returning to reality on this very Moody Monday.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Let's Go on a Roadtrip!

My bags are packed and I've got directions printed (and GPS on my phone, but I'm old school).  I'm meeting up with my dearest and best friends and we will be spending lots of time catching up, sharing photos, eating, shopping and sitting by the pool.  I have been looking forward to this trip since we planned it last fall.  It's hard to believe tomorrow we will all be face-to-face!

After four fabulous days with my friends, I'll be meeting up with my man (and his girls) where we'll continue on to the beach.  The beach!  Can you believe I get to go two years in a row?  I certainly can't!

So, do you have any roadtrips or other vacations planned for summertime?  What is on your essential packing list?

I hope to have more time for writing while I'm relaxing.