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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.