I'm 31. I am about to get married to a guy who has a son who is 13. I have been with the man who is my fiance for 6 years (7? I can't even keep track now.)
I was having dinner recently with my friend Tracy and she asked, innocently, if I got along with the kid. (Yes.) She asked if that was always the case (yes and no).
I took that as my opening to do what I do, which is spread the gospel of realism as it relates to 30-something relationships.
It was never easy. I met someone who already had a life, had already had a wife. Someone who already had a kid.
I supposed not really wanting a child of my own (so far) helped in some way. At least there wasn't that weird jealousy like "let have our OWN family" which can, I find, be both a genuine want for some people entering into a blended family, and also, at times, a desperate strategy for laying down some kind of territorialism in the new relationship. At any rate, it's not a dynamic we had to fight.
But we had other battles.
The most sitcom-like part is that he was still best friends with the twin sister of his ex-wife (did you catch that?) and her husband. So when it started to get serious, I had not only the pleasure of meeting his really beautiful blond, gregarious, smart, high-achieving ex-wife, I got to become friends with her IDENTICAL TWIN. Yes, twin. Staring at the ex. Even when she's not there. Totally awesome.
The worst part about that kind of situation is that is that you anticipate the natural order of adversity guiding your emotions, actions, biases. You think you get to have an enemy. But then, in my case, you realize: the enemy is not so bad. You don't learn this in school; it's not the chapter after "hemming pants" in Home Ec, although maybe it should be.
Let me tell you: that really fucks with how you think you're going to function in a step-world.
There were bumps. No need to go into that here. But the amazing part is how not bumpy it is now.
We have his son half the time. The ex-wife lives just about 5 blocks away. The twin sister of the ex-wife lives 2 blocks away. All the cousins are friends. I love all the kids. I love the adults, too. We host the kids for movie nights. I like to laugh with the ex-wife about my soon-to-be husband. We share inside jokes about him. I was desperate for paint thinner one night and she was the second call I made (after her twin). It didn't really hit me until the next morning that it's all so normal now that she's become the neighbor I will borrow a cup of sugar from.
I never wanted this. There were a good 3 years where I actively told friends, "Don't get involved with someone who has been married before." I meant it. I look back at my 27 year old self and I know I meant it. But you don't give that kind of advice once you have folded the weirdness of family into your own experience. These years are what I know now, and they are good. We just cleared the table from a dinner where I got to enjoy the company of this kid who isn't even mine. That's a gift. A true gift.
Love conquers biology, I think is what I am trying to tell you. It's funny the people who become part of your tribe, if you are around them enough. I don't just love the fiance and the kid. I love the ex-wife and her husband (even though he wears socks with Tevas). I love the ex-wife's twin sister and her husband, our good friends. I love their children and the sarcasm they inherited. I love the fiance's kid - his kindness and his deep sensitivity and his now-ripened sense of irony and adult reactions to the world around him. And I love the man, this man who gave me this fucked up sitcom-worthy family, because he waited around long enough for me to figure out that it was all going to be ok.
Photo by Ethan Hill.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Labels: non-decor post... deal with it