While our daughter braids his beard...
We are all raised with an idea of what family looks like. Whether it's Ken and Barbie, or Adam and Eve, people usually start their family in pairs. While I've talked about the perils of single parenthood in the past, I've also managed to find the most unique and special gratitude gems to fill my tank through this adventure called parenting. Last weekend, I was invited to a birthday party for a special little munchkin that is connected to me in this giant patchwork quilt of my modern family. These events come up during the year, soccer games, birthdays, Christmas... where we find all of our connections in one room. As I crossed the community center to grab some chips and hummus, I found myself hugging Charlotte's step-brother's grandparents, uncle, baby sister, and his step-mama in one fell swoop. I banter with Charlotte's stepmom about her fabulous new jeans, as I watch my daughter's little sister prance around showing off her new 4-year-old dance moves. Baby daddy is teasing me about something (probably my age), while our daughter braids his beard. We do all this while navigating appetizers and juice boxes- adding another year to our memory bank of our kiddos growing up too fast.
(click to progress slideshow)
- Charlotte age: 11 (parents: Audrey and Rob)
- Jorge age: 9 (parents: Leigh and Dan)
- Roxy age: 4 (parents: Rob and Leigh)
- Bea age: 2 (parents: Dan and Shay)
- Married: Rob and Leigh
- Life partners: Dan and Shay
- Single and rockin it: Audrey
Wherever the patch needs sewing...
As I was sitting on the grass outside the party snuggling my daughter in her post-tween sleepover coma, a woman I've never met came up to me and said how much she admired our family. How most people can't manage a simple custody handoff, and here we were- a large extended group of step/bonus parents (and children) celebrating life in peace. Dare I say- we enjoy each other's company! What is this maddness? My mama heart beats for my daughter, but these other kiddos hold a place much closer than anticipated. This clan of supportive beings are literally willing to drop anything for any single one of these kids. That's how we roll. There was a period of months in which transporting my daughter to school was a bit spotty. Her step-brother Jorge's step-mom (did you follow that one?) offered to drive her to school without batting an eye. For weeks- and we aren't even related! That's the thing. We look at this unit as a tribe, and offer ourselves to the group, whichever patch needs sewing.
Where does her laughter live today?
It's all about dropping the egos. We are a stewed concoction of ex's, baby-mamas, daddies, half-siblings, and step-whatevers. I'm not competing with, or judging anyone in the mix. Say it's my scheduled weekend with my mini, but there's a huge birthday party she would enjoy with the extended masses. I'm not going to pull out my big stick and wave it around, "But it's my weekend!!!" Nope, it's about her. What will enrich her life experience? Where does she feel loved and accepted? Where does her laughter live today? If that's at the lake house for an extra day or two- why would I deprive her of that opportunity to create a memory? My ego is the only thing that could squash her joy in this scenario.
She is forming her own story...
I don't possess my daughter. She's this magnificent human I've brought into the world with the hopes of teaching her kindness and passion with every road she saunters down- but I don't own her. She's my responsibility, my love, my everything. She is forming her own story, which has many characters. I am a leading role, but not the only one. Letting her experience a world in which I am not her single burning sun, has been the most excruciating and rewarding experience of my life. How blessed I am to embrace and trust these troops of parental love in her orbit. She may not know a "traditional" world with only two parents, and predictable holidays, but she knows what it's like to be an only child, and the oldest of three! How epic is that? I'm so thankful for this blended family of exceptionally awesome adults and kiddos. We are mighty in our numbers, but mightier in our love. These kids are going to turn out just right. What are you thankful for? Happy Gratitude Tuesday.