I have been trying to write a little something in an attempt to explain all of the parts that make up my family and how I got to this moment. It is not easy. It seems so complicated on ‘paper’ yet so simple in my mind. When I am talking to someone new and trying to describe my family dynamic I usually smile, laugh a little, say I know it’s confusing but we all get along and life is great. Here’s a sample scenario:
Scene: A park somewhere in Fairfield County. Me, George, 3 blonde kids, two black kids.
Random stranger: What a beautiful family you have. Are they all yours?
Me: That one over there is my boyfriend’s son but the rest are mine.
Stranger: So you’re not married?
Me: Not anymore.
Stranger: That must be tough, single parenting 4 kids?
Me: Well, I have the twins most of the time but right now the older two are living mostly with their dad because I didn’t want to have them switch school systems just yet.
Stranger: You gonna get married again and have more kids?
Me: I’m all set in the kid department.
Stranger: But you get along with their dad?
Yes, people feel they can randomly ask such personal questions …..
Me: (In my head) Of course, we all get along but the kids have different fathers. The older two are from my first marriage, the twins were adopted in my second. I married young, had two kids, and realized I probably should have never gotten married to him in the first place, but no regrets because I have two beautiful children as a result, and I left him and divorced when I was 29. By 31 I had allowed my financially strapped, struggling single parent self to be saved and remarried. Long story short, that didn’t work out and 6 years later I was single again. My ex-husbands live eight houses away from each other, an hour away from me, and really, we all get along great. Fabulously, actually, as long as we aren’t fighting. Sometimes it’s hard to be a single female, like when I can’t open my vitamin water because it’s super sealed or the light bulbs need to be changed and I really can’t reach, or there is a giant spider in the shower that needs to be killed…but I just keep telling myself it’s all okay and then a friend shows up and changes the light bulbs, George feels bad the friend is the one who changed the light bulbs and so he opens the vitamin waters, and Aidan, Zach, Cam and Cass and I join forces to kill the spider through a series of funny attempts involving shrieks, brooms, paper towels, screams, and sneakers.
Me: (Out loud) Yes, we all make it work.
Sigh. I smile, I laugh, I say I got this. Truth be told, never in a million years would I ever have imagined life like this but life usually doesn’t work out according to plan. There are days when I am angry, some at myself, some at my second ex-husband. (I’ve chalked up the first failure to the simple fact I was young and didn’t know any better. That relationship just kind-of dissipated, nothing tremendously wrong other than we weren’t right for each other.) The second marriage/divorce, with kids from previous relationships involved, was much more complicated. As a teenager I joked that I would beat Liz Taylor in the husband department, but I really hope that is not the case.
So, here I am, less than two weeks away from 38, and no, life is not even close to being what I had wanted it to be. (Please note, I am only 38 in this post, in all others I will be 31, rich and 5’6″.) I see ‘perfect’ families all the time, laughing, playing, grocery shopping together and parents attending school conferences as a joint force, then going home and being together after the kids are sound asleep. I wanted those things. I miss those things. I will never have those things. Perhaps, at times, I will have those things separately, but never together as a whole package. Accepting that is hard at times, and feeling like you need to constantly tell the world you accept it can be exhausting.
I anticipate having to make a rather big move in the near future. The career thing, while hanging on by a thread, is not what I need and deserve it to be. I have stayed here in Connecticut, tried to stay close to family and friends and make it happen, but it’s a brutal business and the pieces are not falling into place. I am good at what I do, I miss doing it full-time, and I have four kids I’d like to take on some great family trips that need to be funded. (They also need to eat, be clothed, and play sports…)
Change is never easy, but as someone who has never shied away from it, I will embrace it when it comes. My children will be told it is an adventure, we will make it exciting and smile and cheer it on as it is happening. We will make a playlist of our favorite songs and belt them out as we drive away. They are amazing little people and they are why I have been through what I’ve been through and why I am going to accept whatever comes next and make the most of it.
Back to the conversation at the park, only now it’s not a park, it’s some random person I am interviewing or working with for the day who just got the condensed version of my ‘until now’ autobiography…
Random person: Wow, I don’t know how you do it but kudos to you for getting it done.
Me: (In my head) I never get it done. It’s not simple, I am tired, I am ready for the real reason why …..
Me: (Out loud) Thank you.
I have done it all before, and I can do it all again…but wouldn’t it be nice to know that this is the last time?