Monday, January 25, 2010

Extended Family

Our kids think we have a super big family. I guess you can’t deny that… 7 people in and out of this house throughout the week is a BIG family. The idea of blended aunties, uncles and cousins make it even BIGGER. A few months ago we crossed all blended family lines when my five kids attended the birthday party of my former sister-in-law’s (my ex husband’s sister) son, my nephew. In blended families we always struggle with titles. I hate referring to my former sister-in- law as “former” as we were really “becoming sisters” when my divorce was heating up. She has always been a friend so to have the heartache of divorce impact that has never felt right. As for my nephews, I can’t even begin to come up with the proper title. It is still painful not to be involved on the front line of their life. Although we have done well with staying connected, cousin to cousin for sure… it still feels weird at times. Sweetly enough they have still referred to me as Aunt. So what is the right title? Sometimes we need to just leave it alone and let the kids find their way.

The issue of “cousin, aunt, and step family” came up at the birthday celebration. I had a good giggle overhearing the discussion between my step children and my former family. The kids seemed to be neutral on so many fronts, heck this party was FUN and nothing could spoil that, they quickly decided that they would be “step cousins”. That day we were all just one big happy family.

As for me and the World’s Greatest Husband, although our children have this HUGE blended family, we always feel like it is simply “just us”. I grew up with aunts, uncles, and grandparents right down the street. If we needed anything, someone was right there to help and visit. Our sisters, brothers and parents are all far away. We don’t have the “built in - down the street - support network”. I am sad that we aren’t all piling into my mother’s kitchen for a Sunday meal like we did at my Nana’s house. I wish I could load all the kids in the car on Halloween to show my aunts and uncles their costumes. And most of all, selfishly, I wish I could meet up at the mall and shop till we drop. My husband and I feel this loss, but the good news is, our kids don’t, they belong to a big blended family! For all of our kids the “other side of the family is local and connected” so there is no loss, only more folks to hang out with. Hopefully we are all providing a united front and supporting our kids in a way that makes them feel love.

I have always tried to spin the idea of being a kid of divorce with one perk: More people to love you.

**On Saturday night, I visited with family that I haven't seen in two years.  It was so good to recall our childhood family memories and laugh like kids again. To reconnect as adults is interesting. I hope someday our five kids crowd around in one of their kitchens telling funny stories with a ton of interruptions from the many grandchildren I expect to have.

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