Parenting Reflections

The road more travelled

Ahhhh.  Here I am again at the B&B of mom and dad.  Brought all 3 kids this time, but flew big brother home mid-week to allay my fears that he’s been missing some critical piece of learning in the 7th grade.  He was, it turns out, missing a lot back home – his new gf had broken up with him in absentia.  He’s already replaced her (shocking that this is 7th grade – I feel old).

Big brother came into my life when he was 2 through a series of (un?)fortunate events involving divorce and the re-kindling of a high school romance (in that order).  I travelled nearly monthly to see him and his dad for 2 years before convincing dad to move north – I sent him a postcard a day for 45 days with pictures of the beautiful land I was luring him to.

So 4 year old big brother and dad moved in with me nearly 9 years ago.  My friends threw a pre-schooler “shower” for the arrival of my first child.  We’ve always gotten along pretty well and somewhere along the way he started calling me mom.  I’ve never introduced myself as his step mom or called him my step son because it seems like a silly distinction which has no clear purpose other than pointing out the lack of biological relation.  And in this day and age, family often has little to do with biological relation.

Big brother does visit his other mom about once a year.  He has 2 younger sibs there, and has a lot of fun when he visits.  We’ve worked hard to keep the relationships he has with his family strong and positive over the years.  After his last trip, he told me his mom isn’t seeing his baby sister’s dad anymore and that the engagement is off.  I asked him if the dad still comes to see baby sister and the answer surprised and saddened me.  He told me that he agrees with his mom that it would be better for his baby sister to not have a dad at all than to try to have separated parents.  I told him that I thought it was important for kids to stay in touch with all their parents and pointed out that he has separated parents and seems to do ok with it.  He said “yeah, but she’s so little she won’t remember her dad at all anyway and this way my mom doesn’t have to deal withvisitation and all that stuff – it’s too hard to deal with.  And besides, baby brother doesn’t have a dad either and he’s fine.”

I’m still processing this and figuring out the best way to make sure big brother doesn’t continue to think that this is ok.  I certainly don’t know the details of the circumstance and I’m trying not to judge the actions of those involved.  I just want him to understand the importance of parents, and the responsibility that comes with having kids.  The responsibility to stay involved yourself , AND the responsibility to keep the other person involved to whatever extent possible.  I haven’t really talked to him more about it, but I did talk to Honey who said he thinks he can talk to him.  He’s been there and done that and also has strong feelings about it as he grew up not knowing his bio-dad (only to reconnect a few years ago).

How complicated these kids’ lives are.  A few months ago, big brother and his 3 best friends (aka the 4 amigos) were talking in the cul-de-sac when I was outside with the girls.  They all have separated bio-parents and they were talking about their lives with/without them.  They are more insightful than we give them credit for.

I hear the divorce rate is down, and so is the marriage rate.  I’m not sure what all this means, but I do know I’m happy to be a part of big brother’s life.