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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 РI 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.