a doozy

May 23, 2010 at 4:59 pm 2 comments

Oh man. The modern family.

On the one hand, I am glad for it, my life is made rich by Xi and Bella, and I wouldn’t be able to parent them as I do if it weren’t for the evolution of marriage, divorce, and co-parenting. It was only a few decades ago when if your girlfriend got pregnant, and you didn’t want to suffer the scorn of the community, you got married, quick. Now it’s different. Now there are baby-daddies, baby-mamas, half sisters, step sisters, stepmom’s stepmoms, other-dads, and bio-dads. And because we aren’t the first generation to separate and remarry, modern kids also have lots and lots of grandparents.

On the other hand, in our modern family where one kid’s “other house” is three hours away, a simple ballet recital or school performance becomes an epic adventure. Bella had been working for months on two performances and inviting every living soul she comes into contact with, Can you come to my performance??? It’s Mat 21st. Can you come?? Do you think you can come???, making it exceedingly obvious to us that it was important to her. The only problem was that the performances are in Bozeman, and we live in Missoula, so it wasn’t a matter of remembering and heading across town at the appointed hour, it was a matter of highway travel, lodging, and planning. But as my dad and step-mom were visiting at the same time we decided to make a go of it. On Friday we packed food, crammed backpacks, and squeezed six of us into the trusty family van to drive three hundred miles, so that Bella’s Papa, her two half sisters, her step mom, her step-mom’s mom (Grandma) and her step-mom’s dad (Grandpa) were smiling back at her in the elementary school auditorium.

Now if that isn’t modern family, I don’t know what is.

We watched Bella’s head bobbing around in the back row of awkwardly singing and jiving eight and nine-year olds, our eyes pinned to the only child we knew in that entire school. The next day we watched a two-hour ballet recital in which Bella appeared for a total of (maybe) three minutes.

Being there for Bella made the trip worthwhile but what we did in between performances made it even better. My step-mom found cabins for us to stay in, including one that was perched high up among the cottonwoods and aspen. Owls hooted, deer crept past, robins gathered worms, Canada geese with goslings scurried about, a hot tub warmed us in the mornings, intricate guest lodging decorations were just right for teeny fairy figurines to hide among, a king size bed made one still-nursing-mama really happy, and a rushing stream lulled us to sleep. We definitely made the best of it.

And then, in the whirlwind that shared custody weekends are, on Sunday we returned Bella to her mom and found ourselves re-trekking those three hundred miles. Back through the still-green valleys, back through the mountain pass, back along the Clark Fork river, and back to Missoula, only to return Xi to her mom. If it wasn’t my regular life I’d be confused and overwhelmed by all the back and forths, highway travel, drop off coordination, and pick up arrangements. It probably wouldn’t be my preference to live this way, but if I didn’t live this way I’d sure miss a lot. If my dad had upheld the til-death-do-us-part oath, I wouldn’t have a step-mom that researches and acquires awesome cabin retreats. If Nathan had stayed in his first marriage we wouldn’t have Xi. If Nathan had left his first marriage but shotgun married Xi’s mom, he and I wouldn’t have found each other. If we hadn’t found each other we wouldn’t have Echo.

So even if my head spins on occasion, even if we travel across one of the biggest states in the country to attend a ballet recital, and even though there is no simple way to describe the makeup of my family, it also means I get these fantastic girls, and epic weekend adventures, and surprise delights. I think I’ll take it.


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right now is awesome and so it begins

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. angela  |  May 23, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    sounds truly awesome, the adventure of it all. and because your girls have so much family, they get so much more love. to be ok with any of the complications that arise shows them the grace that allows a modern family like yours to thrive. glad you had a family-filled fun weekend!

  • 2. Amy McGregor  |  May 23, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    I LOVE Bella!!!! I wish she and Jae had more of an opportunity to get to know each other. In a perfect world everyone would live closer to each other and Jae and Bella would home school and do super fun stuff together…


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