Midlife Cabernet: Blending the Family Frappé
Organizing an event with blended families requires the logistical coordination of air traffic controllers with the precision of a computerized dispatcher and the help of a licensed counselor. Uniting yours, mine, ours, and theirs becomes a calculated strategy that turns dates on the calendar into targets for negotiation. There’s a reason we never saw the ex-families on the television show The Brady Bunch.
I grew up in a small community during a time when couples married, had children, and stayed married until they died. Our family gatherings often included more than 30 people – and none were divorced. There was minimal tactical planning required to schedule an event. Times have changed, and sometimes I feel the pressure to make sure everyone is happy. I need to get over that.
At a recent family dinner, we arranged for the step-grandkids to join us along with the step-children and assorted step-grandparents. When most of the grandparents and parents have been divorced and remarried, it’s time to stop with the titles. There’s no more “step” because “family” will do just fine.
Both my children married spouses who already had children. That made me an instant grandma, a position I enjoy and welcome. I have been divorced and then married a man with grown children who became new members of the family. At our children’s events, the other parent is often involved. At my step-son’s high school graduation, I sat next to his mother. At my daughter’s wedding, her father and I both walked her down the aisle, even though we were divorced. We do it for our children. Even the receiving line was fun because our daughter’s happiness was most important.
No one is advocating divorce, but it happens. I admire those parents who negotiate joint custody arrangements using common sense and positive attitudes. Holiday and birthday parties are less stressful if the parents coordinate plans and speak without assaulting each other. And, what child wouldn’t want to be spoiled and adored by one of eight different grandparents?