Our oldest kiddo is getting married to the sweetest girl you will ever meet in your entire life. She is exactly what every mom or stepmom could picture for her son. She is sensitive and loving and artistic and emotionally intelligent, and she makes that boy work through and talk about his feelings. I’m told by my step-son that she is exactly like me, which I take as a huge compliment.
She lives in the states and hadn’t been able to come up for a visit, so we had been communicating over video chat. Lots of long conversations about life and love, and the inevitable family drama she is signing herself up for. Then the opportunity arose for her to come up for a visit.
It was one of the best, and one of the most stressful few weeks of my life.
I got to spend time in real life with my new daughter, and it was magical. She was just as great in real life as through a screen. I got a ton of amazing hugs and lots and lots of ” I love you” moments. We went to the mall, hung out at the house, went for coffee, and went snowmobiling with the men.
But I gotta tell you, it was wickedly hard. I so badly want to protect this mini-me from the shit show she is marrying into. I don’t trust the lot of them, ex-wife, her family, or G’s family. This pretty, young, dew-eyed, bride-to-be is walking into an impossible situation, with all the innocence and expectation of a nineteen year old little girl who is going to “fix everything”.
I completely understand where she’s coming from. When I married into this family, I had great hopes and expectations of restoration and acceptance and family unity as well. It’s taken a few years and many hard and painful knocks for me to realize you can’t change people. They are going to be who they are going to be.
This little sweetie is understandably confused by what has gone on. After all, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a son to be forced to leave the family farm because he made the mistake of getting divorced, and then having the gall to get remarried. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a family to completely ignore their son and new daughter-in-law at a kids’ basketball game, pretending we don’t exist as they sit on the other side of the gym. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for an ex-wife to refuse to speak to me, even look at me, and yet tell her new daughter-in-law that we are “acquaintances”. The list goes on…
She’s asked for the explanation to what all has gone on. And what do I tell her? How do you fill her in on the past without running the whole lot of them into the dirt. How do you explain that no, we won’t be able to come to the ex-wife’s property , or the family farm for a wedding celebration, because we would under no circumstances be welcome. How do you get into why her husband-to-be will react and behave in a certain way when he is triggered, because you know what went on in his home growing up. His mom certainly isn’t going to explain anything. She’s already outright lied to this new little daughter. She’s never faced the truth before, she’s not about to make herself look bad in front of a new family member.
This is exhausting and hard. I feel like a piece of crap when, after wading through what I think I should say, I say it. I understand why she wants to know what in the heck is going on. But I also know it puts her smack dab in the middle of the same loyalty battle as the rest of our kids.
And there is a small part of me that wants to win. That wants to be chosen. Especially since I know she goes deep with me, connects with me on a level she doesn’t with G’s ex. It makes me proud to know that I am not going to be rejected by one more member of this god-forsaken family. But on a grown up level, I know this is entirely unfair to her.
We sat down in the middle of a busy hallway in the shopping mall and had this conversation about loyalty. We were both in tears. I stated from my heart that this is HER life, THEIR life, as a couple. There is no need to pick a side. She needs to form relationships how she wants and how she needs. She is LOVED by all and accepted by all.
After she left for home, I pulled way back. We still talk and I’m still here to be a supportive part of her life, but I don’t text her as much as I used to. I know I need to disengage and be ok with myself for the life I’ve built and the person I’ve become. It’s not about winning, it’s not about being accepted. It’s about being at peace with who I am, and loving myself regardless of who choses me.