A very long time ago, before anyone really knew that my marriage was in crisis, I read this beautiful post written by a mother who started dating a man and like many single mothers before us thought: will you really be there in a crisis? I remember laughing as she described the situation of flying vomit and poop with both kids sick, mum sick and a night of musical beds hoping you don’t run out of spare bedding. At that moment, in all her glory she decided she would get this bloke she was seeing round to help. She was really testing him in her moment of need and what she expected and what she found was completely surprising. She expected him to put his hands up – say no thanks, this shit (literally) ain’t for me! But instead what she found was kindness in amongst her chaos and sleep deprivation. She found a man willing to stand by her and her kids at their worst and nursed them all back to health. Cleaned the vomit, cleaned the sheets and sorted the house.
By the end, I was in tears for several reasons. One, I ached to have this kind of love and emotional support by this time and two, when you are at a place where your marriage is on its last legs you wonder will you ever have someone stand by you when you have two small children.
Enter my youngest sons 1st birthday – I was shocked and surprised to find this man who sat with my family, helped make decorations into the wee hours of the night and had his first sleep over with my kids and his own son to help and support me.
From there, this man has nursed me when I have been sick, let me lay in his arms crying, looked after my boys so I can have some much needed time to myself at times, dismantled both my sons cots and put their big boys beds together, on the nights he’s been here when I have been up too many times to count he has intervened and cuddled the boys back to sleep or put up with them in bed with us kicking about.
Despite these things – there is nothing easy about integrating two families, several schedules, kids shuffling between homes and generally working and existing. It’s a delicate balance.
Before long you can find yourself in this mini battle of who’s kid did what, yours pee’d on the floor, don’t speak to my ‘perfect’ child like that, I don’t want to talk to you as your kid is annoying and being a shit today, yours isn’t ‘normal’, mine is though and so the list goes on.
So if you stay in these cycles for too long your relationship will fail and these cluey little master negotiators will work out you aren’t on the same team and divide and conquer you.
We realised fairly early on that we parent very similarly, have the same sorts of morals and values and ideas on how we want to raise our children. So we became a team – it was about supporting each other, teaching the boys to have mutual respect for both adults, intervening when the other is too exhausted to care and the kids are climbing walls.
Don’t get me wrong – some weekends with the kids we barely even speak or see each other but all it does now is cement our bond and we have realised we still have each other’s back even when it gets sooo tough.
I feel an immense amount of pressure raising my sons to ensure they are respectful, kind and considerate men. Having good role models is so important to me and I fear raising selfish, conceited or even worse, violent men more than any other parenting fear. Together as I blend this little family more and more – we have three boys in our mixer and an immense responsibility bearing down on our shoulders but in the mean time, some weekends the lid comes off the blender and we have shit everywhere while still maintaining it was ‘not my son’ that unscrewed it!