Today is my sister-in-law’s birthday. At least, she was my sister-in-law for many years until they divorced. Does that make her my “ex” sister-in-law or does she just become another person from the past?
I am reminded of a conversation I had with my was-band prior to our divorce. We had been married for twenty years, had two great children and shared extended family during that time. Now we were separating and I planned a trip with the kids to his parent’s home. During our discussion, he told me to “leave his family alone and get my own.” What a surprise to discover the people who I’d entertained after our children’s births, visited in hospitals, shared holiday meals with and attended funerals beside were no longer “my” family. Twenty years shared do not make them family? How was that possible? When did the line break, the in-law become outlaw for me?
I recently hosted a dinner honoring our son and his fiancée. They were the guests of honor and chose the people to attend. They wanted their family to attend and so the invitations went to all those in-laws of mine from long ago. They are still my children’s’ aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, although no longer my in-laws. Strange to make the separation.
It was a lovely dinner, with all those in-laws (and the was-band and his current amour) and I was glad to share the occasion with “my family.” Divorce cuts ties with spouses, not with family and that is the lesson we’ve shared with our children.
Happy birthday, sister-in-law, wherever you are, I hope it is a happy occasion and you are surrounded with love. You are still family.
‘Ohana means family – no one gets left behind, and no one is ever forgotten. ~ Chris Sanders & Dean DeBlois
I am a single parent, confirmed by the judge on Wednesday. Of course, the was-band is still the sperm donor, however, given his unwillingness to provide sustenance and support, I classify myself as a single parent. Initially, this realization creates a sense of panic when I realize I am solely responsible for this child of my heart. How will I manage? How will I find the strength to address all the little issues of life, like finding toothpaste or where socks go in the wash? How can I support a Pumpkin Soy Latte habit on a Perked at Home budget? The order from the court seems overwhelming until I realize I have been a single parent for ten years. The order from the court is merely a legal recognition of fact.
We arrived at this point after ten years of wrangling over responsibilities accepted and ignored. Entering the foreign courtroom is reminiscent of previous court appearances with one exception. This is my final appearance. I let go of the need to explain, the need to convince and the need to force responsibility. He is a deadbeat and I am not. He is unwilling to provide, to love and cherish. I am not. I have succeeded, created adult relationships with my children. I move toward the future free from the narcissism, the greed, the felonious behavior. Whatever he decides to do, whether he follows the order or not, I know I am a single parent. I am blessed.
There is no longer panic when I realize I can savor the acceptance to college, the high school graduation with honors, and her move to college. I can enjoy the thrill of her first job, apartment and success. I can cherish the young couple finding their way in marriage. I know they are ready.
I am a single parent and life is good.
First Person Singular