We used to all go away on winter holidays - my partner, his three, my two, my ex and his new wife and their new son. Very harmonious times we had in the middle of frost bite, dripping wet gear, child still out in white-out conditions, large and loud dinners and disaster area in living room. The apartment lease expired and so our blended holidays transformed into other arrangements.
However, just recently I and my two adolescent children travelled up to Thailand to spend some time with their father and the other half of their family. My partner remained behind, so it was a unique time for me to be with my two kids and share some adventures together. Things started out smoothly enough until the third day when it became obvious that there seemed to be some resentment that i was "intruding" on my daughter's space with her half brother and her dad. It was their thing - the Asia jaunt - and really after all why did i have to come?
Now overlaid with this, and perhaps even the precursor to this tension, was the typical mother/daughter conflict which unfortunately had not been left behind. I suppose because i didn't want to be in their face either i was very sensitive to the pervading mood. Now in all my uncomfortableness though i witnessed something really beautiful. A solid and healthy bond between the four of them. A situation of mother becoming redundant. The sense of family takes on an all encompassing theme bending and shifting to envelop all its members. I soon was gathered back into the fold of this very special unit that societies all around the world still do - the family thing whether it is a small, step, half, extended or huge one. So, through my pain i was able to experience some very special knowledge. My kids indeed have a more enriched life now after our divorce than perhaps if we had never divorced. Obviously our divorce was a very civilised one and, no doubt, this has helped our children grow up into well-adjusted and accepting young people. Meanwhile the holiday photos mean so much to me now as i flick back through them. It is not just the warm and fuzzies i get from looking back on the experiences we shared, but they represent awareness around the idea that being a "redundant mother" isn't such a terrible thing after all.
Authored by a friend of The Step Stop