I think it would be interesting to sit down and write out ALL of my fears about remarrying. And I will do exactly that, just as soon as I have a full year of nothing else to do, pinky swear! But in the meantime, I try to keep the neurotic angsting to a minimum.
Fortunately, I have two children with endless problems here to keep me focused on ACTUAL crises instead of the various ones I like to imagine.
One of the things Otto and I are doing is a series of counseling sessions with my pastor. It’s based on a profile we both filled out which was, admittedly, rather hokey. “I think my spouse and I should share every waking moment or it means we aren’t really in love! Strongly agree, agree, not sure, disagree, strongly disagree, or how much did we pay to take this test again?”
In theory I think following a proven program for this premarital work is a good idea. In my experience, 80% of the program is utter crap and suitable only for morons. The issue is that the important 20% probably varies from couple to couple, and slogging through the other parts helps you to figure out which bits are most applicable to your particular relationship.
Otto and I have known each other for coming up on 18 years. I am neither surprised nor particularly bothered by his penchant for lousy jokes. He seems fairly tolerant of my melodramatic streak, and if he can clearly visualize my pre-pregnancy body he’s bright enough not to mention it. Our view of one another is realistic, I think.
No, the big issue for us is the kids. As in, I’ve been dealing with them for almost 9 years, and he has not. And step-parenting? Is there a manual for how to avoid that moment of truth where your kid shoots daggers through her eyes at your beloved, declaring “You can’t tell me what to do! YOU’RE NOT MY FATHER!?” (No, it hasn’t happened yet. I know my kids, and I know that day is coming.) This is a huge issue for couples trying to blend a family even if the kids are perfectly normal.
My children are many things. Some of those things are even wonderful. But they’ve already GOT a set of challenges. I know that ultimately this will all be fine, but I fear both for their adjustment and for Otto’s.
So we’ve talking about some of this with my pastor, and discussed it just between the two of us, and the conclusion we arrive at is always the same: So much of this just has to be lived to be figured out. We can’t know until it happens.
But my biggest fear to date has been Otto’s continued assertion that once the kids are settled in, a lot of the problems of this year will just fade away. It’s the disruption, the impending move, the going back and forth to their dad’s while he’s still very angry about all of this; once life has been restructured and calmed down, they will blossom, Otto insists. (Then again, sometimes what Otto insists about the kids is a bit different than what I’m thinking….)
While I would love to believe him, I think his view is overly optimistic. And I worry that if it doesn’t go the way he expects, it will be difficult for him to deal with. Otto has a pair of, well, perhaps not rose-colored glasses, but his glasses have a definite pink tint.
So we keep talking about this stuff, and I’m sure we’ll figure it out.
Today, I had a meeting at school about Chickadee. I walked into the room lined with guidance counselors and her teacher and the principal and cracked a joke about “long time no see” and everyone laughed and I thought (not for the first time) how great this school has been with my kids, but that I wouldn’t mind if we could go a few weeks without me having to attend a team meeting for someone, for a change. It was a productive session, I think, but when I reported on it to the kids’ dad he complained about it and I was really frustrated and bit back my inclination to say that if you don’t go to the meeting, you don’t get to comment.
I reported on all of this to Otto, later, and after some discussion Otto said something about how next year, he’ll go to these meetings with me. And I said I didn’t expect him to do that, and bit back the “because they’re not your kids” because he was being sweet and supportive and I didn’t want to sound ungrateful. But he took it the extra mile, Otto did, and when I said he didn’t need to do that, he went on to tell me how he’s in this and will be there for me and the kids and expects to be involved in everything.
“I’m going to be there,” he said, “and I’ll be there for it all. All of it. I’ll be driving them places and picking them up from detention.”
I couldn’t stop laughing. Probably because it’s true.