The big party was today and I'm not sure what I was worried about. I had no responsibilities and I was able to mingle and play with the kids. B1 did twist my arm to get me to make a toast and I said something...not sure what...about how great it was to have everyone there, the friends, the family. How you learn things from a blended family. The example I gave is when she had a surprise party for my dad on his 60th birthday. She arranged for B1 and me to show up in Berkeley at Dad's small birthday dinner. We flew out from the East Coast and met at the airport. We spent the afternoon together and then arrived at the restaurant. Dad was so overwhelmed, he couldn't speak. He cried. I said, "I never would have thought of it, but it was a wonderful thing that Susan did for Dad." I also said that there was no question about my being at the party. That's true. I take my family obligations seriously. I have four more wedding to attend in Israel. I haven't been there so much for my stepsisters though. Yet Jessica called me "Auntie Jamy" to her son. I don't know. Even after all these years...almost 25...I'm still ambivalent about my step-family. This was certainly excusable in the early days, but now? Well, now, we are all pretty comfortable with each other, but I have no regular contact with my stepsisters. I was invited to both of their weddings but attended neither. I did at least get Jessica a present.
I also faced a present dilemma. Normally, seeing B1's kids at this time of year, I would bring them presents. But then I thought, I really should bring presents for all kids who could be considered my nieces and nephews, which in case there are three more kids I need to get presents for. My solution? No one got presents. I'm the aunt who doesn't give presents, rather than the aunt who plays favorites.
I don't know. When you are part of a "blended family" what happens to the former family? Dad has been married to Susan longer than he was married to my mother by ten years. Yet, in my mind, my family means me, Mom, and Dad. And B1 and B2. Someone said to me on this trip, "I don't think of you and B1 as half-siblings." I was glad to hear that, but we are. To me, he's my brother, the end, but because we don't share two parents, it means the three of us didn't grow up together. When I was younger, I longed to have my brothers with me. I felt their absence keenly.
It's different with my step-sisters because I didn't meet them until I was 12 and we never lived together. They are both older and the eldest had already left home for college when I came on the scene. As step-sisters go, you couldn't ask for better, but I didn't want any part of them for years. Ah well, what can you do?
Was the party a farce? To me, such big family events mean less without my mother. But it was important to Dad that I be there, so I was there. I'm not always there for the big family events that focus on my step-mother, though. Should I be? Is it time to be more loving towards her? I don't know if I can do it, but I'll at least try to be more...friendly. That's the least I can do. (Not to give the impression I'm not friendly--I am--but I could do better.)
Would I have liked it if Owen were there? Yes, though it would have added other complications. And, if it was overwhelming for me, I can only imagine how a stranger would feel...yet, it would be great to have someone on my side, unequivocally. I think it would make it easier. I wonder if people have given up on me, assuming my single status is permanent. Oh well, maybe it is. I'll take acceptance over harassment any day!
Happy New Year everyone! Next year will be even better, I'm sure.
Grateful for: a great big complicated family.
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