Guest Post: We Start and End with Family

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“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.” – Anthony Brandt

Five and a half years ago when my daughter came into the world, she was born into a family that loved her; she had a mama and an Ima who couldn’t wait to watch her grow up.

Fast forward five and a half years; a lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same.  E’s mama and I are no longer together, though we are wickedly awesome at this co-parenting thing (at least I think). E has grown up and is now a headstrong kindergartener with more energy than all the grown-ups I know combined. E’s mama and I have stayed close and we both have amazing partners. I’m proud of us all for the way we work together to give E what’s best and truly care for one another; our family has expanded in ways I never knew were possible.

That doesn’t mean it’s always easy…

No matter how much we might wish otherwise, no parent can be there to witness and share in every moment of their child’s life.  A child grows up and goes off into the world with increasing independence; you expect to miss (and later hear about in great dramatic detail) a scraped knee or a bruised feeling that happened at school, this or that, here or there.  Any parent is (at least semi) prepared for that.

What you’re not prepared for is what happens when you read about your kid on someone else’s blog.  Or at least I wasn’t when I read about my daughter on this blog.  A simple recounting of 5-year old ridiculousness over some wet bed sheets by Ethan (Mama’s boyfriend).    My first thought was “oh yeah, I can totally see E doing that!” Followed quickly by, “As her Ima, I should have been the one to deal with that level of ridiculousness.”  Hello, Parental Guilt.

At times like this, as a parent, I feel bad. Am I missing out on parts of my daughter’s life? She has another whole part of her life that only includes me in the peripheral co-parenting sense and sometimes that’s a really strange feeling to have.  There’s this nagging sense of guilt that sneaks up every once in a while because I couldn’t give my daughter that poetic “normal” happy family; both parents happily together under one roof. And then I promptly remember that “normal” is overrated. Our new normal, it works for us.  E has a family that loves her; she has a mama and an Ethan, and an Ima and a Lisa (and a Nathan) who can’t wait to watch her grow up.

In the end, it’s a different life, and a different family for E than what we had intended when she was born, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t wonderful all the same.

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