Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"I have TWO dads!"

She turned 6 the week before, on the first day of first grade. She was sitting at a table in the elementary school cafeteria with a gaggle of other brand new first grade girls eating Oreos off a napkin. Her hair was in its customary rat's nest and all in her face (and now had the additional adornment of Oreo.)  She was wearing her brother's old baseball jersey with a neon polka dot skirt, and tennis shoes with no socks. She was blissfully unaware of her odd specialness. (This was a different day - but same general air of Carson-ness...)
 She was particularly excited to be at the Daisy girl scout meeting because her brother and hero was a Cub Scout...

I was watching her. Her chattiness, her sudden "real kid-ness" as opposed to tiny preschooler and kindergartener. I remember specifically what I was thinking: Because I'd lived with her for 6 years, I had become blind to her exuberant quirkiness.  Do you ever do that? Look at someone to whom you are SO close and see them through the eyes that strangers see them? I was amused and also worried for her tenderness. I didn't want her spirit broken by mean girls with perfectly matching outfits and shoes and hairbows that wouldn't "get" her and her, well, oddity...But I also knew she wouldn't be convinced to conform...

He was sitting with me.  His barely 7 year old self was irritated at having to stay AFTER after-school program for her and her "meeting." He wanted Oreos, too. At the adjacent table, we could hear the conversation of the giggly girls but we weren't close enough for the girls to be aware of or distracted by us. I didn't think he was listening.  I thought he was pouting because he didn't get Oreos.

What happened:
Pink shirt girl: "My grandma lives with us now because she can't go up and down stairs anymore and our house doesn't have stairs."
Blue Dress girl: "My grandma lives in Tennessee.  She has a pool."
Her: "My Poppa Bill has a pool."
Blue Dress girl: "Is Poppa Bill your grandfather?"
Her: "Uh-huh"
Pink shirt girl: "Do you get to swim all the time? Does he live in Rome?"
Her: "YES! He lives right down the street from us."
Blue Dress girl: "Is he your Mom's dad or your Dad's dad?"
Her: "He's one of my dads' Dad."
Pink shirt AND Blue Dress: "ONE of your Dads???"
Her: (non-plussed) "Yeah... (pause...and after silence from the others...)  I have two dads."
Blue Dress: "You can't have two dads."
HIM (surprising me by jumping in and defending his sister): "We DO have two dads.  Our Daddy lives in Alabama and our Stepdad is Will and he lives with us. Poppa Bill is Will's dad, and our grandfather."
Pink Shirt: "You call him Will? He's not your dad. He's just married to your mom."
Her: (exasperated and very matter-of-factly) "He IS my dad, too.  My daddy will always be my daddy, but Will is my stepdad and he's my dad, too. There are all kinds of families, you know. Love is what makes the family, not being married. And we all love each other."

Out. Of. The. Mouths. Of. Babes. Y'all.

My heart almost busted open from fullness right there, y'all, all over the oreos and the daisy scouts and everything.
I was sitting by ready to intervene and defend, but I didn't have to.  She knew what was up.  She still does. (And he does, too.) The kid knows her own mind, and speaks it intelligently, kindly, but with an incomparable and unbeatable force. My daily prayer is that she never loses that.  But this post is not about her.

It's been 3 years to the day since that meeting.  I had married Will just two weeks prior. My kids were as excited about getting married as Will and I were, because how in the world could you NOT want Will to live with you? He has pretty much every video game system ever made, multiple musical instruments, plays board games, loves 80s movies, and he talks in puppy voice to the dogs. "It will be like a sleepover ALL THE TIME, Momma!" (7 year old boy.) But, this post is not about Will, either.

It's about their Daddy.

I have never shared publicly (social media or here) much about divorcing and co-parenting, custody, visitation, child support, etc. And I still won't. (Plus, I got a brand spankin' new washer and dryer and THAT is where my dirty laundry belongs.)  What I am about to share ist an assurance to others going through it that it DOES get... better? nah... easier? not really... though you do learn to deal with it better. It's always hard. But it is always worth it. And the point of our lives is our kids.  One day, he and she will know how much the three of us (me and their two dads) worked really really hard, together, even when we disagreed, to make sure they always know that they are each loved, appreciated, adored, encouraged, and totally worth every bit of everything.

Cole and Carson's Dad and I obviously divorced.  We divorced when the Cs were little, 2 and 3 years old. And it was hard. And ugly. And it hurt. It was hard on both of hurt both of us. Sometimes it still hurts, though now the hurt is more like your bones aching when it's going to rain, and less like a knife in the heart. I worried what I was doing to my children, but I worried what I'd be doing if we stayed together, too. I won't lie. Their dad and I still often don't see eye to eye. Occasionally we even actually argue. (NEVER in front of or in earshot of the children.) Sometimes we text and email to avoid any actual confrontation. And that's ok.

Why? Why, you say? Arguing is ok? You hear stories about other broken marriages where the parties stay best friends and hang out together all the time.  That probably won't happen with us. (Living in different states is part of the issue...but we also just don't always get along...) But it's still ok.

NOW HEAR THIS: It's ok because I know that there is not one other human in the world other than their Daddy that loves those babies like I do.  And he knows that I am their Momma and they need me and I love them like he does. It's ok because every time there is a Scout banquet we all (multiple parents and grandparents) sit together at the same table and look right at Cole and tell him how well he has done and his whole family is focused on and celebrating him.  It's ok because, even if her Daddy and I have just fussed at length about something, when Carson has her first piano recital there is no doubt in my mind we will all be right there together with smiles on our faces telling her how beautifully she played. There will be no residual underlying anger between us during those moments. EVERY time we need to rearrange a weekend visitation so that Carson can cheer with the Lil' Wolves at the Rome High football game or Cole has a Webelos campout, it works itself out.  When I had surgery and couldn't drive, one dad drove the children to visit their other dad.  Three hours round trip.  Both ways. There is never an argument about what is best for the children among the 3 of us. It's ok because, at the end of the day - the children don't know anything different than having 3 parents that all love them immensely.

It's not easy.  No one ever said it would be easy. Marriage is not easy.  It's work.  Divorce and co-parenting is ALSO work. They say marriage is forever, but Divorce is for eternity and a day. But if she knew even at just-barely-6 years old that her family was made of love, and that she had two dads, we're doing alright. They know they are safe.  They are loved.  That we will do would whatever possible for both of them. So, it's ok. And I'm grateful for her two dads.


  1. Love this because I lived it too, and love this because I love you! You are a good mama and those "babies" are amazing kiddos thanks to all that hard work that has been (and continues to be) done to keep up relationships and love amongst all of you.

  2. Out of the mouths of babes is right <3 beautiful story :) thank you for sharing!