This past Sunday as I was sitting in sacrament enjoying the testimonies of members in the ward, I noticed an adorable family a few rows ahead of us. The little boy had light suit on and his perfect part was almost as perfect as his smile that he kept giving his older sister sitting next to him, she must of been about 11 with her golden hair that cascaded down her back. She sat so reverently and although I could only see the back of her head I could tell she was beautiful. Next to her was Mom, who looked like she just stepped out of a fashion magazine, with her edgy short hair cut and beautiful earrings that hung down past her hair line. You know the type of woman where you just wonder what her secret to Sunday morning perfection is? Then sat Dad with what appeared to be the exact same color suit as their young son…matching father son, how cute. Although everyone else was sitting quietly and paying attention, Dad was being distracted by another cute little blonde. Younger than her older sister, but with the same long gorgeous hair. She couldn’t seem to sit still and was bugging Dad. He didn’t seem to mind though and leaned over kissing her on the forehead. I couldn’t help but stare at them all, and for a brief moment I wanted to be them, this adorable family enjoying fast and testimony meeting together. Then the oldest girl stood up, and walked to the pulpit to share her testimony. She was just as beautiful as I had thought she was, blue eyes, cute little dimple when she smiled. Her testimony brought tears to my eyes, as she experessed her gratitude for her family. Her entire family. You see, she wasn’t referring just to the one she was sitting with, but to Brandon (her step dad), and me (her mom). Although she went and sat back down with her dad and stepmom, I wasn’t sad, or frustrated, or even jealous, because I knew that next week we would be that family sitting together during Sacrament. It has become my new normal, and honestly my heart is so happy that we can do this for our kids.
As I sat on Sunday and thought about my crazy situation and all that has come with coparenting, and how, to me, switching every other week doesn’t seem that odd, or going to church all together doesn’t seem crazy, I wondered why it was so easy for me? I’m asked, “How do you do it?”, or commended about my relationship with our exes, to often to count, but to me the simple response is…”It’s the right thing to do.” Yet, I know it’s also because I’ve been taught by good parents, and grandparents that family comes first.
The Saturday before this sacrament Sunday I was referring to earlier, my grandmother, my last living grandparent, passed away at the age of 94. So maybe I was feeling a little more sentimental on Sunday than normal, but her passing really got me thinking about my childhood.
My parents met in 2nd grade and well the rest is history (epic history because they made ME of course), but with them meeting so young it only made sense that both sets of grandparents to me lived only blocks from each other. So when my parents decided to move to the same neighborhood I not only got to go to all the same schools as them, but I had the blessing of being close to my grandparents, all of them. I don’t remember any event or important function that my grandma’s weren’t at. I was definitely spoiled by them, so much so I knew if mom didn’t give it to me, my chances were good with either grandma just right up the road.
Not only did I have them each close, but Holidays we spent ALL together. On Thanksgiving or Christmas, it was my mom’s mom and my dad’s mom, and any and all aunts and uncles all enjoying The holiday together at one house. I don’t ever remember having to split that time. Maybe when we were younger and grandparents were younger, it was that way, but I don’t remember that. What I remember is both my grandmas sitting next to each other with their TV trays, watching the kids open gifts, and laughing and talking to each other as friends.
My grandma’s were however completely opposite of each other. One that barely hit 5 ft tall, the other stood at least 5’7 in her prime (maybe taller). One who didn’t know how to throw a baseball, the other an avid athlete. One who was a stay at home mom, the other working with the rough railroad men who referred to her as “Butch”. One woman was a God fearing woman, the other…well, I’m pretty sure God feared her. Two very different women, but yet still every Friday got their hair done by the same hair dresser. Heaven forbid their hair was not perfect!
I learned something from each of these women, separately of course, but together they taught me a lesson I’m sure they had no idea they even realized they were teaching. That was, that family comes first. They could put away differences for their kids and grandkids and just enjoy each others company and enjoy spending time with their family. I don’t think I even knew that it wasn’t “normal” for families to share holidays until I got married and realized, my family is unique.
I truly believe God put me in this family because he knew I needed these two grandmothers to show me what unconditional love looks like. So that when I would go through something like divorce where I could pick to be difficult and make my kids pick and choose, that I wouldn’t do that, that I would choose love.
I didn’t learn to coparent because my parents are divorced though because they aren’t, and I didn’t learn it because my grandparents were divorce, because they weren’t. I learned that two families can come together and be one, because that is what my family did. They didn’t talk about it, or preach it to us, they showed me and my brother with their actions. So you see it isn’t hard for me to have a relationship with our exes because they love the kids just as much as we do and we are all one family essentially.
As an era closes with the passing of my grandma, I know that the legacy she left shows through to all her grandchildren and now to her great grandchildren. I know it is now my responsibility to instill the same lessons taught to me through her actions, in my kids.
I want my grandparents to be proud of the woman I am, the mother I am, and the coparent I am. I hope they know that they made me who I am and made me be a better person through their example. The circle of life is inevitable, but the type of circle we make is up to us, and I want mine to be all inclusive, encircling all those I love.
Normal is all in the eye of the beholder right? Why can’t my life, my so called “crazy” situation of being friends with my exes and inclusive be the new normal? Either way, I choose this “normal” life for my kids, because I’m pretty sure they have no idea how blessed they are yet, and who knows how my posterity will be effected by my choices today.
So just like my sweet 10 year old daughter said in her testimony Sunday, I too am grateful for my entire family. I know that families can be together forever. I’ll see you again Grandma. Until then, I’ll follow in your footsteps.