Hemelt: Blended family example not one to repeat

Published 11:45 pm Friday, November 28, 2014

As the child of a loving, blended family, I’m certainly not knocking them, but they can sure make things interesting — the holidays being the most difficult.

My wife and I have been married for six years and have two children. We take our marriage vows seriously and plan to weather the sometimes-stormy marriage journey as one unit to death do us part.

But everyone knows what is said about best-laid plans.

Our little unit took in a strong dose of that reality Thursday in visiting family for Thanksgiving.

My wife and kids stayed with my mother-in-law the night before. That situation is still fluid as my wife’s parents have recently divorced and my 4- and 6-year-old still don’t fully compute the whole process.

It’s tricky for my children, because they have fun memories of their maternal grandparents together and are now still processing their grandparents as separated and living in two houses.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you want to read it) my children are already used to a separated-grandparents dynamic based on their experiences with my mom and dad.

My mother and father divorced before I was 2.

Since, she married my stepfather. They have been married more than 25 years now, and I truly feel they are meant for each other. It’s just an interesting path, because their union marks by mother’s second marriage and my stepfather’s fourth.

My dad has been a little more unlucky, as he has married and divorced twice since separating with my mom, which will occasionally lead to comments that feature phrases like “wife No. 2,” which are not always easy for children to understand, especially when they overhear them and lack any and all context.

We got a little taste of this Thursday, as wife Candace and I, along with our kids, joined dad for Thanksgiving lunch around 12:30 p.m. Thursday in Covington.

Candace’s mom was with us, along with my half brother from my dad’s second marriage and my half sister, who was with her boyfriend and his daughter (from a previous relationship).

If you simply type it out, it sounds odd or even bad. But the truth lies in the friendships and love that endure throughout life’s relationship struggle. When we all sat down to eat Thursday, it was great. The paths were interesting that brought us to together, but the end result was a truly loving, family meal.

It was a scene repeated multiple times in different places as everyone who sat at that table moved on to other houses and other meals later in the day, each with its own set of dynamics that includes plenty of half-, step- and in-law relationships.

It’s a brave new world for holiday family hopping, one my children will grow up immersed in as the numbers of divorces, single-parent homes and non-married cohabitation show no signs of dropping.

It doesn’t have to a be burden; though, it simply serves as another reminder for my wife and I that the relationship we share and its example to our own children will always remain directly in our sights.

I think it will be pretty special in 20 plus years when my children are grown and have signifigant others of their own, that when it comes to holiday time, they won’t have to go to multiple homes to visit their parents.

Stephen Hemelt is general manager and editor of L’OBSERVATEUR. He can be reached at 985-652-9545 or stephen.hemelt@lobservateur.com.