It’s Sunday afternoon, a few hours before the Super Bowl. The house is a flurry of activity. My mother is cooking, her boyfriend is bringing in groceries, my younger sister is cleaning the living room, and I’m trying to get dressed at the last minute.
“Try to hurry, guys,” my mom says. “They’ll be here at 4:15.”
A little after 4:30, our guests come in, bringing more food and drinks. It’s my father and my stepmom, stopping to hug everyone before setting down trays of barbecue and deviled eggs.
They discuss my oldest stepbrother, who is coming home from deployment for the summer. Dad goes for a quick test drive with my mom’s boyfriend in his new truck while my mom and stepmom discuss our upcoming beach trip. Yes, all of us will be going on this trip together.
Some people may find this scene extremely odd, but to me, it’s just another weekend. Sometimes it happens during the week, too; my stepmom will occasionally drop by my mother’s house with a bottle of wine and some movies, and that’s how they’ll spend the evening, drinking and laughing and chatting about each other’s family and friends.
How did this happen? How is it that my mom and stepmom (and my dad and my mom’s boyfriend) are all such close friends? Did they have some sort of secret club meeting a few years ago where they promised to all get along?
To be honest, I don’t really know.
It was definitely awkward at first. Although my parents’ divorce was a lot more civil than most – something for which I am extremely grateful – the transition was still a weird one. I had to learn how to manage my time, make plans, and keep track of my stuff, not to mention help my sister with most of those things as well.
I’m grateful for all the parental figures in my life because all of them decided that whatever conflicts they had with each other weren’t worth causing the kids any stress. It does help that all four of my “parents” have been married before, and all have children that are teenagers or older by now.
Granted, this family does still butt heads from time to time. My stepmother has spent most of her life in either New York or Florida, which gives her a very different perspective from my parents and my mother’s boyfriend, who have lived in small-town North Carolina for most of their lives. While it’s always great to have a variety of opinions, sometimes this means conflicting advice, either for the kids or each other.
However, in the grand scheme of things, I realize that I’ve got it a lot easier than most kids. As much as my family (or anyone else) talks about how abnormal we are, I know that this is a harmless sort of dysfunction, a social quirk that only makes us stronger as a family unit, rather than causing anyone distress.
So anytime I tell people about my mom and stepmom having lunch together, I laugh at their confused looks. I have the most unusual family they’ve ever heard of, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.