Meeting the kids...
"I have 3 boys and they love basketball. I don't get along with their mother and I've been married twice. They have also met several other women in my life because I haven't had the best few years myself. I also don't see them often or talk to them as much as I should.....but I would really like you to meet them."
That is the breakdown of what he said to me when the time came to make THAT decision. My boyfriend (now husband) wanted to move forward with meeting his kids and that was the bulk of information I had. About his children, and their biological mother, and their overall situation.
I didn't exactly grab my Sundays best and rush to pick a date. I hesitated numerous times. I even said no.
Did I even have the right to be meeting another woman's kids? Am I supposed to make sure she is okay with that first? Where is the handbook for this part? Do I bring my kids too? How the hell does this work?!?
When I met my second (now current) husband, I had NO IDEA what I was doing walking into a home full of different personalities, communication issues, and teenagers! But I knew I had to meet 3 boys who were used to meeting other women, who loved basketball (a sport I knew nothing about!), and who didn't have the closest or most consistent relationship with their father at that time. Something he struggled with but never really knew how to change so at times, it felt like he was just in limbo as a father. Basically the polar opposite of the life I had at home with my children. Something I had trouble relating to but I empathized with incredibly.
However. I. Was. Terrified.
I think the night I met 2 of the 3 boys for the first time I felt more nauseous than I had ever felt in my life. Worse than a first date, worse than pregnancy illness, worse than the bug.
"Am I wearing the right clothes?"
"Should I talk about things I like or just ask them about things THEY like?"
"What if they think I'm a joke?"
"What if they don't say two words to me?"
"What if they are really, really awesome but I have nothing in common with them?"
The list went on and on. I knew nothing about basketball. I knew nothing about teenagers. I had never been with anyone who had such a lengthy and toxic past. I was quiet. I was drama-free and barely finding my own backbone still at this point in my life.
We went to dinner - a large, well known place that his kids loved. His youngest was a breeze. He talked to me like it was nothing. His oldest was kind, and talkative, and definitely seemed to enjoy that he was spending time with his father. So I thought, "OK, the relationship here can't be too disconnected."
The oldest called his dad "Pops" and they talked about sports. He and his brother ordered the weirdest thing I had ever heard of (a peanut butter and jelly burger!) and talked about how it was their favorite item on the menu everytime they came. They told some stories and laughed.
I felt my discomfort ease a bit but I still felt like I didn't know what to say. I listened mostly. I knew my husband had a past so I couldn't help but feel like the dinner wasn't that serious to them.
They were wonderful kids- my very first thought when we sat down. But the back of my mind was saying this was probably just another chick dad was bringing around for awhile and this was all normal for them.
No need to get into much or get to know her too well.
And then I worried- what if I am right? What if I shouldn't have met these amazing kids and had a great time getting to know them because I AM just the next woman? What if I just opened my heart to the possibility of welcoming these children but it's not really going to happen?
But there was one thing that mattered more to me than anything I was worrying about or fearing. And that was the fact that my gut had it's own feeling. My instinct took control and told me, "this is right - you are supposed to be here! Knock it off."
As a mother, you learn that your gut and your instinct tend to work much harder and much stronger than your brain sometimes. And mine has never, ever steered me wrong. I was madly in love with this man. I was excited about the possibility of having a large family again. I was happy that I was with someone who understood what it was like to be a parent - that your kids have to come first and dating can sometime suck when things happen or things come up. A family man. A hard working man who loved his kids more than anything in the world but had given up on the chance to really show them.
I had to trust my gut. I had to trust my heart.
My decision to dive in and meet the kids was based on my gut. Instinct. My gut said that the man who had shown up on my doorstep demanding a date with me just a couple short months ago (a whole other story) was the man I was supposed to move forward with. The man I was meant to live a life with again. And that was not going to happen without the whole puzzle.
Me. Him. And all of our boys included.
So - I am now a Lakers fan and basketball is a huge part of MY life these days too! Once I was in, I was ALL in.
My husbands relationship with his boys is thriving like never before and we all talk regularly. We see his children on a regular basis and they actually CARE about blending with my own 2 boys. Although they are like water and oil when it comes to their passions and personalities, I can tell they enjoy each other and I'm comforted thinking their relationships may all continue to thrive through the years..
I love my bonus children like my own and I can't imagine what life would be like without them now. What would have happened if I had made the decision to run from that next step?
These boys have taught me more than they will ever know about love and family and LIFE and there are days I'd like to think they feel the same way about me. That I have taught them something - anything - about life, love, and family from a different perspective.
So if you fall in love again and you have the opportunity to start over, or rebuild, or just TRY, never be afraid to trust your gut. It might not only be what's right for YOU - it could be what's right for EVERYONE in the end.