The boys were seven and nine, precocious and adorable, and wanted to test me. My first meeting was at the Old Country Buffet on route 9 in OldBridge, a place I would never go to myself. As we stood outside, Andrew turned to me and said,”want to see something?” Of course I replied and we ran around to the side of the building. There in all its big glory was a very large web, attached to a water meter and the stucco building foundation housing a very large black spider. “Check this out,” he squealed with glee. I’m sure they both thought I would scream and run, little did they know that as a woman who lived alone for 10 years, I had seen and dealt with my share of spiders! No scream from me, just a “wow, check out how big he is!!” Test passed! I wasn’t a girlie girl scared of bugs.
I do think that helped win them over a bit! As the months went on we built a good relationship, which has outlived the marriage to their dad. I knew when the marriage ended I wanted to try to keep some relationship with them knowing full well it really wasn’t up to me. They had to want it, as did their mom. Lucky me, everyone did!
Rocky at times in the beginning because of some of my foolishness and emotion when dealing with the ex and social media, their mom was gracious enough to let me continue a relationship with them. And In doing so, building a friendship with her and her family that has continued to grow. Now we have great laughs together and help each other when we need support.
That little 7 year old who wanted to see me bug out to a spider, was now graduating from college! And I here I am in Florida to celebrate this accomplishment with him and as part of the family. Both of these young boys have grown in to fine young men, with conviction and direction. They are smart, personable, fearless and family oriented. Mom and their “dad” have done a great job. “There are no steps in this family,” was a line I heard their mom use this weekend. Their step-dad has been their dad, they call him dad and they should. He has provided for them, guided them and shown them what commitment to their mom looks like. He has also given them a family.
I look forward to these events as an opportunity to spend time with all. Their Uncle and I have a great time together, with a lot of laughs no matter when we get together. In fact, although the events of the van ride to and from the graduation would not translate well to written word, suffice it to say, there were a lot of laughs! Especially as we tried to go through the Wendy’s drive through as kids were hungry and ended up giving the woman at the window a tip because she had to put up with us. We had one driver and at least 2 backseat drivers, we had loud voices and multiple conversations and some who tried to be in all of them!
I sometimes refer to them as my boys even though I know they are not. I am so blessed with the relationship that I have with them and the fact that they want one with me. Both, as I was leaving, talked about coming to New Jersey to visit. And we all talked about a vacation together.
Family is not always blood, and blood is not always family, This family includes me in major events and stays connected, we have each other’s back. Family is about mutual respect, enjoying each other’s company, helping to build each other up and be there when we are down. All relationships are complicated and take work to maintain. All relationships need watering, sunshine, positive encouragement and consistency to grow. We have been blessed with giving each other all of it and more,
Family is not always blood. It is love.