Sunday, July 4, 2010

Being a Family

It's been 8 years since my ex and I split up. Life has gotten better over time and now that I'm with Brad, I have discovered real happiness. Probably the first time in my life, I'm happy because Brad and I have a solid relationship. But if I have any regrets at all, it's the decision I made to leave the boys with my ex.

My life with my husband, the life I thought I wanted and had worked so hard to have, was unraveling. I was in a pretty deep depression when we split up. I thought about what I should do about the kids but I felt incapable of properly caring for my children emotionally. I know that leaving the kids with their dad was the right decision at that time in my life. It was only a year or so after I left before Moon Unit was living with me again, but that doesn't mean that I don't regret that decision every single day of my life.

They were at our house most of last week and while they were doing a lot of bickering and fussing and hitting each other, there's something about having them here longer than a weekend that makes me feel like a parent again. By that, I don't mean that I haven't felt like a parent to Moon Unit, although she hasn't responded well over the years to being parented. But having us all together, the boys, Moon Unit, Brad, and me, I feel like we're a family. I feel like we're more of a family when we're all together. To me, this is what I think a family should feel like.

We played some board games a few nights in a row. We even got Moon Unit involved, and it's a lot more fun when she is involved because she is clever and has a wicked sense of humor. Brad is too cool for board games, though, so he wasn't playing. We play Wacky Words and Imaginiff, which are hilarious games. Some of the stuff we come up with for Wacky Words has us laughing for days, and even weeks, on end. We also painted the hallway, went out for pizza for Dweezil's birthday, and went to see Toy Story 3 together.

I started to wonder last night what kind of parent I was when I let Moon Unit play Grand Theft Auto, but she is 19 and if you know anything at all about that game, there's a heck of a lot of humor in it. Moon Unit is particularly funny when playing games like this because she deliberately goes overboard with some of the violence in such a way that you can't help but laugh at what's going on. For instance, she kept choosing to have her character steal a scooter because she would run it into something and he would go flying into the road. I suppose if you're going to be overly serious about the game, it might not be that funny to you, but we find the humor in most things and we were all laughing our heads off. She gets a bit giddy with these things and it's just fun to watch her and laugh. Then of course, Dweezil picks up the game and is having fun with it, too. And I go, "Hmm, should I be letting him do this?" But to me, the best part of being a family is not about being a hard-ass about everything, getting down on your kids, telling them all the things they can't do. Sometimes you have to do that, of course. Sometimes you have to tell them how things are and discipline when rules are broken. But the best part is creating a loving, happy environment for them, being there for them whenever you can, and creating happy memories.

I love sitting around the dinner table with them and cracking jokes and having burping contests with Frank. I love being able to make them laugh with stuff that's just off the wall. I like the fact that when they come to our house, even if they still haven't figured out that being with us is better than being at home with their dad who yells at them all the time, they can still have a good time with us and feel loved and accepted for who they are and not get judged or yelled at, that maybe they can be inappropriate some times with the things they say or do something that maybe somewhat inappropriate for them to be doing and not get in trouble for it. Maybe I'm a little too liberal with them but their happiness is of the utmost importance to me. I want them to feel like our home is a happy home, a place where they can go and know they are loved and the world is an okay place.

Should I have been letting them play GTA? Technically, probably not. But I look at our interactions with each other and I like, for the most part, how we are with each other. I sit at the table or the sofa and watch our interactions with each other, when we're laughing and laughing and everyone is feeling good, and I think, "This is going to be so good for K. She's really going to enjoy this family." Because I enjoy this family and I wish for all the world that we were together all the time.


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