Tuesday 7 February 2012

Happy Birthday to Me! (and Charles Dickens)

It is with a sigh of relief from myself and my collective family and friends that this birthday, after 8 years without, I have ‘someone special’ to spend it with. I have the feeling of “at last my and my kids are where we belong, tucked up safely in a ‘family” unit again.

On the surface, our family looks pretty much like any other family. It appears to be made up of the usual adult couple, caring for children, with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in the background. In fact, to look at me, you wouldn’t know I had been married before the person I am with is not the biological father of my children. There are no fundamental differences between our family and any other family, to us. It is the opinions, whether misguided or otherwise, of others, that makes us distinctive.

Society in general are still obsessed with the fact that most people still believe stepfamilies to be born out of ‘loss’. The loss of a partner and the loss of a parent are powerful obstacles to overcome, but in their wake lies so much happiness if the people involved are able to heal and move on.

No family is an island. Each one is part of a network of  relationships that spreads well beyond the family itself. In the case of a relationship after divorce, this network is slightly bigger and slightly more complicated, but no less a family of loving individuals.

Every family is faced with the task of turning a group of individuals, each with their own personality, past experience, hopes and fears, into something that can truly be called a family. Each will cope in its own way and will find individual solutions to the particular difficulties that emerge. At the same time, it is worth remembering that many of the problems we face is not  from the fact we are in a blended family, but from out own  personal failings.

There is no recipe for success in a second relationship, but there are some ingredients that give it a better chance from the start.  Today, my relationship tastes like birthday cake, and I can’t stop smiling.


Michelle Worthington is the author of The Bedtime Band available at http://www.wombatbooks.com.au/