Tag Archives: wedding
I’ve now spent a full week with the Boys since the Lovely Man told them about our engagement.
It felt like a long week.
As we expected, they didn’t have a huge amount to say about us getting married. After all, weddings are not usually high on the interest/excitement list for tweenage/pre-teenage boys even in the best of circumstances.
Then, of course, what little they said was well-tinged with ambivalence, and interspersed with plenty of acting out. Again, as expected.
Our goal is to talk about it in a low-key, happy way without forgetting that it’s really a celebration for us, not them.
We try to check in with them, see how and what they are each feeling and address whatever concerns and worries they have.
Plus, while there’s certainly no expectation that the Boys will or should feel at all celebratory, we also don’t want to overplay the whole topic to the point where they start to wonder if us getting married is actually the End Of The World As They Know It.
It’s not an easy balance, and the things that are starting to leak out aren’t necessarily what I would have expected.
For instance, all the Boys mentioned the idea of us having more children. Thankfully, and unlike a number of our less-than-tactful acquaintances, none of them asked whether we were getting married because I was pregnant.
(I’m not. Just saying.)
For instance, Boy C said:
If you were to have boys that would be REALLY COOL but if you have girls then we’ll have to get earmuffs to block out all the squealing!
[That's right, Boy C, because there is certainly no squealing to be heard in a house populated by three boys. Banish the thought!]
At one point, Boy C also draped a (clean) Chux cloth over my head and said:
That’s what you’re going to look like when you get married!
Yeah, thanks. I can’t wait.
Boy B, when asked by the Lovely Man whether he would come to our wedding, said:
Okay, just as long as I don’t have to do anything annoying!
Fear not, Boy B, there will be no embarrassing tuxedos or corny interpretative dance performances or unity candle rituals.
If any of the Boys want to be involved in the ceremony then that’s fine, and they will be given the option in a non-pressuring way just so they know they are welcome, but I couldn’t think of anything worse than pushing reluctant kids to be ring bearers or do a sand ceremony for the sake of demonstrating what a happy little Brady Bunch we are[n't].
Boy A hasn’t had anything specific to say on the W topic, except to ask the Lovely Man whether anything would change about our time with them, and be told, that no, it wouldn’t.
He did have one gem for me, though.
After pretty much ignoring me all week, one morning while the Lovely Man was working and I was trying to orchestrate the school run solo he approached me with an obviously school-issued bit of paper and said:
Boy A: B, I wouldn’t normally let you sign something so important, but this has to be in today and Dad’s not here. Can you do it?
Me: Sure. Pass it over and let me look at it.
So, was it a government-required receipt for exam results, without which he wouldn’t be allowed to proceed to high school? Or perhaps an official authorisation for him to participate in advanced pre-military combat training?
I giggled to realise that this Document Most Imperative was…. an order form for his class commemorative tee-shirt! with payment not required until next year!
Wowwee. I can totally see why he might have hesitated to consign something so important to my questionable authority.
Finally, Boy C has let a couple of things slip that make me think he is a bit uncertain about whether the roles in our household will change.
One night when the Lovely Man got called into work I took the Boys to a model-painting activity at a megalopolis shopping centre on the other side of town as a treat. When I delivered them to the painting area, the supervisor said something inane like:
Oh look, kids. Mum has come along to paint as well!
As previously described, these kinds of comments lead to ructions if they go unaddressed, so I said:
I’m not their mum, actually.
And Boy C chimed in with: What are you then, B?
Me: Well, what do you think of me as, Boy C?
Boy C: I know! An ugly old stinky granny?!
Later, as I drove Boy C home, we talked about how that wasn’t a nice thing to say and that it hurt my feelings. He said he was sorry, but I could tell he was a bit thoughtful, and he still sounded confused.
Me: It sounds like you’re wondering what I am to you, Boy C.
Boy C: Yeah. What are you, again? What about when you and Daddy get married?
Me: Well, I’ll be your stepmum, I guess. But you could also say that I’m your dad’s partner, and call me by my first name like always. Or you could call me [Nickname] like Nephew 1 calls me. You could even say I was your step-[Nickname], if you wanted.
Boy C: Could I say that you’re my step greek salad? Or my step chicken schnitzel? Or my step hyper-baric-roller-rocket? Or my….
[and he went on to generate an enormous stream-of-consciousness list drawn from what we had eaten for dinner, his favourite toys of the moment, things that had happened at school and half a kazillion other sources. NOBODY does stream-of-consciousness nonsense-generation as well as Boy C.]
Me: Absolutely, Boy C. As long as it’s nice, you can call me anything you want.
I know it’s been a while, and I’m not even going to apologise. Nope, not sorry!
The last month or so has been a really important recuperation time; it’s been so vital for me to take a break from stepmummery (or at least from writing about it…) and focus on reweaving the last few fraying threads of my normal self back together.
For those who’ve asked, my visit to Scotland was gorgeous. Short, yes, but filled with the generosity of friends, beautiful landscapes and cities, reconnecting with faraway cousins, exploring the history and the galleries, the parks and the tearooms (and the vintage clothing shops!) of London. I’m a hopeless history/vintage geek, and my much-younger cousin Rhys was enormously patient with my pokings and peerings around important Tudor-era landmarks and through the delights of every stinky vintage boutique in London….
(To be fair, he’s a very cool guy and *may* have enjoyed the vintage shopping even more than me. Clearly, I’m getting old!)
More importantly, I was able to stand beside my dear friend in the emotional lead-up to her wedding, tie what felt like a gazillion trios of ribbons onto napkins, administer spa treatments as required, get lost on the way to Sainsbury’s the day before her wedding and emerge five hours later with more boxes of grissini than three hundred of even the hungriest kilted Scotsmen could manage to devour. I got to be there to soothe her meltdowns and speak on her behalf as her family at her wedding dinner.
All of which turns out to have been unexpectedly good training, because….. the Lovely Man and I have recently gotten engaged and plan to get married late next year sometime! We’re both very happy and excited, and delighted by all the good wishes we’ve received.
I expected very mixed responses to our engagement news from the Boys, but on the first weekend the Lovely Man had the Boys after we became engaged he rang me from their city (it was his extra weekend with them, so I was at home in our main city) before getting on his plane to say that their initial responses were (mostly) fairly positive.
That was the Lovely Man’s take on it, anyway, eternal rose-spectacle-wearing optimist that he is. Reading between the lines I gather that “fairly positive” ranged from excitement and enthusiasm about the idea from Boy C, who is definitely mercurial but generally pitches his emotional tent in the “delighted with life” campground, to kind of neutral-ish pleasedness from Boy B, to less-than-overwhelming-jollity from Boy A.
And fair enough, because why would Boy A be pleased?
One thing I have learned about being in a stepfamily, though, is that initial reactions don’t mean much and it’s always, always a process. I’m sure that more stuff will come up for each of them. Maybe it already has.
I’m not sure whether it’s a Y chromosome thing, but rarely do the Boys display much in the way of fears or concerns about something when they first get information about it. Usually it seems to take a while to simmer their worries or upset to the surface, so we’ll be on the lookout. No doubt the fur will fly at some point.
I have never considered myself any less the Boys’ stepmum because the Lovely Man and I aren’t married, so it doesn’t feel like the “start of a family” or anything with regard to them. In practical terms I don’t imagine anything much will change about the day-to-day life of our household(s).
In non-practical terms, though, beneath all the fussing and planning and the congratulations of our friends and family, beneath the champagne and flowers, we are both simply and utterly overjoyed to be marrying each other.
I’m far, far away for a couple of weeks catching up with my lovely friend S, who is getting married.
It feels very indulgent to head halfway across the world like this; in fact, I owe the chance to wish S well at her wedding to her fiancé, P, who cemented his status as all-round great guy forever by flying me over for the wedding on his points as a wedding present to S.
So that’s three very lucky people right there!
Anyway, until I get back posts are likely to be curtailed or non-existent – I’ll be busy helping S get ready for her big day and also probably won’t have a lot of connectivity.
On our overseas trip earlier this year, the Lovely Man and I met up with some friends, a couple who’ve been together about the same length of time as us, F & G.
Like us, they are a few years apart in age.
The guy, F, works in the same industry as the Lovely Man, so they have a lot in common there.
We all share some interests, but although we’ve been on holiday with them before, I’ve never felt that I knew them very well – they were really nice acquaintances rather than close friends.
When we met up with them this time, I went to give G a hug hello and immediately noticed a stonking great rock on her engagement finger. This thing was MASSIVE – when it glittered in the light I felt like I had been beamed, in a kind of “roo in the headlights” way. But it was very beautiful and tasteful. Exquisite, in fact.
I immediately thought:
Aha! Got an announcement to make then, guys?
And, sure enough, a few minutes of my valiantly trying to avert my gaze into the conversation, they kind of wriggled a bit bashfully and went pink and said:
Oh, and we’ve got some news, by the way. We got engaged!
No shit, Sherlock.
G was obviously a bit self-conscious about her new bling but very happy to relate the story of how F had smuggled the ring into his holiday backpack by completely wrapping it in gaffer tape and telling her it was a piece of work equipment he needed to claim a duty refund on while they were out of the country.
They are lovely people, and I really enjoyed spending time with them. But I couldn’t help thinking, looking at G’s husband-to-be and her happiness, that I wished things could have been so straightforward for me and the Lovely Man.
I never imagined, for instance, that well over two years into our relationship, he would still legally be married to somebody else.
As pleased as I was for my friends, it was all too easy to feel a bit wistful by comparison.
One day, though, the Great Blokey Men went off to do Death-Defying Man Stuff together and so G and I headed out to get lost on the mountain have some adventures ourselves.
We were talking about her relationship with F, as you do, and how happy she was, and how great he was, and how they were thinking of having kids soon, and where they were going to go for their honeymoon… when she totally dropped a bomb.
Haltingly, she told me a story that made me quadruple-take and completely cash in my assumptions about their so-called easy road.
While F may not have kids from a previous relationship, perhaps even more bogglingly, he “co-parents” three dogs with his ex-partner of ten years.
As it all came out – the crazy ex, the way she wanders into their house uninvited, the unscheduled late-night handovers, how she uses the dogs to stay connected to his life, F’s inability to set firm boundaries, the huge amounts of money she guilts out of F for “the dogs”, the way she phones constantly and manufactures dog drama to get attention, the threats to take the dogs away and never let F see them again that paralyse him with fear – all I could think was:
G went on to say how the situation had driven her to the edge of her mind, the constant encroachments and feeling second in her relationship to a trio of spoilt dogs and a vindictive, crazy-making ex eventually landing her in counselling.
She said that her friends and family couldn’t really understand, that they tended to minimise the difficulties of the situation and say totally unhelpful things like:
Can’t you just ignore it?
G even said that she felt terribly guilty at not being able to love these dogs that were so important to F.
Yep, sounds about right.
I guess co-parenting drama is co-parenting drama whether the young ‘uns involved have feathers, fur, fins or feet.
And as much as I love dogs, I can understand G feeling ripped off that despite F not even having kids she is still experiencing the joys of stepfamily life, navigating unbreakable ties formed before she was around and dealing with a trouble-making, boundary-free ex with a penchant for encroachment and manipulation.
At least the Lovely Man’s Boys are worth the dramas. I’d have a VERY hard time if we were going through all that for a trio of naughty, floor-weeing canines.
G was clearly relieved to share her situation with someone who all-too-easily understood the emotional toll it was taking, while I got a timely lesson in the grass not always being quite as green as it looks.
And, incidentally, for the first time I felt like we made an emotional connection that went beyond just doing stuff together.
We’ll be going to their wedding sometime next year. I’ll be looking out for something like this: