You know the cute About Me piece teachers ask students to write in the first week of school? As a school teacher I can assure you this is a wonderful teaching tool to get to know your students better. As a blended parent – they are a nightmare.
Quite a few years ago I was cleaning out the school bag of one my kids. It was about day three of a new school year and I found this About Me. I remember standing in the kitchen reading the innocent prose;
dear mrs Perry,
on october the tenth i was born, one year later my sister came along. Next mum and dad got a divorse feelling they were not right together. not long after that mum met steve, well, let’s just say the same thing happened to him. he had one son allready, his name was xan, they quikly got engaged.
as all that was happining on that side of the family dad got himself a girlfriend and a pregnancy and a flood didn’t help. in the end it all worked out well. dad’s girlfriend had a baby and we got a new farm. it wasn’t good selling our old farm. but as a twist mum also had a baby four days after dad had his baby. my big sister also had a baby. in one month I got one brother one sister and a nephew.
When did I turn my kids lives in to a bad daytime soap opera? How did this happen to us?
I doubled over trying to catch my breath. I re-read the letter.
Yep – still bad.
The teacher is either going to think this is a work of fiction or we are from the spin-off sitcom Swamp People Gone Wild.
It was time for damage control.
I made a plan. I will go and see the teacher in the morning and clear all this up. Surely it just looks bad when you condense a small persons whole life onto one A4 sheet of paper? I’m sure once she meets me she will understand we are totally normal.
Now I am a fairly casual sort of person. If not at work I am most comfy in my sneakers and hair pulled back into a ponytail. I have coffee with my girlfriends every Friday morning (also known as a free weekly debrief-counseling-sanity session) and I am not shy of showing up in my baseball cap if I can’t be bothered with my appearance.
It just happened to be a Friday that I headed off to meet the new teacher.
All went well. She was, of course, very understanding and told me “We don’t judge – there is no normal family these days”. Ok, maybe she wasn’t expecting me to show up in my moccies sporting a ciggie-pack-tucked-under-the-sleeve-of-my-bonds-shirt look after all.
Later that day I arrived at coffee. Immediately the girls picked up on the strange and unusual appearance of make-up and respectable clothes.
“Where are you off to today?” they asked.
“Hmmm,” the girls eyed me suspiciously.
Later in our coffee date I recounted the About Me story and my visit to the teacher. The girls ended up rolling around in laughter.
“Ah ha – that’s why you’re dressed up today!”
OMG – they’re right. I had subconsciously gotten out of bed that morning and dressed to impress.
Kudos to the teacher. She said we don’t judge. But maybe we all do – just a little – depending on our own internal stories. It was me, not her, that was passing judgment of my family based on my past experiences of what I thought a normal family was.
Now to be fair, I grew up with a mum, dad and two brothers – your everyday run-of-the-mill style nuclear family. This was my normal. Other people could have crazy looking Days of Our Lives style families – but not me. I was going to get married, stay married and have three children.
It was not to be.
My divorce has taught me many things. It was life’s way of giving me a good kick in the arse. Up until that point I had not really stuffed anything up – not anything major anyway. I had the sun-shiny view that if you wanted something bad enough you just had to work hard and, hey presto – everything works out in the end.
But my first marriage didn’t work out in the end – no matter how hard I worked at it. I had to surrender and accept that I am going to stuff things up. I had to accept that my family would no longer match my preconceived, somewhat narrow, view of a normal family.
My eldest two children now have five siblings – one older half-sibling, one full sibling, one step sibling and two younger half-siblings (four days apart) – plus one nephew. That is not normal – unless of course you are Ridge and Brook Forrester. Then it is totally acceptable.
But it is our normal.
It’s been a few years since the About Me incident. We have all come a long way. I have learned that I don’t necessarily agree with Mrs Perry. I think there is such a thing as a normal family.
Because what can be more normal than a family who loves together, fights together, laughs together and sticks together?
So, even if on paper we look like a Bold & The Beautiful episode gone wrong – I think our little family is the very definition of normal.
Blend it your way,
Surely I am not the only one who has a Bold and the Beautiful looking family? Please comment or come chat with me at Booken Blend on Facebook.