Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Eight doors down

Jill: “So, where do you live?”

Makala: “Keller.”

Jill: “That’s a great area! You have kids?”

Makala: “Yes, two stepsons. One is 13 and the other is 10.”

Jill: “Oh, those are fun ages. Are they close by? Where do they live?”

Makala: “Eight doors down from us with their mom and stepdad.”

That is usually when I get the blank stare, deer in headlights look of “are you crazy?” and see the “what do I say next?” run across the other person’s face. I must say, it never gets old no matter how many times it happens.

So, am I crazy? Well, I suppose that is always debatable, but when it comes to where I live I don’t think so. I didn’t know what my future husband would look like or include, but he came with two little boys who were almost 3 and 5 years old when we met and I found myself going from 27 -year-old, single, never-been-married, never-had-kids, career girl to a newlywed, a stepmom, and homeowner in a matter of months.

That was eight years ago. So how did we get here? About four years into our marriage we found ourselves longing for a child of our own but ran into a brick wall in the area of fertility. That entire journey is a blog entry on its own so I’ll save those details for later.

Ultimately, we looked at what we did have in our life rather than what we didn’t. We decided that we had two awesome little boys. The only problem was that they were an hour and a half away and we knew we were missing out on school activities, sporting events and other every day moments. At that moment we decided to make a bold gesture and sit down and have a serious conversation with my husband’s ex-wife, and her husband, about moving to Keller and having a more active role with the boys.

I had always had a good relationship with the boys’ mom and I felt like we could make it all work together to co-parent. So, we put our house on the market and decided to build a house eight doors down. And-it gets even better. The boys’ mom is a real estate agent so not only did she list the house we sold, but she served as our realtor with the one we built.

There you go again with that “are you crazy?" look. I can just see it. Here’s the bottom line. You would be amazed at what you can accomplish when you just grow up and decide to be honest with the people in your life. I think many families who have gone through divorce find themselves in a “he said/she said” scenario and they depend on information that comes through the children because it is just too uncomfortable or too emotional to deal with the ex-spouse. As I always tell people about our situation, we didn’t get there overnight, but we did get there. I also tend to get the “oh, well that’s great for the kids” response a lot. I can tell you, it is great for all of us involved.

So how does it work? This is another question I get. I think people think since we live so close we are constantly seeing each other or hanging out and I can tell you both households are so busy it is just hard to keep track of which weekend is ours sometimes. One of our best opportunities to communicate is at the games in the stands when the kids are involved in sports. These encounters never fail to provide information to each other that we didn’t know or funny things that happened with the boys.

Other than chatting at the games, I think it would be fair to say that the boys’ mom and I are two of the best schedulers you have ever seen in your life. She and I figure out weekends, pick-up at practice, holidays and any other calendar related event. Between the two of us there are many emails and text messages to get it all done. We also have a nice routine with both boys so they each have some quality time with dad. The 13-year-old comes down on Monday nights and the 10-year-old comes over on Wednesday night. This gives each one time to hang out with dad and talk about his new basketball moves or watch the latest episode of “Mythbusters.”

So, hopefully I have left you with a new portrait of family and given you a glimpse of how things can work with open and honest communication (even if that sounds cliché). Until next time!

--Makala Pollard

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