WhatisFamily

What is Family?

Whatisfamily

When I left home at the age of 22, and headed west, looking for fame and fortune, who I considered my family were my circle of friends. Sure I had my blood relatives back east, but my friends; those who saw me through endless rejection, heartbreak, Lasik surgery and a Bunionectomy, were my family.

I’ve always possessed a non-traditional outlook on family. Perhaps it was my contentious relationship with my brother, or the almost prepubescent ages of my parents when they decided to procreate, or the less than Brady Bunch- like environment that I grew up in. Or maybe, just maybe, it was a case of my internal wiring.

So it was on the first night of Passover, this past Monday night, that these beliefs took center stage, right alongside the Haggadah and lamb shank. I brought my Girlfriend Mom daughter to my parent’s house for Pesach.

I didn’t hesitate, nor did I overthink the decision to invite her. She knows that my invitations come with no pressure or guilt, and so far the system works. It didn’t seem weird or strange to me to ask her. We have a close relationship, and I haven’t stopped being her Girlfriend Mom, even though I’m no longer the girlfriend. I’m not one to get caught up on technicalities.

However, according to my GM daughter, her father thought it was a bit odd. Why? Because he and I aren’t together? Because I was bringing his daughter to my parent’s house, where she’d only been once before? Because it might make others uncomfortable, or unsure of how to act? Bring it. I did this for me, selfishly, pure and simple. One can’t always put the feelings of others ahead of ones own. This is a lesson I’m still learning.

Let’s face it, just like I didn’t know what to do when I became the Girlfriend Mom, I have even less of a clue now that I’m not the girlfriend but still feel the mom part. I feel fairly certain that no one in my family knows what to do with this either. They’re looking to me for guidance, which only means that everyone should buckle up.

On the drive back to my GM daughter’s apartment, I could feel my chin start to quiver and my eyes pool with tears. We had spent over three hours with my parents and extended family, but it was only until I was alone in the car with her, did I feel an overwhelming sense of family, or more specifically, my family, separate from my parents and one that I’d help to create. There was also a profound sadness thinking about our once young family, which was now fractured and uncertain.

My situation is not unique, (okay, it’s a little unique) but it doesn’t make it any less painful. My tears then turned to anger. I was angry that neither her father nor myself openly discussed our situation with the kids and I’m confused as to why we didn’t.

Maybe this isn’t how it’s done. Maybe that only happens in the movies. Maybe things don’t always work out the way you thought that they would. I don’t know. And now it seems irrelevant because we’re all in a different space.

As I took a right turn onto Second Avenue, we talked further about the idea of family and my anger dissipated. I focused on the fact that this young woman came with me to Passover dinner; whether it was a genuine want, out of respect for me, or so she didn’t have to go to work, it didn’t matter. Her actions touched me and it reminded me of how far we had come but also how much I still miss.

In the beginning, I always felt like the outsider, probably because I was. I didn’t feel as if I belonged, and I stood on the fringe of their trio. I would often doubt my position and role. But then one day, my GM daughter called me her GM. And my GM son told me that he missed me (albeit in a text but relished nonetheless) and their father referred to me as the GM. I felt validated. Which is all to say that it made this Passover dinner bittersweet, and not in a bitter herbs-horseradish kind of way, but because I was just getting the hang of the whole Girlfriend Mom-blended-unorthodox family dynamic, and then poof, change.

I’m sorry that my ex-lover thought that having Passover with his daughter was weird but I feel confident that he also applauds my relationship with his daughter, and that he can see the love in the inclusion. Besides, Passover dinner is only a small part of a much bigger picture.

 

 

PhotoCredit: ioffer.com

Bowling with Jason Bateman and Kiefer Sutherland

I was a sophomore film student at NYU when I decided to spend the summer working in Hollywood. I wanted nothing more than to experience a professional shoot. If I was going to have a career in the business of show, then I needed to pop my Hollywood cherry, so to speak.

“It’s who you know,” is a cliche for a reason. I was fortunate to have one of the biggest entertainment lawyers in my family (through marriage) in my stable of limited contacts (I was only 19) and he hooked me up with my first PA job. It was the NBC television movie, Can You Feel Me Dancing?, starring Justine BatemanJason Bateman and Max Gail. It was the story of a young blind woman struggling for her independence. Just like me, minus the blind part. READ MORE 

Loyalty – Is It A Choice?

Photo:perkettprsuasion.com

Photo:perkettprsuasion.com

Is it true that you can only count on yourself in this life? And that people will always disappoint you?

This is such hardline thinking. I don’t want to believe this any more than I want to believe that The Captain and Tenille couldn’t work it out after 39 years of marriage and Muskrat Love. However, lately I’ve been hearing more and more about disloyalty, unfaithfulness and mistrust. Ew, ew and double ew. I’m getting this from friends, acquaintances, lovers and television shows. It feels like an epidemic. Or maybe Mercury is stuck in retrograde. READ MORE HERE.

 

 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Despite The Captain n’ Tenille, Love Will Keep Us Together, Dammit!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

It’s taken me fifteen weeks to write this post. I needed time to figure out how I was going to tell my adoring fans that The Girlfriend Mom is no longer a girlfriend. Well, that’s one way of doing it.

Life is funny. Not funny like watching someone trip over their own feet and then trying to save themselves from face planting. Funny as in curious and ever so surprising. For all of my protestations about not wanting kids, coupled with hesitations about being in a relationship with a divorced father, I now find myself feeling grateful for having the Girlfriend Mom kids in my life. As it turns out, the kids are one of the most beautiful results of my relationship with their father.

My ex-boyfriend (wow, that doesn’t flow fluidly off the keyboard) and I did not have a plan for how we were going to tell the kids, or what we were going to tell them. For my part, I will cop to denial and hoping that dad would take the lead. For his part, I think it was more comfortable for him to simply say that, “we were taking a break,” and let the chips fall where they may. Neither approach dealt with the issue and as a result I felt off balance and alone.

Maintaining a relationship with them was paramount for me, so I forged ahead and started a dialogue independent of their father. After seven and a half years (save a year and a half due to our first breakup) I wasn’t prepared to walk away or fade to black. I didn’t want the kids to feel abandoned. They had already gone through one divorce and I didn’t want to make things difficult or uncomfortable for them. Perhaps it was I who didn’t want to feel abandoned.

I questioned what rights I had as a Girlfriend Mom. What demands could I make on their time? There isn’t a list in a ‘how to’ book on the topic. I debated with myself, and cried. A lot. Everything was falling apart. The life that I had been building for so many years was quickly slipping through my fingers, so I grabbed the kids and held on.

Throughout the relationship, I had many fears and doubts, as evidenced by my many posts. But in the face of those fears and doubts, I planted seeds, I nurtured the relationships and I watched us grow into a pretty high functioning blended family. Not always easy.

I was nervous to reach out to them. Would they care if we stayed in touch? Did they even notice that I was gone? Was I being dramatical? Besides, they had their own lives, friends, school, jobs, and they were still kids.

I had lost their father. I didn’t think that I could’ve handled losing them as well. When I did reach out, their response warmed my soul. I told them that I would always be there for them and that I hoped to always be in their lives.

I was so scared and anxious when I first met the kids. How could I go from childless by choice, to having two small kids in my life? Over the years I saw parts of myself that I never knew existed. Unattractive parts. Who needs that? And yet, something made me want to stay. Something told me to hang on and push through because something wonderful was waiting for me on the other side. Something. Something that looked a lot like love.

The first time I experienced the kind of love that practically rips your heart out of your chest, was when I was leaving for Dubai, two summers ago, to teach Pilates. I bent down to say good-bye to my Girlfriend Mom son, who was dozing off on the couch. He put his little boy hands around my neck and pulled my face down close to his and he cried. I didn’t know that it was possible to feel such pain and love simultaneously.

I had been so worried that we weren’t going to bond, let alone love someone else’s kids. I was never the same after that.

Now what? Is this the next chapter of The Girlfriend Mom- or is it The Ex-Girlfriend Mom now? Ours is not a conventional, traditional, or clear situation. I see challenges ahead, with messy moments thrown in. I also know that no one knows anything about anything, especially about the future. So bring it.

Yesterday I thanked my Girlfriend Mom daughter for allowing me the privilege to experience the joy of having kids in my life. “You’re welcome,” she said. In a million years, I never would’ve dreamed of having that exchange. Isn’t life funny.