There are some moments that are more challenging for stepfamilies than for first families. We recently had one of those moments.
Our 12-year old son received a letter from the middle school inviting him (and his parents) to a special breakfast. It turns out that the teachers at the school had been given the opportunity to nominate students who had exhibited outstanding character. Landon was going to be honored for showing empathy. So, we put the breakfast on the family calendar and looked forward to celebrating with Landon.
The morning arrive. Landon, his dad and I headed to the school for the honors breakfast. When we got to the parking lot, we connected with Landon’s mom who had also come for the breakfast. This was no big deal for any of us. After several years, we are used to seeing each other at kid events. In fact, we all sat together at the breakfast, and though moderately awkward, this again is nothing new.
The tricky part came during the event itself. The principal stood up and gave a lovely speech. She talked about how the students who were being honored were thought leaders and then she said that they no doubt got their character traits from their parents. So, she asked each student to stand and introduce himself, to introduce his parents and to speak about the values he has learned from his parents. At that moment, my heart and stomach sank. I can only imagine how Logan felt. What was he going to say? Who was he going to introduce as his parents? I mentally prepared myself, trying to thicken my skin as I was fairly certain that he was going to introduce his mom and dad, leaving me to feel a bit out of place.
Student after student took a turn at the mic. Some of them spoke eloquently about how a parent had shown unconditional love or stayed up late at night helping the student finish a project. There were only two students left. Landon finally took his turn. He cleared his throat and launched into his remarks. “I brought all of my parents today – my mom, my dad and my stepmom and they…help me with stuff.”
That was it. It was short and not overly wrought with emotion, but it was painless – at least on my end. He handled it very well. I suspect it was awkward for him, but no one else in the room seemed to think it the least bit odd. With six kids, I suspect we will have many more such opportunities, but at least on this occasion we all survived unscathed.