When you marry a man who already has children, you certainly understand that you won’t have a traditional family. You know that he comes with children and that by marrying him you are also accepting the role of stepmom. And believe it or not, you are also adding his ex to your family. No matter what your situation is, as long as you are sharing the parenting of the kids, you are intricately tied to the woman who was once his wife and continues to be the kids’ mom.
It wasn’t long into our marriage when I realized that. We are tied to the kids’ mom through finances and scheduling and joint events and even strange traditions, but we have had news recently that let me know there is one more way that we are inextricably linked. This month the kids’ mom learned she has a rare form of cancer. This news has come as a terrible shock to all of us. Things right now are scary and uncertain and just plain rotten.
I feel bad for her as her body seems to be betraying her and she is so scared of what lies ahead. There is treatment, but even the treatment seems rotten. Her days seem to be filled with medical tests and results and thus far not much of the news seems cheerful.
I feel sick for the kids – each of whom seems to be coping with the news in very different ways. I am certain they are worried for their mom and for themselves. I suspect it is terribly frightening for a kid to learn a parent has cancer and for the young ones to not fully understand what chemotherapy might do to their mom.
I am also a bit concerned for us. What could this mean for our future? Should we cancel our summer trip with the kids in case we need to be more local? What role can/should we be playing? What is my husband’s role in his ex-wife’s treatment and recovery? The kids’ mom was often a pretty big presence in our house even before this diagnosis. Now it seems like there is a dark pallor of fear and sadness cast over both houses.
Having five bonus kids half the week is a pretty challenging gig, and I am not sure I do it all that well, but I am certain that it is easier than having five bonus kids all week. So, I am very invested in her beating this.
So for now, I am asking for prayers for our whole family – for my husband, for our kids and for my husband’s ex. I knew we were linked via finances and schedules, but I never realized how we were linked in sickness and in health. We are tied together in so many strange and unusual ways, and that has never been clearer than these past couple of weeks.