“I don’t answer the phone. I get the feeling whenever I do that there will be someone on the other end.” (Fred Couples)
The phone call came at the end of the work day Monday afternoon. It was from the ice arena. Our sons, the boys we’d disagreed about and had broken our engagement off over just the night before, had gotten into a public brawl on the ice. Supposedly, his son bumped my son while they were skating and hitting pucks (that’s hockey.) But my son didn’t like that and hit his son. His son hit mine back for hitting him. And then my son took his hockey stick to his son, swung it like a baseball bat and hit his son across the back!
My oldest son witnessed it, ejected my middle son from the ice, and the offender was MAD. He called me, wanted me to pick him up from the ice rink so he wouldn’t have to wait there and watch the other boys having fun. Unfortunately, I work in another city so that wasn’t possible. (I also thought it wouldn’t hurt him to cool off, to sit and watch the other boys having fun on the ice, so I told him we’d talk about it when we got home.)
I hung up the phone and shook my head. WhoEVER would have thought I’d be the mother of a son who got in a brawl, in public? Certainly not me! (Yet here I am, delighting in all kinds of unexpected experiences I’m continually blessed with.)
Then I called #5 and left him a message. ”I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, but there was a physical altercation on the ice today. I’m calm, I’m not upset; I hope you are too. While I don’t know if you have other plans for this evening, I don’t think we can let this go any longer. We need to sit down and talk to the boys, together, tonight.”
It’s funny how life prepares you for…life. How certain things (people, places, events, experiences) can prepare you for other things–even when you don’t realize you’re going to need them. Like how we’d had our disagreement about our boys just the night before. At the time, I’d thought it was a terrible thing–to fight and then break up–yet in reality, it allowed us to work through our issue, separate the issue from us, get it together and present a united front to our children.
When #5 walked into my home that night, he looked at me with a smile and joked, “What would Mike and Carol Brady do?”
There was only one answer to that. I’d learned it from my wise Colorado friend when I mistakenly expected to make my remarriage/blended family situation like The Brady Bunch and it wasn’t working, and I’d thought I was disappointed–until she straightened me out. I shared it with #5. I said, “PLEASE! It doesn’t matter what Mike and Carol would do. We aren’t the Brady Bunch, never will be, and I’m ok with that.” I added, “Mike was gay; Carol was depressed; Greg kissed his step-sister Marcia; Alice couldn’t get her love, Sam-the-meat-man to commit…I don’t want or need to be The Brady Bunch!”
And in that moment I realized, again, I really feel that way. What #5 and I have, with our children, is right for us. It’s actually very, very good. We need to help a couple of our children learn to appreciate each other a little more–however biological siblings sometimes need to work on that, too.
But it was a good opportunity to tell #5 what I DID want: ”If we’re going to be like anyone, I want to be ‘Yours Mine & Ours!’” I exclaimed.
He looked at me strangely, couldn’t figure that one out, I guess, because he asked, “‘Yours Mine & Ours?’ Why that? They had way more kids than we do and besides, I’m not in the armed forces.”
“Yes, I know!” I explained. “But Rene Russo is WAY hotter. If I’m going to be like anyone, let alone any stepmother, let it be her!”
We laughed, went in together and had a great talk with our sons. I have to say, I think that challenge made us better; stronger than ever. The challenges of life, the unexpected life itself, have a way of doing that, you know.
“Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.” (Henry Ward Beecher)