By Michael Willard
A blended family cocktail should be stirred gently not shaken.
I have what is referred to by Dr. Phil and other TV psychoanalysts as a blended family. Mine is to the third power by calamity, choice and — for a non-religious soul — grace.
Yes, I have approached the marriage gates — which included a priest, a county clerk and a robed judge — with eagerness following much history, happiness, heartache and hope.
It’s complicated. So don’t ask.
But I do consider myself more fortunate than a US president who has a similar marital history. My misfortune and recklessness have been followed by good fortune and great kids.
Needless to say, I am obviously the marrying kind, having been so joined, most often officially, for 50 plus years. I’ve approached the start and re-starting line with eyes wide-open, mouth agape.
In other words, I have no regrets, and, if I did, like a song I once wrote, “I’d hang them in a tree where the Spanish moss is flowing and whispering to me.”
It goes on, predictably: “Regrets are nothing more than memories left behind, some of them are worth it. Some of them unkind, but there is nothing you can do to cancel half a line…”
But, when it comes to “Extra Wives” a term I appropriated as a title for my last novel from an off-hand published comment by singer Willie Nelson, I am not a fan of the word “blended family.”
Coffee and Sam’s Club-branded cheap whiskey are blended — not families. Coming from different marriages, the dynamics must be handled with care. It is a high-wire act, and for sure there is a learning curve.
Studies suggest that 60 to 70 per cent of re-marriages with accompanying children end in another divorce. That’s about 20 per cent higher than the general divorce rate.
This brings up a sensitive subject.
I am also not that interested in the ancestral DNA of the various branches of my family. I am more interested in whether my Florida Gators and James Madison University (where my grandson plays football) will have great seasons.
However, I love all my relatives, even those (particular those) on the wrong side of my liberal politics. But I don’t give a fig whether there was a horse thief or a Grand Duchy of Tuscany in the Willard-Earick linage.
There is a reason for this.
It comes from having five children from three great moms, with three offspring adopted. I have shared with their moms much of their development. It is a rewarding, enduring and life-long assignment.
The adopted children came into my sphere at two, four, and five years of age, and now they are early 40s, 28 and 18.
To fully embrace a DNA investigation, in my view, carries with it the possibility that some among my tribe might, in some way, feel that not being a blood connection gives reduced rank.
It doesn’t, of course.
While it is a cliche’ often uttered in similar families, I really don’t make a distinction between children adopted and those who are not. If I ever did, I would be so unworthy of them.
The only way I know how to love children is flat out, with blinders on and dispensing advice as carefully as possible for an older guy. I learn a lot more from them than they from me.
Once l was lecturing my son about ambition. “I’m not you dad,” he said, and that one line of wisdom took hold like crazy glue.
For the record, my son Rob is African-American/Hispanic. One daughter is Ukrainian/American (Mia) and two daughters (Masha and Valya) are Ukrainian. My oldest daughter is a forever all-American Princess Grace, though her first name is Kelly.
Given the unlikely chance I have some obscure royalty coursing through my veins, it is not something that floats my boat, though I am, indeed, the curious sort about most anything under the sun.
Just not this. It simply is not relevant to my being a papa.
(Willard oil painting: Passages and Pathways)