Although divorce drove the boys’s biological father out of our lives, there has never been an effort to drive out their paternal grandparents. Mike and I have had an amicable relationship with Michelle’s ex-in-laws, referred to respectfully as outlaws for simplicity. The ex’s parents lived over 1200 miles away. Initially they visited yearly to see the boys, one time spending a long weekend house-sitting for us when we attended an out-of-town wedding. After moving farther away, they ended the visits but continued to send gifts and communicate with the boys via technology
The backstory of this marriage and divorce is complicated, as I suppose most of those stories are. We met the outlaws when Michelle and their son were engaged, busy with wedding planning. They are a lovely couple. Unfortunately, their son had a mental health issue that would break up the family. Following an initial period of blaming the wife, the outlaws took their son back into their home and lived with the reality of bipolar disease, dissipating their blame of their ex-daughter-in-law.
Next week the boys will spend a week in their paternal grandparents’s home. They will reconnect with a cousin with whom they were close as young children. I’m guessing that Grandmother Nana is thinking of it as a last chance before the older grandchildren head to college or other parts.
But this is actually what is on my mind: the boys are quirky. Okay? First, they are teen-age boys with periods of surliness, mumbling, and impatience. Second, Blue Boy is a confessed geek and Mowgli struggles with ADD. I love their individuality. But years of living with them and witnessing the range of their behaviors daily gives me a full picture. I can forgive the irritations and bask in the morsels of delight. I am concerned that Nana and Papa may be expecting a story-book reunion with neatly dressed, articulate, sitcom teenagers eager to do whatever Nana and Papa suggest. I want the boys to feel unconditional love when they are with family. I want Nana and Papa to love them even when they are unlovable.
It would be easier for us if, when their father left, the outlaws had disappeared. But I would never deprive them of the rewards we have had. The boys carry the genes of their father’s family and deserve to know what those genes represent. Their father’s family deserves to know its progeny.
I am trusting Nana and Papa to understand the idiosyncrasies of teenagers rewarding everyone with special memories. If things go poorly, we will be waiting here at home with healing unconditional love.