When I left home at the age of 22, and headed west, looking for fame and fortune, who I considered my family were my circle of friends. Sure I had my blood relatives back east, but my friends; those who saw me through endless rejection, heartbreak, Lasik surgery and a Bunionectomy, were my family.
I've always possessed a non-traditional outlook on family. Perhaps it was my contentious relationship with my brother, or the almost prepubescent ages of my parents when they decided to procreate, or the less than Brady Bunch-like environment that I grew up in. Or maybe, just maybe, it was a case of my internal wiring.
So it was on the first night of Passover, this past Monday night, that these beliefs took center stage, right alongside the Haggadah and lamb shank. I brought my Girlfriend Mom daughter to my parent's house for Pesach.
I didn't hesitate, nor did I overthink the decision to invite her. She knows that my invitations come with no pressure or guilt, and so far the system works. It didn't seem weird or strange to me to ask her. We have a close relationship, and I haven't stopped being her Girlfriend Mom, even though I'm no longer the girlfriend. I'm not one to get caught up on technicalities.
However, according to my GM daughter, her father thought it was a bit odd. Why? Because he and I aren't together? Because I was bringing his daughter to my parent's house, where she'd only been once before? Because it might make others uncomfortable, or unsure of how to act? Bring it. I did this for me, selfishly, pure and simple. One can't always put the feelings of others ahead of ones own. This is a lesson I'm still learning.
Let's face it, just like I didn't know what to do when I became the Girlfriend Mom, I have even less of a clue now that I'm not the girlfriend but still feel the mom part. I feel fairly certain that no one in my family knows what to do with this either. They're looking to me for guidance, which only means that everyone should buckle up.
On the drive back to my GM daughter's apartment, I could feel my chin start to quiver and my eyes pool with tears. We had spent over three hours with my parents and extended family, but it was only until I was alone in the car with her, did I feel an overwhelming sense of family, or more specifically, my family, separate from my parents and one that I'd help to create. There was also a profound sadness thinking about our once young family, which was now fractured and uncertain.
My situation is not unique, (okay, it's a little unique) but it doesn't make it any less painful. My tears then turned to anger. I was angry that neither her father nor myself openly discussed our situation with the kids and I'm confused as to why we didn't.
Maybe this isn't how it's done. Maybe that only happens in the movies. Maybe things don't always work out the way you thought that they would. I don't know. And now it seems irrelevant because we're all in a different space.
As I took a right turn onto Second Avenue, we talked further about the idea of family and my anger dissipated. I focused on the fact that this young woman came with me to Passover dinner; whether it was a genuine want, out of respect for me, or so she didn't have to go to work, it didn't matter. Her actions touched me and it reminded me of how far we had come but also how much I still miss.
In the beginning, I always felt like the outsider, probably because I was. I didn't feel as if I belonged, and I stood on the fringe of their trio. I would often doubt my position and role. But then one day, my GM daughter called me her GM. And my GM son told me that he missed me (albeit in a text but relished nonetheless) and their father referred to me as the GM. I felt validated. Which is all to say that it made this Passover dinner bittersweet, and not in a bitter herbs-horseradish kind of way, but because I was just getting the hang of the whole Girlfriend Mom-blended-unorthodox family dynamic, and then poof, change.
I'm sorry that my ex-lover thought that having Passover with his daughter was weird but I feel confident that he also applauds my relationship with his daughter, and that he can see the love in the inclusion. Besides, Passover dinner is only a small part of a much bigger picture.