Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Shaken or stirred?

After reading about Anne Burt's new book, My Father Married Your Mother, I ordered it from Amazon. It was on the porch step today when I got home from work. I read the introduction and already I am encouraged. Despite the book description on Amazon, which says that Burt is exploding the "myth of the perfect nuclear family," Burt says in the introduction that she is exploding the myth of the perfect blended family. She's battling Carol Brady, not June Cleaver. As a divorced mom marrying a divorced dad, she came to realize that their family would be more of a mix, not a perfect blend. Her book, she says, came from a desire to bring a dose of honesty and realism to relationships that everyone wanted to dance around and pretend were perfect and lovely. She says:

"According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of the prefix 'step' comes from the Anglo-Saxon 'steop.' It means 'bereaved.' Of course, I thought: I wasn't about to become a stepmother because I would 'step' in to parent Delayna, nor would I be a 'step' removed from her. The archival meaning of the word 'stepmother' addressed the grief inherent in our situation: why, then, didn't any of the books? I had found the Evil Stepmother at last, only to discover that she had been buried under mountains of sunny advice on the blended family and finger pointing at the nature of divorce."

The thing about blending families is that it doesn't happen all at once. The perspective is always different when you're the one who has fallen in love than when you're the one who is, in some way, standing on the sidelines. For those in love, the blend has already occurred; they are, assuming marriage is part of that equation, in the process of becoming one flesh, the most blended kind of relationship God created. That's part of the beauty about the 'in love' part. The rest of us have to grow to love that person. This isn't a contrived or less holy thing, but it is usually a slower process. Maybe it's just too darn hot today, but the phrase that comes to mind is the latest ice cream catch phrase: slow churned. I like it. Now, excuse me while I make a trip to Safeway...

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