Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The One Who Had Two

Remember back in grade school when you learned about geneaology, and you were assigned the inevitable Family Tree Project? Mine was pretty pathetic. I could list my grandparents and great-grandparents on my mom's side, and just my grandparents on my bio-dad's side. And I was not artistic. And I had no idea how family tree charts were supposed to look. And I did not have those hovering parents who cannot bear for their child to represent them badly by turning in less-than-stellar homework and so they do projects FOR their children. (Thank God.)

So picture a mostly white posterboard with a sad, tiny chart in the middle that looked more like one of those brainstorming maps with random bubbles and lines than anything having to do with family trees. That was mine. And I clearly remember how embarrassing it was to have to present it to the class after seeing all of the other, clearly parentally-enhanced posterboards that my classmates had brought in. Especially that boy - who, by the way, readily admitted his father "helped" (read: did it for him) - whose posterboard was completely filled up with a perfect grid of circles and squares and tiny block lettering identifying the gender, name, and relationships of his entire family, including cousins, going back six generations. Jeez.

I dread the day that my daughters are assigned this particular project.

Not just because I don't know any more about the previous generations of my family than I did back in 5th grade. Or because I have a bad feeling that my Magilla Gorilla-sized need for approval will cause me to turn into one of those awful hovering parents, helicoptoring around watching my child struggle and then grabbing the pencil out of her tiny hand and saying, "Let Mommy try for a minute." **shudders**

You see, my daughters' family tree is going to have to be a little... branchy. Because my husband made a couple of branches before he made some with me. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. Millions of people are living that reality. It's just that I hate the way it sounds when I try to explain it to people. People who keep the smile on their faces but let their eyes get all judgy.

"Well, we have two daughters, and then Michael has a daughter with his ex-wife, and then he also has a son with another ex. And his son has a half-sister and now his ex-wife is having another baby this summer." With her boyfriend, not my husband. Just in case your mind went there.

So in the world of halves and wholes, my daughters are full-blooded sisters. Then they have a half-sister and half-brother. Then their half-siblings have other siblings that they are not related to at all. So in theory, because my stepdaughter's brother (when he's born) will not be related to Scarlett and Sosie, but they will probably see him a lot (because our families are friends, and with visitation drop-offs and birthday parties and whatnot) it is entirely possible that one of them could date or even marry their sister's brother. Weeeiirrrrrd. I don't even want to think about what that family tree would look like. I might have nightmares.

One day, I can't really remember how it came up, but my husband and I were talking about how he's kind of a man-slut. And we were saying how I was "special" because I broke his pattern of caveman-style procreation. Because back in the old days, it made better evolutionary sense for a male to spread his genes around, and have as many children with as many different women as he possibly could. But I digress.

So he says to me that I should get an award. Or maybe I said that. I don't remember. But then he says - and it was definitely him - that my award could be inscribed, "The One Who Had Two." Yeesh. If you're laughing, are you doing that combination groan-laugh that you make when you think something is both funny and terrible, and maybe you shouldn't be laughing at it but you are? Yeah. That's how I laughed, too.

But, honestly? It does make me feel special. My husband is the absolute best guy for me, and I couldn't be prouder of our two little branches. Maybe I'll make myself a T-shirt. The One Who Had Two. It could be a riot at family reunions.

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