I have never been married or have children. I have always intended to do it the traditional way – get married first and then have children. I didn’t expect to meet and fall in love with someone who already had children – and three boys at that!
I grew up as the eldest of three sisters so while I had some experience dealing with girls (my sisters are 6 and 15 years younger than me), I have very little experience dealing with little boys. Also they were being raised in a society completely different from where my sisters and I were raised. To give you an example, we were told strictly that dating was bad bad bad, no exceptions. You are expected to marry a suitable guy, that your parents ‘help’ you pick, when you are of age. Not that that kept us from dating – we just had to be discrete. In the meantime, my neighbor’s daughter,Amelia, is almost 13 and her mom was telling us how she was beginning to be interested in boys. My sister in law was present during the conversation and her eyes almost popped out of her head as she asked, “And you will let her ?!” “Let her what?” my neighbor asked, clearly perplexed. “Let her date?!” “Erm…yes eventually.” She probably thought my sis-in-law was questioning the girl’s young age but only I knew the true cause of her shock.
I know quite a bit about American culture – I’ve lived here long enough! There are things I like and things I don’t like. But knowing and living it are different. Although I live thousands of miles away from home, I am close to my family and have family around me so most of the time, even though I am in the US, I live a very Bengali lifestyle. This made me fearful of how the boys would interpret my interaction with them. I am perfectly comfortable and happy with Gary, never felt the need to be anything but myself (and the differences often make the relationship more interesting ). I knew he has kids and I was perfectly comfortable with that too…until I had to meet them.
I like kids but I’m not the girl who looks inside strollers at the park and gushes over the cuteness of random babies. And while I had seen pictures of and heard them talk to their dad over the phone, I had no idea what Gary’s kids were actually like. He assured me they were good kids and I would get along with them just fine, but don’t all parents think their kids are the best?
Gary and the boys came to pick me up on the weekend we were going to spend together. I exchanged pleasantries with the boys in the car but my anxiety and dwindling self confidence kept me from saying anything else. This changed when we went to to get their school supplies. I was walking a little behind and the eldest (11 then but 12 now) lagged behind to talk to me. I realized my anxiety and discomfort was so obvious that this little boy was doing what he could to make me comfortable. I have never been more surprised by a child trying to act so adult like. Don’t get me wrong, we talked mostly about Pokemon, but the idea that he was trying to make me feel more comfortable and a part of their little group, was very adult like. The younger two took the cue from their brother and joined in. Soon I had three little boys around me fighting to talk about their favorite Pokemon. After we got home and had dinner, I realized they were constantly around me, talking and asking questions. It didn’t take me long to realize they really were just kids, and not the scary great-unknown that I was afraid of. But there was something else. I was feeling overwhelmed. They all wanted to talk , they all wanted to interact and I couldn’t be alone even for a moment – and there were 3 of them! I was trying to keep up with them all but it was too much for me at the time. I began to feel crowded and flustered. The good news here is that their father has a good hold over the boys. He is strict so they do exactly what he asks of them, like leaving me alone for a little bit. But he is also loving. At the beginning of the weekend I felt like he was being a bit too harsh (and a bit of a bully) with them but by the end of the weekend, I realized if it wasn’t for his strict parenting, it would’ve been a nightmare handling three intelligent young boys full of energy! Also, I saw how they all piled up on their dad for hugs and kisses (pictured above) and I knew that no matter how harsh their dad seemed, they still knew he loved them and they loved him.
The next morning, I made breakfast for them. ‘Thank you’ s and complements were in abundance. The eldest proclaimed that since I was dating his dad, he would show me some features around the house that I might be unaware of. All in all, I felt accepted and felt very much that I could make this is a permanent part of my life. But I realize this was just a weekend. To be a full time parent to a 12,9 and 8 year old will take a whole lot of learning and patience on my part. The thought scares me sometimes but the fact that Gary seems to have a good grasp of this parenting thing, even on his own, definitely helps a lot.
I want to go into this with a positive mindset. When I was in my mid-twenties, I wanted to have a big family with 6 children. That number went down to 2 when I turned 30 (my age limit for biological children is 35). Now at 31, there seems to be a chance for me to have 3 ready-made kids and maybe one more. 4 out of 6 is not bad, it’s not bad at all! 🙂