Blending families is an ongoing journey, even when you only have one school-age child. Differences in parenting styles become apparent fairly quickly, and when your child has special needs, it can be even more challenging. We have been lucky — The Man and I dated long-distance for several years, which gave us an opportunity to glimpse each other’s parenting styles and transition to a blended parenting style over time. To say that it’s a finished product would not be right – it continues to evolve, but it’s functioning, and a positive thing for The Boy to have two parents in our home.
The Man continues to learn about The Boy and his challenges. It can be unfortunate sometimes to have a disorder like autism, because it isn’t oustwardly visible, and people who don’t know will judge, while even people who do know will forget, myself included. Not forget that he has autism, but forget The Boy’s struggles and needs, even if momentarily. This happens with The Man from time to time, but we continue to communicate and progress on our journey.
The Man is a natural-born dad — he doesn’t know it, but sometimes I almost burst into happy tears at his small gestures towards The Boy. He doesn’t even realize that he is doing things for The Boy that have never been done for him before. And I have found that the one best thing for their growing relationship has been to force them together without me for awhile. I have had to leave for work for a few hours on each weekend, and they have gotten to hang out a lot more this month. And you know what? We’ve had fewer meltdowns from everyone involved.
Yesterday, The Man pulled into the yard, home from work, and immediately grabbed our knock-around bike from the shed to go join The Boy who was riding around the neighborhood with some other kids. And I watched, with those happy-tears in my eyes.