Friday, June 5, 2009

Boundaries: Part I

“I know it appears that I have two husbands, but I don’t.” This is what I said to my group of mommy friends today. Because really, to do this successfully, I have to maintain my relationship with Cason. He needs to be a part of my life in a way that’s much more intimate than it is with say, my neighbor. There are days I’m short with him and need to apologize. “In a bad mood, today?” he’ll say. Granted, it’s no where near what I’ll tell Andy, but I’ll give him a scaled back version. Tired. Baby not sleeping. Sick with mastitis. There’s a nice short hand now. We’re not required to delve into the issues as we were when we were married.

Cason’s father was just in town the other day and was planning on coming to Jake’s baseball game. His father was fifteen minutes early, and Cason said to me: “You know how my dad is.” And yes, I do know how his dad is. It’s the part of having a history together – some elements come easy. I know his dad is always early.

I also know Cason’s shoe size is 11. And because Father’s Day and his birthday are coming up, I said to Jake, “Let’s get your dad a new pair of flip flops. He needs them.” For anyone screaming, BOUNDARIES, I do understand that this is a fine line.

For those with boundary issues (like me sometimes, or most of us in a blended family or divorced situation), here’s why it’s a fine line: You can joke about having two husbands – but really, you don’t have two husbands when you’re remarried. You have one. And you can buy the husband a new pair of New Balance sneakers on Zappos, but you don’t buy the ex-husband a pair of flip flops just because you think he could use a pair. Especially if that’s the caretaking role that got you married to him and then divorced to begin with.

If you’re a healthy person (like I’m supposed to be) who was in therapy for over ten years, you ask Jake what he wants to get his dad. So I do. And here’s how it goes:

Me: “What do you want to get your dad for his birthday?”

Jake: “Uhhh... the Touch n’ Brush.”

He says this with a straight face.

The Touch n’ Brush is a toothbrush dispenser that hangs on the wall and squeezes out every last drop of toothpaste. Jake saw the commercial while watching “Wolverine and the X-Men.” And you wonder why commercials are so successful at marketing to children. If it was up to Jake, we’d have a Slanket, (the blanket with sleeves), the mini-hamburger patty griller and boxes and boxes of Fruity Pebbles. Oh, he also loves the Space Bag. And those hangers that collapse into one giant hanger. ("We need those for our closets, Mom. They're so awesome.") Okay, maybe it says less about marketers than it does about how much television Jake is watching per day, but that’s another story.

My point? I want Jake to actually pick out a gift that is important to what the receiver needs -- not what Jake needs, or what Jake is fascinated by (e.g., the Slanket, or the Touch n’ Brush).

So Cason’s getting flip-flops for his birthday, because that's a better excuse than just handing him a new pair of flip flops the next time he picks up Jake, and the Touch n’ Brush for Father’s Day.

And for the record, I’m not shopping for my “other” husband. I’m shopping for Jake’s dad. When Jake is able to shop on his own, the job will no longer be mine.

Hopefully Cason will like the flip flops. Surprise, surprise, we have very different taste. I find comfort in buying them from Zappos. He can always send them back -- free shipping!

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