We have no control over which family we’re born into. And when we think of a family—of happy kids, bounding around, and parents tending to them and loving them—our brains probably naturally assume that the whole family is contained within that unit. We certainly don’t automatically think that one of the parents has, say, several other sets of kids from previous marriages in other cities. That’s just not where our minds go. But it happens all of the time.
It happened to me. I mean, I guess it didn’t happen to me so much as it just is my life. My dad has three sets of kids. My sister and I were by no means his first rodeo when it came to parenting. And, to be clear, I mean my biological sister with whom I share both a mom and a dad because I must be clear about that because I have tons of half-siblings! I didn’t fully understand it when I was little. You grew up and you think, “I’m the main focus of both of my parents and they are experiencing the joys of parenting for the first time through me!” But nope. That simply wasn’t and isn’t true for me.
My dad came from a generation that got married before they could legally drink and popped out a few kids before turning 30. He’s no young man, my dad, and he comes from a time when, not long before he himself became an adult, young men were still being shipped off to fight World War II at a moment’s notice. That fear that everything could change in an instant—it still hung in the air when my dad was a young man. So people married young, and had kids quickly, just to make sure that, well, nothing stopped them from doing so I guess. So, naturally, my dad’s first wife wasn’t right for him, because he married so damn young. And he picked up a couple more along the way. Here’s what it’s like when your dad’s been married three times.
He’s pretty lax
My dad has always been such a lax parent. Don’t get me wrong: he was a good parent. He is still a good parent. But it takes a lot to get him to overreact to anything these days. I remember when my mom caught me drinking when I was 14 and she lost it. She told my dad to go discipline me. He wandered over, found me, and said, “Julia, don’t drink…in front of your mother. And just don’t be stupid about it.” He’d had enough teens at that point to know that teens drink. Though many parents are coddlers or controllers, my dad was…neither.