A Modern Family Portrait

My separation happened around 2008 when our daughter was 5 years old. Getting a divorce after 10 years isn’t a walk in the park. The amount of emotion from both sides can be overwhelming. It isn’t hard to imagine, we had plenty to iron out. It would be a long road before agreeing on terms for a final divorce. In the meantime, we still had the responsibility of raising our daughter. We agreed to disagree on most topics; however, we both had the desire to establish a secure and healthy co-parenting arrangement. The terms were geared towards maintaining a relationship that was in our daughter’s best interest.  Looking back, it was one of the biggest acts of love we could make. For me, it meant setting aside my pride and putting her first. We were in accordance the next phase would have nothing to do with our issues instead the focus was shifted to doing what was right for her. We were not Willis and Moore but we were willing to give our daughter priority to salvage her from an already unfortunate situation.

In 2000 Bruce Willis and Demi Moore divorced after more than a decade of marriage. They set a tone for successful co-parenting. They wanted their children to understand that their parents were divorced but it didn’t mean they were no longer a family. Public displays of hostility or anger were not their style. They maintained a cordial demeanor in public never giving the media material to sell gossip that would result in hurting the children. They were known to attend family events such as birthdays, vacations and holidays together. Did it seem odd at the time? Yes, everyone was puzzled as to how a couple can divorce and continue interacting even after new partners come into the family picture. I’m sure it took effort on all sides opening a barrage of challenges. The chatter about the crazy arrangement was ongoing until like everything else it died out.

Earlier this week, I came across an article about Jada Pinkett and Will Smith. The couple has been married 21 years. They are parents of two children together. Will has one son from a previous marriage. The story described how Jada firmly maintains the model of one family. She understands and accepts that Will’s eldest needs to bond with his mother and father together even if that means, she won’t always attend certain events. For example, recently Will, his son and ex-wife went on family vacation together. Jada completely trusts, loves and supports her husband. She asserts their family is a single unit. This goes beyond relationship, marriage, above all else.  I’m sure there will be plenty of women, me included raising a brow or both? But it works for them. “Bless ‘em!”

Celebrity, Jennifer Lopez’s current boyfriend Alex Rodridguez has two daughters. She and ex-husband Marc Anthony have twins, he has one son from a previous relationship. Recently, the couple posted a family picture on social media. The portrait of the three parents and 5 children was in my opinion, our new normal.

My ex-husband is currently married with two children, plus, one from a previous relationship. Our daughter is part of their family. She considers her siblings family, spending significant time with them during the year. We’ve all joined together for celebration dinners, graduations and birthdays. We celebrate her wins in unity as a family, showing her love is the glue. She is secure in the knowledge that although her parents are no longer together, she is loved. It is fair to point out this isn’t always possible to do. It’s certainly not the easiest choice requiring some sacrifice. Everyone has a unique situation that calls for different measures. My intent is to help others get an understanding of what is possible when the love is greater than any hurt. I’d also like to offer a window to the unknown for anyone that might not understand how I can break bread with my ex-husband and his wife. Try explaining the arrangement to your Dominican family – it’s not how they were raised. They can be very passionate about grudges holding on to them for dear life!

There’s evidence all around us that times are changing whether we want to accept it or not. The picture of family is no longer the same as decades or years ago. We are moving further away from old world views. This does not mean we’re losing traditions or values. I’d like to believe that modern living is forcing society to see the various types of families. It’s becoming increasingly common today for men and women to use surrogacy as a way of starting their brood. Inevitably, we will continue to witness the evolution of the family unit demonstrating we don’t have to conform to society’s ideal of what a family should like in modern age. I try to step back and look at the bigger picture. When coming full circle the reality is family is love. We don’t all need to fit into a perfect mold, so long as love and respect exist – my cup is full.

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