You must be cringing as you read this.

You must be thinking I’m going to school you on how to treat your new boyfriend. You must be thinking I’m going to lay down some laws about how to treat my children.

That is not at all what this letter is about.


I would like to welcome you.

Welcome to this unique dynamic of “modern family.”

Welcome to the way we wing this life and this relationship. Yes, I said relationship, but not by its standard definition.

The children keep us in a relationship, much like your work keeps you in a relationship with your boss. If success is the goal, whether in work or parenting, the relationship between those who strive for that is important. I will not fill this letter with none-of-my-business type advice on how to treat a man I have known since I was 20. I won’t tell you anything that is personal about him; anything that he chooses to share is between you two. I’m not going to tell you why things did not work between us. All I will say on the subject of us is what I say to everyone:

"To me, he’s a great guy — for someone else."

This might sound weird, but I’m so excited about you.

My sons will see a side of their father they don’t even know they missed. They’ll witness the kind of happiness that blooms from the excitement, joy, and mystery that comes with a new relationship. They’ll see their father beaming with hope. They’ll hear him laugh (too much and too loud, as they’ve reported to us) and speak with a new charm in his voice. And because they love and admire him, all of these things will make them happier too.

Photo via iStock.

I want you to know that it is so important to be yourself around us. Please don’t ever feel threatened, intimidated, or out of place around us. Just like you, we are also fumbling through the newness of your place in our lives. We trust that if you are good enough for him, you are good enough for us. We expect you to have quirks, flaws, and a uniqueness about you that might leave us scratching our heads from time to time.

And we don’t want you to change a thing.

Don’t ever feel like you can’t speak to me, my (new) husband, or any of the boys.

Photo via iStock.

Say anything. Or say nothing at all. Please be you.

You’re going to see us (the kids, mostly, but also my current husband and me) quite often. You’re going to find yourself sitting with us at concerts, plays, games, graduations, and many other events. It will feel awkward at first, maybe, but I hope that changes quickly. While the kids know very well their father and I are divorced and done, they need to know we are united in our support of them, and this is one of the many ways we will unapologetically display that support.

I want them to look out at the audience while on stage and see all of us together watching them with pride and excitement. Many of my friends have asked me if sitting between their father and stepfather feels weird. I have done weirder things to esteem, encourage, teach, and build my sons. (Singing ridiculous songs about potty training is the first that comes to my mind.) This is no sweat. I ask that you join us (when you are ready) and become part of the united front that supports them unconditionally.

Say anything. Or say nothing at all. Please be you.

You may find yourself sitting through conversations between him and me. Please understand that we need to communicate in order to run our successful “business” of raising amazing humans. Sometimes we need to do it often. And along with the trust I mentioned in the former paragraph, there is trust you will know when it’s appropriate to chime in. Should you ever feel uncomfortable or insignificant during times like this, I ask that you look at the bigger picture and keep in mind that our communication outside the subject of our children is almost nonexistent.

He will never call to ask me advice on fashion (which is a good thing because I have none!).

He won’t call me to chat about a TV show he enjoys.

He won’t call me to complain about his work day.

Our relationship revolves around three growing boys. While other subjects may arise while we’re in the same space for a long period of time, please know that my role in his life is “mother of his children.”

Nothing more.

I give you a lot of credit for embarking on a relationship with a father of teenage boys!

This is new to them too, and they have no idea what to do or say around you. They are teenagers with their own lives, hopes, dreams, and intentions, and they may not always be at their best. I ask that as you become more of a presence in their lives, you get to know them individually.

My hope is that as time goes by and you are around them more, you’ll have a unique relationship with each of them. This will take deliberate work and effort. And at times it won’t be easy, much like anything else worthwhile.

Carefully and respectfully, I welcome you.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

When schools closed early in the spring, the entire country was thrown for a loop. Parents had to figure out what to do with their kids. Teachers had to figure out how to teach students at home. Kids had to figure out how to navigate a totally new routine that was being created and altered in real time.

For many families, it was a big honking mess—one that many really don't want to repeat in the fall.

But at the same time, the U.S. hasn't gotten a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. As states have begun reopening—several of them too early, according to public health officials—COVID-19 cases have risen to the point where we now have more cases per day than we did during the height of the outbreak in the spring. And yet President Trump is making a huge push to get schools to reopen fully in the fall, even threatening to possibly remove funding if they don't.

It's worth pointing out that Denmark and Norway had 10 and 11 new cases yesterday. Sweden and Germany had around 300 each. The U.S. had 55,000. (And no, that's not because we're testing thousands of times more people than those countries are.)

The president of the country's largest teacher's union had something to say about Trump's push to reopen schools. Lily Eskelsen Garcia says that schools do need to reopen, but they need to be able to reopen safely—with measures that will help keep both students and teachers from spreading the virus and making the pandemic worse. (Trump has also criticized the CDCs "very tough & expensive guidelines" for reopening schools.)

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