Last weekend, my lovely stepdaughter LJ donned a traditional robe and a traditional if somewhat odd hat, gathered together with a bunch of like-attired folk, and participated in an age-old ritual of passage.
She sat in a marginally comfortable hall while leaders and elders droned on a bit about things that are important, but which we'd all be better off hearing one bit a day instead of all at once.
She listened as those of her peers who seem to have done everything already were praised for their achievements before giving speeches of their own.
And she celebrated with a large congregations worth of fellows as they all transitioned to the next stages in their lives.
I missed it. I was working (and they're stingy as all get out with the number of tickets). But GolfPro was there to witness, and beam with pride, as his daughter graduated from college. In FOUR years. (yes, I know that's standard -- but I also know that when you start not knowing what you really want to do, it can sometimes take longer).
I did, however get to enjoy a wonderful celebratory dinner which I think stands as a testament to the way blended families ought to behave. There, at one table, swapping stories, and smiling and generally feeling like one collective proud happy family, sat LJ's half-sisters (Kitty and Bookworm (half sisters on one side) flanked A. (half sister on the other side) her mother, her maternal aunt, her step-mother and her father. We were untied in our love for LJ, and in our appreciation and acceptance of each other.
And when the food was eaten and the bill paid, we left after shuffling who rode with who so that Dad, Maternal Aunt, and Half-Sisters could go to the store to pick out pie and ice cream, while Mother, Step-Mother, the Star (LJ) and the Friend could come to our house to brew coffee, open up the table and gather chairs for an impromptu dessert.
I love it when families blend together to support their kids and each other instead of sniping about old hurts. I'm so pleased to be part of such sanity twice (my parents and step-parents get along beautifully all four together, and have done it so well forever -- so much so that I was stunned the first time I learned that divorcing families are often nasty to each other).
All too soon, she'll be back in her home-town, finding an awesome job, and starting her adult life. We've enjoyed having her visit for dinner during her college years, and will miss that. But we're so proud of her achievement.
(and if my phone and my computer decide to converse again, I'll post a picture)