Mark and I, and our adult children, were ambling back from a day of Bengals training camp, lunch on the river, and a stop at Coffee Emporium for bathrooms and caffeine. The discussion had turned to the impending date of our wedding anniversary, August 4th.
Our children had all joined us for the weekend abutting our anniversary, and from the back of the line that was stopping and starting to stroll and chit-chat, I overheard one of them say, “It’s a Famiversary.”
The word stuck with me the next morning, as I departed from the house, after saying goodbye to the last of the adult children, leaving for Charleston. The night before, our New Orleans couple had departed, as did our DC intern. The lone occupant, the rising college freshman, had not yet risen from his day off to sleep in.
As usual, I see the city as a metaphor for just about anything, and in this case, a metaphor for blended families. “City living is messy,” a former mayor once spouted, during a campaign speech, “and it takes hard work.” And she was right. She would have been equally correct to say that blended families are messy, and also take hard work.
Oftentimes, a couple celebrates the milestone of marital years, having survived the “terrible two’s”, the teenage years, weddings, etc. of their children. But what gets left out is the hard work the offspring undertake to make themselves a part of the family, in particular when blood is not a key ingredient.
Like city living, there is a mix of new and old structures, traditions and emotional hurts, especially blended families. There is also euphoria, celebration and a lot of noise. Every one is clamoring to be heard, or to have an equal say in governance.
Sometimes there are closures, forced detours, and potholes. There are projects that never took off, intentions not followed. But there is greenspace, preserved for that very reason to find the small space where one retreats to for peace.
And there are events the scale of Lumenocity that illuminate the creativity, the wizardry and the wow of bringing together two households and merging them into one. Think, wedding in New Orleans!
But mostly, it takes work – sweat and effort – to be a child in a blended family. And it takes even greater determination to be successful at it.
We gave the children our version of Taste of Cincinnati this weekend, complete with trips to Findlay Market, Holzman’s Donuts and Bakersfield. Runs down to the river, runs not accomplished due to chin bruises. A visit to City Gear, a meet and greet with every one we have encountered in our short time here, as we strolled through Lumenocity Village. Nights on the terrace. Mornings on the terrace. Goetta and Grippos BBQ bacon.
But we not only invited our children home to see their bright, shiny mugs, and to show off Cincinnati through our stomachs, but also to provide the opportunity to continue building the bonds with siblings and parents that were begun many years ago.
So today, Happy Famiversary to our eight years together. The weekend brought to light the work we have accomplished. May we have many years together to complete the work yet unfinished.
** These photos, the many shades of the family, were taken after dining at the Chef’s Table at Taste of Belgium – OTR. We were fortunate to have arrived early enough to secure the other half. I believe the chicken and waffles sum up everything that is good in Over-the-Rhine.