Shared Spirit – What’s in a Name?

Shared Spirit – What’s in a Name?

Moderated by Rachel Stein |

Shared Spirit is a forum in which readers share their problems. Acting as mediator, I pose the issues to my readers, then print responses.

Life is good, studded with stunning opportunities for rebirth and transformation. I can attest to this because I am privileged and eternally grateful to have been granted a second chance. G-d sent me a wonderful man to be my husband, someone who lifted me from the quagmire of a first marriage that was never a marriage and taught me the meaning of love within the framework of a real relationship.

For two years I have endeavored to build a lasting edifice, a home for myself and my new husband. And for two years I have attempted to embrace Bruce’s family as my own, welcoming his children and grandchildren into my home and heart.

Creating a home takes work, and sometimes all I wanted was to be alone with Bruce. We had so much catching up to do, so much construction to replace the destruction. But then the calls would come.

“Hi, Amy,” my stepdaughter began, “is it a good weekend to visit?”

“Of course!” was my ready answer, while my heart frantically beat an opposing view.

After a busy week at work, all I wanted was to sit beside Bruce, catch up with him and enjoy his company. My dreams of peaceful nighttime walks, playing Scrabble over coffee and cake, and taking in our favorite TV show late at night went up in wistful smoke. Because, ready or not, Jill, her husband and their three little ones were going to scramble in, creating joyful havoc in what would have been our island of serenity.

Oh, well, I mused, the sacrifice is worth it for family closeness. Isn’t it?

I lost count of the times I said yes to Bruce’s children when I wanted to say no, all in the name of becoming a mother and grandmother minus the “step” prefix. His family would be my family, I vowed.

Time passed, our family bonded, and good tidings knocked on our door. Bruce’s second daughter got engaged to a fine young man.

I offered to help the bride-to-be shop for her trousseau, and we happily shopped till we dropped. Everything was grand in my world until I saw their wedding invitation. Was it inadvertent, or was it intentional that my name did not appear?

Confusion and hurt swirled, threatening to drown me in their turbulent waves, and I was swept away in a maelstrom of pain. So that’s the way it is? All of my efforts, every ounce of my caring, are meaningless?

Bruce got many earfuls, and I wanted him to take up my cause.

“Do you want me to tell them to redo the invitations?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, my breath ragged.

“But what if it causes contention?” he asked.

I glared at him.

“You’re right,” he soothed. “I’m totally on board with you. This was hurtful and inexcusable. But if your whole premise has been to solidify our foundation, are you sure you want to rock the boat? Maybe we’re supposed to just swallow this and look the other way.”

“I need to think,” I mumbled, stalking out the front door, my shoulders bent from the burden.

How dare she! I seethed. After all I’ve done! It’s so wrong, so ungrateful.

Yes, a soft voice piped in. You’re right. But isn’t selfless giving and devotion what define a mother? Does it really matter if your name isn’t on an invitation that will ultimately be laid to rest in a garbage heap? Really now, is that what will last? And is it possible that if you make this an issue, the fiery altercation that might ensue will eat away at the castle you’ve tried so hard to create, threatening to destroy your beautiful edifice?

There was a thought-provoking response printed in this column advocating forgiveness even when someone shouldn’t necessarily be forgiven — because living in harmony might just be worth more than being right.

Coming out on top may feel good temporarily, but it can be lonely standing at the top. Forgiving might mean bending and swallowing hard, but the benefits are transcendental.

How do you think Amy should handle this dilemma?

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