Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Today we got to do something that we very rarely get to do - we got to spend the day with my children's half sisters. My husband has two children from a previous marriage and although they live only about an hour drive away from here we very rarely get to see them - not for lack of trying! My parents are also divorced and every time we do get to see these girls it makes me feel so grateful for the way my parents dealt with their divorce - in front of us anyway. In Japan when someone gets divorced it is standard that all ties are cut between the children and the parent who the children are not living with. It is almost as if they no longer exist and everyone is supposed to go on as if there never was any connection at all. I find this so unfair. The children never did anything bad, yet they are being deprived of one of their parents.
In my own case, my parents were divorced when I was only about 2 and a half years old and every summer, winter and spring holidays my brother and I would get on an airplane and go and stay with my father and his new family. I know that financially this was not a very easy thing to make happen every holidays. I also know that it must have been incredibly difficult for my step-mother and my sisters from that marriage to have us "invading" them for so long every holidays. I'm sure it was difficult on my mother having no actual "holiday" time with us. Despite all these obstacles the effort was still made every year and although there must have been many arguments between all parties involved the thing I am most grateful for is that I never ever heard them or felt that I was imposing on anyone. It is only now that I am an "adult" that I can fully appreciate the sacrifices everyone made to allow my brother and I to maintain a relationship with our father. It is only now that I hear stories that make me realise that it wasn't all "happy families". Perhaps I just managed to block out any negative side of things, but my memories of "divorced families" were all good. Because of this it makes me particularly sad that we can't have more contact with my children's sisters. They are now in senior and junior high school and therefore are able to make more decisions by themselves so we are hoping they will come to visit more often. The door is definitely wide open!
Mum, Dad - thank you so much for never saying a bad word about each other in our hearing and for putting your children's needs ahead of your own. The sacrifices you both made for us were incredible and I am only really fully starting to appreciate them now.
Dawn - every time the girls come to visit I think of you the most. It must have been so difficult to allow 2 children into your house every holidays yet you did so without showing any negativity towards us and as I have no memories of anytime before you were around you have always been my "other mother". We don't communicate anywhere enough lately but you are often in my thoughts. Thank you for being unselfish enough to allow us to not only have a great relationship with Dad, but also with you too.
Fiona, Beth and Megan - thank you also for letting us be part of your lives. Again, it can't have been easy to have "big brother and big sister" invade you every holidays and turn your nice quiet house upside down, but you never complained (in our earshot!) for which I am very grateful.
Mike - sorry I have used the "we" a bit here.... you can correct me if necessary!
Of course there are many other people who have made it possible for me to have a great relationship with my "two families" and I thank you all... if not by name here!
Enough reflecting - today was a really nice, quiet day with our "extended" family. I'm really hoping that one day my husband's girls can feel as comfortable coming here as I did going to my second home. I guess time will tell.


  1. That's a really beautiful post Jo. I think you have a huge heart making so much effort for your family- all of them- to have a relationship.

    Of all the single parents I know here I only know one family where the kids still have contact with the absent parent- and the mother lived in Australia for 2 years so I guess she was influenced there. It always strikes me as so sad so I'm really happy to hear that there are people out there trying to make some changes.

  2. No, I think I'd like to echo that and possibly even a bit more!

    Having a 16 year old turn up on your doorstep not just for a holiday but for a year and a bit has got to be a bit hard.

    As does letting said 16 yr old go!

    Thanks for saying all that, rather than me just occasionally thinking it!

    All in all I suspect things could have turned out so differently. But didn't.

    Thanks all, and I mean all, involved.

    The only grudge I try to cling on to has to do why I could never understand why I got so much grief when I had to wash dishes... :-P

  3. Hi Jo,

    It was never an "invasion" to have you guys visit every holidays - I remember it was always so exciting to have you come and stay and we loved it! We all looked up to you both so much and felt quite special to have a "big" brother and sister. I have many really fond memories of your visits!!

    It has always made me feel very fortunate that I have been able to live with both Dad and mum and I have always thought that it must have been hard for you that the 3 of us got to live with Dad all of the time when you didn't.

    I have also really enjoyed getting to know you and Mike in a differnt way in recent years - the age gap seems so much less now and it has been really cool to get to know you both as 'adults' and to visit in Japan and London!!

  4. Warm family fuzzies! I wish hub's other family - or rather his son and daughter - wanted to see us. I imagine it will hapen one day. The screen saver on this computer is still a pic of hub with them - and Shou says 'that looks like daddy' and I say it is darling, with your older brother and sister.

    Hope the visit went well.

  5. Thank you for introducing your valuable experience. I was impressed with your idea.

    I have no experience on these divorce problem because my parents have kept their good relationship, but I can agree that children is not responsible for their parent's divorce and imagine that children want to see their half brothers or sisters.

    You have done very good thing, I think.