If you’ve been following my story lately, you know that Michelle and her daughter have been living with me and my family for the past few weeks. It’s been a really great experience from my perspective. I had the ability to help my friend and I love the experiences my daughter has had as a “big sister.” When this adventure started, Michelle and I laughed and said that this would either end our friendship or make it stronger. I’m happy to report that the latter is true. We often joke that it’s nice to have a “Sister Wife” around to help each other out. (My husband walks around the house shaking his head a lot.  I wonder why?) We pick up each other’s slack when it comes to household stuff and parenting.

"Sister Wives" Photo: M. Noehren

“Sister Wives”
Photo: M. Noehren

What I didn’t expect to happen was how much learning I’d be doing. It’s been a great reminder to remain judgment-free even under my own roof. Any time you bring two people together in a living situation, there are bound to be differences. Many of us experienced this when we moved in with our partners for the first time. The blending of two adults, who may or may not be set in their ways, can be a source of learning or conflict. Toilet paper: roll it towards the wall or away? Toothpaste cap: on or off? Dinner: in front of the TV or at the table? In our case, we had three adults to blend together in one suddenly crowded house. Three busy adults who are just trying to do their best and get through the day.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the past few weeks:

Every kid is different (but 4-year olds are the worst). God bless the parents of these creatures. Seriously, looking at the torture that Michelle’s daughter puts her through, I don’t have a clue how my own daughter survived to see age 5. It’s at the age of four that they really perfect the art of pushing your buttons. They like things one minute, and hate that same thing the next. They do the exact opposite of what you ask them to do.  What worked for me when Zoey was that age *might* work for Michelle, but not always.  So if my stories help, that’s great.  But if not, then no big deal. I’m not hurt if Michelle keeps parenting in her own way.  After all, she has to live with her daughter for a lot longer than I do!

The kids need mothers. The adults don’t. Apparently I have a strong mothering instinct that makes me want to protect and take care of all the “kids” in my house. Even though I’m older than Michelle, I’m not necessarily the wiser one. I try to resist the urge to stick my nose into Michelle’s business because I think she can benefit from my “been there, done that” experience. Really, all I’m doing is sticking my nose in. I may have a “better” way of doing things but I’m not her and she’s not me. She’s a grown up who’s doing a pretty great job surviving this parenting thing so far.   If she wants my help or my brilliant advice, she’ll ask.

Quesadillas: You can make them in the microwave! Talk about a mind-blowing revelation. I always made them in a pan on the stove. Ok, so maybe this didn’t blow your mind and you’re thinking that I need to get my head out of my ass. You’re probably right. But this is just a tiny example of something that I now know how to do better because of Michelle. While throwing judgment at someone is never a good thing, there are things we can learn from each other if we’re open to it. So many things, people.  It just has to be a two-way street.

So, the adventure continues. Our temporarily blended household is lively and full of joyful noise on some days; Discombobulated, crowded, and just plain noisy on others. The one thing there is never a short supply of is gratitude. I know I’m grateful for the company, the extra set of hands and the opportunity to add a little light into a friend’s life. (One thing that’s always in short supply is bread. Seriously, how do we go through so much bread?)

Look, they're at Wickham Park.  Without me. I was home. READING!!

Look, they’re at Wickham Park. Without me. I was home. READING. A BOOK! #sisterwivesforever