BLENDED FAMILY by S. Bee Boothroyd

All in the Mix
1,400 words

“The thing is mum, Adam's two boys are visiting us this weekend, so we thought a trip to the funfair might be good,” Gina began over the phone.
“It's fine, love.” Molly blinked back tears. Molly and her husband Tom had really been looking forward to seeing their grandchildren.
It was a month since they'd last seen Ben (five) and Daisy (seven). She'd planned to hold a baking session and Tom had intended to ask them if they fancied a spot of gardening.
“It's important that the children learn how to get along,” Gina stressed.
“Of course it is, love.”
“This delicate, early stage has to run smoothly. Adam's children need to accept me,” she went on. 
“I understand.”
It was a new romance for Gina. The couple had met via a dating app. To Molly and Tom, it seemed that they'd only known each other five minutes before estate agent Adam was cosily installed in Gina's home.
Molly had expressed her doubts to Tom. “What's the big rush?” 
“Perhaps it's just what Ben and Daisy need, after their dad leaving,” Tom had reasoned.
“So we'll see you next Sunday then, mum.” Gina's voice jolted Molly back to the present.
“Yes - see you then. Take care, love. I hope the weather holds for you at the funfair.”
Molly went to pass on the news to Tom.
“That's a disappointment,” he said. “The family used to be here every weekend when she was with Simon. Times have changed.” 
“Gina and I would make lunch, and you and Simon would play football with the children in the garden. Happy days.”
“Adam seems nice enough.” Tom folded the newspaper, ready to tackle the crossword.
“He is. And he seems good with the children. But it's complicated, trying to please everyone in this new mixed family, isn't it?” She sank into an armchair. 
“No doubt, in time, Ben and Daisy will be introduced to Adam's parents. How do you feel about that?” Tom asked.
Molly considered. “I hope they'll regard Daisy and Ben as kind of step- grandchildren.” 
“What will Daisy and Ben call them?” Tom asked.
“I've no idea. We'll need to think about taking Adam's children on board too. What will they call us?”
“Grandma Molly and Grandad Tom?” he suggested.
“It's Simon's parents I feel sorry for. I wonder if they'll lose touch with Ben and Daisy, now Simon has limited access to the children?”
Tom nodded. “It's a sad situation, but what can we do?”

“Grandma! Grandad!”
It was the following Sunday.
Ben and Daisy flung open the car door and raced down the garden path. Tom scooped up Ben, while Molly caught Daisy. 
“Goodness me! What a welcome!” Molly's heart sung. She knew Tom felt the same by his beaming smile.
“We've missed you!” Daisy cried.
“Did you have a nice time at the funfair last week?” Tom asked, as he ruffled Ben's hair.
“It was okay. But we wanted to come here instead,” Ben mumbled.
Molly and Tom exchanged worried glances, as Gina and Adam joined them. 
“Let's get the kettle on,” Tom called.

“How did it go last weekend?” Molly asked, when Gina helped her prepare the lunch.
“To tell you the truth mum, it was a bit of a strain,” she said. “Adam's two boys are eleven and thirteen. Awkward ages, but what makes it even more awkward is that they blame him for breaking up the marriage.” She peeled carrots violently.
Molly gave her time to continue. 
“He's the one who left home, you see. But it was his wife who threw him out. He plied them with hot dogs and doughnuts at the funfair, but they don't like me and - oh- it's hard to deal with at times.” She wiped away a tear. “I'll just say this - it's heaven to come here today. It's like a little holiday.”
“Well, why don't you and the children stay at half term?”
Gina stared. “Do you mean it?”
“Of course. There's plenty of room.”
“I'm owed some holiday time at work.”
“There you go. You seem to have an awful lot on your plate at the moment,” she sympathised.
Gina began peeling the potatoes. “But that's the way it is with blended families, isn't it? Everyone's got to make an effort for each other.” 
Molly couldn't argue with that. 

“I'd like to run something past you, Tom,” Molly began later, after their evening meal. “What if Gina and Adam decide to have a baby?”
Tom looked up. “Another grandchild? I'll be thrilled.”
“Yes I will too, but that means Daisy and Ben will have a half brother or sister. What if Simon meets someone and starts a second family too? That two lots of half siblings for them! And if Simon's partner already has children...” Molly's head spun.
“Stop fretting. What Simon does is his own affair,” Tom said, as he studied the TV guide.
“I wish those two had stayed together. She never gave us a reason why Simon left, did she?” Molly pondered.
“No. Maybe she doesn't want to tell us. We have to respect her privacy. Look on the bright side - they're not actually divorced yet. I'm glad Gina and the children are coming to stay.” Tom reached for the remote control.
“Adam wasn't very pleased about it though,” she remarked.
“And wasn't it rude getting up from the table to answer his mobile? Who takes work calls on a Sunday?” he asked. 
Molly nodded. “I saw Gina's face. She looked quite tense. I have a funny sort of feeling that meals are interrupted like that at home.” 

Before Gina and the children arrived, Molly gave herself a good talking to. She needed to accept that 'blended families' were the norm these days, not the exception. 
There was no point worrying about Simon and his parents - however, she did give her son in- law's folks a quick ring. 
Molly discovered that Simon visited them with the children, so at least they occasionally still saw Ben and Daisy. Good. 
Yet Simon's parents, admitted that they too, found it difficult to understand this kind of modern family arrangement. 
When Gina arrived, she wouldn't probe why Simon left the marriage or how the grandchildren felt about Adam and his parents. Gina needed rest, good food and a stress- free environment.
And that's exactly what she got.

The phone call a week later, was a bolt from the blue.
“Adam's left me,mum,” Gina announced “He's packed his stuff and gone back to his wife.”
“Oh no!”
She sighed. “I should have seen it coming. He talked about her all the time. He was always on his mobile to her.”
“If you don't mind me saying, he did move in with you rather quickly,” Molly said.
“That was his idea. Designed to make his ex wife jealous,” she explained.
Even so, you could have put the brakes on, Molly wanted to say. Yet she wisely kept her own counsel. It was Gina's life - not hers. 
“I waited until the kids were in bed, and then I had a good cry.”
“I'm sorry to hear this, love.”
“Anyway, it's Simon's day to pick up the kids tomorrow. If he doesn't mind, I might tag along with them. It's bound to be a better option than sitting in all day on my own, brooding.”
Molly's heart leapt. “Good idea.”
She'd learned from his parents that Simon was currently single.
The happy ending Molly longed for didn't happen.
She and Tom eventually discovered the reason why Simon left Gina. Apparently, he'd fallen in love with the children's teacher.
“As for my subtle matchmaking – well, Simon's parents had no idea he was seeing someone else. Poor Gina,” Molly said “We must make sure we do all we can to support her and the children.”
“Agreed, yet what about us? I don't know about you, Molly but I feel utterly drained by Gina's 'blended family' scenario. We need a holiday. Just the two of us.”
She beamed. “That gets my vote. Let's look online!”