My former sister-in-law is getting remarried. I sincerely hope that she finds all of the love and support that she didn't find married to Wendell's brother, Mark. What has amazed me about all this is Mark's reaction.
First, however, you need some back story. Wendell's brother is a jerk. Not just a regular men-are-better-than-women-so-I-don't-help-around-the-house-or-with-the-kids kind of jerk, but also the adulterous-walk-out-on-your-wife-of-13-years-and-your-four-kids-for-a-girl-15-years-your-junior kind of jerk. Believe me, we have heard no end of the evils of Jenny, my former sister-in-law: how she mismanaged money and kept a filthy house. (Note: with little to no help from him, how did he think the house was going to get clean? Magic?)
Actually no one argues about her failings, but this justifies adultery how? Moving on, Jenny is remarrying next weekend and Mark is suddenly fighting for custody of the kids since she's moving 2.5 hours away.
This problem never would have happened if they had taken their time with the divorce decree. Wendell has a friend at work, who's ex-wife can't move more than 1 hour away without his express permission. But Mark, was in a massive hurry. Their uncontested divorce was finalized in about a month. Now, suddenly, he wants his kids. Not for their sakes, but for his selfish reasons--so he doesn't have to drive any distance to get them.
Another sister-in-law is worried that it may go in front of a judge. "I hope neither of them calls me to the stand," she said to me. "Neither will like what I have to say."
Although it would certainly make for awkward family dinners for a while, I wouldn't have any hesitation testifying on Jenny's behalf. The crux of the question is: who is the better parent? My answer would unwaveringly be Jenny.
Jenny's the one who changed diapers, feeds, clothes, and shops for the kids. She knows their friends, what homework they have and she's been involved in the PTA, including being PTA President. She's spent countless hours on Girl Scouts and overall is a good mom.
Mark on the other hand rarely came home. Although nice and fun with his kids when he's around, he's clueless about chores, homework and friends. I wish him luck, but unless Jenny suddenly starts doing drugs or beating the snot out of her kids, I don't think he has a prayer of getting them. And I think the kids will be better off for being with her.
Updated 11/5: Mark's had custody of the kids for several weeks now and I am pleasantly surprised what a good job he and Sam are doing. I am also surprised by the allegations against Jenny's husband and perhaps even more surprised that she's standing by HIM.
I do fear that too much parenting responsiblity is going to Sam who's only 7 year's Katie's senior. But from the outside, it all looks pretty good.