Mandy Nolan’s Christmas wasn’t a normal one. Not by most people’s standards, and not even by her own. It was what she calls a ‘3D Christmas’; one where the three dads (3D) of her five children are all under the same roof.
Speaking to Mamamia‘s No Filter podcast, the Mullumbimby-based comedian and writer said it was something she’d been wanting to do for a long time, the product of years of hard work on the various entwined relationships.
“Not all the dads like the other dads. But I’ve managed to get the dads to tolerate each other. Some of the dads really like each other, and then there’s a bit of Dad-taganism,” she laughed.
“It actually ended up OK in the end.”
Mandy, who is the host of Mamamia‘s upcoming divorce and separation podcast, The Split, relishes in her beautiful, blended family; one made of her ex husband, her ex partner, her current husband, and her five children aged between 10 and 23.
“I think it’s because I didn’t have a dad, now I’ve given my kids three dads,” she joked.
For more of Mandy’s story, listen to No Filter.
Mandy acknowledges that while all the children are loved by their fathers, the setup is far from simple.
“You wouldn’t ideally put kids in a situation to make it this complex and confusing. Fortunately, there hasn’t been court cases or terrible acrimony. There’s been arguments and there’s been resentments and there’ve been times where you’ve probably said things you shouldn’t have said, but it hasn’t escalated into anything else,” she said.
“I reckon as the kids get older, if you’ve got to separate a family you’ve got to take things into consideration like, ‘Well, are we all going to attend this person’s significant birthday, an 18th or 21st? Or what if they get married?’ They’re the things that if you don’t actually find a way through, in the end it’s actually hard on the kid [as well as you as a couple].”
It’s in her eldest that Mandy most sees the product of their complicated family makeup.
“She always had a loyalty to her first dad, but then he was kind of off the scene and he wasn’t able to be present. So she then felt that ‘I’m not the same’ when the next dad that came through was a loving relationship. She held herself a little bit apart,” Mandy said. “And then by the time [Mandy’s current husband] John came along she was eleven or twelve, and so she’s not taking on another dad at that time.
“So she had adolescence with some pretty confusing issues around her parents and around her mother’s availability. I think she would have just liked me to be on my own.”
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