Life is just a play, isn’t it? We are all characters in this performance called life; We have roles, lines, and a part we play. With time we become adults, sometimes we wed and sometimes we procreate. Planned or unplanned, now our part in the play changes. We become a mom or dad and with everything else going on in our lives, we become a life provider of a little. Now for a better part of their lives, we are in charge of their well-being and happiness – Lots of pressure, no?
Then, sometimes, the person you “went half on a baby with” is no longer your partner. They are no longer the person you laugh with when you have a parenting mishap. So you move on..
Next scene – Unlike in your past life, you now come with a bonus: your children. When you start anew with someone else, you become the BLENDED family. It’s the new norm. As you get older it becomes more challenging to find a partner that doesn’t come with this “bonus”. So you accept that this is your reality now and you move forward. The set is different: more characters and altered scripts. It’s like you’re about to start the show but all the main characters didn’t show up. Instead, you go with the understudies 🙂
Let’s Get Personal:
After chatting with my husband, I wanted to share this post because I live it today.. This is my show. I met my husband 8 years ago. I wasn’t expecting him – he just showed up. Back then, he wasn’t what I considered my “ideal partner” (you know those dreams of who would be your perfect partner,“the list”, lol). Ultimately, he wasn’t what I wanted on paper, especially because he came with 2 children. Inside, I felt and believed “that’s not what I want” and “I could find a man I could start from scratch with. Someone that shared the same dreams like starting a family together – Not a man coming with one pre-packaged already“. I fought it internally, not wanting to fall for him because I swore “I’d never marry a man with children”. To be honest it wasn’t about the children because I love kids. It was about the perceived “baggage” that came with them: the infamous mother of the children. The one, as women we want to erase the existence of, because it proved there was a person before you. Hell, there was proof… the offspring!
Well, as life and love would have it, I did fall in love with him… and with his kids. They were, and still are, wonderful young beings. However, it didn’t change the challenge of that outside person. My personal experience wasn’t a good one. Still isn’t ideal, unfortunately. When I hear stories or read articles of other blended families that get along and share in all the children’s milestones, I’m secretly jealous. They communicate, they’re cordial, you know “adult like”. For me, many times it was a battle of power, authority, and bitterness. All of these not nice things to impact the growing relationship between the couple, the children and the other person, who also plays an important part. There were arguments... bad ones which brought uneasy feelings. But through it all, as much as we tried to shelter the children, they felt it! It affected them! **no bueno**
I tried to understand her feelings, her doubts, but we just couldn’t get along. I’m sure she didn’t like this new woman in her children’s lives for her own reasons. But the truth is she never took the chance to understand who I was and what my intentions were, or were not. I was never to take her place but instead to join “their” journey of raising two good human beings because now they were a representation of me too; They became my kids too.
Lessons Learned Along The Way:
I won’t put all the blame on “her”. There were days I felt insecure. Days I felt she had one up on me because she had “his kids” or because I felt he walked on egg shells to keep her happy. Hubby and I argued, at times a lot, and I admit some of those fights were not my finest moments. Why do you have to defend your feelings to the man you love, the one you expect just to understand you because he’s with YOU now? “My feelings come first! My feelings matter more!” Didn’t they?! …No, they didn’t – because no matter how much he loved me, the children took precedence. There were some weekends where I couldn’t wait to spend it all together like a big happy family while other weekends I wanted him to myself. The struggle was real.
But then God entrusted me with my my own Children, an amazing blessing I longed for and things changed for me. In my mind: “Now she and I are equal,” silly right? But humanly raw and honest.
The dynamics shifted. As a mom, my priorities changed. Now the challenges were more around how does “he” (my husband) split his time between us, them, life, work and just being a good human being? It took time to realize that as much as I struggled, the pressure for him was that much more demanding. I tried to understand, but selfishly I couldn’t see past my own feelings. Through our arguments, seeking advice from others and just living it, I learned that it was ok for him to be with them, then with us and then all together. That it was natural for him to talk to “her” about them and be generally cordial because no matter how much I didn’t like it, she existed. The Mr. through all this always did his part to make me feel secure. He always reassured me where his allegiance stood, but he also reminded me that there was a steadfast commitment to his children as well.
I like to believe I had a strong influence in the children’s lives. When I met them, they were 2 and 5. Being a mom to my toddlers now, I realize what an influential age that is. Honestly, I raised them as I would raise my own. Every other weekend and sometimes more so, I was a full time mom:cooking, cleaning, dressing, and playing. I taught and yes,sometimes disciplined them – wow, was that tough… I think one of the toughest parts of being now the “BONUS” parent. Do you say something or tell the parent to say something? If you know me, I’m reactive and I always say something. The mother struggled with some of my rules and I struggled with some of hers. My husband, well he stood back sometimes…and that right there was one of our pain points. However, we got through it. The kids are now 10 and 13. They are amazing older siblings to the cubs. Helpful, playful and not jealous, which I thought would come. If they are, they’ve never expressed it or acted out on it. Alana, my only girl, is my mini. We’re attached at the hip when she’s over. Alex Jr. is a teen and sometimes too cool for us, but always so helpful.I love having them around. So, as I say many times, I’m blessed to have them as my children, my “bonuses”. I pray they never change.
As we all grow, get older and continue this journey of a table of six, I hope to raise 4 children to be loving, respectful, sympathetic, cultured and honest. I also pray that one day the MOC (mother of the children) will recognize my intentions and accept me so we can build a partnership. People can dream right? With that being said, here’s my advice for those who may enter and become a blended family, or are one today.
There is no roadmap
Every blended family journey is different, unique and will come with its own challenges. No matter how many books you read or people you talk to, your version will be different and won’t be your exact situation. Sometimes things will happen and you figure it out on the fly, And the best part is, because there are no straightforward and exact answers for remarriages and step parenting, no one gets to tell you you’re wrong.
Create a personal relationship with your stepchild(ren).
Make a commitment to developing a relationship with your stepchild that has nothing to do with your partner. Set aside some special time in which you and the child can interact alone. You also need to stop thinking of your stepchild as “his kid” or “her kid.” Make no doubt about it: You are now a pivotal person in that child’s life too.
Support your partner’s relationship with his/her child.
Don’t make your spouse choose between you and his child. Your relationship with your partner will not suffer if he has a close relationship with a child. We all have multiple “accounts” from which we draw our love. There’s a child account that has an infinite amount of love in it, and there’s a completely different account that you draw from for your spouse. In other words, loving and nurturing your child in no way decreases the balance in the account for your spouse because they’re two completely separate deals.
Agree on discipline strategies for kids.
Don’t assume that your style of disciplining will be appropriate for your stepchildren. It’s important that you talk to your partner about the rules and punishment that existed before you joined the family. It’s unfair to change the rules on a child overnight
Try your best to keep the peace at home
The mother of my stepchildren doesn’t seem to have gotten past some of the hostility of her break up with my husband, But I’m not giving up, I really think it’s best for our kids if we can get along, so I just keep trying to be nice. But it NOT easy. Most important, keep your own home as peaceful and structured as possible, no matter how fierce a battle zone your ex tries to create.
Accept These Things
You will be jealous of the ex.
Even if she is the craziest woman on the planet, and the thought that he would have chosen both her and you in the same lifetime makes you question everything that got you here in the first place. The fact that their DNA has blended and formed little humans is a connection that surpasses every level of certifiable crazy.
You will love his children.
You will even love them well. Maybe right away, maybe it will take years. But you will. You will hold them to the same expectations as you hold your own children. Your heart will break and soar when theirs does. Their accomplishments will provide pride, their setbacks will break your heart. They will be the closest thing ever to your own children. Maybe you will experience a love extremely close to that of the love for your own children. Or maybe it will always be just a bit shy. Either way, you will love them as you need to, as they need it.
Do know what you are signing up for before walking down the aisle or making it official.
Becoming a blended family must be an eyes-wide-open approach, and you can’t complain halfway into it. If you haven’t tied the knot, talk to as many blended family veterans as you can. Everyone has a different tale, but all will tell you it is not easy. Don’t be discouraged or scared off by horror stories, because those happen in first marriages too! Blended family life is hard, but if you know what you are signing up for it can be a rewarding experience. I promise.
Do buckle up and enjoy the ride!
It’s not all lollipops and unicorns, and it will be a bumpy ride, but life is all about challenges and how you rise to meet them.
Put your insecurities aside and pull up your big girl panties. No one promised a picnic in a blended family.