I always laugh when I hear people use the term “blended” to describe the joining together of two families under one roof. Blended reminds me of something smooth, like a milkshake. Combining families is anything but smooth. I believe it to be one of the hardest transitions a family goes through. In fact, there are days I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
In my case, I brought two kids into my marriage and my husband brought four. Our kids are tweens and teens, and while I hoped for the best in terms of an easy transition, the roadblocks along the way caused me to wonder if it was worth it. We aren’t a scene from The Brady Bunch. We don’t have Alice to break up the arguments, we don’t have the Astroturf lawn for impromptu family games of tag, nor do we have “Kumbaya” moments at the end of an episode.
Instead, we have moodiness, arguments, resistance, silent treatment and resentment. Most days, I find myself sitting with my head in my hands, wondering how I got here. When you choose to marry someone with kids, it’s kind of assumed you’re getting a package deal. But if I’m being honest, I would be fine without the package at times. My husband would agree. Simply put, I’m not step-mom material. I have my own children, and often, that’s more than enough for me.
Each family has a history. I wasn’t around when my husband’s kids were little, and he wasn’t with mine. It stands to reason I feel out of the loop when stories and memories come up. It was a lifetime ago, yet it remains an integral part of his kids’ upbringing.
It’s difficult for me to talk about my kids’ “firsts” because they were shared with someone else, my children’s father. There isn’t a lot of common ground, so the past is sometimes easier to leave where it’s at. Our past lives are so foreign to each other. We are in our mid-40s, our kids are older and a lot of life has been lived.
Yet here we are, in the same house, trying to redefine family. We each brought our own routines and methods of parenting. It’s a lot to expect kids to embrace a step-parent’s ideals and personality. Even after two years of marriage, my 11-year-old son still doesn’t consider his stepfather a part of our family. It is a process.
My husband and I entered into blending a family with much trepidation. In addition to sharing a home together, starting over included establishing new traditions, new schedules, new rules and new relationships. It affects everyone differently, yet in extremely significant ways. It’s a huge adjustment and unfair to assume kids will just embrace these changes instantly.
How my husband may choose to handle a situation with his kids may not be the way I would choose to handle it with mine. There is a lot of compromise involved. We work to remain open-minded and respectful toward each other’s parenting decisions in order to remain unified and supportive of one another and our children.
My step-kids already have a mom, and in my kids’ case, a dad. They don’t need another one. What our kids need, however, is our unconditional love. I want my step-children to know they can count on me when they need me. I’m not forcing a relationship, but I am trying to establish roots with them, and I hope they will always consider me part of their family.
Through all the changes, I am trying to learn patience, but it hasn’t been an easy journey. Combining a family successfully takes time, years even. We are all adjusting, and it will continue to evolve and be rocky and lovely and scary and uncomfortable. But I hope the work, especially if it provides stability and a strong foundation for our children, will be worth it in the long run.