The learning curve is steep when you merge two families together. If marriage has a blind spot, remarriage with offspring on one or both sides, is like driving straight into the sun. Here’s what nobody tells you about having a blended family:
1. You will have a much more difficult time putting your marriage first. Heidi Klum and Seal were often quoted saying their partnership came before parenting their four children, because it was best to have two solid, committed parents. With their divorce recently finalized, we all see how that worked out. If you are part of a blended family, chances are you’ve already spent time as a single parent where your children came first. Switching up the order is tough and causes hurt feelings. Don’t get me wrong—the order is going to switch practically every minute and if one of those minutes collides with your partner in the same spot, literally and physically, well than that’s just magic.
2. You are more set in your ways than you realize. All it takes is a kid or two (or three) and a spouse to show you just how much you prefer your way, because chances are that you have been the head-of-household adult making the decisions for a while.
3. You will have a hard time not comparing this life to the life you had before. Because this life was chosen so carefully. Because, no matter how you went into your past marriage, this marriage you went into with your eyes wide open. But…having a comparison will often prove to you what a smart choice you made.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. You will never be comfortable with even the slightest negative comment about your kids, even if it comes from the man you have promised to love no matter what. It may as well be written in the vows, “through sickness and health, til death or you saying something mean about my kids, do we part.” I am allowed to complain about my kids being bratty or needy or driving me crazy, but you, Love of My Life, must find them to be wonderful every moment and if you don’t, best keep it to yourself forever and ever.
7. You forgive easier. Because you have to. There is a whole slew of people requiring your forgiveness on a daily basis. People who haven’t known you long and want to take your patience out for a test drive. And there will be a lot more things that require forgiveness. My 14 year old step-daughter loves my taste in expensive hairspray, jeans, and shoes but lacks the desire to ask me each time one of these is required in her life. So I forgive. It’s much easier.
8. You will be disappointed that there isn’t the big fuss. Because this time it feels a thousand times more real. I’m not saying I wanted to pick out new china. But I did commit to a life partner and the co-parenting of several more children. I think that’s worth at least a salad bowl, if you’re my friend. Better yet, a bottle of wine as we will need it more than most newlyweds.
9. You will become more private about things. If only because it means not having to explain to a complete stranger at Target how five children shot out of your uterus like rapid fire. Or because you get sick of people asking which ones are “yours”.
10. You will have no road map. While there are a thousand books about blended families, none of them will be able to speak to your exact situation. Helpful advice will often be only the bits and pieces you can relate to that you have to fuse together yourself. Every single day you will want to pull out a What To Expect When…… book but instead you will have to make up your own answer on the fly.
But you will. 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.
At least that’s what I tell my family.
Related post: The Top Five Things No Step-Parent Wants to Hear