Saturday, July 16, 2016

What being a blended family and a "step" really means.

You know if I had a dollar for every time someone told me a story about their crazy "baby mama" or how hard it is to be a step parent or the drama they have with an ex (spouse, grandparent, girlfriend) you name it.. I would already have been able to pay off my house and then some. The truth is, however, NO one wants to hear your story about how being a blended family is hard (and amazing too!) and if you do talk to them about the struggles for the most part you will end up with either a wall on how you "choose" to get into this OR you will end up with a half hearted "Well you know all exs, step moms, ect are evil." story. The fact is to make a blended family work you have to do the work and sometimes that means making hard choices and putting your marriage and kids first.

When my husband and I got together very early on we decided that our kids would all just be "our" kids. All equal, all the same, and we would work really hard to make our family work. Putting one kid above another just makes life in a blended family really really difficult and always ends up with one kid feeling like they are "less" which in my eyes is NEVER ok. This doesn't mean that Joe is not aware and very respectful of the boys father (and vice versa) as no one could replace a biological parent (nor would either one of us want to) but when the kids are at our house they get equal treatment, equal attention, equal dispoline and equal love. From very early on my sons especially really GOT what was going on. They understood and even agonized along side me when I really struggled with the fallout of Joe's custody battle with his ex wife. They immediately accepted both Joe and Penelope into our family and totally made room for her in our life and in my time. They never once bucked me spending time with Penelope or Joe and were almost immediately fiercely protective of their new sister.

See I think the real problem here is the use of the word "step" at all. I've made friends with many other stepfamilies in our journey as a family partially because one of the key factors in making a blended family work is having a support system and NO one understands any of this quite like other blended families do. And strangely enough my mother has been one of my biggest sources of strength in this matter as she was a step child herself, as a teenager her mother remarried to the man I call my grandfather (my biological grandfather died when my mom was young). The resounding thing that all my friends say over and over and over again about being remarried with kids is that it brings its own unique set of challenges to a marriage and parenting that unless you experience it you just cant quite identify with or understand. The thing I hear over and over and over again from my adult friends who were step children is how painful it is when a new step mom, dad, sibling or even grandparent does not accept them or treats them as "less" or unequal. Step or not does not matter in this household, we are all just a family. No one gets left behind no matter what in this household. Ironically enough before my father died he was CONVINCED me and Joe would get married and he was SOO upset he would not get to meet Penelope before he passed. My father made it very clear that not only was I not to "mess" up my relationship with Joe but that when we did get married that I would ALWAYS treat Penelope as my own and never ever make her feel any less than 100% part of our family. Thing is he did not have to tell me any of that because he raised me to be better than that as did my grandfather (Who happened to be my step grandfather not that I ever used that word with him and I think me and my cousin would both growl with disgust if it was ever brought up as an issue..).

We are luckier than most I think. My mother is very supportive of our family and accepts all the kids as "hers" and even babysits without complaint one night a week so me and Joe can have a "date" night. My ex (the boys father) and I do a really good job (at least I think) at communicating and co-parenting and we have an appropriate and supportive relationship when it comes to the kids. We have a strained relationship with Joe's ex and have had some issues with acceptance from extended family but all in all I think compared to some people's problems we talk to we are so much luckier than most. We are all hopeful over time that all the other problems will iron itself out and though people say "Time heals all wounds" we all know this is bullshit but time does give you a perspective and hopefully will bring peace.

I also realize that so much of this is all "taboo" no one wants to discuss the complications of being part of a blended family because it might cause "drama". Again people this is part of the problem. We HAVE to talk about this, we have to dispel the taboo nature of this problem as now more families than not will either be a step or have a step as part of their family. I am really lucky in the fact that I have a husband and mother who both 1000% support me and stand behind me talking about issues that otherwise might make some people uncomfortable. I know in the case of my articles about my father some of the information I wrote really upset some of our family members and that's OK. I do not write to hurt anyone I write because I want to help others who may feel lost that there are other people out there dealing with the same things they are!


Copyright © 2007-2015 | Some rights reserved