Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Talk!
This topic has been on my mind for some time and I’m happy to finally touch on it.
For years I have searched and searched for the proverbial manual on how to raise happy kids that live in two households. You know, something like… ‘exactly how to raise my daughter and two stepdaughters so that they are happy, healthy, well adjusted individuals that effortlessly blend together to form a perfect little family unit.’ HAHAHA.
Just in case you’re new around these parts, I’ll give a quick little intro:
I met Jason when he was a single dad to his two daughters- Jorgia and Jinger. Jason was divorced and several years older than me. At that time, I was a single mama to my Sophia, the greatest little blessing that could have ever happened to me. And at the risk of typing the most cliche sentence ever: I knew from the very second I met the guy that he was going to be my husband. Literally knew I was going to marry the stranger who was just passing through the crowd to get to the restroom. I will never forget those moments..
Long story short, we met for a casual date at Jason’s favorite local Mexican restaurant and the rest is history 😉
While the picture I just painted may sound like a modern twist to a Cinderella fairy tale, there’s much, much more to the story. Because there’s a few things no one tells you about having a blended family so here’s to hoping that my story offers a glimmer of encouragement and hope to you, whatever your situation may be.
Quite honestly, I never imagined having my own family where phrases like “time to pack up for Dads house” or “I can’t wait to see you in three more sleeps” would be words that I would use often. I never considered the idea of raising children that did not share my DNA nor did I ever think that I would ever actually have brief “pauses” from parenting while children stayed with ex’s. My reality is very different from my childhood dreams and there were times when it was difficult to see the future that was so delicately and divinely woven together to bring love from such profound loss.
Blended families begin from loss.
That’s a pretty huge concept when you consider the idea of blending two families together.
It takes hard work, requires sacrifice and more patience than I ever knew I had but the gift of family is always worth the fight.
I am not a child psychologist, family therapist or have any degree that renders me qualified to tell you exactly how to co parent. There are family therapists who do their jobs well (trust me on this one- I’m also happy to share my excellent resources with you). I’m definitely no expert but I am a wife and mom to a blended family with hands on experience.
The upside to having to “share” parenting time is the opportunity to take the time without your kids to just “be”.
My custody war with Sophia began before she was born and at the time, the idea of “sharing” her was impossible. I dreaded the times before she had to leave and spent the hours she was gone throwing extravagant pity parties instead of using the time productively. Thankfully, that season of life has passed and time has healed wounds and I wish I would have known then that it was all going to be ok. Every other week, my kids are with their other parents. Date nights, girls nights, hair appointments, work appointments and other various errands happen on my “off kid” week. I fill may days according to my girls schedules, and because of this…
… My shared parenting schedule has made me a better mother.
Don’t take that the wrong way, I don’t say this to brag because I fall short on.the.daily. Rather, my point is that I don’t have the luxury of time with my kids. Because of that, I make it a point to be present and spend all the moments I have with them.
Having a blended family has taught me more about patience than any other single thing I’ve ever experienced.
From the conflicting schedules to the tantrums to different ways of parenting to dividing loyalties to putting your new spouse as your priority for the health of your marriage… requires lots of patience. And then there’s those little things… like my lovely bonus teenaged daughter and our shared love for makeup, yoga pants, hair straighteners, shoes etc. When your new lip gloss goes MIA and is left at her other parents for the week…or a new bronzer accidentally shatters… all.the.patience 😉 This is probably payback for all the years of “borrowing” my mom and sisters things but still requires patience nonetheless. 🙂
And finally, because that beautifully laid out set of rules for blended families doesn’t exist, there’s no one out there that gets to tell you how to do it. No rules, just lots of love, lots of patience, a little forgiveness and a lot of grace. XO
… “He makes beauty from ashes.” Isaiah 61:3