The moment my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I became serious (the kind of serious where you call each other boyfriend and girlfriend, let your kids hang out with each other, travel together and meet each other’s parents), I started having these thoughts I’d never had in a relationship before.
Like, how’s all this going to work, dude?! (My step daughter is on a Dude, that’s lit kick right now and it’s become ingrained in my self-thought. I’m very impressionable. Talk to me in a British accent and I’ll likely be throwing the word brilliant around like the paper boy throws the Sundays.)
But really, how are you, me, my two kids, your two kids, all going to work? This stuff ain’t easy! We weren’t even close to living together yet and I was already concerned. Stressed out is putting it mildly—I spent our first “let’s all hang out date” at Disneyland alternating between praying my toddler didn’t have a tantrum and my baby didn’t get a leaky diaper to stressing over whether Mike’s kids would even like me. Or, worse, if they’d just decide they outright hated me.
Mike was all dreamy about it. At least he appeared to be. The fact that his five-year-old son wanted to hold my hand the whole time to show me this magical theme-filled world and his daughter wanted to sit on my lap or have me carry her was sign enough to him that we were all chill. A preview to what our life together would be like: Summer = freak out. Mike = all chill.
Despite how well our first excursion out all together had been (the kids didn’t hate me!), every conversation since that Mike and I had about becoming one family, I felt concerned.
No, it was more than concern. This was a deep sort of worry, an anxiety that I had never dealt with before. Each set of kids had already experienced other girlfriends or boyfriends in their lives through their other parents. On our side, Mike’s kids knew me as the only girlfriend their dad had since his divorce; my kids knew Mike as the only boyfriend I had since my divorce. The whole thing was foreign to me, also, having grown up in a household with my mom and my dad, still married today after 53 years. 53 years!
Sadly enough, it’s less normal now to have the same two humans that conceived you, raise you and still be married and wait, get this…. Be good at it. Not perfect. But good. There was no abuse in my family. No manipulation. No guilt trips. No addiction, unless you count those late night runs to get frozen yogurt. The biggest obstacles I had to overcome back then included trying out for the tennis team, tripping in front of the quarterback, wanting to get asked to the dance, and getting into college. I know, I know. Yuppie times 50. Things were so smooth sailing I would sometimes wish for adversity so that I had something I could overcome and be proud of. (It would appear that this wish would be granted, just many years after I had initially made it.)
One thing I was certain about, though, was the fact that my kids would have the same wholesome, stress-free childhood I did, with two parents who lived together and loved each other. When I got divorced, I was devastated. I couldn’t believe what happened to my world. How was I going to do this? Were my kids going to be okay? What would people think? (That’s a whole other blog post.)
It was really to let go of the idea that my kids would not have the same experience I did growing up. But, here’s the real deal: We aren’t all meant to have the same experience. What I can be grateful for now is that my kids are loved. They are so loved by Mike and I and they are so loved by their dad and his wife. We may not do things the same way, we may not always see eye to eye, but they are loved and that’s what matters.
Wouldn’t it be rock solid awesome if we could just focus on that and do without any of the drama that comes along with divorce, dating, co-parenting, step kids? Of course it would! But that’s like saying, We could achieve world peace if people would just show each other a little more respect and empathy. Way easier said than done. And when it comes to blending families, it doesn’t matter how much you love your partner or your step children—there are going to be challenges and things that might feel insurmountable. The good news is, none of us has to do this alone, and along this journey, I will share some things. I got the adversity I was asking for and while at times it was sheer hell—like can’t get out of bed hell—I made it through.
Mike and I started dating ten years ago and we are now going on two years of marriage. I have two children that came from me and I have two children that came to me. I’ve known them for ten years and I can say I feel pretty lucky for where I’m at now, but the road has not been the smoothest. Despite this, it’s a road I would still choose.
We often get complimented on how well we do this whole blended family thing. But sister, let me tell you, you can only do well when you are forced to figure out how to do it right.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Blending families ain’t easy. This stuff is important to me. It’s important to me because I love kids. I love humans. We have an opportunity, for those of us who have been divorced. Something went wrong and divorce was the solution. Wherever you are right now is where you are and the only thing that can be done is to improve this situation you are in. But, I’m an entrepreneur, so I don’t want just better. I have goals. I have BIG, HUGE moon shot goals. I own several businesses and this is just one more passion that I am putting my heart into. I’ve been writing a book about it and I’ll share more about that in the coming weeks.
I want to help families like ours, parents like us, and those struggling with what works, what doesn’t. Most important, though, is giving the kids a feeling of security, so I want to start a conversation about just what that means and the best ways we can go about doing that. There’s enough stress growing up and in the real world. We don’t need to add to it.
Mike and I are launching a podcast this week. It’s called The Everything Always Podcast and it’s a podcast for blended families.
If you are someone who is going through a divorce, is divorced, has kids, is dating someone with kids, is married to someone with kids, is getting remarried, thinking of any or all over the above, basically, ALL THE THINGS… you’ll want to stick around. I think you’ll also find it helpful to have Mike’s perspective—the man has been through A LOT!
I hope you’ll stay for the ride and I’m so excited to learn about you as we build this community. Please comment and share if it means something to you.
Let’s do this.