I assumed that by the time I was entering into my 15th year of blended family bliss that our issues would be behind us - we would surely be fully blended by then. Boy was I wrong! THE BLENDER NEVER STOPS BLENDING! No matter how long you've been together! No matter how many storms you've weathered landing on the other side safely - there's always a new challenge waiting around the corner.
Some expected - some unexpected - some a complete blindside.
THE BLENDER NEVER STOPS
Our family life has faced major changes over the past two years. Two kids off to College - EXPECTED. Figuring out who I am AGAIN as an almost empty nester - UNEXPECTED. My lack of a relationship with my youngest Step Daughter - BLINDSIDE.
Twenty years ago I became a Mother for the first time. It was nine months in the making. Nine months with an up close and personal relationship with my shiny white toilet bowl. Many nights I wondered as I hugged the toilet bowl for dear life - what genius had coined the term morning sickness anyway? How dare they give an expectant mother a false sense of hope that it would magically stop when the clock struck noon. Try the stroke of Midnight with an emotionally spent expectant mother sobbing on the bathroom floor in complete darkness.
It's a fantasy that we all at some point entertain even if we don't say it out loud - wouldn't life be better, easier if the Ex just wasn't around? No more back and forth, constant negotiation, different house rules, splitting life smack dab down the middle...... It's not that we wish for harm to fall upon the Ex - we just wish for simple, easy. But life is never simple or easy - Ex or no Ex in your life.
If we didn't have the complications of a Blended Family to contend with - there inevitably would be something equally as challenging right there to take its place. My friends with families minus the Blended seem to have just as many issues as we do - just different issues - the key word being issues. Every family has issues.
Its been years since I've been to the "What If" scenario. So when the phone rang with news that Greta, Mom to Jax and Little Hart, had suffered a heart attack - I felt guilty for ever having entertained the thought.
Last Fall, Little Hart came home from school - announcing in a strong, confident tone that she wanted to legally change her middle name to Mary after her deceased Grandma, Raylan's mother. Surprised, Raylan asked why she had decided on Mary? Little Hart responded that her and a friend were talking about possible middle names when he looked at her and said "What About Mary?"
"I just knew it Dad, I want my middle name to be Mary after Grandma."While my Hubby was moved and on board with Little Hart's request - he was only half of the equation - to legally change her name, Greta would have to agree.
I never was a huge fan of Valentines Day before I married Raylan. So it never hurt my feelings with my Hubby's constant threats to boycott the "Hallmark Holiday." Which would probably make you think I tend to shy away from the entire Holiday all together. Nope! As a Blended Family Parent - V DAY is a reminder of why I started this blended family journey in the first place......................
I fell in love with a boy named Raylan!Without him I would have never jumped into the deep end of the pool!
When I became a mother, I planned on being the Cool Mom - you know the MOM my kids told me everything! They of course don't find me very cool, let alone share everything! So I've settled on trying to create an atmosphere where they can share anything even though it isn't everything.
JUST SAYING NO when it doesn't work for your schedule or your emotional health is absolutley neccesary when you're a Mom and/or a Step Mom in a blended family. If you're anything like me - you may be saying YES when inside you're screaming not only NO, BUT HELL NO!
It's a common habit for StepMom's of a blended family to do especially when you're the newbie on the block! You want to be liked, maybe even loved and you mistakenly think saying YES - being everyone's Go To Gal will you get you there, but it rarely does.
I hate to admit it, but I've been watching Mrs. Eastwood and Company. It started out of flat out curiosity (Dirty Harry's wife after all) and, well, my secret love/addiction to reality TV. That initial curiosity quickly turned into a real love of the show in large part because I immediately identified with Dina Eastwood.
Dina is married to a older man with children from prior marriages/relationships. Although, Dina is a Step Mom to six kids, with a wide age difference - her blended family and child rearing has included one of Step Daughter - Francesca - a few years older than her own daughter she shares with Clint.
Dina and Clint have raised the two youngest girls as a family. Both Dina and Francesca are quick to point out that Francesca is close and spends time with her Mom. Right there the show had me - you can raise a close knit family and your kids can still have a healthy - positive relationship with the other parent!
Mrs. Eastwood and Company on E!
While I identified with Dina the real connection came when she said essentially - Francesca is my Step Daughter, but feels like my daughter in every way and one of my favorite people in this world! And there it was - I was totally hooked! I would absolutely say the exact thing about Little Hart.
When I agreed to marry Raylan, we had been living together for six months - attempting to blend our three youngest on a 50/50 schedule. Halle and John lived in an apartment nearby. Chris lived with his Mom an hour away - spending the occasional weekend. I thought I knew exactly what I was getting into when I agreed to marry my Hubby. Then life took over and I realized I knew nothing about the life I had chosen.
Last month when I was in NYC with Elle celebrating her 18th birthday she told me "I don't think I'll ever get married!" I immediately said "Whaaaaat? Why?" She said in a nutshell that my marriage to Raylan was one success story compared to the four failed marriages in her life. The odds were more likely that if she married it wouldn't last - so why try? If I let my guilt machine kick in I would have immediately taken all responsibility for this train of thought - then I stopped myself.
This month marks the 2nd anniversary of Little Hart's brush with death. We sat by her bedside watching the respirator take her every breath - wondering if she would ever tell another funny story that made us laugh uncontrollably, inform us she was not going to do this, that or the other (she's so damn stubborn!) or be able to say "I Love You Mom and Dad."
Little Hart and her BFF from the hospital
Greta, Raylan and I sat in a small ICU room for NINE days and nights - all unified in praying for a miracle. One arrived on day six when she the turned a corner. A lot of things in our Blended Family Life were forever changed after those nine days.
As a Step Mom, my role in disciplining my Step Kids has been different with each kid and changed as the kids have grown. The biggest change has been with my Step Daughter Little Hart. She was just two years old when we moved in together and is now almost fourteen. In Little Hart's younger years the bulk of her care fell to me and so did the bulk of the discipline. We were very close during that time - it was a natural fit.
When Little Hart entered the teenage years, my husband took over the reigns of outlining and enforcing the rules of our house and the rules we have partnered with Greta as universal between households. When Little Hart asked to have a Facebook page, it was at an younger age than her siblings which gave us pause.