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!
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.
This past Sunday's episode furthered my love of the show. Dina and Francesca were having an argument over Francesca's(19) boyfriend Tyler(32). Immediately it tapped into my own fear that no matter how long or how involved I have been in one of my Step Kids life - what if I say or do something that destroys our relationship permanently?
There are plenty of cases where biological children may not speak to their biological parents for years due to a falling out, but biology has a funny way of reuniting parents and children at some point during their lifetime.
For Step Parents, a huge rift often times feeds upon itself - growing into a huge divide that makes it impossible for the Step Parent and child to reconnect or if they do there is always a distance.
Luckily Francesca and Dina were able to work through the tension and move on - something that TV programming doesn't always highlight between a Step Parent and Step Kid. It was actually comforting to me in a way to see it resolved.
I know for myself there have been a number of times, specifically with Little Hart that I worried our relationship might not go the distance. We have been extremely close for most of her life since I came into her world when she was just short of turning three years old. However over the past nine months due to a combination of factors - she's a teenager - establishing a relationship with her Mom - has led to some difficult moments in our relationship.
The normal inclination when this happens in a relationship with your step kid is to push the panic button! Start lobbying your Step Kid to keep the relationship as is - ultimately putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the child. The result often times is an outcome far different from the one you were trying to persevere to begin with - closeness is replaced with extreme distance. Or you may feel justified in holding a grudge toward your Step Kid for the way they have treated you after you have done so much for them - perhaps expecting a grand gesture or apology.
I have fought many tenancies to do those very things these past nine months. It's an easy slope to slide down once you start feeling sorry for yourself. What I found is that when I was free to accept her overtures for a reconnection no matter what happened a week ago, three days ago, an hour ago - Little Hart knew that I was honestly wanting to have a relationship with her.
In Little Hart's case, I'm convinced she hasn't really understood how she has been feeling these past months and needed some time to work through them in her own way. Perhaps not how I would - an adult - but rather a child who has lived through some tough life challenges that most adults would have a hard time processing half as well as Little Hart.
I'm looking forward to watching as the Eastwood's blended family story unfolds - it's nice to see some of the issues I've faced in my blended family on the TV screen with a peaceful - happy resolution to blended family issues.