My step-daughter asked for a blender for Christmas and it got my wheels turning…
A blender is useful for nourishment and for fun! It can whip up a nutrient dense smoothie in the morning and a margarita in the evening. Everyone needs a blender.
I asked for a blender once too. Only the blender I hoped for was a little different from the one my daughter wants and I’m so glad I never got my wish! Let me explain…
Once upon a time, 15 years ago, I married a man with two beautiful daughters. They were 11 and 5 and perfect. Their sense of humor was my favorite. They loved music, movies, being outdoors, and I loved playing with their hair. When I fell for their dad, his tiny lovely ladies captured my heart, too.
BUUUT, at times, our new family was no fairy tale. I won’t bore you with the details (or reveal things that should remain private). However, it is safe to admit we struggled to find our groove in those early years.
Those were lonely years for me. I had little to no support for too long. I was totally winging it. Exactly none of my friends or family had parented in a blended family! We were five years into this familial experiment before I stumbled into a counselor’s office and found some books and blogs that helped guide me.
Before I got help I longed for our family to totally relax, laugh, and make memories together. I wanted it to happen in the time it took to throw some berries, banana, and yogurt into a Ninja (best blender ever!!!!).
Only, families just don’t work like that. Whether they are biological or blended, bonding takes time. Actually, bonding takes LOTS of time!
Author of The Smart Step-Family, Ron Deal, says step-families should think of themselves as a crockpot. A slow cooker is more like it. He explains that the crockpot works by two important functions: time and low-heat. I SOOO wish I had understood the need for time when I first stepped into my new role. It would have saved myself and all of us some heart ache.
More than anyone of us, I needed time. Time provided something different for each of us. But for me, the step-mom, time gave me eyes to see the bigger picture. If we had bonded as quickly as I’d hoped I would be writing something very different today. I would have a list of things we did that made it all happen perfectly. I’m glad that is not our story. I’m glad our bonding happened much more mystically and magically over time. As parents in a blended family we could have done a lot of things better. I’ll share those stories with you another day. Today, our blended family bond is a slow-cooking Christmas miracle and I could not be more thankful!
The holidays were always particularly sensitive times for me. If you are a parent in a blended family with any vision for what you would like the holidays to look like, you may be able to relate. There is so much planning and anticipating and decorating and gift wrapping and hoping for everyone to be happy!!!
Blended or not, it is inevitable. At least one person will be unhappy. That Is Normal! For years I thought it was because we were blended when actually it was because we were raising kids…normal, healthy, emotional, caring (and sometimes not caring) kids.
If you are a slow-cooking blended family and are struggling through this season, I have some encouragement for you! Be patient. Be consistent. Give generously. Time is on your side!
If you would like to hear a few more of my thoughts on blended families you can listen to an Army Wife Network podcast I participated in…here. (Interview begins at 26:30). Crystal Neihoff and Betsy Rains were WONDERFUL to talk with and they are fellow step-moms! I heart solidarity!!!
If you are a seasoned step-parent or a parent in a blended family I would love to hear from you!!! How did you cope with the stresses of the early years? Did you glean any words of wisdom that helped you maintain perspective of the bigger picture?