Thursday, September 29, 2011

We're Surrounded

This past weekend I decided to go through some old pictures I had rescued from my grandpa's barn.  As I started to go through the pictures and I am explaining to Roger, (who wasn't really listening anyway), who everyone was, it occurred to me how much of a blended family I am really in.  

Some of the pictures I found were pictures of my Grandpa and Grandma "Ski", but I the truth is that my Grandma was actually my step-grandma.  I never thought of her that way when I was a kid, but it's true, my dad's mom died when he was young and my grandpa re-married when my dad was in college.  The woman I knew as my grandma was actually my dad's step-mom. 

My mom had a stepparent as well.  My grandpa on my mom's side was actually my step-grandpa. Her dad died when she was in her mid 20's and my grandma re-married not too long before I was born.  Again, I never thought of my grandpa differently, he was just my grandpa.

It's a fact, that large parts of my family are only related to me by my grandparents' second marriages.  I feel just as loved by them as I do my biological family and have never really thought of them differently.

Roger has a step-mother too.  His mom died almost 20 years ago and his dad had been re-married for about seven years before he passed away.  Roger doesn't necessarily look at her as his step-mom, but more as his dad's wife.  She remains a part of our lives via phone and mail and I think it is really nice of her to continue to make an effort to be a part of the family.  She doesn't have to do it, but she does and that speaks volumes of the kind of woman she is.

Did you know that 1 out of 3 Americans is now a stepparent, stepchild, step sibling or some other member of a blended family?  Did you know that more than half of all Americans today have been, are now, or will eventually be in one or more step situations during their lifetime?  We're surrounded!  The most common type of step family is one where there are children at home with a step-father in the house, but as you can see there are all different kinds.  You may think it is something that you will never have to deal with or a situation you will never be in, but you just don't know.  I am sure my parents who have been married for 44 years didn't think they would be step-grandparents, but they are, and they treat our children like their grandchildren - period. 

It doesn't matter where people come from or if your family is all blood related, what does matter how you treat those people that are a part of your family.  People just want to be loved and respected and your family, no matter how blended, is the best place to start.

Look at your family far and near and tell me how you are a part of a blended family.  Leave a comment - I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Apple of My Eye

This morning a co-worker came in and wished me Happy Mother's Day!  I kinda gave her a quirky look and she laughed and said, "Well, it should be mother's day.  It's the first day you became a mother."  I never thought of it that way before, but sure enough, she was right.  Today, is Christian's birthday.  His 17th birthday to be exact and he really is the apple of my eye.

I have been blessed with such a wonderful son, who I have had the privilege to raise.  We have one more official year together before he goes off to college and become the boss of his own life.  I love seeing how he has grown into a fine young man.  He and I have always had a close relationship, where we are able to talk, laugh and argue, knowing that there is an unconditional commitment and love between us that will never cease.  Even when he makes choices that lead to distress and might even make me a little upset - like spilling dirt on the newly cleaned white carpet...but that's another story.

I raised Christian alone for a good part of his life and I am trying to do my best to let go and allow him to be the man I know he will be.  Since it was he and I for such a long time, I have a desire for him to have a solid fatherly relationship.  So, it is music to my ears when I hear Christian and Roger relate in that parent-child relationship.  To hear them joke, quibble, talk and play, really makes my day.  Christian has silly ways of showing his affection, and when he messes with Roger (who he calls RP), I explained that means he likes you. You're in! 

It means a lot to the biological parent, when you hear your spouse and child interacting as though they have been together for years.  You smile on the outside and hope on the inside that they see all you see in your baby.  You hope that perhaps they can love them too.  That's all you want, for them to accept, love and know all that is wonderful about them like you do.  It gives you the optimism that it IS possible for you all to get along and even be one big happy family, no matter how blended you might be.

The next time you speak to your child, whether your biological or step child, remember that someone else might be listening.  Are you making music to their ears because that might be the apple of their eye?

Happy Birthday, Christian!  I love you!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering September 10, 2001

I know what you're thinking. You looked at the title of this blog and figured I got the date wrong.  You're thinking...doesn't she know the date should be Sept 11th?  I didn't get the date wrong.  Do you remember what you were doing on September 10, 2001?  I sure don't.  I know exactly what I was doing the next day, however.  In fact, I could probably give you a play by play. 

See, I was listening to a story on NPR this afternoon, in which many people talked about what they were doing on September 10, 2001.  They were able to recall with complete clarity the events of that day.  Most, if not all of the people interviewed were then greatly affected by the events of the following day - 9/11/2001.  In fact, they each seemed to have a direct connection to someone who died as a result of those horrific terrorist attacks.  It occurred to me that for these folks, Sept 10th was just as significant a day as 9/11.  Perhaps it was the last day they had dinner with their spouse, or maybe it was the last day they spoke to their brother on the phone.  Whatever happened, they remember, because of what happened next.

I remember what happened on February 23, 2003.  That is the day that my ex-husband asked me for a divorce.  It was devastating.  My world fell out from underneath me.  It was something that he had already prepared in his mind, but I had no idea what was coming. My first reaction was fine, just do it, and my next reaction was, how can I save my marriage.  What happened next is I fought hard for my marriage.  I did everything I could do to make it work, and I learned a lot.  I learned that it takes two to want to make it happen and sometimes, you have to cut your losses and move on.  What happened next was separation, followed by divorce.  There was sadness and guilt, followed by acceptance and then there was just life.

Ultimately, this period of angst and anger was followed by much joy and happiness.  I am not condoning divorce, nor do I think it is a best case scenario, but sometimes better things happen as a result of the situation.  For me, it was a better understanding of myself and a development of self worth.  I developed a strong relationship with God and full awareness of what I wanted in a marriage. 

I would guess you don't remember what you were doing on February 23, 2003, and that's OK, I don't expect you to.  It is because of what happened next with me that I do.  We all have those dates that stick in our heads.  What is your date?  What happened next?  Make your date unforgettable because of how you respond.  It is not the date that defines us but how we deal with what happens next that makes that date important.