Saturday, April 26, 2014

Two Weeks Notice

I think it is safe to say that life continues to surprise me. Just when I think I have everything all figured out, things change, and it seems as though I must change with it.  On Monday, just as my husband, Roger, and I are heading to bed, our son, Adam, decides to make an announcement.  Essentially, Adam was giving us his two weeks notice. Two weeks...until he moves out of our house and into his own place, two hours away.

When Roger and I got married, and began to navigate being in a blended family, it wasn't easy.  It wasn't easy adopting and working with someone else's parenting style. It wasn't easy dealing with all these new and different personalities.  Being a newlywed and figuring out one new person is hard enough, let alone when there are others you have to figure out too.

In our new blended family, I think my relationship with Adam was the most tumultuous.  Adam has a very easy going, laid back, mellow personality.   He likes to do things in his own time and in his own way, and has often been a bit like the absent-minded professor. Adam is brilliantly smart, but often doesn't see the nose on his own face.  I, on the other hand, am a very structured, routine person.  Things are very systematic, and everything has a place and purpose.  When these two types of personalities mix, it can adjustment.  In addition to opposite personalities, in the early years, I often felt as though I had to keep up a bit of a wall with Adam.  I think I felt this way because he is my step-son, and I worried that if I let down that wall and got too close, it would  be hurtful to my biological son, Christian.  How could I love them both?  How can I love two sons so close in age?  I couldn't see past my own insecurities and I didn't want to step on any toes. 

With these struggles it was easy for me to get very short with Adam very quickly.  It was easy to blame him for my frustration. I made many mistakes with Adam in the early years. I was quick tempered instead of patient.  I was distant instead of showing love.  I found myself needing to apologize to him instead of talking with him. The good news is that Adam is a loving and forgiving person.  He rose above how I was and has become a truly remarkable young man.  He was patient and kind to me.  He gave me forgiveness and love, even when I didn't deserve it.  As time has gone on, I have opened my mind and heart to Adam and as a result have gained another wonderful son!  I no longer worry about how I can love two sons at once.  That's silly!  Nothing will change all the love I have for Christian.  I birthed him and can't imagine my life without him in it., nor can I remember how it was before him.  At the same time, nothing will change all the love I have for Adam, either, and life without him would not be the same.  I am lucky enough to have two sons to love.

So on Monday, when Adam made his announcement, I didn't really have a lot to say. I was in shock to say the least.  It was not until later that it really dawned on my how much I will truly miss him. Adam has been living at home this year. He has been working, maturing, and helps out in almost anyway we ask. He has been an adult living in this household and trying to figure out what he wants to do in life.  His decision to move out, have come as a surprise. I hope he remembers all that we have taught him. I hope he remembers to brush his teeth.  But mostly, I am confident he will take the world in his hand and succeed in all that God has planned for him. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

You're In a Blended Family too?!

It never ceases to amaze me of how many people are in a blended family.  It seems as though wherever I go, I always strike up a conversation with someone and end up finding out they too are in a blended family.  I am not sure why this surprises me so much, except for the fact that I feel like I'm the only one.

Are you like that?  Do you feel like you are the only one in a blended family?  Do you feel like you're the only one on the "blended family" island trying to figure out which way is up?  I so often feel this way, when logically, I know I am not. 

I don't hide, it  - being in a blended family that is.  I am very proud of  my family.  I have no problem explaining that we are a blended family.  I think when I do that, others feel comfortable mentioning that they are in a blended family as well. It's as if they need to know that who they are talking to is safe and will understand where they are coming from.  People want to know that they aren't going to be judged for not being "traditional."  Well, let it be known that I will not judge you.  You've heard me say it before - we are all in this together!  If we can't lean on each other as others in blended family situations, to get support and understanding, then who can we lean on?  Sometimes our situations are unique and sometimes they are the same as a traditional family, but most importantly, we just need to know that someone is on our side.  I'm on your side.  I am on the side for a successful blended family and my hope is that we can do this together.

So with that being said, I have a few declarations to make. 
  • First of all, I love my family.  I love my husband and I love my kids.  I love all of my kids, whether I birthed them or not. 
  • When I talk about my family, I don't differentiate between my children unless I have to for clarification purposes.  (since the boys are the same age, I am often asked if they are twins  - see The Twins We Never Had).  My kids are my kids.
  • I don't feel that I love any of my children more than another, but I do love them differently.  It would be unfair  and untrue to say that I don't love my biological son, Christian, differently than my two stepchildren.  I made him, he grew inside of me, I birthed him, he is my blood and so of course I will love him differently.  Just as the relationships with my stepdaughter, Alex, and stepson, Adam, have grown and developed over the years, I love them very differently than I do Christian. 
  • When I have grandkids, they will all be my grandchildren...period.
  • I have not done everything perfectly in our family but I strive to do my best to aid in the continual development of our family's relationship.  (So, yes, Christian, we MUST invite everyone on a family vacation)
  • When I die (which will happen sometime between now and many years from now) I don't want Alex or Adam to feel like they have to be labeled as 'stepchild' in my obituary or at the funeral.  Just as in our love, their mourning will be different than Christian's, but they will all still really miss me a lot!
Of course I could go on, but I think you get the point.  A family is what you make of it regardless of how it is made. Family is family.  You may not always get along or see eye to eye, but you're stuck with them.  Family is family, traditional or blended, let it be known that you're not on an island alone.