I am a single mother of three. Soon I will be married to the man of my absolute most wonderful fairy-tale dreams, and with him come two beautiful young children who fit in age right between my own. People have joked that we are the Brady Bunch, but that’s so far from the truth. The Brady Bunch is a chocolate syrup and sprinkles, whipped cream and cherry, psychedelic mind trip compared to what actually happens when two families begin to blend into one. It’s messy, loud, and scary. There are more tears than you can imagine, more fights than ever before, more second guessing and even more stress to be the perfect parent. Here’s a recap of my life just a few weeks ago.
Five kids under nine, eleven long hours a day without Dad, and little old me. It was the last few weeks before summer vacation ended and the kids were at their craziest and crankiest. The sun was still a blazing hot summer one, the kids were hot and antsy. Add to the mix our impromptu move across town (actually a MAJOR BLESSING, albeit the terrible timing) and as one might imagine, this Mommy’s mind was slowly melting down. There were times during those few weeks that I could feel my body going into panic mode; days when I thought I might have a legit panic attack; days which by 10 am I was asking myself, “Is it too early for a glass of wine? Or a whole bottle?” I texted my future Mr. (father of approx. 1/3 of the little monsters) probably every hour for two straight weeks, grumbling, whining, freaking out over the cell-phone waves, just to relieve a little of the pressure that was building up in my head. He graciously calmed me down during his few quick text breaks at work.
I am new to being a (future) Step-Mom, and I am admitting to the world, it is HARD.
It’s hard when your children are hateful to, or jealous of, your step-kids, when all you want is for them all to get along like birth siblings. (An unreasonable expectation if you think it’s gonna happen within the first year!)
It’s hard when your step-kids figure out your hesitance to punish them and use that to their own advantage, doing things their bio parent would NEVER tolerate. (If you’re anything like me, it is terribly difficult give consequences to my future husband’s kids because I want so badly for them to like me. I’m a weenie, I know. I am slowly getting better at the use of logical consequences for my step-kids, but it’s a slow process.)
It’s hard when you get caught in a… KID: “My Mom lets me do this at home.” STEP PARENT: “I am sorry, but that is not how we do things here.” …back and forth. And back and forth. And back and forth.
It’s hard when, after a long, hard day trying your best to be the best Mom you can be, someone says, “I want my Moooooom,” or “I want my Daaaad.” And you think that you will never truly be Mom or Dad in their eyes, and rightfully so; they already have one.
I think it’s important to take a step back in all of these moments. And I say this in hindsight–because while these things were happening to me, all I could think was, “Woe is me, this is hard, this is frustrating, this will NEVER WORK!” Today, looking back at those few weeks with a deep breath, I realize that all of those moments were NORMAL. They were the healthy growing pains of a new family being born into this world. Our step-family will meld and mesh little by little, week by week, tiny victory by tiny victory. This will slowly get better. And life will go on. And not only that, but while I was stressing and trying to process the crazy /difficult moments, I was too busy to really appreciate the moments of peace: the short stints of time when the oldest and youngest were playing nicely together and the moment that the strong-willed child in the mix decided to share her favorite toy with someone.
Being a parent is hard. Being a step parent is, in my opinion, harder. But the victories, sometimes so few and far between, deserve to be recognized and praised. It is a slow process, but like the Word says in Psalms, Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart… It will get easier with time.
My blended family might never be a perfect one, but with patience and love (and deep breaths and wine!) we will someday grow into a strong, healthy blended family.