I truly believe that blended families are THE BEST KEPT SECRET. Yes, everyone knows about blended families and the blessings and horrors of step-parents and kids, right?! But the amount of work both physically and emotionally is astounding to me. And there’s really no way to describe it without living it. I’ve tried explaining it to my friends who are still “blissfully” in their first marriage. I try to describe being a newlywed, the pressures of having kids, jobs, dealing with ex’s and their families, and total strangers now family, not to mention someone is in a new home or everyone is in a new space along with which dishes to keep or get rid of and keeping emotional values for things in check and re-evaluated…. all bundled into one year and usually within 6 months. It’s really a hard concept to grasp.
How did you two meet and how long have you been married?
Our story begins in 1983…. for real…. 1983. My family had moved from northern Oklahoma to Southern Oklahoma my 7th-grade year of school. Andy and I were in the same church affiliation. In 1984 we ‘dated’ for about 2-3 weeks …and held hands once. Very scandalous, haha. I always knew he had a special place for me; I just didn’t know how much. Life went on after our ‘trist.’ We were always friends and just lived our lives.
Andy is 2 years older than me, and he just disappeared one day. I now know he had joined the Army. We went our separate ways living our very different lives. I remember about 10-12ish years ago when FB was becoming a thing, I found him there and asked how he was doing… he had just begun his divorce, but that was all the contact we had.
Fast forward, and I found myself divorced with four teenagers and zero help from my ex….like zero. I had been a stay at home mom and was working at providing for these kids and starting some sort of a career… I had no ‘warning shot’ from my ex…one day we were great, the next he was moving out. So it was a little like throwing a toddler into the deep end and saying “swim!”.
I had been single for about two years, and it had been my birthday and my son who is serving
a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints had sent the cutest picture saying Happy Birthday Mom on a wipe board. I had posted it on Instagram and FB. I had been on a TERRIBLE date the weekend before and I remember just being tired. You know we’ve all been there. So what do tired mommies do?! They get pizza and sit and scroll Instagram of course! Haha… I noticed Dru had liked my picture….but I had no idea who Dru was…he has always been Andy to me. I clicked on his profile and figured out it was him.
I messaged him on a whim and suggested we meet for dinner sometime (ensuring he was still single), we made a date for that Friday (it was Tuesday). We ended up texting for about four days till our date. We played ’20 questions’ to get to know one another again. He picked me up for a movie that Friday and we joke that we’re still on our first date. It all went VERY fast. That was April 21st and we married June 30th. So yea…. FAST. But we knew our foundation backgrounds and we knew we wanted the same things out of this life and decided we each felt the other was worth the work.
Our issues with blending a family can, on paper, really seem like humble bragging. But looking at it deeper, they are our own personal struggles.
How old are each of the children that you brought into the marriage?
My husband has two children, and I have 4. His ‘bookend’ mine. He has a 24-year-old, and then I have a 20, 19, 18, and 15-year-olds, and then his daughter is our caboose at 13 years old. They are great kids that are happy we found each other again. My stepson may have given me one of the best compliments when he told me the life we created in the last year is what he’s always wanted and hoped.
My husband had been single for eight years and had vowed never to be married again, and had not even been dating in those eight years. So his mindset was VERY independent and VERY single. His older son was already out of the house, and he had a daughter whom he shared physical custody with…so he wasn’t used to actual bodies around him all the time. He’s also an introvert, so the instant amount of people around…ALL the time was monumental for him.
I have full physical and legal custody of my children. Their dad literally doesn’t even talk to them (their choice because of his choices)… so they are with me 24/7. My husband’s ex used to have his daughter every weekend but has since moved 3 hours away, so she is with us almost all the time as well. So you can imagine the struggles of just everyday life from being the only person in the house to now sleeping with someone else every night and ALWAYS having multiple people in the house. Adjusting is an understatement of the year.
We just had our 1st anniversary on June 30th, so it’s been interesting to look back and see how we’ve stretched and grown. There’s been a lot of faking it till you make it. I wouldn’t say we were an instant family, but we functioned like one, which honestly helped. When it comes to parenting, we tend to stay in our own lane with our own kids. We’ve started going into each other’s territories very carefully always respecting what we’ve created thus far with our kids in our own ways. I do not call out my bonus daughter like I do my kids. That doesn’t work for her personality and the way my husband and his ex treat her, so I use a different approach with her and always VERY aware that I’m the odd man out when it really comes down to any choices and decisions. My husband is very respectful as well and will go through me first. My hope is that we don’t have to be so “careful”…but for now it works and is a step in adjusting to being our own kind of family.
Respect is the name of the ‘game.’ Even when we think our way is ‘right’… we each lived our lives successfully for 40 plus years, and no houses burnt down, and everyone was still alive so respecting each other is THE KEY. I always step back and look at the situation and ask how important my point REALLY is and what it might create. What sort of respect am I giving to receive it as well?
We have amazing children that have really helped this process. I must give kudos to all of them. They’ve all been aware of the struggles we have and have really worked at changing and adjusting to help us adjust and make this family work. I feel like they all want this as much as we do, for different but real reasons. But we’ve also been raising them in such a way that they already had our trust, and we were already working as a family that looks out for one another.
My kids (and myself) had been in therapy for a year after their dad left, this, in my opinion, should be a requirement for ALL children of divorce. They need someplace to figure things out WITHOUT our influence and junk. This helps them to work out their frustrations with the whole situation and not to let our stuff transfer to them. This includes the stuff that rises after re-marriage. I was shocked when things came up that I thought were a non-issue, therapy people… therapy! It can only help the blending process. If a therapist isn’t working for you… change them. You are not (or shouldn’t be) obligated to stay with them. I’ve met a terrible therapist and some that were great but just didn’t ‘speak’ to me. Do what works.
The kids each have their own struggles, but they are regular everyday struggles of growing up, nothing in the realm of some kids of divorce that I hear that rebel and are terrible to the incoming parent or their own parent. My children especially struggle with abandonment issues. They are older too, so Dru is more of a friend figure, except for my youngest… I believe she looks at him like a father, there was no need to parent them and Dru already had an older son, so he knew a little about letting go and letting them live.
We took a strengthening stepfamilies class after we had been married for about five months and it was great because we’d walk away with a better perspective to deal better…. AND realizing how good we had it. We also walked away with tools and realization of things like it’s ok to not like the bonus children all the time… I mean we don’t even like our own kids all the time, so it makes sense. Ha! The more education and direction you can get the better. There are professionals and people who have already done this ready to share and teach…thank goodness!!!
I will say this about parenting and blending a family. Multi-tasking emotions is a MUST. Deciding what sort of family I wanted was essential. So when things aren’t going necessarily the way I want or I would do or would ever think about…. I ask myself if my initial reaction is going to help my “dream” or hurt it. It has helped keep my tongue MANY MANY times. Because that’s what we’re all working towards, right? The ‘dream’ of having a healthy and happy family… I just had to decide what that could look like and just keep walking towards that hope.
Time is a beautiful enemy…that’s how I describe it. I’m not the most patient person in life. So this has been a huge stretch in letting time do what it does best… heal and create. It’s helped to heal a lot of wounds (is still helping) and is allowing us to create memories and bond little by little. Being thrown into what is meant to take decades is intense and confusing. But allowing time to be a friend and take a deep breath… priceless.
I want to note that I realize our story has minimal ex-involvement. Not like some of you that are in a constant battle of not only having to deal with the said ex but help these kids navigate two households and two ways of living and all the emotions that are involved with that dynamic. I tell my husband all the time that as angry as I get at my ex for choosing to not be in my kids’ lives, at least he’s inadvertently keeping his “junk” to himself and not making it harder for them. And my bonus daughter was VERY young when they divorced so she’s really not known life differently other than now having to share time, space, and money with us. She recognizes the benefit of having us here, so she’s been very good about the sharing…still hard but still doing it swimmingly.
Thank you for allowing me to share our story. I’m feeling even more grateful seeing our story on paper and seeing that we are getting it done.
I credit my husband and kids for sticking it out and looking for our ‘dream’ beside me. I credit my faith in a Heavenly Father that I know is watching over ALL of us and wants to see us succeed.
We still have a road ahead of us for sure… as I mentioned earlier, my oldest is serving a full-time mission for our church and hasn’t even met Dru yet! So we have that little nugget to experience coming soon (6 months!)… so we clearly have things to still figure out. I do believe though that we have the tools, love, and the desire to get it done.
Kudos to all those blended tribes out there… you’re doing better than you think you are…I’m SURE of it!!!
To read other guest blended family stories click HERE
Thanks for sharing Kim!! You have a beautiful family and an encouraging story! Keep up the good work and let me know when you start your blog!!
♥ The Blended Tribe
So today marks the day that would’ve been my 17th wedding Anniversary with my ex. Odd to think about that now. I remember this day five years back. I was distraught and sad and didn’t know how I would ever get through life without my ex. Fast forward five years and my how things have changed. I can’t even imagine being with that man and don’t know how I was with him for as long as I was.
The bottom line is that God has a plan for everything. He knew the outcome of our relationship the day we started dating. Everything happens for a reason, and although I don’t wish divorce, co-parenting, stepparenting on anyone, I wouldn’t change what happened or my life now for anything.
It’s hard not to remember this day because we shared an anniversary date with dear family friends. It is nice to finally acknowledge this date for what it was……a season of my life. It was a long season full of good times and bad times, and it was a season that I HAD to go through to get me to this season.
So, I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t go through that season….guess what, it happened, and I have two kids to prove it. I’m not going to be embarrassed or ashamed of that season anymore because I can’t erase my past or what has happened. All I can do is look back at this day and be grateful for where I am now.
If you are going through a divorce now, please know that it will get better! I know right now it doesn’t feel like it, but you are on to bigger and better things. I promise.
♥ The Blended Tribe
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It has been a busy summer, so I’m catching up on all my blog posts. Ashton had fair two weeks ago.
I’m so proud of my son. He decided to try out 4-H this year, and he raised a pig. This 4-H and fair was an entirely new experience for me. Ashton worked the hardest that I’ve ever seen him work. He got 2nd place in class for his pig and sold his pig at market. We are hooked on 4-H. Being in 4-H has taught him so much this year. He has learned work ethic and how to raise and care for a living animal. He knows the hard work and dedication that this takes now. I recommend 4-H for any kid, and now we have even more members of our tribe interested in raising animals next year after watching Ashton. It’s been a great experience all around, and we are hooked!
A huge thank you to Papa and cousin Sean for helping AJ raise his pig this year. He couldn’t have done it without you two ♥
We have a teenager in the house 😱. Happy 13th Birthday to this guy! 👇🏼
We had an early morning celebration before Dad left for work. I’m dropping him off with his mom and AJ and I are off to the fair 🐷.
Soooooo early 🙄
We love you and hope you have a great day celebrating with your mom!
Hope you all had a safe and fun 4th of July!! We had our usual neighborhood fun with friends, family, a bike parade, and incredible food. I love our village tribe. We have some pretty amazing people surrounding us 💗💗
❤️ The Blended Tribe
We all know some of the significant stressors in life, you know, the events that cause some kind of stress on us either good or bad.
⋅Loss of Job
So how would these events not have a significant impact on kids going through them? Right now in our house, we have all four kids dealing with huge life changes at the other parent’s house. How does this affect our kids and in turn us? It affects us by our kids having emotions, thoughts, feelings, attitudes that carry over to our house when they are with us.
Here is what I’m learning through the process….
1. As the parents, be a little more sensitive during this period with the kids. Once I was able to put two and two together, I was able to realize that the kids might need a little more love, attention, and understanding during this time. We’re not letting them get away with things, but we are trying to be a little more sensitive to their needs at this time.
2. Life goes on as usual in our house. We will be sensitive, but nothing changes in our household. We continue with our schedule, chores, and so on. Keep consistent with your normal activities and rules. Kids thrive on consistency and normalcy so keep that up when you have them.
3. Let the kids know you are available and will to talk about any feelings they might have about whats going on. Let them vent or let them express their feelings while not inputting yours. You are only a safe place for them to express what they are feeling and dealing with.
These are the few things I’ve noted so far going through this process with the kids. I will make sure to share if anything else comes up.
It’s all about learning in this crazy house, and it can be exhausting sometimes, but I think we will all turn out better for it.
♥ There is a special someone out there for every single person. I truly believe this now ♥