I decided to write Part 2 of My Story. Where I come from is related to where I am today – for better or for worse. What I am discovering in my adult life would have been helpful to know in my 20’s. I am sure on some level we can all relate. It certainly would have helped me work through the unresolved fact that I had black hair and my sister did not. I am not so caught up on this any longer but early on, I couldn’t help but notice!
The paradigm of it all though troubles me on occasion. I was adopted by my step-father when I was about 2. At the age of 15, I gave birth to Mary to be adopted. Now we are the proverbial blended family where my husband is a step-father to my son and I am a step-mother to his children. While neither of us have adopted either of our step-children, we have experienced and continue to experience the world of step-parenting. I say that soberly and with great tenderness because clearly divorce hurts and mostly the children involved.
I am calling this Part 2 for two reasons: 1. Being a step-family makes up the last 12 years of my life and; 2. It is an ever present area of conflict (purposeful smile). Conflict not so much in the way of it being negative as the word denotes rather in a stretching-of-the-soul kind of way which doesn’t exactly feel positive either.
Becoming a step family has been a process, hence the word: becoming. It also has been a hard road. And certainly not a road that I recommend for any of my children, step-children alike. I imagine, as with any hard place in life there are good memories but not without cost.
Approximately one- third of all weddings in America today form a step-family. What makes this so challenging is no step-family looks the same. I have found common experiences among other step-families but overall there is no one size fits all. To make matters worse, the findings add that one third of Americans who got divorced were doing so for the second time – and I understand this all too well however my goal is to stay married.
Setting the stage for what feels like an insurmountable struggle up a steep cliff I have hope. I may not have been able to say this a week ago and it pains me to know I am far from the top, but I am still climbing. Most of the struggle comes from the conflict over feeling that my step children are intruders to my traditional family within our blended family. Meaning for the first time in my life, my family consists of my husband and me and our three biological children. My son no longer lives at home either. Though when he did it was different because he is an adult, with his own life, plans, etc. (like that of a room-mate). My husbands children have never lived with us so they are not part of our daily lives.
A few simple things have helped me from falling off the cliff, perhaps you may find one helpful:
Remembering we are not each others enemies – we each have feelings, viewpoints, and experiences. I am not only speaking of my husband and me rather each member in our family. I’ve had many an argument with myself regarding this because everyone feels like the enemy quite frankly.
Being honest. Somewhere along the way, I decided that most often it was safer to not be (of course there is something to be said here). Despite what I think the response will be as a result of my honesty, I do well to be real and honest. I am the only one that can share what I am thinking or how I view what is happening to me or around me.
Although to balance honesty, there are times to be quiet. I always think of when God told Mary that she would give birth to the Messiah, we are told that she held all these things in her heart and pondered them! Along with several other verses in the Bible that speak about the right timing of your words.
When I think about where I come from and the struggles against me it gives me perspective on how to handle today. Furthermore, the obstacles we each faced walking into our second marriages challenges me. And yet, I find courage in that. I know that God can work through the poor decisions of others that have hurt me and those decisions I’ve made that hurt others – past and present. I also know that I will continue learning how to support my husband’s relationships with his children and becoming a blended family. I am certain of Gods promises to change my ashes into beauty.