Finding Comfort in Your Own Space

A Blended Family’s Point of View

Recently I had an amazing conversation with one of my best friends regarding our families. She is a mother of 3.5 (one on the way!). Her family is blended just like mine; however, she is the biological mother where I am the step mother. It’s nice to chat with her because I get to see both sides of the cards and it often helps to see other point of views when stressful situations arise. (That NEVER happens in a blended family though, right??) This conversation was really eye opening for me in terms of what many of the members of my family may be feeling within the walls of their own home. We were discussing comfort levels and she told me that her and her two youngest children will be the only ones who are ever fully comfortable in their home. (Wait, What??!?)

Let me back up a little, my beautiful friend, has two biological daughters from a prior relationship and has since remarried a wonderful man. They now have a son and another daughter on the way. Her teenage biological daughters have a great relationship with their step father which is blossoming into something incredible. They also love their younger brother and are adjusting to this new “blended” life. As an outsider, or maybe as the biological mother, or biological children it may be difficult to understand why some of the members of your home don’t feel comfortable. They’re all family now, how is that possible to be uncomfortable in your childhood home or the home you live in with your spouse? How is it possible when in all other areas, everyone is truly bonding and adapting and getting along?

 The truth is, that when you have a biological child and raise them from birth there is a deep unexplainable comfort and ability to be yourself. You aren’t always worried about locking the bathroom door or offending someone by saying the wrong thing. This is because the love you’ve built is unconditional and deep and there isn’t any doubt in that relationship. It’s blood. Imagine you invite your closest friend, or sister or brother over for a week. You ADORE them and you are family, but your household will run a little differently. Maybe you lock the door when changing so their two year old won’t bust in on you, or you wear more modest pajamas. Maybe you watch what you say just a little more, because you want them to feel comfortable in your house. When you become a blended family, it feels like this scenario every day you’re together for some of the members of the house. My friend’s teenage daughters will be more aware of locking their door when their step dad is home because they don’t want their little brother opening it if they are changing. Their step dad is more aware of closing doors for the same reason. There isn’t anything unclean or impure about their actions, there is no worry for safety, it’s truly and simply an act of wanting to feel comfort and offer the same to the other members of the household. The step dad may also be more unsure of parenting his step children, or offending them where he has no fears when it comes to his own child. There’s a unique balancing act when it comes to parenting kids who are not your own. You want to be involved, but don’t want to overstep for fear of upsetting the balance with the children and their biological mom and dad.

In my home, it’s myself, my husband, his teenage daughter from a prior relationship and our two biological sons. I love his daughter and we have a great bond, and our family feels like a family. But after this conversation with my friend, I realized that there was a lot of truth in her words. I would be willing to bet that my step-daughter feels most comfortable when her step parents aren’t home. (Although as a teen, she probably just feels most comfortable when no one is home! Hah) And honestly, if my teenager is home, I probably wouldn’t walk out of the bathroom in my towel unless there was some emergency. I am just more aware of being modest. The biggest part of this realization came when we were talking about how the children from prior relationships may struggle to find that deep comfort with every member in the house. I have thought about this as I pray often that my step daughter feels that she has a place and belongs. Her mom and dad both remarried and had children with the new spouses so there are small nuclear family units in her homes and I know she often doesn’t feel like she has a “place.” This is the hardest part, knowing that a child needs to work through this and process this.

So how do we make our home a place of connection and comfort? How do we make it so that every member can be themselves and feels that they have enough personal space and privacy etc. We started by making a commitment that our family is one, we are whole. We don’t treat anyone differently, whether biological or not. We all do what is needed to take care of each other and we are all active members in our home. Honestly, that meant expecting all the kids to help with small chores, whether we saw them every day or not. After dinner we all help. It meant that on Christmas, they all received similar amounts of things to open, regardless if one of them got more because they have two families. It meant having conversations at dinner and eating together every night possible. It meant attending each other’s events, games and awards. It means celebrating each other. It means we pray together and for each other. It means that we teach privacy and respect to our little ones. It means we allow my teenage step daughter her own space, and my sons get the same. We respect each other’s space and property. It means acknowledging that my step daughter has another home and another family. It means that we never make her feel badly for sharing about them or her experiences there of for missing them. It means encouraging her to build deep relationships with her other family, not knocking her down for having them. It means we never speak badly of her other home or family in front of our children, or at all as much as possible. It means that we openly recognize our differences and that it won’t always be fair, but we communicate with each other.  Blending a family takes time and you can’t expect everyone to bond quickly, or push it. One of the best things my husband did for his daughter and I is allow our relationship to form naturally. He never forced anything for either of us. He gave us all to spend time together and expected us to act as a family (see above), but he never forced a bond.

If you’re feeling uncomfortable in your home, or your children or spouse are, consider carving out space that is just for you or them. Consider ways you can spend time together that encourages bonding in a low pressure setting, whether that’s doing an activity they are into or cheering them on from the sidelines, or just going out for ice cream as a family… spending time together will help the bond grow.  Encourage your step kids to spend time one on one with their bio parent and take time for yourself. This will be good for both of you! We need to give space for the members in our home to truly be themselves, allow for self expression. We need to extend grace, because it won’t always be easy. Blended families have a lot of learning to do at first and our family members may have different personal tastes, different schedules, different passions. Our step children may be used to certain rules in their other home and we need to try to offer understanding and grace making our home a safe space. As a step parent or bio parent, you need to have grace with yourself too! Allow room for your own growth as well. Speak with your spouse, communicate your feelings and needs. And most importantly, know that you’re not alone.

Lessons From an Awkward Dinner

I tend to be careful about what I share here and on my social media accounts. I realize that perception is reality and perception is very personal. My story and my reality very well may not be someone else’s. So I tend to try to choose carefully what I share because the other people involved in my story aren’t being given the chance to share their side of things here. I think that sharing my story is important because so many people are in the same position as I am, and when I was struggling most in my blended family journey, it helped me to know I was not alone and that things get better!

We are living through a worldwide pandemic (or global political hoax.. you decide) Anyways, we have been in a lock-down, quarantine, or safer at home state for the past few weeks. We have had a lot of time together – and in our own heads. For some, that is a great thing, for others it has probably been terrifying. I assume it’s been difficult regardless, for almost everyone, to have their world changed almost overnight. For me, it’s given me a lot of time to reflect, pray and think. It’s given me time to work on my heart and healing and to really dream about what I want this life to look like for my little family.

Forgive me in advance.. this post will probably be long, twisty and will probably bounce around. Because.. that’s my brain. What can I say?

There’s a moment I remember so clearly in my blended family journey. Looking back on it I can clearly see a few mistakes, but I am thankful I can learn and grow from that. About 5 years ago, my step daughter won a scholarship. She was presented the award at a semi formal dinner. This meant my husband and I would be attending this formal dinner with her mom, step dad and grandparents. I remember feeling nervous for weeks. I remember feeling like the last place I wanted to be was sitting at a table with people whom I felt disliked me and judged my husband’s and my every move. I felt insecure and while I craved a peaceful co parenting relationship – I was a wreck thinking of this event. I put a ton of thought into my outfit and drank a mimosa at the hotel bar before heading to dinner. I felt out place as a family member. I felt utterly confused as to what my place was. I sat there quiet, smiling at the right moments, trying to answer polite conversation and trying to not make it feel awkward for my kiddo. My step daughters mom’s side of her family are much more “aggressive” than I am. I don’t love confrontation and tend to be a more passive person. So they tried to make a lot of conversation and I struggled with it. I probably came off as extremely rude (already adding to the list of things I am sure I was judged for) and I am sure it really seemed that way. The truth was.. I was so nervous! I was also really hurting. I was sitting with people who I felt misunderstood by and had some unresolved hurts and I didn’t know how to deal with that. Looking back on it.. I wish I would have made better casual conversation. I wish I could have forgiven all the grievances I held on to in my heart and walked in there confident of my place and holding a place of love for everyone at that table. But I struggled so hard with it all that day. Here’s the good news…. mistakes are amazing opportunities to learn!

Fast forward to 4 years later. Things are still a little rough between households sometimes. I’ve worked on myself A LOT. It’s my step daughter’s 16th birthday. I had no problem inviting her mom’s family to my home for her party. I had no issue reaching out to discuss gifts, or co planning the party etc. I had no problem holding my step daughter’s cousins on her mom’s side and chatting with her mom’s family while they sat next to me on the couch. Weird.. sure, a little – but I am so grateful that we could be in a place to give my kiddo that.

We lived in that house for only 9 months. When we bought it, I had no idea we would be relocated, I had no idea we would be leaving it so soon. I truly loved that home. When I look back at it though, I honestly feel we were given that house for a time for a purpose. We were able to give my step daughter a beautiful memory and a night filled with love. I hope she looks back on that day for many years and that it reminds her how loved she truly is. I am so thankful for the time we had in that house and now we are in a new place where we can learn even more lessons regarding love and healing.

My husband’s job relocated him across the country. We were pretty excited because this meant living closer to some family on the west coast. This decision brought a lot of mixed feelings from my step daughter’s other home. Understandably so, our decisions ultimately affect the other home and vice versa in a blended family. We were already co parenting out of state, but it would still affect them. We did our best to work through and anticipate things, however the reaction we got has been hurtful and I am remembering my past lessons even more. I am remembering the importance of letting go, forgiving, loving and choosing joy over letting hurts rip my confidence apart. As we navigate this last year with her being a minor in a new place and work through everything this quarantine is causing, I am thankful for all of the lessons. I am thankful for growth. Because it’s amazing what can happen when we choose to grow in the gravel where we are planted.

Growing In Gravel (During Chaos)

I chose the name Growing in Gravel for my blog nearly ten years ago.. before I even thought of creating a blog. Life was messy then and I made a conscious effort to grow in the soil (or gravel) I was given. I chose to forgive when it was difficult, I chose to do my best to accept scheduling conflicts and changes due to living in a blended family. I even scheduled the birth of my first child around our very limited visitation. (Something I probably wouldn’t do again, but hey I was trying my best.)

Here’s the thing.. life was messy then and it’s messy now. It’s a different kind of messy but we still have a choice.

This last week my family and I drove to Utah and stayed in a private cabin and hiked some beautiful trails. We stayed as far from people as we could due to the need to respect social distancing. We allowed my step daughter to get on the plane to visit her mom, communicating all the precautions she should take and we went on with life. We knew of the threat of Coronavirus, but it wasn’t being labeled a pandemic yet. she was looking forward to seeing her other family and we were looking forward to unplugging and getting off social media. Fast forward a week. We head home, everything is closing and we are realizing more and more how serious this is. Now we have no idea if and when we can get my step daughter home and what the right decision is there. Opinions aside, it’s a scary time and living in a blended family just complicates it. Do we share time and send them back and forth risking more exposure. Do we ask her to stay there and hope it won’t turn into some messy court case later because of some other motive. (That’s a story for another day) As of now we changed the ticket and thanked God that she got more time with the family she doesn’t see as often anymore and we are just praying for peace and direction. None of this is easy.

My heart is so heavy thinking of all the families in the same or similar boats. Lack of control and uncertainties are so difficult to navigate. Both parents/families wanting desperately to protect their children and be with them during such an uneasy time. There are no easy answers here. There probably aren’t any right ones either – other than being respectful and kind and not using this to your advantage. There are parents out there missing their kids and not knowing when they can see them again and there are parents out there wondering if it’s the right choice to allow the normal sharing of visitations. This is messy.

I was reminded recently though that we still have a choice. Even when it feels like things are being taken away left and right. We GET to choose our focus. This little red flower growing on the side of a mountain reminded me that we CAN grow in gravel and uncomfortable circumstances. We can choose to sing, to be grateful, to focus on the gift of togetherness and the food that was available instead of what’s not. We can choose to be grateful that my step daughter is getting the gift of time off school right now – and less stress which was so desperately needed for her. We can be grateful that she is safe and cared for in her other home instead of fearing any outcome. We can be grateful for the children in our home who are healthy and pretty oblivious to the stress outside. I am so grateful that none of this surprised God and therefore I don’t need to fear – even when I don’t understand it at all! We can choose joy daily. It’s not easy – I know – but practice makes it easier.

Life is messy. I certainly didn’t expect this mess. None of us did I imagine. Yet here we are. And we are in this together. So let’s practice some grace, patience and re focusing our thoughts.

I Choose Love

“This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love: the more they give, the more they possess.”


I know your life didn’t turn out the way you dreamed it would. I’m sure that sometimes your world feels as if it has shattered.. even when you see the good, I am sure the hurt is still huge and creates a hole that isn’t healing sometimes. I am sorry that I am probably a big part of that gaping wound. There are times that I sit and pray for you. I pray for your healing. I pray that you would understand that even though life doesn’t look the way you dreamed… it really is beautiful, and that I am not your enemy.

My presence doesn’t mean that the beautiful memories you created before me aren’t valid. It doesn’t mean that the memories you create with the child that we now share are any less important. My presence doesn’t take away your role or make you less than.

I know that sometimes my choices affect you. I know that sometimes you feel like you have no control. Believe me – I understand that. It’s part of living in a blended family. We all affect the other household in some ways.

I guess what I need to say today is that, although you may never see this, and I may never even tell you.. ( because, let’s be honest we don’t even speak anymore. And.. that’s okay for now,) I am sorry. A series of choices led us here. A choice to marry your ex, a choice to leave your ex, a choice I made to marry him…. etc etc. A series of choices that we ALL made have made us “familly.” I chose to move to Florida and be part of my family – which includes your daughter. I chose to leave what I knew to love my husband where he was. And I know me being part of this is probably hard. Especially now. Especially with where we are at. And for that – I’m sorry. I am sorry that your’re angry. I am sorry that you’re hurting. But – I am NOT sorry for loving my husband. I am NOT sorry for loving your daughter. I am NOT sorry for following God’s plan for OUR lives and taking us closer to family- even when you don’t agree. I am NOT sorry for doing my best in my home, for trying so hard to have peace for us all, for working hard to agree to things to make our lives easier until the child we share is grown.

I may not agree with the ways in which you are choosing to handle your pain right now. I may not agree with the way you refuse to accept us as your daughter’s family. But none of that changes anything. What you or I feel doesn’t change the situation.

I guess all I need to really say right now is I am praying for you. I am praying for miracles. I am praying for peace, and healing in your heart and for our family to become a family for our shared child. I am praying she finally feels a sense of belonging in this world and that we can offer her peace by loving each other. Because.. she loves us all. I am praying for a heart that forgives and loves you at the end of every day. I have never wanted any of this either. But here we are. So we can either embrace it, grow, love the people we have been given or we can be bitter and in pain and try to manipulate to change and control the situation. Today.. and every day.. I am choosing love. I am choosing to live in gratitude for this life. Even if it’s not what I pictured.

Be Still

Being Still… that is not something I am good at. Sitting still and just letting things happen. It’s like my worst nightmare. It’s also something that I am realizing is crucial to living a full and healthy life. Especially life in a blended family. I can’t tell you how many times I imagine scenarios or day dream about the way things should be… but I can’t control other people’s actions or their perceptions. I can’t make them want the things I want. I can’t do anything but control my own reactions and reality for myself.
Being still… it’s crucial. It’s something that checks my spirit, slows my responses and reminds me of you what’s important. When you get that nasty text… be still. When the kids are overwhelming.. be still.
I was bathing my youngest after a stressful day (week if I’m honest), and I was nearly in tears thinking of how I didn’t choose to be still today. My moods affect my children and they certainly notice when it’s off. For my biological children, it probably doesn’t phase them much. This is their home, I’m their mom, there is no confusion or fear even when mom is grumpy. But then I think about my teen. She 100% belongs, this is her home too… but does she feel it when I’m spewing negative vibes? Have I made it difficult for her to exist in her home? Bc here’s the truth.. she didn’t ask for me to move in and start popping out babies. She was probably happy as a clam just her and dad. She’s been so so accepting and loving, busy she didn’t ask for any of this. So.. when I am not slow in my reactions, when I forget to be still.. am I creating a place where she feels out of place. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I say bad things or treat any of my kids badly when I’m grumpy but you know when mamma ain’t happy.. everyone feels it.
it may seem so small, so insignificant, but choosing to be still and remember what’s important helps the stress fade and helps me remember that what’s in front of me is worth more than gold. Joy is a choice. And one that often needs to be chosen every day in a blended family!

Are You Haunting Your Past?

I adore Fall, like I simply can’t get enough of all the things that make this season so spectacular. I love the brisk air, the cider, the pumpkin farms, the leaves and all the sweaters. Call me basic.. I don’t even care! I love Fall! One of the best parts of Fall is the yearly reminder of how beautiful change and letting go can be.

I find that we as humans love to reminisce, and that can be a beautiful thing. I love remembering vacations, the births of my children, my wedding etc. I love reminding myself of the feelings we felt on special moments or of the joy we shared together. It seems that we don’t always focus on the joyous memories though and we allow so much room for negative emotions.

I’ve heard the phrase that the past can haunt you before. I recently heard a podcast, and I wish I could remember who is was so I can give credit, but I heard it in passing and can’t recall.. so if you know who said this please let me know; anyways he said the past doesn’t haunt us – we haunt it. It was such a simple truth! We allow room for negative emotions by remembering what that person said to us. We remember how we felt adn analyze and ruminate and allow our past to steal our joy now. We are 100% allowed to feel negative emotions. When someone hurts us.. feel it. When we are angry.. allow yourself to feel it. We are allowed to feel things, but dwelling on those feelings for years doesn’t serve you.

It’s like that old saying… bitterness and anger are like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. This season in my life I am working on forgiveness in a big way. Forgiving people who will never ask for it, forgiving people who don’t deserve it. I am working on closing doors on things that will never bring me “actual closure.” Because revisiting those things isn’t serving me anymore. It’s time to ‘woo sa’ it and let it freaking go.

I find that living in a blended family gives me a lot of ammunition and room to allow unforgiveness to enter. It’s easy to feel wronged, or like the other party isn’t pulling their weight. It’s easy to allow injustices to turn into a cycle of frustration and anger. But I am done.. I am done allowing things to control me. Sure letting go feels a little unjust.. but I will never be the one to dole out the justice so why hold on? A happy life is the best revenge anyway.. so I choose joy. In every area, I choose joy. It’s time to stop allowing ourselves to haunt the past. Revisit it with a therapist, work through it if you need to, pray, talk with a trusted friend, meditate on it and then choose forgiveness and joy because you deserve that!

Dear Step Daughter

I wrote the post below 5 years ago now. It’s crazy how much has changed and how we’ve grown even in that time! There’s so much I could add to this letter to our oldest, but just re reading it now shows me that my intentions and feelings for her haven’t changed. It reminds me that we are in this for her, that we are building a life for our children, one that hopefully they won’t need to recover from. We’ve created more memories, bonded in new ways and experienced more conflict in our family dynamic in the past five years.. but we keep blooming. We keep growing and I love the family we have created. I am so utterly grateful for this life i get to live with the people I get to live it with. ❤

This year I celebrated my 30th birthday. I can’t believe 30 years has flown by so fast. I have had some incredible experiences. This year, I celebrated my birthday in a way that I never dreamed. I always thought I would be on a cruise ship headed for Greece with my best girl friends having margaritas and soaking up the sun. This year, I  am celebrating with you. I get to celebrate with my husband, son and you. I never imagined myself as a step parent and I never imagined that being one would be so difficult, so rewarding, so scary or such a blessing. I can’t lie to you, life as a step family hasn’t always been easy. I am sure you can attest to the truth in that as well. As of today, I can name countless mistakes I have made with you, things I shouldn’t have said but did, things I should have said but didn’t and missed moments just to name a few. I am confident that I will make more mistakes as the years ramble on. I know that I will not always act selflessly, or even in your best interest. It will NEVER be intentional, but I am human, and prone to mistakes. I am a simple package of skin, bone, blood and emotions. Sometimes, the emotions rule and I fail. I promised you the day I married your dad that I would always try my best. I meant it then and I mean it now. I pray that someday, our life won’t feel so complicated. That my relationship with you will feel nearly as natural as the one I have with my biological child. I pray that there will be peace between both your homes and that we, as adults, take responsibility for our own relationships with you. Our bonds with you don’t negate any feelings you have for or with any other parent and you are allowed to love each and every adult in your life.
I want to speak truth into you. I want to be an encouraging force to you. I want to help you to see that you truly can accomplish anything. I want to be there when you screw up, so that I can remind you that imperfections and failures make us human.
I attended an awards ceremony for you recently. When I saw you, I had tears in my eyes. I quickly swallowed them back. I felt I couldn’t allow anyone to see, because I am not your mother. Sometimes it feels like society has expectations of step parents that are hard to fulfill. I am “supposed” to fulfill motherly duties like taking care of you, but showing emotions like being attached and proud of you can cause resentment and confusion from others because I am not your mom, and if I am not attached and bonded with you, then why not?  If you ever read this, I hope that you can understand that I am trying my best to navigate these waters, to know you, and to be someone who tells you the truth and creates peace in your world for you as you try to navigate the waters of multiple homes and blended families.

If I could tell you some things today, it would be this:
#1 I am not you mom and that is okay. I am blessed because I get to have you in my life and hopefully and prayerfully be a positive influence in yours. We get to know each other and learn from another relationship standpoint. I have no intention of ever, ever trying to take her place. I am just trying to find mine.
#2 I don’t hate your mom. It’s extremely difficult from an emotional stand point being married to a man who was married before. I came second. I will always come second. My baby won’t be his first child. Our wedding was his second wedding. Your dad has memories with you and your mom that I will never be a part of. It’s hard, I get jealous. And if I am completely honest, there are times I am extremely frustrated that there is a woman in our lives that can have a say in how we live and how we make decisions like when we can travel together as a family. But, I don’t hate her. Honestly.. your father’s life with you and your mother has made him a better husband for me and a better dad for all of you. His experiences with her have allowed us to have the life we have today. It allows me to know you, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
#3 I pray for you. Daily.
#4 Watching you as a big sister has been amazing. Your brother adores you. Seeing how he loves you and looks up to, and your kindness, patience and acceptance of him has been an eye opener to who you are at your core. I can’t imagine our family without you in it, and I feel like your brother’s life is better because of you.
#5 You had every right to feel hurt and resentment when your dad married me. It would have been a justifiable reaction to your dad having someone new in his life. You accepted me immediately and rarely offered any disrespect. You never accused me of not being your mom out of anger or hurt and you have always seemed to work just as hard as me to create a “family” For that, I am eternally grateful. I pray that as we will soon navigate your potentially rocky teenage years and as we face the unknown future, our bond continues to grow and that you will remain confident in your place in this family.

Blended family life may not have been either of our dreams, but I think we are pretty lucky to be stuck with each other. ❤

How I am Learning to STOP the Judging and START Living

Why is it so easy to judge? Why is it, that it’s more difficult to take a moment and try to look at the picture through someone else’s eyes? Why are we so quick to defend ourselves, even when wrong.. to the point of hurting others?
For the people reading this who know me, you know that I am a second wife and step mom. These are terms that don’t necessarily define who I am, but they are very defining roles in my life at the moment. Often times, my family deals with stress, turbulence, and unnecessary conflict because of miscommunications, quick judgements and pride

I spoke with a great friend yesterday and one of the things we talked about was the “broken family” dynamic. The truth is, NO ONE, I mean NO ONE, imagines themselves living the life of a blended/broken family. No one imagines that they will get a divorce, no one imagines they will be a second wife/husband. Brokenness hurts. Brokenness causes grief and confusion for all involved. If the adults living within this dynamic aren’t mature enough to be in touch with their own grief and emotions, a lot of unnecessary conflict and confusion will arise. One thing we try to focus on, is that our family isn’t broken! We aren’t broken. We are a different shape and size and we deal with many things that a “typical” family doesn’t have to deal with. But our strength, love for each other and drive to provide a positive and loving home means we are not broken!

This drive for a positive environment has taught me to slow my reactions…which is not always easy, (and I certainly don’t always do this!) It has taught me to TRY to look at the bigger picture, and to be humble… even when others are not. I am not always right. (NO ONE IS) I can’t see the whole picture and communication is a hard thing, especially when it is between two totally different households who have very different views on things. I have never had to send my child to be with his dad and another woman. I have never had to raise my kid and then listen to another’s opinion of care, thankfully. Taking this standpoint has not stopped some of the negative things from happening, nor has it changed anyone else in our story. It has changed MY family though. It has made ME a better person. Accepting that this is our life, choosing to love our life in all of its different shapes, and acknowledging I can’t change someone else has made it easier to let go of the crap – filter out the unnecessary and only respond to the important. It hasn’t changed the fact that the court system is broken and that sometimes the truth isn’t seen, but my little family and I choose to have enough love within our little house to get us through it.

            Am I perfect… ABSOLUTELY NOT! Not in any single sense of the word, I am not a perfect person, I am not a perfect parent, I am not a perfect wife, and the list goes on!! And that is OKAY! I don’t have to be. Flaws are real, flaws make people approachable, beautiful and relatable! Honestly, letting go of the desire to compete and be perfect is freeing. It feels good. Sure, words can still sting, but maybe those words are aimed at us because there are deeper personal issues within. I still have a long way to go, I am still looking for myself and trying to find my own identity apart from all this “blended” stuff… but today I have hope. I have hope that our blended family is beautiful and there will be peace someday… at least in our home. ❤

In This Story, I Play the Villain

In This Story, I Play the Villain

We’re all familiar with the wicked step mothers portrayed in movies. It’s a known fact that the villain will usually be the step mom. It’s funny to me now, but in the beginning of my  blended family journey it kind of sucked. You see, I felt completely alone. There weren’t many people who understood blended family dynamics and getting told over and over that I knew what I was getting into, or to stay in my lane because I was JUST the step mom got really old really quickly. I focused on my family, the people I love and who I am instead of the outside. I focused on the things I can control and on creating beautiful memories with my family. My focus couldn’t be on the outsiders opinions. My happiness depended on knowing I can only control so much and I should focus on that.

We are growing as a family in amazing and beautiful ways. We all still hit bumps and we all have rough days where we owe an apology or two. In this messy beautiful life there are a few things I have come to accept as fact:

I will always be the bad guy and villain in someone else’s story.

There will always be a group of people, people whom I love, who will never get it, and that’s ok!

I control my own happiness!

Let’s talk about how I will always be the villain to some. It will NEVER matter to some people how pure my motives may actually be. It will never matter where my heart is. It will never matter that I give credit where credit is due, or take the higher road, or encourage positive co parenting and parent child relationships with my step child and husband. None of that will ever matter.. because for some in my story.. I am the easiest to blame. You know what, that’s ok! There are days it still stings to be told how I am second class citizen and my efforts don’t matter, but ultimately, that opinion doesn’t matter! It takes a lot of focusing on wat truly matters, gratitude and intentional living to remember this when life gets mucky. But I get to write my own story. I get to choose if I am in fact the villain to my family. I get to choose my actions and there are some opinions that just shouldn’t matter. That doesn’t mean that they don’t create stress in our household, but we choose how we react to that stress. That’s where the power lies. We get to control our reaction, our happiness.

Some people won’t ever understand the stress, the frustration or the pain that someone living in a blended family deals with. And that’s ok too! Be grateful they don’t get it! That is one less family dealing with brokenness and trauma. That in itself is beautiful. It’s important to just remember, that not “getting it’ doesn’t meant they don’t care. It may just mean that when seeking wise advice, you may need to seek elsewhere.

My biggest lesson that I have learned these past 8.5 years is that I am in control of my future, my happiness and my family’s memories together. We may not have the control of our decisions the way we would if there wasn’t another family in the picture, but it’s such a small portion of our story!

Discouragement or Gratitude?

Recently my blog was featured on the Top 50 Family Blogs ( https://blog.feedspot.com/family_blogs/) and it got me thinking, I bet most people agree that some version of family is important to them. I think a lot of people had an idea for what that would look like as they grew up too. Maybe they wanted their family to look just like their grandparents’ beautiful love story and the holidays at their grandparent’s home. Maybe they envisioned being the cool mom. Maybe they envisioned being the one that all the kids spilled their hearts out to and all the house that all the neighborhood kids wanted to come to. Maybe they envisioned a high-powered career but Sunday dinners with their parents. I would be willing to bet that no matter what an individual dreamed; their life looks a little different. (Hey, if we could simply dream our lives into existence, I would be married to Jonathan Taylor Thomas and driving a bright yellow VW beetle, thank you 7th grade self.) We are human and with humanity comes being perfectly imperfect. It comes with having little control over what life actually looks like (don’t’ get me wrong, you can create your life and go after goals, but that’s a whole different post.) You don’t get to choose that your grandfather will get sick and pass away before ever meeting your children. You don’t get to choose who your kids are. You can’t choose everything along your path, and you don’t get to choose a lot of your family members. But you have a choice every day to live in the moment you’re given. You have choices to choose joy, to love the ones you’ve been given. It’s interesting to me how we value this idea of family and hallmark holidays, but when our lives don’t reflect that, we can easily become discouraged. Who cares if your gifts aren’t wrapped to Pinterest perfection?! Are you choosing to love your family when it matters, to show up? Are you creating the Sunday dinner tradition you thought you’d have? Our lives may not look like what we imagined, but everything in our story has shaped who we are. So why not choose joy? Why not choose to love where we are? Let’s try to treasure the family we have, even the difficult members, being grateful for the lessons we learn from them instead of being bitter that they exist. I think this simple shift in attitude can be the catalyst for joy. It all starts with gratitude.

What I Wish I Could Say

There’s a place, deep in my heart, that is filled with compassion for you. A place of longing for your relationship with your daughter to be one of joy and love. I wish you could see that, for me, it’s never been a competition. I never intended to step on toes, hurt feelings, or compete. Actually, quite the opposite. You see, I never imagined myself being a second wife, as I am sure you never imagined yourself divorced. I understood that we both were in places that were new and unsettling. I never imagined that I would be living in a role that is thankless and often times hurts. I never imagined there would be another woman in the picture, one who shares joyful beautiful memories with my husband, and one who has a ton of control over our schedule and decisions. But, at the end of the day, this is the life I chose. I grew. I embraced it. Conflict and all. There are still many, many days I close my eyes and see us all making effort. I see us all showing up. Because we are family in a way, and family shows up. I see us having Christmas and Easter dinners together… and the awkwardness fades away. I don’t know if that will ever happen, and I have come to accept that, but there’s so much I wish I could say. Some of what I want to say is probably blunt, hurtful and unnecessary. I’ll just keep that to myself. My feelings of hurt and anger are my own to process and I want this to say the things that are welling up deep, deep within.  I want to say thank you for giving life to your daughter. Because of your motherhood, I get to be a part of her life and she is a beautiful soul. I get to participate in the life of someone I adore. I want to tell you that no matter what… there is no replacement of the mother role. I am sure you know that. Actually, your self confidence is pretty darn intimidating at times, so I probably don’t need to tell you anything, but – your role is irreplaceable. I want to tell you that, this may not be the life you imagined, but it really can be beautiful. I wish you could see that all I ever wanted was to be allowed to be a family too and love your daughter. I want to tell you that I pray for you and your other children, that I love them too, because they are my (step) daughter’s siblings. I pray for your marriage, because I want you to be happy and I want our daughter to see that happiness. I want your success. I silently root for you thousands of miles away.

When your daughter saves every letter and card you give her, there’s a tiny place in me that stings a little bit. I don’t wanna lie, of course it hurts knowing the cards I give her will never matter as much. But then my heart sings.. because I know those words you spoke to her filled her. When your daughter shares things with me that are personal and deep, it hurts too, because my heart aches knowing she should be sharing with you first. All I want is for her to grow knowing she is adored, loved and not remembering or knowing the tension and hurt we felt. It’s not a child’s place to carry an adult’s burden. She will have her own heavy loads to shoulder one day.  I guess I write this to say… NONE of this is easy. NONE of this is clear, but my intentions have never been to hurt or compete. 8 years in and I am still imagining blended holidays and vacations. I wish you knew that. I also know that it probably wouldn’t change anything if you did know, but we won’t stop praying for you guys and rooting for you. I won’t stop that. You may need me to be silent, to quiet myself from the picture. I will do that. You may need me to step up one day. I will do that too. Because it’s not about me, it’s about our daughter – and that means I have to consider you too. Marriages weren’t meant to fail, families weren’t meant to blend. But, here we are. I pray this journey creates beauty from the ashes.