The Difficulties of Blending.

Or why my almost three year old has a fish.

It started out innocently enough. M called while at her mom’s house one week and she wanted to buy a fish. And not only did she want a fish but she wanted it to live here.

While initially I was shaking my head no, J and I talked and decided that it would be fine.

Until T decided he too wanted a fish.

It’s one thing for just one kid to have something and have two that don’t, but for M and T to both have fish I knew it would lead down only one road.

So the next day when T and M walked in the door with their new fish and fish tanks I knew that we would be adding one more fish and fish bowl to our family.

No parent ever wants to see their child left out. And my heart broke a little bit hearing H cry and request to be part of the fish experience with T and M.

He is old enough and aware enough to want to be part of everything. More aware than many times I give him credit for. And while he will learn that life isn’t fair and that things don’t always work out the way he wants, it’s hard to reason and explain all this with a little boy who’s not quite 3.

I have talked a lot about the positives and how great we get along and other nice parts of our family dynamics of being a blended family. But like I’ve said before it is not always all sunshine and roses and it is inevitable that there are things that come up that we are never prepared for.

When you are a first time mom there are a lot of things you think and feel strongly about. I remember being pregnant with H, thinking about all the things he would and wouldn’t be doing. I’d see a kid sass his mom and dad and think that, my brilliant, gifted and strong child will never do any such thing.

We learn, over time, that we’re wrong. And every kid has their moments (or their year) and that no matter what kind of parent you are, you eventually learn that you must choose your battles wisely, or else you’ll spend every moment of every day fighting an uphill battle.

There were many ideas and thoughts I had to give in right away mostly because of our situation. Our situation being that we, are a blended family. While most first time parents are in complete and utter control over what their newborn, infant, toddler and eventual preschool child is exposed to, I did not have that luxury.

T was 7 and M was 5 when H was born. They were walking, talking individuals. With opinions and ideas and an entire history of life before H’s arrival.

These two, along with J and myself, were H’s earliest influences. And before I get comments or emails or feedback that T and M are good kids let me be clear and let you know that NO, T and M aren’t good kids, they are GREAT kids.

But, they are five and seven years older than H. Meaning their life experiences and exposures and maturity and ages have brought them to different things than H. Do you follow?

So keeping H from watching T play videogames was somewhat of a trick for awhile but we got it figured. And keeping H out of M’s bedroom with her glittery jewels was another.

We have all taken all this in stride though and I like to think for the most part we’re doing a pretty good job balancing parenting two school age kids and two little ones, but it is anything but easy. Especially when I have such set ideas on what I want H (and now E) exposed to and doing and playing and being.

I have been asked more times than I can count about how H does with the transition of having T and M here and then T and M gone. And until recently I would answer without even thinking and remind others that this is the only life he knows and there’s never been an issue.

But now, he’s started to notice that there are some things he’s missing out on.

Weeks when T and M have gotten dropped off in the past after a birthday party, he could care less. They could parade their goody bags around him and he didn’t know the better. (Which would occur even if they kids lived in just one home, inevitably they are older, have different friends, will have parties when he doesn’t.)

They could bring in new toys, new books, and he could have cared less.

One week though M came in with a balloon. And not just any balloon, but a Chuck E Cheese balloon. Symbolizing not just that she had a balloon and he didn’t, but also that she had gone to the kid casino (also known as Chuck E Cheese) and he had not. She had had fun and played games and eaten pizza. And he had not.

This was a big deal.
A really big deal.

And even though this was weeks ago now, let me tell you that the giant mouse balloon is currently still living on my ceiling because there was a fight.

M wanted H to see her balloon but H wanted to keep the balloon. So M put the balloon away but somehow someway the balloon returned upstairs again and it was a tug’a’war until the ribbon broke off of the balloon and the balloon sailed upward.

And now that’s where it lives.

I realized then that we were in for some trouble. That this whole thing was going to need to be figured out.

H’s life will inherently be different than T and M’s. There is no way around it.

For starters, H will only have one home.
Then there’s the whole ‘nother mother deal.

T and M, being older and having two homes and families will probably always have different opportunities and activities than H. They’ll celebrate their birthday with more people. They’ll go on more vacations. They’ll probably get to do more fun things.

And H (and E) will have different opportunities, events and activities than T and M.

It is inevitably part of the situation.

We’re going to figure it out.

But it’s not easy. This is yet another piece of this blended family thing that you are never prepared for. Chapter Fifteen isn’t titled: How to make life fair for all the kids.

And it will most likely not always be fair. That’s the hardest for me to wrap my mind around. But we will do our best to help make things as fair as we can and to also provide understanding, clarity and wisdom to make sense of this crazy thing we call, our family.

In the meantime, we, like most families with children in America, now have a fish named Nemo.

Past Blended Family/Stepmom Posts:

http://thesimplicityfiles.blogspot.com/2006/07/famous-at-last.html

http://thesimplicityfiles.blogspot.com/2007/03/two-moms.html

http://thesimplicityfiles.blogspot.com/2007/04/to-miss-someone.html

http://simplicityinthesuburbs.blogspot.com/2007/05/unconditional-whole-hearted-no-question.html

http://simplicityinthesuburbs.blogspot.com/2007/10/its-going-to-be-good-month.html

http://simplicityinthesuburbs.blogspot.com/2007/11/christmas-traditions-2.html

http://simplicityinthesuburbs.blogspot.com/2007/12/stepmom-stuff.html

http://simplicityinthesuburbs.blogspot.com/2008/01/how-we-do-birthdays.html

http://simplicityinthesuburbs.blogspot.com/2008/03/stepfamily-housekeeping.html

http://simplicityinthesuburbs.blogspot.com/2008/10/misunderstood-blended-family-edition.html

Comments

  1. When I was in elementary school, I was secretly jealous of my friends with divorced parents because they always had two Christmases and two birthday parties, etc. As I got older, though, I started to see the benefit of having only one family – I never had to miss out on activities because it was dad's weekend. E & H will certainly have different experiences, but it's important that they learn it is only different – not better or worse.

  2. What a struggle, I’m sure. Thankfully, you are all so well grounded and have great perspective on your situation. While T and M do have an extra set of family to love them and celebrate with them, I’m sure H and E will also grow up to appreciate the indescribable gift of their own upbringing. Keep on keeping on!

  3. What a situation…but you and J are doing a wonderful job handling it. Even though T and M have another set of family, H and E will have experiences that they won’t and vice versa. You are a great mom/stepmom and all 4 of your children realize that…well H and E will later on when they get older. Keep on being the wonderful person you are!

  4. I just read your past Blended Family/Stepmom posts. They are so beautifully written. I needed a tissue a few times. Very touching. Thank you for listing them at the end of that post.

  5. Simplicity, you and J do an amazing job of keeping the best interests of all four of your children in mind at all times. If only life would reciprocate in light of our best efforts, eh?

    Your post reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Anne Lamott:

    “It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox, full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools — friendships, prayer, conscience, and honesty — and said, Do the best you can with these. They will have to do. And mostly, against all odds, they’re enough.”

  6. ‘the kid casino’ ??? That sounds soo much better than the giant rat place! I must steal that from you in the future…heaven help me if I have to go back there anytime soon!

    Sounds like you are doing a GREAT job at the blended family thing – keep up the great work – life ain’t easy for any of us really – and if people tell you it is…they are lying!
    bwahahahahahaaaa