I have been trying to write this for over a week now. After seven drafts and some nights of minimum sleep I like to think I have figured it out.
Family, as it states in the dictionary is:
a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not: the traditional family.
a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for: a single-parent family.
Here is my definition:
Family: Two people, with or without kids, committed to each other to always having each others back. Through thick our thin, ups and downs not leaving the other hanging and making the other person feel loved and accepted just as they are. Helping each other to thrive and become the best version of themselves; and the list goes on…
We are what society calls a blended family. Steve has one child from a previous relationship and i have three. We are family. No ‘Step’. I was in support groups for Step families on social media and had to remove myself because of all the negative that poured into our newsfeed. It felt devastating. So many families struggle with forming unities together, blending them and trying to make it work. You know what all these negative posts had in common? The ‘Step’ word. It became a thorn in my eye. Being a step child myself, i felt like one. You know how in the old tales the Step child was always the mistreated one? I feel the word has become a negative in itself because of that – or at least that is one aspect, in my eyes. The shit treatment -it hurts. It hurts endlessly. Seeing your parent loving someone other than the bio mama or father is something hard to swallow for every kid. Trust me, i know from experience.
There is a lady i hold dear in my heart, Mama Ellen i call her. She is a true Schatz. Schatz is a German word for treasure. We are both half German 🙂 She is not my ‘Step mother’. However, she is to me the most special bonus mother a child can have. She has several bonus children next to her own. This woman, whom i have known for 13 years now, we don’t talk often nowadays but we think about each other, has showed me how loving a mother can be without adding an extra label to it. The negative label. She loves all her kids equally and it shows in all her actions. No words needed. Her and her husband, Papa Carlos, have this outpouring love in their blended family. I know it is something that takes work and time. Readjusting, constant editing. The matter is LOVE though. My mother in law says ” you can only love them and give them the tools” . When Steve said this to me one day, it was one of the most powerful sentences i have ever heard. He said this about my son, who made like all teens some choices, we as parents didn’t agree with. Next to Mama Ellen, She is just as much a super mom. My kids feel they have story book grandparents without knowing them since birth. The whole family is so filled with love. We feel like part of a big unity, without judgement or any difference. Well, these two women have thought me, without them knowing, how much positivity it holds when we simply love the children. I know it can be hard, i was a real jackass at times to my parents. Nonetheless, the pain a child holds that is filled with uncertainty, fear of resentment, fear of being less, because the biological parents have separated or one has passed, whatever the reason may be, is unbearable. It is up to each individual parent to choose. If choosing a new partner with kids, you are accepting a package deal. It is not the pick and choose department. We create our society by loving our children -or not loving them?! Teaching them right over wrong and listening to them… They matter a whole lot and we have the strings in our hands as parents.
We, Steve and I, are two people with a very old fashioned mindset. If something doesn’t work, we fix it. We talk, we adjust, we constantly edit procedures until it works for us as a family. But we don’t ‘step’. We family. Through emotional roller coasters we experience just like every other family, we choose this every single day! Our unity! We prove each other the unconditional! We made a commitment that we wont leave. Who knows what life brings, we both had to go through our own experiences and separations to finally reach the path that was meant for us together. For every good reason it hasn’t worked out as individuals before, it was for us to reach today for us and our children. There are good and there are not so good days, just like everybody has them. Every family! It is life. I don’t put much emphasis on acting like my shit doesn’t stink. It does. Yours does too. Face it.
Seeing our kids sibling together, Ryan, Karma, Alyvia and Emiliano, we know the dynamics between the four of them. We know who and what works with whom and what. We know how they tick and what reactions may come from the individual. We don’t make a difference between them. They are all treated the same way. Positive and negative consequences, reinforcements, encouragements, are the same, rules are the same and we talk. We talk to our children individually and together. We make this work because we want it more than anything else. You know what is one of the best feelings in the world….when the kids are aware that they are loved unconditionally -and this is what make all the difference. I love Karmas dad beyond human. She knows and sees it. And if there is one thing you want to do for the partner you love so much, it is accepting and loving their, now your both child – with everything that comes and goes. And he does the same for me. In every way, shape, or form. Yeah, we get frustrated – tell me you don’t, even as bio parent couple- you are lying through your teeth. This is our family, our patchwork family – and it is the most beautiful thing to me!
So, am I putting myself out there too much, am I putting our family out there too much?
Some say yes, it is personal…some say no. I get both sides, I do. I have been living through these motions since my mothers passing. That is a big reason i have been so hesitant writing this blog post. Let me just tell you: The amounts of times i was told to write a book about how i feel towards certain things has topped the amounts of times people have said to not put personal business out there. But how personal is this, really? One day i decided i want to be heard. We can change things…people by people, family by family, parent by parent. So here i poured my heart out, thanks to this quote:
“We always hold ourselves back in both ways, big and small, by lacking self confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in” ~ Sheryl Sanderberg
For some this is too much, but maybe for some it makes a difference. Some just watch from the back seat, judging you for what you are doing but deep down, even they might find a way to switch their thinking around if they are given a piece of different insight.