My family is not traditional, which is certainly not rare these days. My husband and I have a blended family. Not only that, since my parents are divorced and both remarried, I am part of two other blended families.
When my husband and I met, we each had a son from previous relationships; they were 2 and 5 at the time. We also had both spent a couple years to heal from our past respective relationships. We met online, on a dating website I joined without any thoughts of looking for a serious relationship. I just knew I was ready to date. I had no expectation of meeting my future husband.
I think it was less than a month in that I brought up wanting to have another child. I know, probably would have scared a lot of guys off, but he’d already made it clear to me he was interested in a serious relationship, and we’d just had a family mini golf date with the boys. When I brought up wanting another baby, he was willing to have the conversation. I had to let him know how important it was to me. Up to this point in my life I hadn’t been particularly assertive, but that’s a story for another day. I knew that I didn’t want to spend time in a long-term relationship if we weren’t both agreed on what our future might look like. Things can move a little faster when you’re blending a family. At least that was our experience.
Blended families often face issues that couples having kids for the first time might not. Building a relationship with a child that spends part of their life at another home can be difficult. For us, it hasn’t always been an easy road. There are things in our personalities that clash. We’ve all had to work to grow together.
Another issue that blended families might face is conflict with the other parent(s). Because we each had a child when we met, we have two other parents with which we co-parent. That also means two separate financial agreements that were worked out before we met. Luckily, all four co-parents know that getting along is what is best for the kids. That’s not to say, however, that we do things perfectly. There are struggles that pop up more than I would like, and it’s stressful when that happens. One of the four of us, at times, has not been allowed visitation, based on the assessment of a judge. There have been court dates, lawyers, and headaches. It’s difficult when a piece of your heart resides in another home part-time.
We did add that baby I so desperately wanted about 4 years after we met and a year after we got married. We struggled with some things any family can face, infertility and pregnancy loss. Adding a baby to our family three years ago was difficult for the boys at first. They adjusted, and that little girl could not possibly adore them anymore.
We are also a mixed-race family. So, our kids don’t all look like siblings. We often get questions because of this when we meet people for the first time. Mostly, I think people are genuinely curious and want to get to know us.
Blended families are so much more common now than when I was growing up. I know that our story isn’t unique. The struggles are not unique. We address issues as they come up, but I wish we’d gone to a marriage and family counselor before we got married. Or even visited with a couple that had blended a family.
In our family, the words half-brother, half-sister, stepbrother, and stepson aren’t used. When I tell people I have three kids, I don’t differentiate that one is a bonus kid. Same with my husband. It wasn't something that we discussed. It’s just what works for us.
This is our norm. Like every family we have difficulties, struggles, and strengths. I wouldn’t wish for our family to be any other way.