Today is National Step Family Day!
Although being a step-parent or a step-child is not always easy, it can be a great experience for all. Forming relationships that are long-lasting is not an easy task and requires dedication and patience. Although there may be days that it seems easier to throw in the towel and give up, envision a future where perseverance pays off!
As many of you know, peppering your children with questions about their social lives, school day, or pretty much anything, is not the most effective way to get a conversation going! We have a fun, yet highly informative, way for you to learn more about your children. At our family dinners, we play a game called “Where will you be?” Each child takes their turn telling us where they will be in 5, 10, 20 years (you choose the number of years from now). The idea is to get them talking about WHERE they will be, WHAT they will be doing, and WHO they will be spending time with. We started this when we first became a blended family. In those early days, our youngest was about 3 years old! Her answers were cute and usually a play on something one of the older children had mentioned – my, how our lives have changed. Now, she talks about graduating from high school 10 years from now! This “game” is a no-pressure way to understand more about your children’s hopes and dreams – what college do they want to attend? where do they want to live? what subjects excite them? where do they want to travel? These are all amazing things you can learn from a “game”.
Try this with your blended family tonight!
Today would have been my mother’s 72nd birthday. It is a bittersweet day for me because it reminds me of many wonderful birthday parties with my grandmother (her mother), her sisters and our families celebrating both her birthday and her older sister’s birthday. Their birthdays were two days apart. My grandmother always made “birthday cake” – a white cake (home-made, of course) with the most beautiful pink icing that she used to make little petite peaks all over the cake.
My mother didn’t get to be a grandmother; she died of gastric cancer the year she was to turn fifty. So, today, more than twenty years later, the bitter comes from having two biological children that never got to have a birthday party with their maternal grandmother. My mom would have been the most amazing grandmother… I can only imagine how all of our lives might be different had she lived to see her grandchildren born and to have participated in their lives. Elaina, my daughter, carries my mother’s name (Elaine). It serves as a lasting tribute and reminder to her of the grandmother she didn’t have the opportunity to know or to be loved by. I make sure to tell the kids stories about her and make recipes with them that my mother made for my siblings and me (Snickerdoodles being our #1 favorite to make together!!). Anything to help them know her in some small way.
Although nothing can replace the potential grandmother my mom could have been, my children haven’t fully missed out on the love and affection of grandmother-like figures in their lives. They are so lucky to have great aunts (TWO Aunt Glendas and an Aunt Kaky – these are on my side of the family). They are also lucky to have a wonderful grandmother via our blended family. I am very grateful for Russell’s mother who welcomed my children with open arms from the very first day she met them. They call her “grandma” and look forward to visits with her and from her just like any grandchild would anticipate such a visit. She asks about their lives and converses with them with kind attention. For this, I am thankful.
In our lives, sometimes we lose people. Those people are not replaceable. My mother is certainly not replaceable, to me or to my children. However, in life, we must also look for sweetness even in bittersweet times. Our blended family has given my children the chance to find just that.
That is what this blog is about… looking for the positives in the blended family
Today as I was holding a ‘trikonasana’ (triangle pose) in yoga, the instructor pushed us to “notice the room created to let things in and notice what we let go of”. As I focused on my practice I thought of how I could apply that in my life. On my drive home from an invigorating practice, I considered how her instructions applied to our blended family.
Consider letting in: your step-children, your step-family, your life
Considering letting go of: frustration created by ex-spouses, difficulties with scheduling, hurt created by missing one another
Apply the above to your blended family, seek to create positive interactions in your crazy, fun life…
This past weekend, on a gorgeous, sunny day, the country club where my children swim hosted the annual “Big Meet”. This is where a couple of hundred kids, ages 5 to 16 years old, from five different country clubs compete for the title of “North Shore Swim League Champions”. As a club, we hosted about 500 people; many parents volunteered to pull off a fantastic event.
In working to define our family, Russell was a volunteer at the “Big Meet’ – just like any other parent.
Working to direct incoming traffic to the correct parking lot (imagine, minivans driven by moms, full of kids and sports cars driven by dads coming with Dunkin’ Donuts — this is a true observation!), Russell’s contribution demonstrated several things:
– despite the three hours distance between us, we are building a presence as a complete family both in Reading, MA and Burlington, VT
– he cares immensely for his step-son and step-daughter – contributing to an important event for my children demonstrates their importance in his life
Find ways to participate in your step-children’s activities – the rewards are great for all!
Russell and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner together while on vacation in Cape Cod this past week. We had a beautiful view of the beach in Chatham with such amazing colors entertaining us during the early evening. The blue of the ocean, the green of the trees and the oranges and pinks of the sun in the distance were amazing.
During dinner we were discussing our relationship and our blended family and how truly content and in love we are with one another. Perhaps a bit sentimental and sappy, but I even shed a couple of tears of joy during this conversation. We continued the discussion about what our success hinges upon and he said something that I believe deserves quote status!
I don’t always agree with you, but I respect you, and with that respect comes knowing that you have an intelligent reason for your position. – Russell D. Beste
I believe respect is essential to any successful relationship – for a husband and wife living 3 hours apart during the week it is a key contributor to keeping our communication channel open.