Tag Archives: family

Stuck in a Blender

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“Hi, Lisa!

I noticed in your bio that you are in a blended family.  I am, also and I am wondering why you don’t write about blending families more often. My husband and I have been married for 3 years and together we have 4 children (his two daughters – ages 5 & 8 – and my son and daughter – ages 10 and 12)…To be honest, this has been a lot harder than either of us thought it ever would be.  The kids are not responding the way we thought they would, our relationship is strained and our exes are not making things any easier.  I fear that we have made a mistake and didn’t think this through.  Do you have any advice to offer?  I do love him, but sometimes I wonder if that is enough… V”

 

Hello V!  First let me offer you a big virtual hug.  This is just a portion of your letter, yet it’s obvious that you and your mister are in a bad place right now and I’m sorry for that.  I am also sorry that it has taken me a while to respond to your email.  I’m not completely comfortable with giving advice and, in fact, I’m not going to give you any. I’ve given your letter a lot of consideration and finally mentioned it to my husband to get his perspective.  What I can tell you is how we have dealt with our situation in hopes that it can give you some encouragement and insight.

First, please know that blending a family is not easy for anyone.  We honestly do not know of one blended family that hasn’t suffered from bumps and bruises. In biological families there is a multitude of personalities and quirks that often get in the way of familial bonding.  Blended families tend to have that same dynamic and then some.  We enter these marriages with such high (and often unrealistic) hopes for an instant family without realizing that not too long ago we were all perfect strangers.  I know that for you these three years of marriage have seemed long and trying but, in reality that’s not a lot of time for people who barely knew each other to grow to love one another.  Big Poppa and I have been married for 11 years and we are still stuck in a blender.

I would have to admit that the pressures and trials of being in a blended family have almost ended my marriage…more than once.  We have sought counseling (family and couples) on and off throughout these 11 years – which is not a bad thing even when all is well.  To be honest with you, I don’t think that we have done a very good job of effectively becoming one family.  In many ways we still operate like three separate families – his, mine and ours.  Each of us is still very tender about the subject of our children and it has become a topic that we really don’t discuss much.  Awkward? Yes. Survival technique? Definitely.  I don’t advise this approach, I’m just being honest.

Our saving grace has been our love for God and each other.  Ultimately, we are committed to our vows and each other.  Not to mention that Big Poppa and I are the best of friends.  There have been moments that we have lost sight of this, but that has been what’s always brought us back to try to talk things out or at least find a comfortable place to call a truce.  It’s so easy to find fault with the other person and their children and fail to see where we missed the mark.  On the other hand, you both need to firmly believe that nothing the other person is doing is with malicious intent or trying to cause harm.  Yes, we are there to provide protection for our children, but we are also there to provide protection and support for our spouse.  It all starts with trust and commitment.

V, raising a family is hard and a blended family is even harder.  There’s no easy way to say it.  I wish that I had advice that could help you or somehow make it easier, but I don’t.  I can tell you that I feel you, girl. I’ve been there and it’s hard, and it’s exhausting and it’s painful.  You’re husband is not going to understand everything that you’re feeling and you’re not going to understand him completely either.   His kids may reject you and your kids may reject him, but don’t reject each other.  Please don’t do that. Hold on to one another and eventually you will all get to a comfortable place.  Some couples therapy wouldn’t hurt either.

 

Take good care,

Lisa

 

Our Family Circa 2012

Our Family Circa 2012

 

On Family, Friends and Uplifiting

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I’ve gotten a little off track with my blog posting in the past couple of days.  That whole “Life Thing.”  I’m sure that you understand because you have a life, too.  Anyway, as I was looking at the blog prompts for days 3, 4 & 5 of the 28 days of Celebrating Thanks  (A Person That Lifts You Up, Family and Friends respectively)  I realized that they fit perfectly together and I could do a mash-up and then…voila! I’d be all caught up!  Actually, catching up wasn’t really the point.  These things are really intertwined because family can be friends and friends can feel like family.  These people are our life blood and therein we often find our greatest source of encouragement.

Quote by Maya Angelou

Quote by Maya Angelou

Our relationships are to be cherished and our lives filled with people who encourage and inspire us.  So often, we tend to lose sight of the fact that not one of us is an island and capable of sustaining ourselves all alone.  Why then, do we allow people in our lives that aim to detract from us rather than add to our experiences.  Subsequently, why do we fail to acknowledge those people that give us so much of themselves and cheer us on.  Those people that give us tough love and tell us the truth even when it doesn’t sound good.  Those people that listen to our whining then say “Okay, enough!  Pity party over, it’s time to move on.  You can do this!”  Or, they dig in to the tub of ice cream with you and open the pound cake that they brought along with them.  Or, they’re standing at the finish line when you run your first 5K.   Whether it be family or friends, everyone deserves someone in their corner who has their back.  I’m fortunate to be the girl whose married to my biggest cheerleader.  Big Poppa thinks that I’m funny, smart, talented and that I can do absolutely ANYTHING  that I really set my mind on.  I’m always quite sure that he’s wrong, but you know, sometimes it’s actually intimidating.  Occasionally, I’m afraid that I will disappoint him if I fail.   He never seems to be concerned about that.  His enthusiasm is contagious and he always manages to get me to believing right along with him.

Right now I’ve hit a sweet spot in my life when I have realized that my husband, my kids, my siblings  and those few friends that are closest to me are really what life is all about.  Those intimate moments with the people who know you the best and like you anyway.  So much of what we dwell on is superficial and unnecessary, but those that I love and hold dear make my life complete.  My friends, please don’t waste your time on detractors.  Rid your life of any unnecessary baggage and love on those that love you.

*This post is in response to a blog prompt 28 Days of Celebrating Thanks, Days 3, 4 & 5 (I cheated a little).  You can read the posts by my fellow bloggers here.   

Reflections on Easter Sunday

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Easter Sunday has always been one of my favorite days of the year.  When I was a kid, it was definitely because I got to wear my new Easter finery.   New dress, new shoes, new trench coat! Although, being from the Midwest, more often than not, it was too cold to wear my trench coat so, my new Spring dress had to be covered with my heavy Winter coat.  Oh, and don’t forget the snow.  Every once in a while there was snow on the ground at Easter.  Not to worry, I would wear my boots and just carry my cute shoes along with me to change into once I got to church.  I must admit that since I have had children, shopping for just the right Easter outfit has been, well…let’s just say that I don’t know who enjoys it more, my children or me?

As I have grown closer to Christ, the sheer magnitude of what Easter represents – the life and death of Jesus – has been at times overwhelming and most of the time astounding .  That someone could love me so much that he was willing to die for me, or more so, that a father, God, could love me so much that he was willing to sacrifice his son, Jesus, for me and my sin is just mind-boggling. What love! Knowing that I could never, ever do anything even remotely close to that myself (thank goodness He doesn’t ask me to) , I am eternally grateful.  Obviously, I think about this more than just on Easter but, this just happens to be the time of year that Christians select to observe His death and resurrection.  It seems that this time of year is totally appropriate since in His dying, Christ gave us a chance at new life in Him and Spring is the time of year that we see signs of new life after a long Winter.  Flowers bloom, birds lay their eggs and the sun comes out of hiding.  All signs of new life.

So, with all of this in mind, let me tell you about Easter 2009.  By that April my siblings and I knew that our father was in the late stages of Lewy Body Disease (or Lewy Body Dementia) and that he was approaching the end of his life. Lewy Body Disease is the second most common form of dementia following Alzheimer’s.   Unfortunately, our mother suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease and was, for the most part, unaware of what was happening.  Now that I think about it, that was probably, in a strange way, a blessing.  Therefore, the four of us, along with our spouses, planned to gather for Easter dinner at my home and plan my father’s funeral.  Somehow it seemed easier to do while he was still alive. Not easy but, easier.  Now, here was one of my favorite days of the year, complete with the ham, potato salad, green beans, etc., and I was really concerned that after that day, I would not feel the same way about it ever again.  Ironically, I had picked Easter Sunday not just because of the urgency of the situation but, also, because it is a family holiday and holidays tend to create a warmer, more serene mood.  I know that some of you may be heartily disagreeing with me right now that family holidays are ever serene however, and I sincerely mean this, I have 3 of the coolest siblings on the planet.  I was never concerned that we would disagree about any of the details.

We did, in fact, meet at my house that Sunday and after dessert was served, we got down to the business of planning.  Since we are a quirky lot, there were lots of sweeping declarations like, “Don’t have too much singing! He wouldn’t like that, ” and “It is a funeral, not a home going celebration!”  And, there was a lot of laughter.  My dad was a funny guy with a dry, sarcastic sense of humor and it certainly didn’t go unappreciated by the 4 of us.  We joked about burying him in a gold-colored casket shaped like a Cadillac, which would have been totally out of character, but really funny.  And we noted how he would have hated it if the service was longer than an hour.  He was concise and to the point.  What was really evident that day was how much we all loved and respected him and each other.   Believe it or not, the memories that I have of that day have made Easter that much more special to me.  He died 3 days later and thankfully, all of the preparations were in place.  I don’t know if you can ever really be prepared to lose a loved one but, it helped that we were at least organized.  Which was a good thing, especially for me, since my youngest daughter, then 15-months-old, was hospitalized with Rotavirus just days before dad’s funeral.  Apparently, I just can’t catch a break.

I miss spending holidays with my siblings and I hope that one day soon we will be able to gather again without it having anything to do with something so serious.  However, ever since that Easter Sunday, 2009, I have been even more grateful for God’s grace and gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, for my family who really are some of the greatest people ever and yes, for really darling Spring dresses…just because they are fun.

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