This month we’re flipping the script for May dedicating each of our digital Spaces in different ways to celebrate one of the most influential beings on the planet… Moms.
In a season of unveiling, each week Octane founder Danielle Meadows Stinnet shares different perspectives across her own motherhood journey.
Three Life lessons I learned from living a Blended family life:
Lesson 1: Loving a child is not equivalent to raising a child
This is really in relevance to my oldest sons relationship with his father. In the early years after our custody agreement, I could never wrap my head around why my son didn’t see his father as the person that left him almost half way across America to the Canadian border during some his most important developing adolescent years.
And the ugly truth sat in. He left me, not his son.
Despite being states from his son, was gladly showing up to spend time with him. He never missed a holiday that was his to spend with him. Even over years of time… he kept showing up.
What does that say? He loves his son. So much he’ll go to whatever length to ensure he’s present in some way. That in the few times a year they do ‘hang out’ they’re traveling, learning and experiencing the world together. That’s what Dads do right?
I choose to celebrate that. My oldest has Autism and the technical headspace he navigates in, is a lot like his Fathers.
My son cherishes this similarity above many things that feel completely unrelated in his life.
And over time so do I. It teaches our son to cherish his own value and uniqueness. And that he’s never alone.
Who doesn’t want that for their child?
In so many ways it not about what we can solely give our child but we can offer them up to if we simply release our arms. I want oldest to the best version of HIMSELF.
Lesson 2: You gotta share…. a lot
If you weren’t hip to the wise on a family calendar, having a blended family will put you on one. Period.
Between holidays and rotating visitation schedules, it can be truly trying to stay on top of cherishing family moments and keeping everyone together.
Sometimes because of schedule conflicts brothers miss birthdays, get-togethers and yes Christmas’ but whats worked for us is picking a time to honor the moment beyond the date.
And with sharing … comes areas of not sharing. Boundaries physically (and spiritually) are just as important.
We have several in place that allow us to measure space, discernment and patience with each other as we transition from one household to another.
- We do half/step anyone’s name. A parent is a parent, period. Our son’s have Dads but they only have 1 earthly Father. (And 1 Heavenly Father; we stay prayed up!)
- Once you turn 14 you have 2 options during the summer: work a job or volunteer to help someone/something.
These are just a few but you get the drift.
Lesson 3: You define who/what family is
As a parent, its our goal to be a guide… not necessarily a force on our kids. While establishing values & framework for your household its important as they grow to allow them to begin to make those life discerning decisions on there own. Down to whom they call family and whom they do not.
While my household instils respect, we do not push or force connections based on “what we think is best”. What is important to me may not be important to my child and vice versa, especially when it comes to blended family members.
For background: My immediate family is truly swole. Dad is 1 of 13 and mom is 1 of 9. So holidays stay extra swole. (Should I still be using that word?) My kids are not going to remember every name or ‘kick it’ with each and every cousin, great aunt or great uncle. Especially for special needs children who come off as anti-social and don’t want to correlate with a lot of people. I mean, come on.
What we often share with our kids is: your spark is yours alone to connect with someone special.
Maybe thats a new mom or a new brother… its there choice. We as adults are mature enough to respect our children’s emotions and choices on whom they choose to bond with. In my personal opinion it does not degrade your parental bond but highlights and even celebrates it.
We carry a deep ‘community over hereditary’ mindset and define our family as “the people throughout your life that has been there for you in the good time and the bad times.” Our kids quote it almost verbatim if I get in a ‘life lecture’ mode.
BONUS ROUND! Lesson 4: Blended families are a lot like non blended families
And its true. Same rival siblings. Same twinning moments. Same increase of “oh mom” and “d-a-a-a-a-d” moments.
We even have the same familiar familia complexities as “normal” ones do. We just have more voices to consider when we make decisions about our kids. And sometimes a deeper schedule.
I’ve known some single kid families though with worse schedules then what I have but that’s a whole other blog post.
There you have it. Stay patient with yourself mama.