A Different Kind of Adoption

My next few blog posts will focus on Mothers and Mother’s Day. As Mother’s Day ranks third in most money spent for the holiday (behind Black Friday and Valentine’s Day), it’s a big deal.

As I became a mother by marriage, I tend to focus on different kinds of Moms. And how surprising it is when you keep your heart open to the people in your lives.

A few years ago, my husband and I noticed an older lady who always sat by herself at church. My husband, being much more outgoing than I am, decided we should sit with her. We introduced ourselves and she mumbled her name.

It was apparent that she was very shy, and probably preferred to be left alone. Yet week after week, we were drawn to her and continued to sit with her. Eventually, she began talking to us more and more. But it took lots of time, lots of patience, and my husband, with his whacky sense of humor, had her warming up to us.

It turned out that “Dee” was widowed, and lived alone, and sadly, was not in touch with her only child. She’s a tiny woman, not even five-feet tall, but quick-witted, spry and a go-getter. She’s very shy and introverted, but regular with her church-going. However, week after week, friendship began to blossom.

Fast forward as hubby and I have faced a serious health issue with my mother, and on the flipside, the birth of our first grandchild. Dee walked beside us through all of it. She’s prayed and supported us, provided wisdom and sage advice.

So, what started out as us sitting next to a lonely widow, has turned out to her adopting us into her world. One time at church, when we were out of town, someone asked her where her son and daughter-in-law were. I think that tickled all of us as we didn’t realize we presented a picture of family to those around us.

Now, every week, we show her updated pictures of our granddaughter, whom she has adopted as her great-granddaughter. She even shows off pictures to others at church!

We took a chance sitting next to her, when at the time, it was clear she was shy and probably preferred to sit alone. Yet we felt compelled to keep sitting with her.

And instead of us adopting her, she ended up adopting us. We have a new mom whom we love and laugh with, and now can’t imagine her not being in our life.

Mothers come in different persons, if you open your heart.

What about you? Do you have another mother in your life?

Being Inspired

As a writer, I’ve trained myself to try to be observant to the world around me. I love to people watch, and sometimes I can’t help but eavesdrop on conversations at the local coffee shop. You never know what is going to inspire you, no matter how small it may seem. A snatch of a phrase here or an action or motion there. But in observing the world, you sometimes overlook what’s right in your own home.

I’ve been honored to have three stories published in various Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including the one out now for Mother’s Day -“Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!” Many writers are inspired by their own parents, and I definitely admire my mother for her strength and courage, and fun sense of humor.
Chicken Soup Covers

But in the case of two out of my three stories for Chicken Soup, the inspiration has come from my daughter, Bonnie.

Bonnie became my daughter via marriage to her father. She started as my step-daughter, but our relationship grew to the point where she asked to be legally adopted ; This story was recounted in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Celebrating Mothers and Daughter. From there, I watched her finish high school to going to college, to shopping with her for her wedding dress to most recently, walking with her through her own pregnancy and birth of her beautiful daughter. This is the story in “Best Mom Ever!”

Bonnie lost her mother due to a car accident, so me coming into her life and trying to be a mother wasn’t always an easy thing to do. How do you walk the line between respecting the memory of her mother to wanting to develop my own motherly relationship with her?

It’s been a journey, filled with highs and lows, but we’ve walked this path together, communicating openly and honestly. And the fact that she opened her heart to love another mother astounds me and I couldn’t be more blessed with her and our precious relationship.

There’s something about choosing each other that has made our bond even deeper.
Bonnie’s faith in me in a parental role (when I had no children of my own previously) and now as a grandparent fills me with such joy. You never know how your heart can grow with love.
Granddaughter
She continues to inspire me as I watch her grow into her own role as a mother, and I’m so honored to walk beside her during this time.

So, while I look around the world for inspiration, I need not forget to look among my own family. This beautiful light that is my daughter is proving to be the greatest inspiration of all.

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Saluting my Children on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day weekend just passed and during this time of honoring my Mom, I’m also thankful to be a Mom.

But me being a Mom is tribute to my kids.

As most of you know, I married a widower who had two children. So, I became an instant Mother on my wedding day.

We’ve all heard the stories of step-mothers and how awful they can be. Well, I didn’t want to be part of that story. But I also needed to find the balance between respecting the memory of my step-children’s mother while finding my own way in my new family. I didn’t want to take her place, but I wanted to find my own place — somehow, there had to be room for me.

I couldn’t achieve this on my own. Oh, I definitely had a part to play, but in order to make any kind of motherhood work, it was up to the kids.

Even as a teenager and pre-teen, the kids were smart enough to know there was room for me in their hearts. They knew loving me and treating me like a mother wasn’t an insult to their mother’s memory.

My goal was to love and raise these kids as I think their mother would’ve wanted them to be loved and raised. Any Mom only wants the best for her kids. It doesn’t have to be a competition between a memory and me.

By loving them how I thought their mother would want them to be loved and cared for, I honored their Mom — I didn’t wipe away her existence.

With the kids, they just had another person in their life that loved them and had their back.

But again, none of it would’ve been possible without the kids making that choice.

We had to choose to love each other and forge our own relationships with each other.

On Mother’s Day, I honor my kids — for making the choice to open their hearts and let me in. I’m the bonus mom, and I can’t imagine loving them anymore had I been their mom from birth.

Thanks, kids, for making me a Mom.  It’s a job I love.

The Small Moments

The last few blog posts have been about blending a family together. I’ve talked about the positives of this, because there are so many positives that come from opening your heart and making the choice to be a family.

I will never know the feeling of being pregnant, giving birth and holding my own child in my arms for the first time. But I am blessed to have the kids I have via marriage.

I jumped in with both feet with two teenagers and I don’t think I’d trade it for anything. I have a close relationship with both my kids.

My daughter was younger, and my husband had to travel a lot for his job, so she and I had to find our own way together. Our fondest memories are our afternoon movie when school got out. We’d have popcorn and hang out on the couch and watch a chick flick. Like any mother and daughter, we could get on each other’s nerves on occasion. But we couldn’t stand to stay angry at each other. Our “fights” lasted about 10 minutes, then one or the other would apologize for our outburst and then we’d break out the hugs and the popcorn to set our world back to rights.

My son was 17 when my husband and I married. While I knew he and I would get along and be ‘friends’ — I guess I didn’t expect a deep parent/child relationship with him. I expected him to only be home another year and a half as he finished high school, then he’d leave for college. He’d be too caught up in the fun of high school, girlfriends, proms and planning for college. Oh yes, let’s not forget his rock ‘n roll band in the garage (which had to score me some points as the coolest “stepmonster” around!) 🙂

Remember, he is technically my husband’s step-son. He has his Dad and another step-mom that he’d go see most weekends. So, he was surrounded with parents already by the time I came along. But lo and behold, our ‘mother/son’ relationship did begin to develop.

We talked… we were interested in what was going on in each other’s lives. And yes, I was cool because he could have the garage band — and I always seemed to have enough food to feed the army of teenagers that invaded our house. He lived at home an extra year before he left for college. I was glad I had more time with him than I expected, all for the good. Fast forward to last month.

My son is married now, but thankfully lives about 5 miles from us. He and his wife took a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate their anniversary and her birthday. My husband and I got to babysit their dog. Yep, we have a grand-dog.

My husband and kids always had dogs. There were four of them when my husband and I were dating. We had three dogs until 2007. I never grew up with dogs, I wasn’t used to them. My kids have spent all this time trying to get me attached to the dogs.

Well, when my son came over to pick up his dog, he found me in the backyard with her, playing with her. He couldn’t resist teasing me about turning into a dog lover. I’m not sure I’d call myself a dog lover, but I do like his dog. And I guess it showed.

Anyway, on this particular day, we sat on my back porch, playing with the dog and just talked. We didn’t talk about anything too deep or world-changing, and it wasn’t for a long period of time. But it was still a sweet time. Especially because he couldn’t resist teasing me about playing with the dog.

I don’t think I ever want to take for granted mornings like that one. Where I can just sit with my son, talk about stuff, and end with promises of dinner with him and his wife sometime soon.

Our kids are precious. Anyone who is a parent knows this. My husband and I have held on to the idea that children belong to God… and we’re only entrusted with them for a brief time. At some point, you have to let them go and have to let them grow up. But if you’ve used that time wisely, then you can have those special back porch moments, chatting with your adult son while playing fetch with his dog.

So, what are some of your special moments with your kids? Please feel free to share.

Second Chances

(Note from Becky: This week’s post from Jude Urbanski discusses Second Chances with a second marriage. This really touched me personally. It’s so timely in today’s world. Thank you for sharing, Jude!)


Second Chances by Jude Urbanski

The words Isaiah 43:18-19 are inscribed inside my second wide, gold wedding band. That verse tells me to forget the former things and see the new thing the Lord is doing. In other words, I have a second chance in a second marriage.

Now, I feel I’ve been married all my life! Twenty five years the first time and almost 25 years the second time. Yes, I like to think I am a sage woman still with dreams. Our original family is never replaced, but to forge a blended-family takes a bunch of all-around courage, civility and cheers.

I happened on to a little book by Harry H. Harrison (H to the third power!) called 1001 Things Happy Couples Know About Marriage. His chapter on Second Marriages sang to me. I will paraphrase and bullet some of his words of wisdom and words of humor as well as some of mine. I laughed out loud as well as took some deep breaths when thinking of these. May it be so with you.

• Being married a second time means we are blessed to find comfort and companionship again, but that we can screw up royally the first time and get a beautiful best fit the second time.

• Any marriage is a sacrament. Even second ones. Even fourth ones. Even fifth?

• We often feel like teenagers in a second marriage, when we have teenagers.

• An emotional divorce is needed from our first spouse in order to really connect with our new spouse.

• We need to know all the kids involved may dream of their parents getting back together. So proceed slowly.

• It may take more than an overnight to fall in love with your partner’s children.

• Over time both sets of children can learn to respect and tolerate one another, but it will take time and be on their terms. I personally can attest this can happen.

• Your new spouse probably wasn’t looking for a new mother or father for the kids, but a partner and companion. In fact, my husband said these exact words.

• Whenever possible, think in terms of ‘our kids.’ Period. Not easy, but do it.

• We have found that separate personal accounts, but a joint household account, works well. We can still borrow from one another! The rich and famous do this I hear.

• Accept that step kids may like the first set of grandparents better. Normal! In reality, we should shine at this and be more than glad.

• Whatever the custodial arrangements, it is important to spend time with your own kids.

• In my opinion, joint custodial arrangements are hard to accomplish. Maybe the parents should move from house to house and not the kids.

• Think long and hard on why the first marriage failed, so this one won’t.

Whatever our story or our unique set of circumstances, we must go forth from where we are and make the best decisions we can. We know that all things can be made new; we can forget the past if needs be and see happiness ahead. Viva la Second Chances!

Jude Urbanski

Jude writes both non-fiction and fiction. Her ebooks, The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing, come out this year in print by Desert Breeze Publishing. She and husband are working on a small, non-fiction book of vignettes when he was a single father of five. They are approaching 25 years of a blended family with eight kids and 20 grands, who live from coast to coast.

Love at First “Site”

(Becky’s Note: Today’s Blended Family story comes from one of my favorite authors, Christina Berry. Christina wrote one of my favorite books “The Familiar Stranger.” It’s a must-read. On a personal note, her blended family story is inspiring. Enjoy!)

by Christina Berry Tarabochia

We were matched on eHarmony within my first five minutes of signing up. Dave and I had seemed to lead parallel lives—marriages of thirteen years that ended because of unfaithfulness, two children each that were in the same grades and only months apart in age, AWANA leaders for the same number of years, chicken pox in high school … the list of similar experiences went on and on.

Eight months after we met, we got engaged on a Friday, told the kids on Saturday, house shopped Sunday, made an offer on Monday, and “bought” a house by Wednesday. I should have known then that the pace of a blended family would be fast!

The day after we returned from our honeymoon, we moved all five kids—I adopted our littlest blessing out of foster care while we were dating—into the mostly set up house.

Blending sounded like a natural progression for me and my kids. We’d done foster care for a few years and were used to falling in love with new kids and having them invade our space. But this was different. The questions could have overwhelmed: what do we call each other? If I introduce the boys as my stepsons, will that make them feel unloved? If
I introduce them as my sons, will that minimize or insult their relationship with their mom?

We took these issues one at a time, even coming up with our own little blended family language. I became Stom, a variation of Stepmom. The boys had stisters and the girls had strothers. We came up with a Team Tarabochia slogan: Love, Laughter, & the Lord, and structured our family rules around those principals. (Yes, we might not all have the last name Tarabochia, but we’re all on the same team!)

There are times I wonder if any of our kids resented the changes—moving to a new place, sharing parents, having to readjust home dynamics …. Not only did the kids need to process our marriage, but within months, both of our exes remarried too.

Yet we’ve seen love grow, even where there are struggles and difficulties. The kids never express anything but gratefulness for the stability and love they get from the mixing of our families. In fact, I asked the kids if they had anything to share about our two-year-old family.

Austin, 14, ston, “I love always having homework help.” (A great benefit to have a straight-A stister , and said with a twinkle in his eye:))

Andrea, 14, daughter, “We could have not got along, but we ended up loving each and figuring out how to be together.”

Tanner, 12, ston, “My favorite thing about our family is that we’re Christian. And that we like each other and Josh is my friend.”

Josh, 12, son, “There’s always lots of people to play with.”

Liliana, 6, daughter, “We have a sweet and caring family. The girls are beautiful and the boys are handsome. And they are nice to me.”

That’s not to say it’s been easy on a day-to-day basis. Dave’s grandma, who blended a family with six teenagers, told me sometimes she would close the door to her bedroom, cry, wipe the tears, and go back out there. And that’s what we do—the next right thing. We made some choices that helped—like moving into a new house that was OURS and not one or the other’s, and taking time to make time for what our old families liked to do together, but the biggest thing we did—and DO—is pray. Send a few of yours our way, eh? I think we could us them!

Christina (Berry) Tarabochia writes about the heart and soul of life with a twist of intrigue. Captain of a winning Family Feud team, Christina is also a purple belt in tae kwondo and would love to own a de-scented skunk. Her debut novel, The Familiar Stranger, was a 2010 Christy Finalist and Carol Award winner. Get to know her better at www.christinaberry.net or www.authorchristinaberry.blogspot.net or on Facebook or Twitter(authorchristina).

Christina’s new release is On the Threshold, co-written with Mom/Sherrie Ashcraft:

Suzanne Corbin and her daughter, Beth Harris, live a seemingly easy life. But all that is about to change. Tragedy strikes and police officer Tony Barnett intersects with the lives of both women as he tries to discover the truth. Left adrift and drowning in guilt long ignored, Suzanne spirals downward into paralyzing depression. Beth, dealing with her own grief, must face the challenge of forgiveness. Suzanne—a mother with a long-held secret. Tony—a police officer with something to prove. Beth—a daughter with a storybook future. When all they love is lost, what’s worth living for?

Mother/daughter writing team Sherrie Ashcraft and Christina Berry Tarabochia bring a voice of authenticity to this novel as they have experienced some of the same issues faced by these characters. They like to say they were separated at birth but share one brain, which allows them to write in a seamless stream. Both live in NW Oregon and love spending time together. Many years ago, they were both on a winning Family Feud team!

Sherrie is the Women’s Ministry Director at her church, and loves being the grandma of eight and great-grandma of one. Christina is also the author of The Familiar Stranger, a Christy finalist and Carol Award winner, and runs a thriving editing business.

Please sign up for their Infrequent, Humorous Newsletter at Ashberry Lane for a chance to win cool prizes.

When Plan A Fails

(Note from Becky: Today, I welcome Diana Brandmeyer to Talking Among Friends. She not only discusses her own blended family story, but shares details about the book she’s co-written called “We’re not Blended, We’re Pureed – A Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families”. The title alone is great! Welcome, Diana and thank you for being here today).

When Plan A FailsbyDiana Lesire Brandmeyer

Once upon a time…

Yes, it’s true. I thought I had it all, the story book life-the picket fence, husband and 2.5 children. Or at least it was a version I liked. No fence; instead a historical two story stone farmhouse, two boys, two horses, two cats, two dogs and a fish named Nebrekanzer –the reason? He ate the others in the tank.

Then Plan A broke when my husband died of a brain tumor. Dreams were dashed and once upon a time turned into Nightmare in the Stone House.

Did I really think I had it all planned out? Yes.

Did I think I would survive this huge loss along with the baby Copperhead snakes that had found a way into the kitchen? No.

God knew differently. He had a back-up plan for me. His very own specially written for me Plan B. I remarried and instead of 2 sons now had 3, lovingly referred to as Moe, Larry and Curly as they resembled those characters more than the Brady Bunch children.

This marriage, this family was going to be an anomaly. We were not going to end up as the blended family that unraveled. It was not an easy journey, and I often felt alone. There couldn’t be any other families going through upheavals like we experienced: rebellion of new rules, siblings fighting and a screaming mom. Yes, I said it. I screamed. I also cried. Then I figured it out.

The secret.

I wasn’t getting through this like a Hallmark commercial. I needed God. I fell to my knees and begged.

Guess what? I found out I wasn’t alone. God was and is with me always. He’s there for you too when the family stuff gets too much but wait, look and listen. He’s there in the sweet hugs and “thanks Mom”, too.

There are many moms –not just stepmoms—going through the exact issues you are. Ask them. Maybe they feel alone. From one mom to another, reach out, share God’s love and His peace as you survive your blended family. With Him in the center of your family, the boat may get rocky but remember He walks on water and He’ll keep the water out of your nose.


About Diana’s book: We’re Not Blended-We’re Pureed, A Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families

Can two families learn to cohabitate?
In peace?
Ever?
Are you terrified that you’ve turned into a version of the fairy-tale wicked stepparent?

Do you paste on a smile and pretend your family is a vision of 1950s Main Street America while at home the battle lines are etched in the driveway and signed with the kid’s initials?

Don’t dismay. God is with you. Discover how others have dealt with the difficult issues of blending two families. Find real-world advice to help you when your own words fail.

This engaging readable book is held together with humor, liberally peppered with information, commentary, and includes clinically sound information and proven communication tools.

Both authors provide practical methods for dealing with tough subjects. Short captivating chapters are perfect for those rare moments that parents have to themselves. Readers will enjoy stories and testimonies as they prepare their own families for success.

Christian author, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, writes historical and contemporary romances. Author of Mind of Her Own, A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee and We’re Not Blended-We’re Pureed, A Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families. Once widowed and now remarried she writes with humor and experience on the difficulty of joining two families be it fictional or real life. Along with her website, you can reach Diana via her blog or Facebook page.

A Bunny in the Blend

(Becky’s Note: Today I’m thrilled to welcome Angela Ruth Strong to “Talking Among Friends.” She shares a wonderful story about blending her family…with a bunny. Enjoy!)

By Angela Ruth Strong
www.angelaruthstrong.blogspot.com

My youngest daughter Lauren has always loved her stuffed animals. Especially her rabbit named Steve. He became a source of security for her when her father left me and moved out of state.

Apparently she thought Steve needed to protect me, too. The first time Lauren saw me talking to a member of the opposite sex in church, she held up her bunny and said in a wee-bunny voice, “My name is Steve, and I like to murder people.”

Thank goodness I was the only one who heard her. But for the first time I realized how scared she must have been at the idea of me falling in love with another man. We talked about it. And it eventually became a joke. Steve got his own Facebook page where he displayed pictures of himself doing things like wearing a surgical mask at the dentist office when Lauren got her teeth cleaned and he posted comments about his crush on the babysitter.
But if any men tried to ask how Steve was doing, Lauren would respond with something like, “He has a chainsaw.”

Enter Mr. Strong.

Jim knew about Steve before he met Lauren. We’d gone out a couple times, and he wanted to take the kids and me to a ghost town in the mountains of Idaho, so I had to warn him. This could have been one dangerous date. But something amazing happened…

The kids didn’t want it to end. I’d learned to follow their lead, and they wanted to hang out at Jim’s house when we got back to town. He ordered Chinese food and my son played on his Xbox while the girls got artistic in his art studio. One of the girls came down with a sketch she’d drawn of the restaurant where we’d eaten in the Idaho Hotel—the only establishment still running in Silver City. Above the bar in the restaurant hung a sign with a gun. It read: We don’t call the police. Jim pointed to the sign in the sketch and said, “It should read: We don’t call the police, we call Steve.” The kids laughed and laughed.

Steve and Jim became great friends. Jim would pretend to let Steve drive his truck or help him rock out to music. He even once held him for ransom, doctoring a picture of the bunny to make him look scared. The kids loved such entertainment. And apparently they had no more need for protection with Jim around.

We bought Steve a tux for the wedding and Lauren tossed him to us during our first dance. Maybe to keep an eye on us … but we considered it a sign of acceptance.

Blending families is one of the toughest things we’ve ever had to do. It takes hard work with sometimes little to no reward. We don’t do it perfectly. But I’ve never had any doubts that Jim and I were supposed to be together. And I owe a lot of that to Steve.

That rascally rabbit helped bring us together. He’s a much loved member of our blended family.

Re-Writing the Evil Step-Mom Story

Note from Becky: I’m so pleased to welcome fellow ACFW member, Julie Arudini to “Talking Among Friends.” Julie shares her own story about faith and blending a family together:

My prince came a few years after college graduation. What set him apart from the fantasy I heard growing up and claimed as my own was a couple things.

He was ten years older.

And he also was divorced with minor children.

There wasn’t a story or Disney movie I could consult, a least not one where the step-mom scenario was a positive one.

Couldn’t there be a happy blended family story?

Our family is proof that there can be.

We’re going on 17 years of marriage.

When we first met, his kids weren’t even teens. The week we started dating he learned they were moving to Wisconsin. We lived in New York State.

That was my first challenge, and we were so new as a couple marriage wasn’t on my radar. But I put one thing into practice right from that first week that has seen us through all these years.

Prayer.

I believed God. I prayed (and still do) for my husband, his children, their mom, and every member of their family in Wisconsin. That was something God asked me to do, and I never made a big deal about it, nor did I guilt my husband into doing the same. I was emotionally separate enough that I could daily pray for their safety, unity, peace, health, and hunger for God in their lives. If I prayed bad things for their family, that would hurt the kids, and no one wins. I truly prayed for everyone to prosper. I prayed over my words and actions, as well as my husband’s. When God asked me to do something, I did, and I was intentional about obeying with no expectation of a blessing in return.

I prayed over our times with the kids, and school events. I prayed over every child support check I sent.

Not too long after my step-son graduated from high school, their mom became very sick. That’s her private journey but it was a dire situation. I kept praying. Thankfully, she is doing well.

Then it became the season where the children became adults and his daughter was set to marry. I knew this would be the first time all of us—him, her, their kids, our kids, their sister, her husband, and the extended family he once knew as in-laws would reunite. He was nervous. How would they treat him? Me? Us? Our kids? He came right out and asked for prayer.

And this time, I started proclaiming. All those years I sowed a lot of prayer, and I sensed it was time to proclaim a harvest. I thanked God for the favor I believed He’d give all of us. I praised Him for peace and kindness, believing in my heart every single thing would come to pass.

When we arrived at the church, the very first person to greet us was their mom. She welcomed us with warmth, and knew our kid’s names and was so gracious to them, to all of us. She walked us down the church steps to where she had cold cuts and drinks, knowing we traveled a far distance. We met their daughter, and said hello to her husband.

On the wedding day you would have thought we were simply friends of this big family. A stranger would never have known this was a group of people affected by divorce. My husband had so much fun catching up with former in-laws, who came to him first and initiated fun conversation. They all introduced themselves to me and our kids. Things went so well that my husband’s former mother-in-law switched place cards at the reception so we could sit by each other. I absolutely adored talking to her. This matriarch ended up passing away less than a year later, and we were invited to share in celebrating her life. My mother-in-law passed away earlier this year, and one of the first cards my husband received was from his first wife.

When we pulled out of the church lot on his daughter’s wedding day, we weren’t even out of reverse when my husband turned and asked, “How did you know? You kept saying this was going to be an amazing day.” Without hesitating I replied, “I laid down too many years of a prayerful foundation for that to return void. God heard those prayers and met us all in an amazing way.”

If you are in a blended family situation, whether recent, or for a few years, it’s never too late to start laying down prayers and proclamations laced with believing God and His word. Re-write that evil step-mom story, and watch God do amazing things, in His time.


Julie Arduini is a writer and speaker who encourages audiences to find freedom through surrender. She knows it has to start with her, so she’s surrendering the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate. She blogs for Christians Read, the Bella Women Network, and is working on her Adirondack based contemporary romance. Julie lives in Ohio with her husband and children.

How Do You Become a Family?

Last week we talked about blending a family with step-children and step-parents. Yes, I’m still amazed every day about how wonderful my kids are and how blessed I am to have this family.

It could’ve stopped there. But it didn’t. As you recall, I am wife #2, after my husband’s first wife passed away. I became an instant parent to two great kids, who made the choice to accept me into their lives. But the addition of me in their lives certainly didn’t negate their Mom’s family. Her parents lived the closest, and my kids saw them frequently, along with their aunt, uncle and cousins.

Family is a big deal to me and of course the kids needed some sense of normalcy in their world after losing their mother and gaining a step-mother pretty quickly. So these visits to their grandparents and family became even more important. But something else happened along the way.

My husband’s first wife’s family took the time to get to know me. If there were big family events that the kids went to, they invited my husband and me. I can understand them wanting their grandkids around, and even my husband, who was their son-in-law, but they could’ve kept me at arm’s length. They only needed to be secure in the knowledge that their grandchildren were okay.

But as the kids grew and birthdays and graduations came and went, we continued to be thrown together. More often than not, at their invitation. Her family amazed me time after time with their warmth and openness. Our daughter got married a few years ago, and our son married last year. Both times,there was such a spirit of celebration and joy, and true togetherness…as a family.

My husband and I have been married 11 years. And in that time, we’ve seen both kids graduate high school, college and get married to wonderful people. This was done in 10 years… talk about fast-tracking through parenthood! And in that 10 years, I’ve come to treat my husband’s first wife’s family as my own… as they did a great job of sucking me in!

Was this easy? No, there were tough days.

I know I had difficult times, and I can only imagine their grief. Sometimes it was uncomfortable for me to sit in their home, in the place where their daughter should have been.

They NEVER made me feel that way or feel unwelcome. I think at times it was just my own insecurities. They’ve been warm and wonderful. We’ve created our own relationship together, out of mutual love for the kids. I look at fractured families at times and wonder what choices they may be making. In this incredible family I’ve married into and become a part of, we’ve made the choice to care, respect and love each other.

There’s no way we could’ve come this far without making the purposeful decision to be a part of each other’s lives. We’ve truly been able to celebrate the milestones in the lives of our kids (their grandkids) as a family. So, today, I pay tribute to the parents, sister, brother and nephews of my husband’s first wife. I thank them for their open hearts, for their willingness to accept me into the lives of their son-in-law and children. I thank them for trusting me to love those children with my whole heart.

I know my daughter has said on more than one occasion how happy she was when the entire family be together. She needs to thank her grandparents for that.

Their example is something I will continue to take to heart in my relations with others.

So, how do you become a family? Blend together, mix well and add a dash of love.

And finally, make the choice to be a family.

Do you know of families who are successfully blending? Please share.

Do you want to write a blog post about your experiences? If so, please contact me at RebeccaVincentWrites at g mail dot com.