(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.
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