Thursday night we had a football game. Again. We have two kiddos playing football now, so every Thursday is spent at the football field watching our kids - as well as my assorted 'adopted' kiddos (you know the ones who you think of as your own, because they are at your house so much) and Sunday School kiddos. But this particular Thursday, I happened to notice a scene unfolding down at the bottom of the stands. One that probably meant nothing to anyone else sitting there. I'm quite certain I'm the only one that noticed or gave it any thought.
Standing there was a group of people. I knew the back story to all the players involved. It's a small town. There are no secrets here and everyone knows everyone, not to mention all your business and every mistake you've ever made (oh the joys of living in a small town). There was a young girl (7th grade), her biological father, step-mother and her half brothers and sisters. What caught my eye was how incredibly awkward the whole situation seemed - even to me sitting 10 rows up.
Dad was talking to daughter, teasing her and joking around with her. But step-mom stood about 3 steps over to the side and didn't interact in any way. The other kiddos didn't interact either. When they all went to go their separate ways, Dad gave daughter a hug and step-mom gave somewhat of a half wave and a forced smile. Now, believe me, I understand this is a small snippet of these peoples lives, but it made me think.
Our blended family is really special. Really, really special. From day one, I have never had your typical nightmare stories of being a step-parent. I've never had one of the kids yell at me, "you're not my mother" or had any of them pull a "I'm not doing it, you can't tell me what to do" card. Maybe when God gave me 4 kids and made me an overnight Mom, he knew there was only so much one person can handle! But we've been lucky. It's hasn't always been easy, but our family runs like most any other family runs. There is a mom, dad, kids, schedules, ballgames, rules, cleaning, teenage angst and drama, bad attitudes, family game nights and lots of disagreements and lots of love.
What has made us all work so well together? I can't answer that for you. Unfortunately, it didn't work out well involving our oldest. However, I can tell you, that early on, David told me I had to start acting like a parent. I had to discipline. I had to do all the ugly parts of parenting. That he and I were a team and I had to do my part. And I did. I would like to believe I treat them just like I would my own flesh and blood. I set boundaries, structures and organization. I love them, support them and give them guidance. I listen and love. I've never, in any way, tried to be their Mom. But it helps us a hell of a lot that their biological mom is absent 99% of the time.
We are just a family. Probably a lot like yours. We are a hot mess most of the time. I have 3 kids in their teenage years - and that my friends, is not easy. But they don't give me any more or less trouble than other kids are giving their biological parents. They are kids. Enough said. I sometimes wonder what will happen or how the dynamic will change if David and I are blessed with having a little one of our own. I like to think that these 3 kids I have at home will be the best brothers and sisters they can be. They often ask when we will be having a baby and have all expressed a wish that we would have one. And that gives me hope that our blended family will continue to be strong and amazing as we continue to grow.
Some days it's very easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated and think to myself, "why did I take all this on?" But normally, I'm quickly reminded that our life together is pretty awesome compared to so many blended families out there. I have great kids who have never acted ugly towards me for being their 'step' Mom. They are pretty phenomenal kiddos who I'm super proud of. And seeing blended families who don't have what we have just re-enforces to me that we are pretty darn special. And for that I am proud.