I have never sat down and really wrote about my blended family. For a little background, my mom and bio dad divorced when I was an adult. My bio dad is an asshole. Case closed. Mom should have made that decision long before she did as all of us kids were aware that it was not a happy marriage. I got a terrific step dad out of the whole process and he and my mom were together for 20 years before she passed away. So, I have a little experience with blended families.
I was married for 15 years to my first husband, the EX. We were young, naive, and stupid. But we had 5 beautiful children (numbers 1-5) and so in the end it was worth it. We got divorced for many reasons but reason numero uno was it’s hard to be married to and try to raise a family with an addict with mental health issues. I am not putting him on blast by the way. I wish him the best and he gave me great insight into why I want to be a family counselor.
So to recap: adult child of divorced parents now a divorced parent herself. I had a vision. I was going to be single for a long time. I was going to focus on myself and my kids first, job second, and learning how to be single for the first time since I was 17. But you know life has a funny way of throwing a wrench into your plans.
I met S.O. at a bar. Through mutual friends. It was not a date or a set-up. We went out to blow off steam and he came by the table to say hi to our mutual friend, who shall remain unnamed so I can blame her when he acts like an ass. We talked, exchanged numbers, and that was that.
He actually called. Now, I had only been officially divorced (papers signed) for less than a month. Anyone who has ever been divorced with kids knows that a divorce does not take just a little bit of time. It had been a long process. And he was younger than me. Significantly younger. He was also the total opposite of the EX.
S.O. is a corn fed farm boy who stands over 6’5 and weighs over 275. He was (and still is) a big dude. I am 5’0 and 1/2. That 1/2 inch counts btw. He was loud and funny and smart and I liked him right off the bat. We talked for hours, texted (which I was new at) and hung out. He knew I had 5 kids and only flinched once. He wasn’t trying to replace their dad and I thought he was going to end up at the very least being a very good friend, possibly with benefits.
And then life happened. I fell in love with the gentle giant. He was not part of the plan. I resisted at first. There were too many differences: age, career, family. I had 5 kids and did not want to be married again anytime soon and definitely did not want any more kids. One day, I realized that I did want to be married again. To him. And possibly maybe even have one more kid.
That was eight years ago this month and two children later. He completed our broken little family. I should call him Stitch. He came into a situation with 5 children, two were teenagers, one a pre-teen, and two small boys. He suffered the slings and arrows of a confused and angry 16 year old girl, the immediate attachment of a 7 year old boy and the acceptance and love of the other three who only saw that he made Mommy happy.
At no time did he try to take the position of dad. He earned it. The EX had fled the state for parts sunnier and not containing children. He was in and out of their lives when it suited him. He still was struggling with addiction and chose it over his kids again and again.
Here is the point of this story. I knew what it felt like when my bio dad would talk about my mom. It was never flattering and he always played the victim. I did not want to do that with my kids. I, and S.O., made a concentrated effort to include the EX in the kid’s life. We invited him, encouraged him, and prodded him to call them. To stay in contact with them. He chose not to. It all came to a head when he made a total ass out of himself and forever harmed his relationship with his kids.
I would have loved to be able to co-parent. I see my brother do it and I can see how healthy it is for his daughter. It is hard to co-parent when there is only one parent in the picture. I am not excusing the EX’s behavior and I do not think that it is because he is male or an addict. I have seen and known plenty of mothers who weren’t parents. I have seen addicts who love their kids, just not themselves. I just wonder how he could remove himself so completely from them.
I was lucky in my blended family. I have a stepfather I love and adore. I had a mother who still put us first over anything. I have a husband who loves all of the children unconditionally and without any difference between blood or blended. It is tough, it is not always pretty, but it is how life decided to work. And for that I am always grateful. **sniff, Ohana means family, sniff **