“As children, we both were subjected to challenges and obstacles of being in a blended family at an early age. Coming from my own blended family, I knew the importance of everyone feeling like they belonged. I also knew and know what it feels like to have stepparents of my own. No child grows up wanting stepparents.
At some point, each child has wished that their divorced parents were together again in the same household. Both of my parents remarried later in my teen years and that’s when our ‘new normal’ began. When different people are around, there are different rules and different personalities. The life I once knew was no longer and as a teen, I was expected to adapt, adjust and deal with it.
I learned early on to listen to what is said and what is NOT said and to watch the actions of individuals. My parents did what was best for me at ALL times, regardless of how they felt about one another. My parents also made sure to keep the adult business between the adults. There were no arguments in front of me, around me, or negative discussions about the other parent in my presence, which is why I was shocked when they divorced. I must admit, I was completely blindsided because I thought everything was all good between my mother and father. I did not learn why my parents split up until I was an adult going through my own relationship issues with my first child’s father. I took this mindset and mentality into my own relationships and blended family.
It is important to protect the minds of your children. Think about the way the drama and anxiety have affected your adult body feeling. Now put all of that stress on a child that really does not know how to express themselves and cannot effectively express themselves in the same ways that you can as an adult. It can definitely be overwhelming and too much for everyone involved but especially for the children. I used my own personal experiences from my childhood to raise my children through the breakups and divorce. I knew I did not want them persuaded or led to feel a certain way about their father just because I had negative feelings, therefore I vowed to follow the blueprint of my parents and ensure my children knew they were loved by both parents, even though we resided in different homes.
Now here I am, a divorced single mother of two children dealing with two different fathers. That is not how I imagined my adult life but that indeed is my life and the hand I was dealt. After my divorce, I was not interested in dating anyone and definitely not someone with children. Hear me out, it wasn’t the children I had a problem with. It was the potential drama that came along with the children’s mother I did not want. Although I had a preference and a plan, God had his own plan and his plan included a great man and two children.
Here we are, two adults, with a total of four children between the two of us that fell in love and knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with one another. Just because we loved one another, the children did not necessarily share the same feelings. When we decided to unify in marriage on New Year’s Day in 2006, we knew we wanted a family bond that did not feel like two separate families. Well, that is easier said than done.
Blending a family is an excursion and you must decide from the beginning if you are willing to endure it until the end. There were plenty of times I was ready to abort the excursion in the middle of the adventure. There were highs and lows that made me want to throw in the towel. That same drama I said I wanted to avoid and not deal with hit me like a ton of bricks early on in our relationship and a few of those bricks still come at me 15 years later.
Blending our families was difficult but we did not give up and we are still working hard to this day to make the best of it. We learned early on to put God first and tackle every obstacle together as one. We tried to build a solid foundation at the beginning of our relationship, therefore when the difficult times showed up, we could withstand the foolishness. While dating, we purchased a marriage devotional and we read the devotional daily and prayed together. When we got engaged, we started early on praying as a family. Every Sunday morning before church, we gather in the living room and hold hands in a large circle and my husband leads us in prayer. If it was not our weekend with the children, we still gather and pray for them in their absence. At the end of the prayer, we give one BIG group hug. While in church, anytime a prayer is said during the service, we link up and hold hands as a family. Prayer and Christ being the head of our life set the tone for our family early on. Christ is the head and my husband leads us through Christ. It is definitely a mindset, and that mindset and foundation have allowed us to withstand for 15 years.
We committed to this family when WE decided to join together in marriage. I came into this knowing this was a huge transition for our children and vowed to continue to show intentional and unconditional love regardless of how hard it gets and let me tell you IT GOT HARD at times and still gets hard to this day. We built our marriage and family on the foundation of Christ early on to help us withstand the nonsense when outsiders and sometimes insides would test our union. We may bend at times, but we never break. With us battling the drama together as a team, it makes it a lot easier to endure. While it made the drama and chaos in our lives easier to handle, it was still very frustrating, overwhelming, and sometimes just plain ridiculous.
At the 6-year mark, I remember just being overwhelmed and ready to throw my hands up and say, ‘Forget all of this.’ While we never had issues with our marriage or with one another, the frustration and drama came from the exes and one ex, in particular, refusing to communicate and co-parent. It was at that moment God spoke to me and said write a blog and in 2012, Blended and Loving It was originated. I began writing anonymously to avoid adding gasoline to an already blazing fire. The blog was my way of releasing everything I was holding on to and a way to share the ‘glows and grows’ of blending my family. As the years began to pass us by, I was finding I was able to handle the drama a lot easier and I was in a better mental space. It was no longer consuming my every thought. The prayers and blogging were definitely working, and now I had a handle on my feelings and my emotions, God said it’s time to share with others and reveal yourself.
In 2018, I decided to revamp Blended & Loving It. I would no longer be anonymous, and it was now time to tell my story and share the ‘glows and grows’ of my perspective. No family is perfect and Blended & Loving It is here to promote blended families. Blended & Loving It is an online community for all mothers, bonus moms, stepmoms, bio moms, and soon-to-be stepmoms to collaborate, motivate, educate, and encourage one another. My direct experience in my own blended family brings about the substance all moms can relate to and rely on to aid in the heartaches, headaches, and rewarding times. I choose to focus on the positive and not the negative. There is so much negativity, drama, and confrontation surrounding stepfamilies and stepmoms, so I decided that would no longer be my story. I took the negative and made it into a positive. I chose to control the narrative, and the situation rather than allow the situation to control me.
While we do have drama in our lives, and what family doesn’t at some point, the drama and negativity will not be my focus. I will not allow it to overshadow the good times and the gains we have made. January 2021, on our 15-year anniversary, my husband and I released a blended family devotional. ‘Blended and Loving It, A Thirty-Day Devotional for Blended Families.’ Our devotion is intended to encourage families and inspire them to keep going. 15 years ago, I was looking and hunting for something like this and we hope our devotional touches many families and provides them with the extra encouragement needed to fight for their blended families. We know how hard it is as we walk in the same shoes as other blended families. As families, it is important to remember that although we didn’t start together, we will finish together, and it is love that makes a family.
Individual prayer, prayer as a family, and a lot of talks with my true girlfriends are what kept me and still keeps me sane and grounded. Oh, and my favorite bottle of Pinot Noir. Every blended family is different and will require different methods and techniques to properly blend. If you do not get it right the first time, keep trying and don’t give up. All relationships require work and this one is no different.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mrs. Umeka Dixon Wright from Grand Prairie, Texas. You can follow their journey on Instagram, Facebook, and their blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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