I wish that, back in the chaotic and stressful years when I was newly remarried with 5 children, I could have seen what the future held for our family. The highlight of this summer was a family gathering that I couldn’t have imagined back then. Our family spent a week in central Oregon—without a fight to speak of. We filled up two houses with our brood, including our kids, their spouses, 7 grandchildren and 2 dogs.
It seems like just yesterday that we were packing our kids into the van for a trip to the beach or ski slopes or grandparent’s house. Just managing all the clothes, food, and equipment for a stepfamily of 7 was almost more than I could handle. Someone would always forget something or lose it or break it. The kids took turns starting fights, being rude at meals, and copping nasty attitudes.
But I also remember the good times. I remember how hard they worked to learn to ski, swim, or cook, and how proud they were to show us the fruits of their efforts. They’d yell, “Look Mom/Dad,” announcing a swim across the pool, a handmade craft object, or a good report card.
Our kids remember a lot of things I’d forgotten…or wasn’t in on. Now that the statute of limitations is over, I’m learning about all sorts of stuff they did behind our backs without getting caught! During our recent week, we had a lot of laughs reminiscing. “Remember when you and Dad went out of town? We had a little party. So and so got drunk, got in trouble, (fill in the blank)…” It was fascinating to hear their different renditions of the same story, scene, or event: who was there, what happened, when, and whose fault it was. It seemed to depend on who was telling the story and what roles they played in this complex family system.
What I particularly loved about our family week was that I was NOT in charge. The kids brought tons of food. We all drank beverages, cooked meals, talked at the dinner table, and cleaned up together afterwards.
The grandchildren played and played! They’d go to the swimming pool after breakfast and stay there until we pulled them out, hours later, looking like prunes. The older ones taught the younger ones to dive. They rode bikes together in a pack. They looked out after each other. Two of the kids brought their guitars, so we sang some songs at night. No TVs, but YES, they did have their cell phones and computers (and so did we).
I promise it wasn’t always this way! We dealt with gut-wrenching issues in the beginning and over the years…just like everyone. As a new stepmother, I was young, terribly insecure, and completely overwhelmed. The kids ate my lunch! Slowly, but surely, I grew up and got stronger. Time heals a great deaI. I learned to deal with the stepchildren, ex-spouses, and a very busy husband. I never had enough time with him…and way too much time with the five kids we raised together.
Now our kids have lives of their own and their own issues to deal with. Hopefully the lessons we learned together along the way will help them in their own families. As for us…it’s now just the two of us…but the kids and grandkids are never far away from our hearts and minds.
Susan Wisdom, MA
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Thank you very much for this sharing. It means a lot me to see this type of story. Especially after having a near break up this weekend with my best friend of all times because we haven’t found the needed tools to do Stepcoupling correctly yet.
Hang in there, Jeff. It takes time, patience and yes, a whole lot of tools to stay together in stepcoupling. Best of luck to you both.
Thanks for commenting
It is hard. My husband and I each had 3 children whent we met, and we were in a sense the modern brady bunch, his were the same ages as mine just of the opposite sex. he had a boy and two girls, I had a girl and two boys. Then one day we had one of our own a son. Making us 2 adults and 7 children. With a bunch like this, it was trying to say the least. Even harder when the ex’s are not cooperating and try to come between my husband and his children. Very sad. It only played to hurt the children. Now they are adult children, two years this last January we lost one of his daughters, she was only 18 and was in a car accident, she was on her way back to town to go shopping and have lunch with her dad. He took this very hard cuz he had to try hard for years to get to come see him, once she turned 18, their relationship took a turn for the better and she was over all the time seeing him, texting him all the time and calling to see what he was up too.
But now his other two don’t hardly call or text or even come over. It is heartbreaking to see them act like this to their dad, who loves them so much. I as a step mom hold no cards at all, all I can do is sit by and watch hopelessly. As for my kids, my youngest son at 19, and my daughter at 23, talk to my husband all the time, my other boy at 21, is close to his bio dad, and my husband is NOT his dad. I see what this family has done to our youngest at almost 14, doesnt get to see his siblings hardly ever, even at his birthday they dont always come, and if they do they are only there a few minutes say hi and leave after like 15-20 minutes.
I wish I could make them at least come see him, text or call him, take him for a few hours and go fishing or hiking or something, anything. 🙁
If anyone has any suggestions, it would be greatly appreciated.
This is a sad story. Such grief! I feel for you.
All I can suggest is to hang in there with your husband and son …and hope that over time these other young adults will soften and be curious enough to come back eventually. You might from time to time drop a line or offer an invitation in an effort to keep them in the loop.
Be brave and patient. You’ll be there when and if the time comes. Don’t give up hope. I’ve heard plenty of stories of reunions after people grow a bit and time passes.
My very best to you,