Marriage Benefits

Marriage is hardor at least that’s what they say, right?

Although my husband and I hate that we only have our kids half the time, there are some huge marriage benefits to it. I used to feel guilty when I thought about it like this, but seriously… why should I feel guilty about making the most of our situation?!

For starters… we had to deal with so many hard things before we ever got married. We both moved a couple of times while we were dating… I had job transitions, one which sent me an hour away for about 10 months… he had a failed mediation, and subsequent court to create the initial custody agreement… divorce being finalized… moving in together… inevitable family drama… the list goes on. We worked through so many raw, emotional situations while dating that we learned so much about each other. We learned how each other processes intense situations. We learned how to work together to problem solve, and we developed an “us against the world” mantra. We developed an unbreakable bond through our dating years.

Additionally, now as old married folks, half of our time is spent just with each other. We have built in date nights, without even trying! We haven’t let our spark slip away. We aren’t constantly wrapped up in the kids… we have time to be wrapped up in each other. We get to reset and re-prioritize frequently.

So, although some would say the odds are against us as a blended family, I’d say the odds are in our favor. We’ve been through it all, and we have persevered. We’re lucky that “marriage is hard” isn’t true for us at this point, because we’ve been conditioned to work together in harmony. We’re prepared for when more “hard times” come around, and we will overcome whatever obstacles are thrown our way. We get to focus half of our time on family, and half of our time on each other, which I think is healthy.

In a situation where it’s easy to focus on the negative, there are many positives. It will always be important to never overlook those, or take them for granted. Life is beautiful, and it’s way better with my husband in it.

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Meant to Be

Maybe God was preparing me to help raise these girls all along.

No, he definitely was. I know that I was placed in their lives for a reason. But maybe, he was preparing me in ways I haven’t considered yet.

Growing up nomadic… living at different points with my grandma, great-grandma, great-aunt and third-cousins, uncle & aunt, cousins & their spouses, even friends for some college breaks… I’m used to being with a lot of people, but feeling alone.

That’s exactly what it feels like to be a stepmom, and know you’ll never have any other kids. Surrounded by people, but still oftentimes feeling very alone.

Now don’t get me wrong… I always had a room and a bed growing up, but never had a nuclear family. The many family members I knew had no relationship with each other, but all had relationships with me. I was the in-between. I was isolated. 

And I never had my mother as my partner in crime, or my father to be daddy’s little girl. It was always just me and whoever my legal guardian was at the time.

I went to college, and almost completely lost contact with my entire family. I worked to maintain relationships with everyone, but seldom had genuine reciprocation. I built tough skin. I built a confidence that I was all I needed. I built resilience that children lucky enough to grow up in a “happy home” could not even begin to fathom.

I used to wonder, “Why me?!” “Why is this my life?” “Why couldn’t I be raised ‘normally?'”

All this to say… I now feel confident this was all in preparation to be a stepmom-only. 

On the one hand, I am fit to support the girls as they transition from home to home. I will understand if they ever feel tossed around, or if they ever feel like the “in-between” to relay information. I will sympathize with them when they inevitably overhear “family drama” and feel like they’re stuck in between a rock and a hard place.

And on the other hand, I am used to being surrounded by many, but feeling all alone. I can embrace being an outsider. I can recognize that blended families are hard to navigate, and persevere, like I’ve always done. In my moments of solidarity, I can bask in the all too familiar feeling it brings, and know that although life isn’t perfect, it’s still an amazing life to live.

You never know how your life experiences are going to impact you in the long run, but it’s a great feeling when you catch a glimpse of reason.

Five Things I Learned Last Week

Howdy, friends! Something I want to do each week is kick off our Monday with Five Things I Learned Last Week. I can’t promise that these will be insightful, funny, or stupid, but I think we too often take for granted the small learning moments we have in our lives. So here goes nothing…

ONE: Riding the train at the mall while visiting Santa get’s less enjoyable each time I do it; however, the excitement on the kids faces makes it all worth it. They constantly put things in to perspective for me. (Still trying to figure out how it’s always me on the train with them…)

TWO: When a baby wants to put Chapstick on you, you let her… even if it’s 300+ times in one hour. Seeing the look of accomplishment over and over again on an 18-month old’s face is absolutely priceless.

THREE: Caring for someone when they’re sick/injured doesn’t feel like a chore if you actually care about the person. My boyfriend injured his ankle last Saturday, and I spent all of Sunday doing 100% of everything for him. I wasn’t mad or annoyed at all (truthfully!)… I’d do it every day forever if he needed it.

FOUR: December is an incredibly enjoyable month when the temperature is in the 60’s-70’s all the time! Thank you, global warming + southern living.

FIVE: Respect is earned, not given. I watched my boyfriend’s father graduate a fire department recruit class this week, and the things the recruits said about his & his co-captain’s leadership were amazing. Leadership is not a position or a title, it’s action and example.

Those were my big takeaway’s this week. Did you learn anything this week? Let me know in the comments!

– Ashley