Reasons to be Thankful.

I follow several different blended family blogs and social media accounts, one of my favorites being @stepmomquotes on Instagram. This page allows followers to direct message the admin questions, then the admin posts them for anyone to reply to.

As you can imagine, this page gets a little wild sometimes. But it has led me to realize that although our blended family is not yet a well oiled machine, we don’t have it as bad as others.

For example, BM has never once said anything negative about me to my husband, or to me directly. We see each other frequently, and our interactions are always neutral or positive. It seems like so many BM’s out there target their ex’s new significant other. Now don’t get me wrong, she was less than thrilled when I first made my entrance into the family, and she did have some expected words to say to my now-husband, but it was never anything off-the-wall.

Another example, anything high-conflict is always through email, texts, or calls (which we’re constantly trying to stray away from). And her “high-conflict” is never threatening, cursing, slandering, etc… her high-conflict is always just about her wanting to be in control of everything… she just wants the final say. Look, so what if she calls to pitch the exact same custody schedule that we pitched (and she denied) last month?! I don’t need the “credit” as long as time is continuously shared even. Do ya thang, baby-mama…

As far as we know, BM isn’t actively trying to turn the kids against us. This also seems to be a trend in the sites that I follow. I’m sure she tries to make herself seem more fun, likable, etc… but as far as we know, she isn’t downright telling the girls to dislike us, or saying negative things about us. SD4 is like a parrot, so I’m pretty sure we would know if BM was saying something crazy about us.

Last week, there was an article that went viral on social media about a family at Disney World (or Disney Land…?). There was a picture of the child, and then on either side stood her four parents, wearing shirts that said, “Mommy” “Daddy” “Stepmom” and “Stepdad.” I saw this post and “liked” it on Facebook, thinking “we could never be like this.” When my husband saw that I “liked” it, he sent me a screen shot of a text from BM that morning. She had sent him the article, and wrote, “I wish we could be like this.” I could not believe what I was reading… she actually wants things to be amicable! I was floored.

Again, we definitely do not have a perfect system. Our situation is a seemingly constant struggle for time- having shared physical custody- and a difference in parenting styles between the two households. We could have it so much worse. We are over two years into this, and the chaos has definitely minimized as the time has passed. I am looking forward to seeing how the conflict hopefully continues to minimize.

When things get tough, I remind myself of these facts. I remind myself that there is still hope for us to do this two-houses thing right, and to be great role models, support systems, and parents to these baby girls.

Five Things: Thankful.

Hey, hey! What a week it has been, my friends… and may I just say, I have SO MUCH to be thankful for.

ONE: My husband *drool*… WOW what an amazing man! He had the girls draw me little cards for Valentine’s Day and I could have cried. We didn’t really do presents, but I blessed him with showing up to his work with dinner- in spandex pants. He was a fan (*wink*). He is so busy but spends literally every moment he’s not working putting me and the girls first. I am so blessed.

TWO: Living in such a great area! Now don’t get me wrong, we fully intend to retire in Florida, but I’m so thankful to live in a place where we can just scoot up to D.C. for a Washington Capital’s game for date night! We did that last weekend and it was so much fun! While we were there, we talked about how lucky we were to live so close… it’s wild to think about the fact that the majority of American’s probably never get to explore our nation’s capitol!

THREE: Great in-law’s. My biological family is pretty shaky, but man are my in-law’s great! They always go out of their way to take care of us. Last week, they surprised us with a beautiful canvas they got made with a picture of my husband when he worked the Presidential Inauguration as a sworn U.S. Marshall for the weekend. They always help me to see what really matters in life, and are such a great example of a strong, long lasting marriage (almost 31 years!).

FOUR: Our babies. Even though the 4-year-old would correct me and tell me that she’s a big girl. I tell you what… the only part of my life they have negatively affected is my bank account (*cue* I cannot walk past the toddler/little girls sections of any store without grabbing them something). All coparent-from-hell nonsense aside, I wish I could keep them these ages forever. I want to preserve them in their cute, innocent, charismatic little selves and kiss all over their cheeks all day, every day, forever.

FIVE: A great job. Even though I’m in a cube, and some of my colleagues [okay, mostly just one] really can drive me up a wall sometimes… I love my supervisors and the potential for growth in my department. I love that I am working in an area I can truly see myself “career.” I love that I’m working in an area applicable to my Masters degree. I am so thankful for this job, and thankful that taking a risk last April landed me on this incredible journey.

So what do you have to be thankful for this week? Never forget, there’s always a calm in the center of this crazy storm-of-a-life.

-Ashley