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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Stepfamily Housekeeping.

Lately I feel like more and more people have been asking me how things work in our 'situation', as it is so commonly referred to now. So, let's talk about some of our particulars (beyond birthdays):

T and M really and truly have TWO homes. They live half the time in one house and half the time in the other. We have a schedule but I like to think of it as a flexible, change-able, work in progress as there are changes all the time. Lately we've been sticking to the weekly schedule fairly well, but there are times where a month will go by and it will be all goofy.

The reason the schedule gets goofy is because we all work together making sure the kids get to participate and celebrate things with everyone. Birthdays, vacations, maybe the adults have plans that we need the kids to be part of, or not part of...

T and M have everything they need (and more) at both houses. There is no packing up clothes and all that stuff for back and forth visits.

We do however pass the 'RED BAG' back and forth each week. The bag was a small red tote bag and is now a very large black bag that I swear we could probably fold one of the kids up and stick them inside. That's how big it is.

The stuff we pass in the bag are things like snowpants and boots, ipods, cameras, school paperwork, the clothes the kids came wearing, miscellaneous shoes...random items the kids must. bring. back. and. forth.

We all participate in whatever activities the kids are in, whether it's school, baseball, swimming, gymnastics, soccer. Whatever it is, the kids know that they can expect all of us to be a part of it and watch. This means in the summer we are sometimes camped out in lawnchairs four nights a week.

L and I don't get along for the kids sake. We do get a long and we probably initially got along for the kids, but now we have our own relationship that goes beyond the kids. We like each other just because we do, not because we should.

Both houses are not the same. They aren't the same physically and they aren't run the same way. Both homes have their own set of rules, expectations and boundaries and it's ok that some are different. We have many similarities, we also have differences. Over time I think we've all realized this is ok and the kids get this.

Speaking of differences, the kids at times are different in both homes. One might eat something a lot at one house and then claim they don't like it at the other house. They'll choose different clothes and options for activities.

We are not some ultra-liberal family just because we are a blended family. Seriously, there are some people (especially in this highly-Catholic community) that seem to think that we need to be saved. Miss M actually got a mailed invitation to join another family for church on Sunday mornings. For whatever reason, since there was a divorce, many assume we aren't good straight walking individuals. We certainly try to be.

Some parents are uncomfortable around us because they don't realize that we talk and get along so they don't know who to talk to or what to do. This was especially demonstrated at M's birthday party, when parents picked up a couple of them acted awkward and didn't know if they should talk to L or to me. We really don't care who you talk to. As long as you're not trying to stir up trouble. To those people, we say get a life.

We aren't experts at this blended family thing. And we definitely don't have it all figured out. If anything, we have learned as we've walked (and at times, stumbled) along this road.

Anything else?


Blogger Lori said...

well said...very well said

March 20, 2008 at 8:00 AM  
Blogger The Bishop's said...

Samara -
Great post - and as Lori said, very well said. I think your family is terrific and you should all be proud of what a functional family you have! If only all families could have it that much together!! :)

March 20, 2008 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Having been through my parents' divorce at a young age, including a move halfway across the country (and away from one parent), I commend you all for the ways you've worked together, with love, compassion, graciousness, patience, perseverance, and kindness. It's a beautiful example of how Christ has called us to live. I hope your kids know the depth of your love for them through your actions.

March 20, 2008 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

Very nice post - I've known a few families who were able to still be a family like that after a divorce and the kids REALLY benefited from it in every case.
(and I've already taken down my photos, which is why you didn't see them! :) )

March 20, 2008 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Jacob Quist said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am not a frequent blogger but it's good to know that my mom and wife aren't the only ones who have seen it. See ya later!

March 21, 2008 at 10:14 AM  

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