On our 10th anniversary, we took all the kids away to where we got engaged.
It was a big old family weekend away.
One morning, I sat on the balcony with my coffee and reflected on the last ten years. Wow, what a ride. There have been so many challenges and even more lessons learned.
I am so incredibly proud of us for making it this far. Blended family life is no joke. There are 100 reasons why we could have quit, but we didn’t. We stuck it out and continue to grow together.
I am so proud of the couple that Darren and I have become.
Looking back, here are some of the lessons I have learned.
1. EVERYTHING IS JUST A SEASON.
Whether it be struggles with my stepkids, the ex, our marriage or my own grief, challenges come in seasons. When I find myself struggling, I remind myself that “this too shall pass”
2. THERE WILL BE MOMENTS OF FEELING LIKE AN OUTSIDER.
Even on our 10th-anniversary trip, there were moments when it was Darren and the kids. I felt like I was on the outside of their unit—the one that was there before Reese and me. I’m okay with that.
The truth is, while I love when we are all together as a family, I feel most calm and secure when it’s just Reese, Darren and me—a subfamily within the larger family unit.
3. YOU HAVE TO LET GO OF THE EXPECTATION THAT YOUR FAMILY WILL FUNCTION LIKE A FIRST FAMILY.
4. IT’S NATURAL TO HAVE DIFFERENT RELATIONSHIPS WITH DIFFERENT STEPKIDS.
I used to feel guilty for being closer with one of my stepkids than the others. The truth is, they have an easier personality. They are more respectful and adjusted to the divorce better. As a result, our relationship has progressed differently.
5. YOU NEED TO HONOUR YOUR EXPERIENCE.
Feeling guilty about how you’re feeling about your stepfamily life is not productive. You need to process your feelings and experience. Sit with the discomfort. Your experience is your experience. This is the first step in acceptance.
6. OUR TRIGGERS SHOW US WHERE WE ARE NOT HEALED.
When you’re a stepmom, your fears, insecurities, and unhealed wounds come to the surface. If you’re not doing the healing of your past, it will impact your current relationships.
When you’re triggered there is so much power in asking yourself, “what is this REALLY about?”
7. NEVER FEEL BAD ABOUT TAKING SPACE TO RESET THE FOUNDATION.
if you’re wondering if you should disengage, take this 60 second quiz to see if it’s the right move for you.
8. ASK FOR HELP. DELEGATE TO ELEVATE.
I took on everything myself. I never asked for help when needed. It led to periods of resentment and overwhelm. It also further perpetuated a belief that “Jamie will just do it”.
As Terri Cole, author of The Boundary Boss says, “When you over function, other people under function.”
In retrospect, I should have asked for more help.
9. PICK YOUR BATTLES.
When you have an issue with everything, your opinions have less weight. Pick and choose your hard nos.
10. DON’T ASK FOR PARENTING TIPS FROM SOMEONE WHO IS NOT IN A BLENDED FAMILY/CO-PARENTING RELATIONSHIP.
It is not helpful.
It often leads to more feelings of guilt and frustration. Co-parenting and step-parenting add an extra layer of complications that most people can’t understand. Curate a community of people who understand the uniqueness of your dynamic.