Like many families today, when I said “I do” at my wedding, three came as the package! Gary’s first wife had died of cancer. Sandy and Matt were just six- and four-years-old when we met.
It was very important for us to include the kids in our wedding ceremony. It set the stage for our marriage and provided security for them. I wasn’t there to take their dad away but to help fill a missing part. We not only made vows to each other but also to the children, as Gary reassured them of his continued commitment to them as well.
We cut the cake as a family, and we left the reception together in a horse and buggy. Gary and I had a two-week honeymoon, then came back and took the kids for a week’s holiday at the beach. We came back from the honeymoon and I was literally an instant mom!
I had worked 10 years in corporate training, but nothing prepared me for what was to come. Lessons I learned early on were:
- Love is a choice – it’s our daily gift to others.
- Kids need to be loved, not just managed.
- Love them as if they are yours, not just your spouse’s kids.
Our first Christmas together was a disaster! My family tradition had been to get up at a “reasonable” hour and have a huge breakfast together before opening gifts. Gary’s tradition was “the earlier, the better” to open gifts – who wants breakfast with so much excitement?
In the end, our children didn’t open their gifts until after 1 p.m. We’ve compromised now and created new traditions together which work for all of us.
It’s vital to keep focused on the fact that each family member is part of the “family team.” One isn’t more important than another – everyone shares responsibilities and fun, too.
This really helped when two more came along into our family. We now have kids whose ages range from six to 17. Every family member is important – one doesn’t outweigh another.
Yes, we are a “blended” family. It’s not always easy, but it can work! “A sorrow shared is sorrow halved; a joy shared is a joy doubled.”