Today while shopping, a scene oh so familiar played out. We entered a store to browse and the saleslady struck up a conversation with us. So often while shopping, or attending a function, or even an appointment, with or without kids, a conversation will begin. Almost inevitably, it comes up that we have seven kids. This could be through inquiry about career, or family, or what brings us there any given day, but it comes up. Also almost without fail, I am met with a stunned look of disbelief or shock followed by some form of, “No way you have 7 kids!” Today I answered with my common answer of, “Hahaha, well I didn’t birth all 7.” As we left the store today, David asked me, “Why do you say that?” I have been thinking a lot about that. Why do I say that? Why is it important to add the caveat that, in some way, we are not a “normal” family?
This morning I received a message from a friend on Facebook. She and I went to highschool together and we have kept in touch, but we aren’t really a part of each other’s lives-so your typical Facebook friendship. She was telling me about how she is keeping up with the blog and encouraging me to continue writing. Then she wrote that she had told someone that she met recently about the blog. This lady was a fellow blended family mommy and upon hearing about the blog she responded that there was really no content out there for women like us and she was excited to check it out. I had never thought of this that way. To her, my fellow blended mom, I am here. While this blog will not answer all of your questions, I can at least tell you that you are not alone.
Tonight, David and I chose to watch Julie and Julia. If you don’t know this is a movie about a woman who decided to write a blog. The movie follows her ups and downs through the 1 year process of cooking her way through Julia Child’s cookbook. There is a moment in the movie when Julia Child’s husband looks at her and says in encouragement, “Your book is going to change the way the world views cooking.” As a joke at first, David mimicked this man, turned to me and said, “Your blog could change the way the world thinks about blended families.” I responded with, “The world doesn’t think about blended families.” He told me that wasn’t true. Again with the thinking. As I think about the families that exist in my life, I’m sure at least half are blended, maybe more. The truth is that, divorce is prevalent in today’s world, and while I have never been pro-divorce, I have now lived through a reality that shows me that it happens, sometimes even to the ones who swear it will never happen to them. As I pondered, I started jotting down notes in my phone. My thumbs were going a mile a minute and I was hunched over my phone. Next thing I knew there was a laptop on my lap at 12am, placed there by my loving husband who told me to just go for it.
I have now sat for a bit looking into statistics. Many are from sources I don’t know about personally so I will not cite them, but an older report from the US Bureau of Census cited that 1300 new stepfamilies are formed every day. And this is an outdated statistic. Other sources have the number nearly doubled for today. I do not know that to be 100% true, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Blended families are no longer a rarity, they are a normality. Perhaps not all match or exceed ours in size, but they are common.
What does that mean for me and this blog? I do not know the answer to that. But I am here. I feel called to write so write I will. I will share about our family. I will share about experiences before we were blended and since. I will share recipes and things that work for us. I will share what I learn and sometimes I will spill out thoughts like this as I process while writing…at midnight…while on vacation. As I share all of these things with you, I invite you to share in our lives. You see, our families went through some rough waters when we were two separate families and some would say we went through it so that we could come to this; where we are now. In other words, we went through the hard times to come to the good times. However, I don’t see it that way. I thank God everyday for where He has brought us and this new beginning we have, but I don’t believe that was the “purpose”. I believe this because things don’t always wrap up with a pretty bow and telling people it will in the midst of hard times is often not what they want to hear, nor is it always the truth. No, the purpose is not the pretty bow. The purpose is what God still wants to do with the mess we lived. Our story isn’t over and God isn’t done with what was or what will be. The clincher is that I still have no idea what that purpose is, but our eyes are open and our ears are listening and our hearts are willing to find and follow it. You are along for that ride.
Another thing that has followed me about the scene in the store earlier is the feeling that somehow, my admission that I didn’t “birth” them all somehow implies that I am any less the mother of three of them than I am the other four. I am realizing I do not owe anyone any explanation about why I look so young, why I am still so small (a word I never thought I would use about myself), or how it is possible that I am the mother of 7 children.
I am the mother of 7 children. End of story. We are becoming blended. We are beautifully blended. We are a blended family, but above all we are a family. I have 4 original kids and 3 bonus kids, but above all they are all my kids. I am a blended mom writing to other blended moms. I am a mom writing to other moms. I am a person writing to other people. I pray every time I hit that big scary publish button that something I have written helps someone, even if I never know it. And here I go once again, slowly dragging the mouse to hover over that word, “Publish”. Pray. Deep breath. Click.