Updated: Jul 20
Last Friday afternoon, I took my youngest (Gabe) to meet up with his dad (Jess) and fiancee (Michelle) for the weekend. Jess usually comes to our home to pick up Gabe on "his" weekends, but I was out and about so texted I could save him a couple miles. My ex-husband and I have the kind of relationship where we actually try to make life easier for each other - imagine that?!
We ended up meeting in the parking lot of a gas station. Michelle and I hugged (honestly whole-heartedly because she truly is a lovely woman inside and out) while Gabe hugged Jess and then Michelle. We all chatted a bit and then Gabe got in their car and I got in mine and followed them to the next light when they turned right and I went straight. I "beep-beep-beeped!" my horn as I drove by and then it hit me: Co-parenting done right STILL sucks. You see, I was driving away ALONE and my "baby" was driving away for the weekend with his "other family." This is not what God intended and it hurt.
I'm sharing this story with you because even though Jess & Michelle and Tim & I have the kind of warm and friendly relationship that we have, please don't EVER think that our life is roses and rainbows over here! Tim and I have actually have had people say things to us like, "Wow, you both got divorced and now things are SO MUCH BETTER for you..." as a way to justify their own desires for divorce with a "grass is greener" mentality. Listen Moms:
"The grass is NOT greener on the other side.
It IS greener where you water it!"
IN SPITE OF our sin, God has blessed us to overflowing! There was one time this past September that Tim and I were presenting at a Marriage Conference and Jess and Michelle not only picked up Gabe for his soccer game that day, but Ethan (Tim's son from his previous marriage) as well! They took the boys to the game and even out to eat afterward. Both our boys had a great time! And this March, Jess is going to take both boys to Monster Jam because he wanted to take Gabe and knew Ethan would like it, too. How cool is that, really?!
In our home, or when talking about our boys, we don't use ever use the word "step." And neither do they. We DO sometimes talk about being a "blended family" for that IS our reality and how can we understand how MUCH God has blessed us if we don't honor from where He lifted us? We see our boys and our boys see each other as BROTHERS. We've been raising them for over 10 years together (since they were three and four years old) and are now even homeschooling them. So they spend a LOT of time together. And, as different as they are - from having two separate biological parents to two separate personalities to two separate likes and dislikes and two separate strengths and areas needing growth and even quite different physical appearances - they LOVE and FIGHT like "blood" brothers! And, as they are joined by the Blood of Christ, they are indeed "Blood Brothers."
Let's just RECOGNIZE that even though we have the best possible relationship with my ex-husband/baby daddy, it is STILL a difficult situation.
Now, some of you may be thinking, "Oh yeah? I can't even be in the SAME ROOM as my ex so you have it good!" And we do. And I recognize that. It is certainly NOT this relaxed or comfortable with Tim's ex-wife, so I absolutely understand and am THANKFUL for the blessings that Tim and the boys and I have with this relationship with Jess & Michelle and her children.
I wanted to write this article because I don't want anyone to think that "broken/blended/step" families are EVER going to be pain-free this side of Heaven. They just won't:
We won't - there will always be the fact that you have to navigate your child having another "family" who probably has different values than yours.
Our kids won't - they are always going to be pulled in different directions by biological parents and step-parents, having difficulty with loyalty (real or imagined).
Our families won't - there will be holidays/special events where one or the other of our children are "missing" or they have to leave soon, or just got back and there's the adjustment period.
Our spouses won't - there is always going to be another "dad" or "mom" reminding you that you are not - or haven't always been - the only one.
However, there IS hope in Jesus! My go-to verse has always been Romans 8:1 - "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Let these True Words wash over you, my Sisters in Christ. Repeat them to yourselves often. There is therefore now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! And, when you are in Jesus, that means that this is true of YOU! In Him you can have the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22) to do more than just SURVIVE this life, but to THRIVE in it for your good and God's glory!
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