When Blending Families Gets Tough

This past weekend, Ankle Biter joined CBG, the girls and I for a “family weekend”. We don’t get these weekends often, because of our schedule and so that makes them all the more precious to us. Precious, and yet stressful at the same time. It’s always a fine balancing act, bringing two families together. CBG, the girls and I have seem to have hit our stride when it comes to this blended family thing. After all, we’re together enough, so we get plenty of practice. We’ve worked through a few rough patches in the last 10 months or so, but by now we feel pretty well-practiced at this blended family thing.

Adding Ankle Biter (or Rugrat) to the mix and things get a little bit more complex. There’s another person to include, another person to consider, another person to negotiate into situations. Not necessarily bad — just more. The more people there are in any situation the more challenging it is. Particularly when this person isn’t a permanent fixture in day-to-day life.

On the weekend, CBG and I had one of our rare, less-than-stellar moments together. It started with an irritation and ended with a full-on blowout…

…In public…

…In front of the three kids.

Uh….yeah. You read the part where I said it was less than stellar, right?


CBG and I rarely argue, as I think I might have mentioned before. Even since moving in together 10 months ago, I think I could count on one hand the number of times we’ve had an actual argument. It’s just not something that we do. I think we’ve both learned enough from our past failed relationships that just don’t want to go there with one another. We do our best to work through our garbage together as it inevitably comes up. Of course, we’re not always perfect at it, that’s for sure. And unfortunately this weekend when some ugly stuff bubbled to the surface, we just weren’t in a place where we were able to reign it in.

Our ugly, wounded parts clashed.

During the clash, some rather revealing things about the both of us were revealed. Once we had some time to go away and then come back to discuss it (rather than yell at one another in a public place), we were able to bring some of these things to the light. One in particular is my tendency to put a wall of separation between our family — with the girls and I on one side, and CBG (and in this case, Ankle Biter) on the other side. It’s just one of those maternal instinct things, when something is even vaguely threatening or even uncomfortable for my girls (like, say, a grumpy CBG), without even thinking, I put myself in the middle to shield them from it.

In the middle, with my back turned toward the “offending” person or thing, in classic “protection” mode. I’m a mama bear: ready, willing and eager to protect my girls from whatever it is I feel they need protecting from. Even if the “threat” really isn’t that threatening at all.

And well, you can imagine how that might make someone else — particularly a member (or members) of our little family feel. ‘Cuz mama bear has a pretty loud growl.

This blending families thing is tough. And just when you feel like you’ve got it figured out, then another layer gets peeled back and you see you’ve got even more stuff to deal with. The good news here is that we have lots of love, respect, and a mutual desire to keep getting better together.

2 Responses

  1. I hear you momma. Besides the fact that you’ve been on your own with them for quite a while. It’s not something you’re used to, allowing them to stand up on their own in the face of other people’s “stuff”. I get that.

    We are together as a family quite often and stuff still comes up. GJ and I have to sit down as parents and discuss. Also, then each of us has to sit down with the kids (on both sides) and discuss. We’re working it out. There’s love there. But there’s also a natural preference for our own children – whether anyone admits it or not. I think that changes over time… and time together. The challenge is that each of us sees things in the other’s children that we may not notice ourselves. It’s tough to stand back and see our own kids objectively.

    Just keep communicating, as you both do so well.

    • Thanks, friend. I knew you’d understand. 🙂 The good news is that CBG and I were able to have a good conversation about everything (later), which is when this all got brought to the surface…in the moment of it happening it wasn’t apparent to me at all. It also wasn’t the only thing going on in the heat of the moment (because who ever really fights about the thing they’re fighting about, right?). There’s a lot going on right now, a lot of layers to peel back, examine, and heal, for both of us. But you’re right…we do communicate well and I know that this will be what ultimately gets us through this.

      Love you, T. xo

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