The Long & Winding Road of reshaping a family

After writing a little about my somewhat-short-and-not-so-distant past as a single mom, I wanted to write about the process of blending families.  Our family is likely the least complicated of blending since there are no other children involved. 

However, it’s been a long and challenging (yet rewarding) process from single mom and “friend”, to combining our two households and all of the adjustments that come along with that, to the point we’re at now where it feels more normal and right to live this life than looking back on our previous ones.

My significant other got thrown into a ready-made family, thrown into parenting where rules, routines and traditions had already been established. We had to learn to bend and adapt our ways, and had steep a learning curve all around. It’s been challenging to be sure, and we’re certainly not over the hump yet, but it feels like we’re very close.

I don’t consider myself a single mom anymore.  The challenges I once had with finding time for myself, juggling all of the household responsibilities and finances, and making decisions about how to parent my children are shared with a partner who chose to be a part of our lives, and cares very much for every one of us.  While I know I don’t show it enough, I am so thankful to him for how much easier he makes things for us (most especially me) in so many ways. It’s the most incredible feeling to finally know someone has got my back, no matter what the circumstances.

Yet, the fact is that ultimately these two girls are my charges, and there will always be certain responsibilities and obligations that are no one else’s but mine, (and their father’s).  As much as I want to just let it all go, there’s also a teeny part of me that is reminded of how things didn’t go as planned once before, and that there are so many “What if’s” that could change things again one day. But mainly, it’s simply knowing that I brought these children into the world, and that when it comes right down to it, if we cannot agree on something, the decision to be made is always mine. In that regard, I feel I will always have one foot partially on that path of single parenthood. It’s a bit of a lonely feeling, but I remind myself that we’re not alone – there are families everywhere going through similar processes… And that even when he doesn’t fully agree with me, Ian has my back.

Fortunately, we have a relationship built on respect. It is truly the deal-breaker value for us, and we will generally find a way to work together to find a solution.

I feel truly blessed. Not only has it been worth waiting for, but every experience (good & bad) was worth living – for they brought me to this place.

Life can change in a single moment. Sometimes it takes a long time to see the results.

When I moved my girlies and I “back home” to Nova Scotia, I envisioned my new life as a single mom to be long, arduous, and worth every hardship. I knew that I didn’t want my girls growing up believing that marriage was an institution they had to accept in whatever form it takes. I want them to know that happiness in life is essential. It may not be a steady flow, but in the big picture being happy should be something that one strives for and hopefully achieves overall.

For me that meant leaving a marriage, in which we’d experienced a great deal of heartache. Granted there were many happy times and two wonderful girls that resulted. However, in the grand scheme of things we were not meant to be – not without each sacrificing parts of ourselves that were inherent in our being. I wanted my girls to know that life is more than getting by, even if it means doing so without a life partner at your side.

So I began the grief process. Grieving a dream that wasn’t to be. Shifting my vision in life to the new reality of there not being a whole nuclear family growing old together.

I have wonderful friends who made life so much easier during the initial transition of our new life. And I sought companionship with no desire for partnership at the time.

One thing my marriage taught me, is what is really important to me. I learned what I am not willing to accept. And I know now what I must have in a life partner, if I am going to have one at all. I know I need respect, first & foremost; that I need to see eye to eye with my partner on most (if not all) of the really important things that I value; that I can trust & rely on him; and that we will live our lives in a genuine way, never deceiving ourselves or one another about our thoughts, values or intentions (even when it might not be what the other wants to hear). When I recognized those things in this crazy adventurer that treated me with the respect I deserved and demanded, the timing was irrelevant. I didn’t want to pass the opportunity by.

And so a new life evolved soon after leaving the past behind. This life is never picture-perfect, but it is one in which it is safe to be real – however ugly (or beautiful) that picture might be sometimes.

The journey hasn’t been perfect – at times it’s downright scary. But it is a journey we choose to take with respect. Respect for each of the people involved, respect for the choices we make and for the gravity (& brevity) of life by times, and respect for how quickly things can change.

Everyday we make a conscious choice to continue the journey and hopefully enrich our lives in the process.

This is what I want my children to grow up knowing: That life is far to valuable to waste. That happiness is imperative. And that respect is non-negotiable.