I remember in high school getting hooked on late-night reruns of thirtysomething. Recently I thought, hey, I actually *am* in my thirties now. I bet I’ll get a lot more out of that show.
I made it through maybe a season and a half and then I had to stop. Because– really? These are your biggest problems, Hope and Michael? A frustrating home remodel? And really, Nancy? Elliot isn’t responsible enough, even though he’s like the best dad ever?
Some days I think I would possibly sell my soul for the problems in that show. Because a blended family has all that regular stuff– errands and money and homework and the kids and even cancer and whatever else traditional spouses and traditional families scuffle about. But a non traditional family gets a whole lotta awesome bonus crap, too.
Let’s take this weekend as an example. We had a family meeting today before Miss L’s flight back to her mom’s. Meeting about– chores? TV usage? Normal family things? Nope! Our meetings start with things like “So, your mom says you want to come here once a month instead of twice. Is this true?”
There is no feel-good primetime viewing equivalent for this shit.
You know how they say that 50% of marriages end in divorce? That percentage shoots up to around 80% for marriages involving stepkids. And I don’t think that statistic is a big shocker to any of us in those marriages. Every single person sludging their way through a blended family frappe is doing so stone blind.
I am incredibly lucky. I have an amazing husband who loves navigating minefields with me. I have a cool kid who’s staggeringly adaptable to whatever new curveballs this hard-won family of ours throws her way; I have a cool stepkid whose common sense and levelheadedness is rising like a phoenix from the sheer insanity of her life.
I have all of these things, and figuring out a functional non traditional family life is still damned hard. Not all the time. Not even most of the time. But it’s no thirtysomething, I’ll tell you that.
Know what though? I wouldn’t trade our special brand of crazy for anything. Our happy is happier because it’s harder won. And those thirtysomething things that unseat regular families don’t faze our non traditional family for a heartbeat. After a certain level of crap deflection, you start feeling… well, kind of badass.
So all of you folks out there with non traditional challenges who are raising a non traditional family in a non traditional way? Keep rockin’ it, guys. We’re awesome, you know. Those dull cookie-cutter families with their predictable plot points got nothing on us.
Oh hey there, struggling stepparent!
Listen, I put together a new website just for high-conflict blended families: Blended Family Frappé. Come on over and join the hundreds of other stepparents who are reclaiming their sanity one Sunday newsletter at a time.