Blending means bending.
It is compromise and communication and changing calendars to consider what's best for the kids.
Blending means building on something that already exists.
It is parenting sometimes and sometimes it's being the outsider, the adult friend, the perspective that says, "Maybe you can try this" or sometimes it's being the person who has to step back and just accept the foundation that's been built.
Blending means balance.
It is wondering if you're doing this whole blended family thing right; it is reading every stepparent book you can find in hopes of finding the answers. And, then, it is realizing there are no real answers, because every blended family is a little bit different. There is insight and advice but the only answers you will find are the ones you create for your family, in your home.
Blending means being part of something.
It is scary and complicated; it can be daunting and sometimes it is difficult. But all the best things in life are. It is finding your place; it is worth every demanding moment or doubt. It is your family. These are your people.
I don't know of any girl who grows up thinking, "I really want to be a stepmom when I get older!"
And it's not just the "wicked stepmother" stereotype that is deeply engrained in our culture.
It is missed firsts.
It's coming second.
It is balance and compromise like nothing else.
It is a risk.
Ah, but life is full of risk. And if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.
In 2015, in the course of 4 weeks, I moved from a small trailer in the middle of nowhere, where I lived only with my dog and my ever-growing baby bump, to a home in the city with my fiancé, his son (every second week) and, shortly after, our newborn baby. Less than a year later, our niece moved in with us.
It was (and still is) a life of huge adjustments, daily learning, and uncomfortable growth.
It is more laundry in a week than I used to do in a month. It is structure and routine and sports practices, when I, not so long ago, could binge-watch an entire Netflix series in a weekend. It is conversations at midnight about our parenting and whether we're doing a good job.
Fellow stepmoms - if you are feeling overwhelmed (or know that you will feel those feelings again) - hang in there. It's not easy, but you are strong and capable.
Our family is built on risk and change and growth. It's not perfect, but it is worth it.