MamaBlogger365 – Looking for Metaphors in Unlikely Places by *Dr. Mama* Amber Kinser

I have been in a “blended” family for about 10 years now.  I think the idea of “blended” is a bit of a misnomer.  It suggests a certain fluidity, a certain smoothness, a certain coming together as one that has never quite characterized my family.  The unit I’ve created with my partner and children has always felt so disrupted, so cobbled together, so ill-fitted that it has, in many ways, been a source of angst and even pain for me.  The children really struggled with the divorce, I think, much more than they let on at 3 and 9, much more than they were even aware.   Much more than I even had the capacity to address, had I even been able to apprehend it.  Of course they struggled with my partnering with someone else, as you might well imagine.  I think that the struggle was not only about the fact of the split between their dad and me but also about the significant differences between their dad and their stepdad.  Very different kinds of men altogether.  And, as anyone who studies relationships or identity development or human interaction will affirm, our “selves” emerge in interaction with other people.  I was different with their stepdad than I was with their dad.  And I’m sure I was a different mom too.  On some occasions that worked in ways they liked, and on others it  worked in ways they didn’t.  But it was tricky all around.  For everybody.

Moments seemed forced.  Dinners seemed awkward.  Activities were sort of clumsy.  I longed for years for a sense of “family unit” but, since my primary goal in partnering was to find the right person for me, rather than marry the right dad for them, my choice didn’t always contribute a sense of us all as “one.”  We were more like 1 and 2/3, or 2 and 2, or 3 and 1.  And sometimes 1 and 1 and 1 and 1.   I realize as I write that one reason this is so painful for me is that I’ve swallowed, over many years, a very narrow image of what gets to count as family.  I’ve certainly chosen other paths for myself, but I’ve often walked those paths with trepidation and doubt.

All of this surfaced moments before I wrote this post as my partner and I looked at our Sprint bill.  We’ve been struggling to get everyone’s cell phone on the same plan for quite some time but there’s this limit of 5 people and we’ve got 6 (including his two older sons).  So one of my kids was with their dad,  and the other was with us plus his two children (‘children’ being a misnomer).  Anyway, absurdly long story short, we finally got the bill that had all 6 of our cell phone numbers on it.  Just listed there altogether on a single family plan.  As a unit even.  And I felt my eyes well up with tears.  Silly, really, how we find metaphors for life in the most unlikely places.  Or maybe not all that silly.

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*For additional Reading Check Out Blended Family Advice Website

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2 Responses to “MamaBlogger365 – Looking for Metaphors in Unlikely Places by *Dr. Mama* Amber Kinser”
  1. I can empathize and have found metaphors for my stepfamily over the years…some silly and some not so silly.
    I’ve been a stepmom and involved with a stepfamily since 1991. Since then, there have been times of pure angst and not understanding what my postion is in our unit…but, also times of joy and peace. I do not say we are a blended family because “at times” we aren’t. I merely say His Mine and Ours/A Bended Family…We have 2 full time kids(our kids together) and 2 part time kids(My child from a previous/his child from a previous) Although, not classified as blended…at ALL times we LOVE our kids and are always there for them. At all times, we are available…through thick and thin…and have learnt to bend for one another.

    Here’s an article written(from way back when)about Stepmoms that I was featured in…

    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/AmericanFamily/story?id=126015&page=2

    I’ve been involved with SAA as a local Chapter Leader for sometime but have not done much with it as I’m not finding too many stepfamilies stepping up to be involved in a support group around my local area. If I had more time AND interest, I would hold/offer a support group as such locally…I’ve still kept my name and address/contact info on the SAA website incase I might be able to help someone via support through email. I advise all who are interested in doing so, to contact SAA and go for it. Being in such a postion(be that stepmom, stepdad, stepdaughter, bio kids, etc etc)is very difficult at times and sometimes we just need a shoulder to vent/cry/scream on.

    My stepdaughter will be getting married this summer and I can say we have a great relationship now…and at most times, always did.(the crazy teen years were difficult!)
    We seemed to have found some sort of normalacy in our Yours Mine and Ours, Bended Family unit and it is working(whatever we’re doing) I believe there can be a foundation of structure for all involved but yet we must all learn to bend TO blend as a unit.

    Blessings
    Carolyn

  2. Dr. Mama says:

    Carolyn, thanks for posting. Because my partner’s son’s were college-aged when we got together and lived separately from him, me, and my children, I haven’t been called on much to take on the role of stepmom. Sometimes, I suppose, for holidays, or other times when they visited. Some of those times really worked, and sometimes they sort of worked. But the person who definitely did most of the bending was my partner. I hope I have appropriately appreciated the complexity of his place in our family and the difficulty he confronts in trying to determine just what his role is in a given moment.

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