Moments captured by Noemi Photography
While at a school function, I ran into an old college friend the other day and she introduced me to her boyfriend. I asked her who they were watching and she mentioned that her boyfriend had two children, one was in high school, and they were watching her play volleyball that afternoon. We then got to talking about my friend’s children, how old they are now, how much time they spend with their dad, and if her boyfriend’s kids and her kids get along. Thankfully, they do.
As I left the parking lot that afternoon, I was in a reflective mood (which can happen when you’re a busy mama in an empty van!). My husband and I are in that stage of life: the stage of life where our friends have hard things going on in their marriages. Some are in counseling (ALL for counseling, even if you’re not in a tough place!), some are on to second marriages, some are dating after 20 years of being with one person, sides are being taken and lives forever altered. We are just IN it and it’s not always the easiest to navigate as a friend or support.
The one thing that I can relate to though? When your family is blended together, woven into something that looks differently than other families. When you’re taking pieces of your family that are maybe a bit beaten up, a bit tattered, altered by outside forces, and you’re sewing them together, stitch by stitch, square by square, until the final masterpiece blanket is woven together.
It can take time.
A whole lotta love and determination.
I grew up in a blended family. My parents were both previously married and had children with their first spouse. By the time they met, I came along not shortly after, followed by my youngest sister three years later. There were seven of us and yet, often times, just four of us. It wasn’t until I was in elementary school and I needed to create the iconic “family tree” that my questions started: Why did my older sisters have another mommy? Why didn’t my brother call my dad, “dad”? Why did I sometimes share a room and sometimes have it all to myself? And why are my siblings so lucky to have THAT many grandparents?
The questions were innocent enough but what they unraveled was a lot over the years. Navigating that wasn’t always easy or convenient for anyone. The one thing that always remained consistent though? Never wavering, never questioned, never misunderstood? The LOVE we had for each other. When the seven of us were together that woven quilted blanket was held together in the deepest kind of love. It was my safe-haven, my shield, my comfort…it was home.
I rarely remember my parents discussing their first spouses in front of us. From time-to-time, of course, but there wasn’t any bad talking, or belittling, they worked hard to make sure our ears were being trained with the utmost love and respect for my older siblings’ other parents. They kept things cordial, friendly actually, as my dad and my brother’s dad played basketball together every week. My older sisters’ Grandma would come over in her hot red convertible and give us rides. As we grew, my sisters’ mom and her daughter (their half-sister) were people I was always excited to see. We threw showers together when we were getting married and having kids, and this big, beautiful, blended family is one I’m honored to be a part of.
It isn’t always roses, but no family is. If the intent of the parents is love, respect, and safety, all sides win. There are times with my own four children that I stop in my tracks, in awe that my parents (and my older siblings’ parents!) did it. It’s hard enough raising children, much less when you’ve got multiple adults and influences impacting them when they aren’t under your roof. Trust and letting go is something I saw play out time and time again. I admire my parents. I admire those of you in the thick of it and trying desperately to keep love at the forefront. For trying your hardest to show respect to your ex in front of your children, for keeping your children safe, and loved, and cozy under that quilted, woven blanket. That blanket you’re working so hard to protect? That blanket will be passed down for generations. A woven quilt that can be added to, piece by piece, jagged edge by jagged edge. Expanded on, layer by layer, with grit, sweat and tears. That little blanket that’s growing? It might just be the coziest, warmest, most beautiful blanket you’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of.
Moments captured by Noemi Photography