All stepfamilies have their own struggles.
It is no surprise that blended families have more opportunities for confusion, insecurity, and complication than “nuclear” families. Typically blended families suffer from the same recurring stressors throughout their journey. As I’ve said before, one of our big struggles is the distance. We try to focus on the positive. We try to look for the silver linings. We make sure not to dwell on the stressors. But sometimes blended family life is far from perfect. Sometimes it straight up sucks. It is hard for everybody. Throw an over 1,000 mile distance in the mix, and it can make you crazy.
We miss a lot with the kids.
We miss a lot of big milestones. It is so hard. It is way harder than I would have imagined. It sucks so bad to know you can’t be there for these big moments, and it really sucks knowing you can never get them back.
We missed Farrah’s first day of preschool.
We’ve missed Noah’s first day of Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade.
This was so tough.
I wanted so badly to be there. To get them their “first day of school outfits” with the little apples, pencils, or school buses! (If you haven’t realized yet, I kinda have a thing for clothes. lol) To take pictures of them before they left the house. To see them walk into their class on the first day and walk away with the teary eyes. To be there waiting with open arms when they came home to tell me all about how it went! But that leads me to my first piece of advice on handling big milestones in a long distance blended family…
Make the most of the ones you miss.
We made the most of what we did get. We got to video chat with them before and after school. We got pictures. We had sent them with a few school supplies, which they got to use. I added the school page on FaceBook so that we could stay up to date with everything. It all made it a little more bearable. A little easier.
Fully embrace the ones you get.
The bright side is that having the kids for extended periods of time during the summer and winter allows us to experience some big moments we would otherwise miss out on. For instance, Dan and I are both big water lovers. Which is great for having the kids during the summer! This means we got to teach both Noah and Farrah how to swim! (We even got to teach Noah how to swim at my dad’s pool! <3) It was an amazing experience to watch them learn something new that we were able to teach them. Being there for these big moments is so special, and it is important to fully embrace them. One thing about being in a blended family is that it makes you sit and think more about little (and big) things. You won’t get to be there for EVERYTHING, so make sure that you are fully there for what you do get. Soak in all the glory of these memories, and be extra thankful for each experience you do get to be there for.
Be mindful of every experience.
Always, always, always be mindful. This is an important lesson in blended family life. Always be mindful of the other parent. Try to remember how it feels when you miss out on big moments. When you didn’t get to be there for the first basketball game, the kindergarten graduation, the first run in softball, or when they learned to read. Remember that it hurts when you can’t be there for everything. In these moments be mindful of how the other parent must feel when they are missing out. Take videos, send pictures, and video-chat if possible. It benefits, not only, the parent but also the child to be able to have everyone be involved in these precious moments! For instance, we entered Farrah in a pageant at the end of summer last year, and her mom was able to watch on video-chat, talked to her immediately after, and she received tons of pictures! This made them both feel better about her not being there in person.
Make your own memories.
When possible we like to make our own memories. We do this with special moments that have the opportunity to happen more than once. One thing we did this with was the Tooth Fairy. Noah lost his first tooth at their other house, but that didn’t stop us from making the first tooth he lost at our house special! I let him pick out some fabric for us to make a special pillow for his tooth, I secretly made a tiny letter from the Tooth Fairy, and I got him some special Tooth Fairy money. (big silver dollars) I did whatever I could think to make it memorable and special for him. (I absolutely LOVE doing fun stuff like this!) That way we wouldn’t feel like we missed out on such a big moment for him, and he would get to enjoy it too.
So stepmama, what I’m trying to say is to be present in the moments.
Take advantage of technology for the moments you miss, embrace the moments you get, and make up for the ones you can. Simply said, make the most of what you have. Just enjoy watching these babes grow and let them enjoy all their new experiences.
Love your family, love yourself, and live your happiest life.