Blended families are such an interesting concept. When you blend something, you take two separate ingredients and mix them together, hoping for a smooth consistency. Sometimes it makes the perfect batter and you can’t distinguish one ingredient from another. But, sometimes the elements fight against each other no matter how much you shake, stir, love and hope. My oil and water will always bubble and separate no matter how hard I try to stir.
Some days, rare joyous days, my family feels like the perfect blend. Most days though, we feel like a heavy level of separation and a congealed mess. As often as I have tried to be the stir-stick, I always stick to my boy. He is apart of me and it is my duty to love him unconditionally, despite his revolts and behavior. Unconditional love can be toxic because despite the number of times I am yelled at, physically and verbally abused, I gravitate to him–a soul that was created from mine. On the flip side, I didn’t create our daughter, but I still feel a natural pull. It isn’t an intense or innate, but it is there. The fact is, is that I was present during the creation, birth and raising of both of these beings, created out of love in two different unions where I was the only common denominator. Reality is that Alphabet Kid has two legal guardians who love him plus a bonus mom who does love him, but doesn’t always understand him or face him with empathy. Its a mixed bag. And this dynamic has created a natural division within my family of me and AK, and my wife and Little Sister. We can often be found in our house within these divisions, whether it is playing, baths, reading books, etc. I am the primary parent to AK and she is the primary parent to LS. Maybe it is because AK is such a hard kid. Maybe it has something to do with biology. Maybe it is just the way the days unfolds. I have tried to self-correct the division but we tend to fall back on this line. Every night that AK is home, I put him to bed, I make his lunch, I wash his uniforms and I know what he needs. I go over his homework, his schedule, his routine. I attend doctors appts, school meetings, coordinate everything from activities, medication, etc. He has 3 moms, but 1 primary care giver. Me.
When your family of 4 is automatically created on divisions, it is hard to remix the dynamics. But we are trying. I honestly feel like I am trying a lot harder than my wife, but she is trying and I need to give her credit. She is one to suffer her own mental health struggles, but isn’t the best patient. As much as I try to be proactive and utilize every resource, she would rather self-medicate or dig herself a bigger hole. We are both good at blaming the other though, so I am trying to focus on my own faults and work at controlling the matters that I can actually control, myself.
She put it perfectly within the last week: we are better together when we don’t have to parent AK. As much as it was a tough pill to swallow because she is talking about the child I created, she is right. We have less tension, less struggle, less fights and more connection and more sanity. Even when it is just my wife, Little Sis and me, our house runs far more smoothly, quietly and less toxic. That IS a hard pill to swallow because I would do anything and everything for AK, but he does make life hard. He makes my marriage hard. He makes our household hard. He pushes my own mental health closer to the cliff. But he is mine, good and bad. THAT is unconditional love.
About a month ago, we started family therapy at a group who focuses on the unit, as well as the individuals. Its a wholistic approach where each session is different. The first two sessions, it was basically a lengthy intake of WHY were we there. Most families take one 90 minute session, but of course our complicated family took TWO 90 min sessions to just explain. Explain our history, our problems, our strengths, our struggles, explain our individual mental health struggles and the traumatic experience a couple months ago that led to an inpatient mental health facility for an 8 year old. No matter how the ball bounces, it bounces toward the shear fact that we are complicated. The 3rd session was just myself and AK. The fourth session was just my wife and AK. Next week, it will be the 3 of us and Little Sis will have a sitter. It will take time but I am hopeful.
One thing I have also noticed is that our marriage hinges on her mood. When she is stressed, overwhelmed, or even PMS’ing, we are close to divorce. It is a mind-f for me because one day we can great and two days later, she tells me to call my lawyer. WHAT? Yes, that has happened. Then we make-up, literally and physically, and I start to wait for the next ball bounce. It is exhausting. We are broken. We are hurt. We struggle. But, we love each other greatly. We are oddly better as a unit than we are as individuals because we grow together. We are best friends and I want nothing more than to share a meal, a drink and a tv show with my her, my home. The fact is, we parent every differently. We have very different upbringings, which have molded our own approaches toward life. We have different mental health struggles, and different priorities. It is a lot to figure out while parenting. We didn’t get the time before kids to grow up together and figure it out. We are doing it in the middle of our own chaos. I honestly have no idea what our next 5 years look like, but we both want to try and figure our shit out. I hope family therapy can help, and we both see our own therapists. So.much.therapy. So damn expensive, but so worth it.
In true to my life, the song ‘Gravity’ just came on. We are so torn, but our beings gravitate towards each other. She is my soul-mate and we both want to protect the other, when ironically, we are often the biggest sources of pain for the other. Why is it that often the most talented and creative souls face the most struggle and angst? I wish life were easy, but it isn’t. So, we keep working and I just have to hope we can breathe on the other side.