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The Blended Family: A Year in Review

 

Life in a blended family is a beautiful, hard, hilarious, challenging, fun, complicated, rewarding, thing. It’s a series of ups and downs, laughter and tears, but altogether worth it when you see how much closer the family becomes. Statistically speaking, blended families outnumber all other family dynamic in this country. Even so, asking a child to adjust to circumstances created by decisions that were beyond their control is an unfair situation for them to be put in (extreme cases aside).

There will forever be a low-level that exists in me for asking my sons to do this, and yet at the same time, this was the catalyst that caused me to realize that I could never take them for granted and that, they needed me now more than ever. That same realization soon extended to my stepdaughters after being forced into the role of a stay-at-home dad.

Thankfully, I’m married to a woman who is as contentious of her parenting in a blended family as I’ve learned to become. We could never do this alone, and there are moments when it seems like nothing is working right. But then there are times when you look back and realize how far everyone’s come together …as a family. That was 2011.


  • Christmas 2010 1 of 13
    Christmas 2010
    I know this picture is from last Christmas, but it's also our favorite family photo of all time. We must have done 30 takes, and in every shot, at least someone didn't look happy.
  • January 2 of 13
    January
    Where the boys live, snow and ice are the norm for January, but here in Texas, as you can probably tell by the girls' faces, it's cause for joy.
  • February 3 of 13
    February
    Don't let the expressions on our faces fool you; the both of us were pretty happy since being there for his birthday was surprise. I also got to see him play basketball for the first time, and then be the helper parent for his brother's Valentine's Day party at school.
  • March 4 of 13
    March
    Spring Break offered the next chance for me to be with the boys. It doesn't always feel that spring like up north, but that doesn't keep them from running around outside while we visit my parents for the week.
  • April 5 of 13
    April
    April means spring dresses and Easter egg hunts in the back yard, two things my stepdaughters get super excited about. My stepdaughters and spring flowers—one in the same and both beautiful. Meanwhile, I'm still finding candy filled eggs when I mow the lawn.
  • May 6 of 13
    May
    Schools almost out which means it's field trip season. This outing is at the Natural Science Museum. I attend most of the girls' events, but their mom goes on the trips because it's her chance to get away from work and be involved.
  • June 7 of 13
    June
    June marks the start of the period when we're altogether and get to function as a family. If you can make out the look on my son's face, then you can tell that early on there's a period of adjustment for everyone.
  • July 8 of 13
    July
    Within a few weeks the kids settle in to their routine. There's still a few spats here and there, but for the most part, this is what it's like.
  • August 9 of 13
    August
    In roughly a week the boys go home, and I try to jam in as much time as I can beforehand. It's never enough though. The rest of the month is the most difficult for me because everything reminds me of them.
  • September 10 of 13
    September
    And just like that, it's already time for school to begin. This year the school canceled the girl's bus route, but it's still close enough for us to bike there. After violating every bike safety rule there is, they finally got the hang of things. I like that it gives me a chance to chat with them on the way there and back.
  • October 11 of 13
    October
    One look and you can tell it's Halloween. Following their mother's lead, the girls have a love for vampires and for Buffy, the teenage girl who slays them. Not my thing, but hey, at least they didn't try to be Twilight characters.
  • November 12 of 13
    November
    Because we alternate between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the boys were with me and my wife for Turkey Day. There was a bit of roughhousing on this trip if you notice the Band-Aid. Because our time together is shorter than Christmas saying goodbye at the end is harder than usual.
  • December 13 of 13
    December
    For the Christmases when the boys aren't with us the girls always say it feels weird. It does. The whole nature of the season makes it natural to miss them just that much more, but I also consider myself blessed to have three Christmas angels.

 

Happy New Year!

* * *

Ron Mattocks is a father of five (3 sons, 2 stepdaughters) and author of the book, Sugar Milk: What One Dad Drinks When He Can’t Afford Vodka. He blogs at Clark Kent’s Lunchbox, and lives in Houston with his wife, Ashley, who eternally mocks his fervor for Coldplay.

 

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