The Perfect Blend: Let love define your family

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12161_363855050526_3031232_nThe first time I saw her sweet brown eyes she had just celebrated her first birthday. I showed restraint for a solid 3 minutes before I reached out to hold her. I couldn’t help myself, she was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. Even though it was still too early to know for sure, I was pretty sure one day she and I would be family. Looking back seventeen years later, my hunch proved to be true and that sweet little girl is my stunning step-daughter.

If I’ve learned anything over the last seventeen years, I’ve learned that family rarely fits into a pretty little box. Regardless of our story, we all have those chapters that don’t always make sense to everyone else, because they are distinctly ours. I’ve also learned that what has worked to help our family blend, may not work for yours. And even though our family has learned so much over the years, I don’t often offer advice. I do, however, believe that there are a few guiding principles that have helped us navigate the waters of our life. In fact, I believe that these principles apply to all families, blended or not.

Children are people, not possessions. Early on, we all (and by all I mean all of the key players in the situation) agreed that this precious girl would not be used to manipulate. We did not own her, we were all put in her life to love her. Our job was to nurture and steward her gifts and talents. With this in mind we were able to approach situations with her best interest in mind.  To say that Brad and I are grateful for her mother and step-father would be a gross understatement:  self-sacrificing, supportive, honest, and loving- they have been people I’m so grateful are in our corner.  This may not be true in your situation…but I’m confident that even the widest chasms can be narrowed when you put the best interest of the child at the center.

Love binds us. We understood that our life, our family, was messy. I remember one dance recital we attended where our tiny dancer had FOURTEEN grandparents in the audience cheering her on. Messy indeed. Accepting the mess and taking on the perspective that one girl had FOURTEEN people in her life to love her, to listen to her, to speak into her life enabled us to celebrate our family. Love has a way of covering our imperfections and bringing grace into any situation. Rather than see the “other side” as the enemy, we widened our circle and realized that we were in this for life. All of us. 

As she fills out college applications, I wonder how the years passed so quickly. Family is the most important part of life. I’m grateful ours doesn’t look like the picture perfect, flawless family. I’ve grown rather fond of our messy one. It’s really the perfect blend.

 

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