Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts… Blended Family Edition

Though blended family life does have good parts, highs, and some great memories, those are not the seasons that lead to this blog. This blog and my book outline were created from the lows and the painfully difficult seasons of blended family life. Maybe the best way to describe my particular blended family situation is “death by a thousand paper cuts”. I love this online definition of Death by a Thousand Cuts: a figure of speech that refers to a failure that occurs as a result of many small problems.

You see, blended family life is not necessarily miserable because of 1 or 2 particularly difficult things. It’s the thousands of small (and often large), difficult things that continuously overlap and rarely seem to improve. Even when you think a difficult season has ended, it’s usually really just the beginning of another even larger event. It’s like labor pains. That painful one ended but just wait … it gets worse.

I’ve lived in poverty in the projects, have been dirt poor, have been a single mom, have had a child nearly die on me, have dealt with unbelievable family betrayal, and some other really difficult things that may be revealed later. But none of that was as hard as blended family life has been collectively this past decade.

Granted,  I am a perfectionist and want to get this right. But I’ve also learned that the blended family life game is simply not a game that can be mastered like Chess. It’s really more like The Hunger Games where the rules are ever changing and the situations get more difficult. Once you’ve mastered Level 1 and survived your first night in the wilderness, the sun comes out again but with a new set of increased challenges. Those fresh berries you thought would nourish you ended up to be poisonous and your district teammate and partner that joined the game with you often ends up becoming your opponent (especially where their respective biological children are involved).

If I look back at my inner child, the little girl that I used to be that had never ending hopes and dreams, I can honestly say that growing up, getting married and having children was never it. Even when I became pregnant in high school I sat for my GED, went straight to college and graduated in the top of my class as a young, single mom ready to join the workforce. I went back to work doing the work I loved when my third child was only 12 days old because we had a large case set for trial that I had worked on for 3 years. I loved my kids more than life itself but I balanced work and home, hobbies and fitness for years. Getting remarried a decade later and becoming a work from home stepmother did not change the fact that I am a career woman, not a homemaker, and nothing is going to change that. I have never wanted to be a SAHM. Not then with my kids. Not now with his kids. Yet I feel like that is the box that my spouse wants to check off of his list. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a bad@$$ stepmom. I encourage, support, chauffeur, chaperone, prepare meals despite hating it, buy clothes, decorate rooms like a boss, and attend nearly every single event they have, but in the back of my mind I have that nagging feeling that it’s still not enough and that my husband should have married someone else. Someone different. Someone less like me. Someone more like Susie Homemaker. Maybe I should have married someone more in line with my life who had grown kids or older kids or no kids so that I wouldn’t feel forced to fit in a box that was never suited for me in the first place.

I say all this because I know for a fact that I am not alone. I know that half of my small group feels now or has felt in the past that maybe they should not have gotten married and joined the blended family circus. Some have left the game. Some are still fighting for their marriages despite the difficult journey. And that’s what it is. A journey. And there are good times and bad times. We can choose to fight the fight or walk away but that doesn’t change where we are today, right now, in those tough moments.

Hugs, support and coffee cheers to each and every one of you that has “those days” “those seasons” or “those moments”. One way or another we are going to make it. We are going to survive. If it all works out, hopefully we will even get to see the view from the top of the mountain one of these days. Even if it’s not today.

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