Later this year, I’m taking my three children to Israel for a week. It’s a special trip following my son’s bar mitzvah and my daughter’s bat mitzvah to show them my view of Israel and help tie their Jewish identity to the Jewish state.
My husband and stepdaughter aren’t going with us. And I’m totally fine with that and so are they, because in a blended family, you understand these things.
Apparently, the rest of the world doesn’t.
My sister, mother, and aunt all asked with an inquiring edge to their voices, “How can you take just Asher, Eliana and Shaya to Israel and not Dan and Grace?”
I couldn’t simply say, “It’s a blended family thing.” I explained it. I explained how you have this incredible bond between a just-divorced parent and biological children who aren’t with you all the time, so that when you finally do fall in love again, you start to create a new definition of family.
But that ‘we-are-a-unit’ feeling never leaves. And I don’t really want it to.
This and a few other things are important to understand about blended families. We aren’t like the traditional first marriage situations where it wouldn’t be fair to take half the family on a major trip and leave the other half at home.
So, here’s what I want the world to know about blended families.
1. You end up with four different families.
You and your kids, your kids and their other biological parent, the siblings as their own consistent unit, and you, your new spouse, your kids and your stepkids.
Each family unit is valid and special, and there are times when each one will get some special alone-time attention.
2. I love when it's just me and my kids.
When my husband goes out of town, my children orchestrate a complicated schedule of who gets to sleep next to me which night. Even the teenagers.
When I was first divorced and my kids were 2, 4 and 6, they all wanted to sleep beside me in the big, king-sized bed, and a lot of nights, they did.
We reassured each other, yes, but we also snuggled and cuddled and laughed and watched old movies. We're supremely close because we had a lot of years of having one parent focused solely on kids.
3. My kids come first.
I knew if I were ever to remarry, it would have to be to someone who understood this bond between me and my kids. They are my everything.
I love my husband, and he will be the one I share life with when the kids are on their own. He's my life partner; they are my lifeblood. And they pre-date him — they aren't the product of our adult love.