A couple of weeks ago I shared this photo for a previous blog post. It's a family photo from my stepson's recent medical school graduation. But I failed to tell the story behind this photo.
Along with my stepson, husband, two stepdaughters and their husbands, grandbaby, and me, there are two important people in this picture that I want to point out. Standing behind me is my stepchildren's maternal grandfather. Standing beside my husband is their grandfather's wife.
Yes, their mother's family is in our family photo.
From the beginning of my marriage, Steve and Ginger have been nothing but kind and welcoming to me. They live in Texas and travel to West Virginia for all of the big occasions. When they are in town, we get together for church or a meal. They came to visit our new home when we first moved in 11 years ago. And since Steve and I share a birthday, we have even celebrated that event together.
What's important here is that they get it. You see, they are part of a blended/stepfamily themselves. Steve has three daughters from his first marriage. His wife Ginger has a daughter of her own. They did the work. They know what it means to deal with the challenges of a non-traditional family. Their acceptance of our family was a welcome event in my stepchildren's lives. It ensured that, at least in this instance, the kids didn't have to compartmentalize their lives to stake claim to loyalty to one parent or the other.
I'm grateful for the support that Steve and Ginger have provided through the years. They have been interested in not only the kids' lives, but our lives as a family. They acknowledge the acrimony that occurred in the divorce between their daughter and former son-in-law yet remained open to sharing his life and for the past 13 years, mine too.
I share this story as some encouragement for those of you struggling in your stepfamily. A kindness shared can create a little more harmony in a situation which isn't always. You may not be fortunate enough to experience the situation I've described above. But maybe you have the opportunity to extend that kindness to someone in your family/stepfamily. Whatever the scenario, know that creating an amicable environment for the kids is most assuredly the goal. And sometimes amicable can become even more.