Thursday, December 22, 2011

Living As a Blended Family During the Holidays

From left to right, Sayler, Nick, Quinn, Dannette & Meredith

I have casually mentioned a few times that I have a blended family. I re-married 2 1/2 years ago, to my husband Nick, and he came with a sweet little girl named Meredith. Although she just turned 14 so she isn't so little anymore, she actually just literally outgrew me by about 1/2 inch. I have two daughters of my own, Sayler, 12 (in less than a week) and Quinn Ellen, 7. My first marriage almost made it 10 years, the relationship almost 15. Nick was married for about a year, although the relationship was much longer. He has been divorced for around 8 or 9 years. Much longer than me. I pretty much got a divorce and got re-married right away. I know people feel I rushed it but I wasn't the one who didn't want to be married anymore you see. I love being married and I love marriage. I believe in it, stand by it and enforce it.

Nick & I in wedded bliss on our wedding day

Nick and I have been extremely lucky as far as our girls go. When you think about bringing three girls together the first thing that comes to mind is oh I don't know...DISASTER?? I sometimes wonder if it was their ages at the time or just their personalities that meshed well that made them instant best friends...but when you meet my family you can't deny that there is a God with a plan. Nick and I both craved a "boring suburban life" for us and stability for our children. Our lives just seem to fit together perfectly. NOT that there aren't blended family issues...there sure are. I always tell Nick that we can't control how other people treat our children, we can only control how we treat them and I really try to make sure the time they have with us is happy, healthy, and fun.

Our first Christmas card sent out as the Rivas-Medina family-yes Quinn is that crazy ALL OF THE TIME

I grew up in a blended family from the age of 2. This life is all I know. My parents were 16 when they met, 17 when they had me. They didn't last long after that. Despite this, I had a wonderful childhood. My parents obviously loved each other enough to love us first, and made sure we had equal time with both sides of the family and never, ever talked about the others in a negative way. I grew up knowing that my parents still loved each other as friends, and that they loved us endlessly. That is a real gift. To know you came from love. Since my divorce, I have vowed to treat my children with the same respect. I want them to know their family, and I really try to do everything with their best interests first. It isn't all sunshine and roses, but it's not all bad either.

My mom has numerous pictures of me with my hand to my mouth like this, a nervous habit maybe?

My husband and stepdaughter have a different story to tell about their experience, but I do believe that is their personal story and I don't feel comfortable talking for them. I have to respect their privacy in the sense that I wasn't around for the first half, you know? What do I know about any of it if I wasn't there right? Right.

I've never seen such a bond between two people as I have with these two...

So here we are at the holidays. Everyone knows how crazy this time of year is with all of the family gatherings. Being that my parents divorced when I was 2 and my mom re-married when I was 4, Christmas meant at least 4 Christmas celebrations each year. I'm talking full-on, presents everywhere Christmases. Then my grandparents got divorced and that added another one. Then I got married and that added another. Now I'm 36, divorced, re-married with children and I've kind of lost count. My Christmas list is very long, even at the bare minimum. As I get older, my energy runs low, and it gets a little harder to keep up with it all. I am grateful God gives me the strength to still manage it all somehow. If you've read my blog at all, you know I like to throw in lots of projects on top of my already busy schedule, and I'm not one of those gals with endless energy. Not by a long shot! When I get down on myself about it, my grandma says that I just choose to focus my energy on things other than vacuuming endlessly...I cook (almost) every night, I work full time, I keep my kids and household in order, I entertain in my home, volunteer at church...but I feel like that's most moms out there...isn't it?

This is when my mother (in the blue) married my stepdad (in the back with the glasses) with Mickey my little brother with the tears...

Anyway, here we are at the holidays again and I find myself feeling a bit sad about it this year. When I have to take my children to buy things for my ex-husband and his girlfriend, ex-mother and father-in-law, and ex-grandmother-in-law I remember my mother doing that for us as children. It brings back such mixed feelings of excitement to see my family but also guilt at not being with my mother. If I was with one parent on a holiday, I felt guilty that the other one was alone. Yes I had a wonderful and happy childhood, but I still wouldn't have chosen this for my children. Yes I have a wonderful life with my new husband and stepdaughter that is more stable than our previous, but you still don't want to have to send your child away on Christmas to spend somewhere other than home. My poor husband has to spend every other year without his daughter on Christmas Day! I carry guilt on those years as well because I'm afraid that the presence of my children make him long for his even more. Not all rainbows and sunshine.

I don't want anyone getting me wrong here, I love my new life. You honestly couldn't pay me to go back to my old. I have a sense of peace that I've never had. I feel safe, and I know my children do too. I married in to an amazing family that love my children as their own. It seems strange that they haven't been in my life forever. Only when I take my children to their family on Christmas Day do I remember that for almost 15 years that's where I went too. I will always love them and think fondly of them and pray for my heart they will always be my family.

Now my kids are re-living my childhood. Two families to love them. Two sets of parents to guide them. Two sets of cousins and Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents to belong to. If it has to be this way, at least they know they come from love.

Me on a very memorable Christmas morning at my mother's house before having to leave her and go to my dad's for the rest of Christmas vacation. See my smile? It is genuine. I've had a very blessed life.

Wishing you all rainbows and sunshine this holiday season!


  1. Merry Christmas to you too.

    Our stories are very similar. I too am now very, VERY blessed with a new husband & peaceful, loving household & family.

  2. We are where we are supposed to be...I hope you have a FABULOUS Christmas!!