Confession: I’m a recovering perfectionist. Working with blended families has helped me move past my rule follower tendencies, but they’re still there, lying below the surface.
I love rules, guidelines, and standards; it’s easier to avoid missing the mark when it’s clearly written out for you.
Growing up, I worked hard to never color outside of the lines in my coloring books, I strived for (and achieved) straight A’s in all of my classes, and I was a model citizen.
Rules weren’t meant to be broken; they were meant to be followed. And I was damn good at following them.
It Began in Adolescence
My parents divorced when I was 2, and I received attention when I accomplished something.
I was reading the newspaper when I was 4, and I was only in Kindergarten for 2 weeks because I was reading at a 5th grade level and doing math at a 3rd grade level. They moved me to first grade almost immediately.
My parents were proud of me and encouraged me to stay on the straight and narrow: Study hard so you can go to a good school and then get a good job when you graduate.
I studied hard in high school, participated in several extracurricular activities, and volunteered countless hours. I had a killer college application and was rewarded with ample financial aid to attend the college of my dreams.
In college, I double-majored, worked my dream internship, kept a full schedule at my job, tutored high school students, was editor of my department’s journal, served on the executive board of the volunteer center, and still maintained honors.
I did everything “right.” I have always been one to push for the status quo.
But What if There’s Another Way
And wouldn’t a beautiful nuclear family be the perfect continuation of that shiny record of “normal?”
The picture perfect wedding and marriage to the love of my life, the purchase of our first home together, and then, naturally, the cutest kids on the planet (I’m not biased). You’ve heard the song… First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage…
After a lifetime of achieving everything society told me I needed to, of working toward all of the goals I was supposed to obtain, I got derailed and started dating a single father.
That certainly didn’t fit into society’s status quo.
That Wasn’t in the Plan
I tried to run from it. I had a rule that I wouldn’t date a parent.
But then I met Kevin, and everything changed.
I was going to live that “fairy tale” life I planned for. Beautiful family, fulfilling career, happy and healthy. A blended family just wasn’t in the cards for this rule follower who always colored inside the lines.
But then I met Kevin’s daughter, Krista, and everything changed.
I found my life with these two to be far more fulfilling than anything I’d ever experienced dating a single man.
There were challenges, sure, but aren’t there always? I learned to embrace the challenges; they brought us closer together.
I found so much beauty in this life we were building together—a life outside of the lines. Lines that society told me were there for a reason, that defined the “right” way to live your life.
Blended Families: Sometimes It’s Okay to Color Outside of the Lines
There are truly so many advantages to living life outside of the lines as a stepmom.
My husband is mature, experienced.
He knows how to be an exceptional husband; he helps me to be a better wife and partner.
Only by way of his first marriage and subsequent divorce did he learn how to be the best version of himself.
He grew into the man of my dreams. The man that I married is not the same man his first wife married; he’s different now, shaped by those experiences.
I have a second person to love.
When I think of my stepdaughter, I visualize her big blue eyes, I hear her sweet giggle, I feel her soft cuddles, and I laugh thinking of our silly antics.
It is impossible to imagine a marriage to my husband without a sweet little 9-year-old to go with him.
They were a package deal, and I definitely hit the jackpot.
We are more intentional.
We are far more intentional about the time we spend together as a family because our time with her is limited. Because we share her with her mom’s family, we make the most of the time we’re given each week.
My husband and I are more intentional about our partnership and the example we set for our little one. She already has an example of a failed marriage, and we don’t want to give her another one; we’re far more intentional about practicing healthy communication and relationship skills in front of her.
We are also more intentional about cultivating that healthy relationship for us. His divorce made him want to work twice as hard to ensure he never experiences another heartbreak like that again.
We prioritize us, and we’re pretty unapologetic about it.
Life was Meant to be Lived Colorfully
Life wasn’t meant to be lived in black and white; that’s why color TVs were invented.
Don’t let societal expectations force you to color inside the lines; there’s a world of beauty outside of them, I promise.
Take it from an habitual rule follower: blended families can be breathtaking. When you seek the beauty, you’ll find it. It’s there waiting to be discovered, sweet friend.
Live Colorfully at Crayola Experience
One of my blended family’s favorite ways to spend time together is exploring new places, and we were completely blown away by Crayola Experience in Plano, Texas!
There are so many exhibits, and the entire family will have loads of fun – not just the kids!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life (and maybe even then), I’m sure you’ve heard of Crayola, the incredible brand behind colorful creations and art supplies for children.
Learn about how those products are made, explore with the various supplies, and live a little more colorfully for the day when you visit Crayola Experience.
I loved getting to design my own Crayola crayon, melt crayon wax into a new shape, and play with clay! Krista loved the interactive exhibit where you help solve Crayola friend problems, and Kevin was entranced by the spin art!
If you’re looking for something fun to do this summer, I highly recommend Crayola Experience! It’s a great time for the whole family, guaranteed!
There might have been another love and a baby carriage before our marriage, but I wouldn’t trade this life I’ve chosen—a life with blended families, colored outside the lines—for anything.
P.S. Looking for more info on why the kids don’t come first in my blended family? Let’s dive deeper!