As part of our Blended Family Friday series, each week we're spotlighting a different stepfamily to learn how they successfully blended their two families together. Our hope is that by telling their stories, we'll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life!
This week, Jesika Davis shares with us how one fateful plane ride changed her life forever -- and for the better.
It's a scary, complicated thing, bringing together two families: Two groups of children that love and adore you individually but have only just begun appreciating you and your spouse as a unit.
In 2009, my future husband (a life-long Marine and East Coast man) and I (a former yoga-instructor, nonprofit- fundraising West Coast girl) met on a plane going to London. We were sitting directly next to each other and spent eight hours developing a deep friendship, a friendship that grew over the next year and blossomed into more.
In 2010, I moved my two children, a three-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl, across the country from California to Washington, D.C. to move in with my now-husband and his four boys, ages 4, 7, 10, and 13. We were crazy with fear: fear of the unknown, fear of the known. Will they hate us for doing this to them? Will they love us for what will be a crazy life? Will we just royally and utterly screw this all up?
Once we'd decided to move in together, we -- being the obsessive readers and researchers we are -- immediately hit the book stores and went online in search of the "right" way to do it. Unfortunately, we didn't come across a book on How To Move Across The Country And Integrate Six Children, All Still Reeling From Recent Divorces, While Maintaining and Developing A Close Relationship With The One You Fell In Love With, While Trying To Get Used To Living 3,000 Miles From All Your Friends And Family, While Starting A New Job. That book surprisingly doesn't exist.
We researched, read, sought advice from counselors, teachers and experts. That is our testament to how scared we were, and how badly we wanted to do right by these kids. We did everything we could.
And we made so many mistakes along the way.
It's like right after you've given birth and they wheel you out of the hospital in a wheelchair, through the open doors into the blinding white light of the outside. And then you are on your own. You can't believe they let you leave the place with this amazing tiny little life. They didn't give you an instruction manual, they didn't send a 20-car police escort to make sure you made it home. Nothing. You are on your own and you are slowly waking up to the realization that there is nothing you could have done to prepare yourself for it.
But here we are now. Three years later, celebrating our fourth year of traditions: fourth first-days-of-school, fourth Thanksgiving, fourth Halloween, fourth birthday parties for each sibling. And we have a full house almost every weekend. This past weekend, we had all six kids plus two friends, and it really hardly fazed us. But those first few years were chaos, fighting, learning, adjusting.
It's all coming along for us so much easier now.
The reality is, no matter how prepared you are, no matter how many books you read or how many experts you consult, there is no magic to this. It's hard work. It's dedication. It's being the one true home that is safe, sound, and trustworthy. Divorce is so horrible, destabilizing, and scary. And we've learned that the only thing we can do in response is make our home safe, secure and loving.
It's parenthood, amplified.
It's the good, the bad, and the amazing parts of parenthood, amplified.
Now the kids are 7, 7, 9, 10, 13, and 15. They are adjusted. They come to us for hugs, regardless of which of us is in the house. This past weekend there were more laughing times than sad and there was trust and honesty between us.
We must be doing something right after all. But like any parents, we won't see the end reward for years and years to come.
And that's OK with us. Because already our rewards are amplified.
If you'd like your own family to be featured on a Blended Family Friday, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're looking forward to hearing your story!
Click through the slideshow below the see photos of Jesika's family.