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Say No to Blended Families ... Yes to Perfectly Imperfect Parfaits

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Blending families can be such a b*tch. The positioning, the bargaining, the testing, the fighting, the one-upping, the bickering, the jostling ... it's enough to make me envy my fiancé's daily commute.

I used to daydream of sitting on a pristine, white sand beach, turquoise waters crashing at my freshly manicured feet, with a fruity cocktail in hand, snuggled on a plush chaise lounge with my love. Now, I fantasize about sitting in hours of traffic. Ah, traffic. Even the most infuriating gridlock caused by rubberneckers stalking an accident on the opposite side of the highway seems appealing. I would happily listen to 80s on 8 or the soothing voice of my BFF on bluetooth over my current soundtrack: Feisty boys arguing about who finished their afterschool snack first.

The daily struggle is real.

We are trying to mesh two fiercely independent, spirited, self-assured boys together, aged 5 and 8. Both were the crowned princes pre-engagement, with a parent devoted to fulfilling every need, every whim, (almost) every wish. Both were, in fact, the center of the universe (in case you didn't get the memo). Both were beyond loved and adored ... and still are, of course.

The problem we have is this: No one is shy or reserved in our house. No one backs down. We are all versions of the same personality: Loud, louder, loudest. And that makes me believe blending is an unattainable goal.

For our family, a perfectly imperfect parfait seems like a reasonable expectation. That way, each person can hold onto his/her unique layer without sacrificing key ingredients of who they are to blend. The sum of our individual layers will make one hell of a parfait ... if we can get them together.

In that spirit, I asked our boys to create house rules to live by. They were pleased to provide their ideas for rules. Here's what they came up with:
1. No dragging chairs in disgust. (My hardwood floors appreciate this rule.)
2. No toys laying around.(This rule is followed if you walk through my home blindfolded.)
3. No mean language or choice language. (Epic fail.)
4. Put yourself in a time-out if needed. (Comical.)
5. Always be respectful. (How I wish this was gospel.)
6. No farting at the dinner table. (They're not letting them go at the table --yes! -- but burping is another story.)
7. No posturing. (I am overwhelmed by testosterone.)
8. No testing stepmom/dad. (Every day is a test.)
9. No throwing.(Ha...)
10. No attitudes. (Ha...)
11. No grabbing toys; take turns. (Ha!)

So far, they follow, on average, zero of the rules they created on any given day. Sure, there are times when the stars align and they interact without intervention, but they are rare (like a Kim Kardashian fully clothed sighting). I understand their worlds have been turned upside down because their parents fell in love. I understand they are posturing for their place in this new family. I understand they are two growing, changing, evolving young boys dealing with emerging circumstances. And, yes, I understand that most biological siblings bicker about nothing all day, every day. I understand it all, but it doesn't make it any easier to endure.

Do you have any tips for making a perfectly imperfect parfait from two families?