Reintroduction: Family

Reintroduction: Family

I don’t for a second believe that family is only those we are tied to through shared genetics. I grew up with a step-father who is my dad in every way (aside from the obvious biological difference). So I knew from a young age what real family is.

As far as my immediate – husband and children – family goes, there is no higher priority for me. Thankfully my Mr and I look at this from the same perspective. We dedicate time, thought and energy to ensuring that our beautiful blend has an amazing sense of love and security, and shared experiences/ adventures/ memories. Family.

I’ve been blessed with four amazing kids. I love them all. But only my daughter is genetically of me. How could I possibly say that my three step-sons are not my family, just because we don’t share genetics? I can’t.

I love them, I’m proud of them, they frustrate the heck out of me … and vice versa no doubt! As I said to them when their dad and I were engaged, I want to be the “mum-type-person” in their lives as much or as little as they will have me (their mum passed away years earlier from Cancer). I’m lucky that they let me be their mum-person in almost every way. We ARE family.

I experienced a big change in my own family dynamics after my mum passed away. We sure did have to do a reshuffle in the way we think and operate. It wasn’t all smooth, in fact some of the lowest lows for me were related to this transition, but we’re over the bumps now. I’m proud of how we’ve overcome. Not proud of my part in it at the low points but on the other hand,  emotions were running sooooooo high, and … well, I don’t need to revisit it now. We’re good and that makes me happy.

Those bumpy months did show me just how important some people are my life. Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, is worth breaking those special relationships. Those months also illustrated for me the importance of the ‘mum’ role. I think it gave me a bit of a kick to really intentionally be the wife and mum I want for my nearest and dearest.

There’s so much more to write about family but really, I think when I say that my roles as mother, wife, and daughter have become really key in who I am and how I face every day, then I’ve nailed the key points.

|||||This post was prefaced by: Let Me Reintroduce Myself, which you can read here.

 

When 1 + 1 = 8

Earlier this month we went to one of the most beautiful weddings I think I have ever attended. The setting was gorgeous, outdoors under well established trees in a beautiful garden. We sat on hay bails covered with white taffeta as the sun dimpled through the trees. The groom was handsome, the bride was stunning. So were their children. And I don’t think a single person there could deny that God was in ‘the house’. Oh yes, these two are meant to be together.

As much as the setting was gorgeous, for me, my heart-strings were really pulled on a deeper level. I could so relate with this couple. A widower who tragically lost his wife far too young, leaving him to raise their four children. And a young woman raising her twin boys alone. The joining of this gorgeous couple didn’t just bring together a husband and wife, but a big beautifully blended family.

The best man (the groom’s teenage son) spoke of the order his new stepmother would likely bring to the house…as only a woman can! The father of the groom was overwhelmed with joy when he could talk of his son’s renewed happiness after some really awful times. He also reminded the bride that she was inheriting two sets of in-laws with her new husband’s, late-wife’s family as well.

Oh yes, Richard and I could so relate! I’m just so excited for this new Mr&Mrs. It’s not an ‘everyday’ beginning to a marriage but it’s one I have lived. And continue to live. It’s not an easy beginning to a marriage but are any of the beginnings really easy, if we’re honest? Besides, there are also some really cool aspects that I pray work as well in their life, as they have in ours. The growing bonds between step-siblings, the very extended family, the maturity and experience brought to the marriage from the outset.

These are gifts.

the secret to happy marriage #goodadvice #instablogging #abbiesbabbleSomething I took away from the Pastor’s message was a little nugget of wisdom gleaned from a couple who had been married for 65 years. When asked what their secret to a successful marriage was, they said “we come from a time when, if something broke, we fixed it”. Isn’t that beautiful?! Words to live by I think, I’m getting a bit fed up with this ‘disposable life’ that seems to be so fashionable now. But that’s a whole different blog post…

 

CC Image background It’s All About Love by Candida.Performa via Flickr
abbie123

To my strong-willed, passionate, very loved, almost-8-year-old daughter

Dear Nat

You have had a rough time lately and I want to encourage you. I want to tell you that you are amazing. I want you to know that even though we do most definitely have our challenges, we are going to work it out. I want to tell you (again and forever) just how loved and special you are to me.

Baby girl in your short life you’ve dealt with a lot. I say that carefully, because I know a lot of other kids have dealt with a lot too. Some of their things bigger. But you know what, in your life, you have dealt with a lot of big loss and change among other things, and I don’t want to take away from that. Nor do I want those things to define who you become in a bad way.

Yes your dad left you, pretty much at birth. I know what it is to be abandoned by your father, not so young, but I understand. I know that it makes it hard for you to trust people, especially Richard. It’s like a part of you, even though you don’t want it, is waiting for him to reject you like your father did. And I know that’s why you are so hot and cold with him. But my darling, you can trust him. He is learning to be your dad as much as you are learning to be his daughter. Please know I chose very carefully, he IS a wonderful husband and father and when you are ready, you will see that. He loves you. He makes mistakes, we all do, but he loves you. He is also sent from God. Harris6 is a family that is meant to be together and nothing will separate us. But know that I understand how you feel, it took me many years to accept my step-father too and you know that I now look at Pop-Pop as my only dad. Hang in there and trust. Trust me, trust Richard but most of all trust God’s plan for our family.

You live your life with so much passion – your emotions are so clearly on the very outside, you feel EVERYTHING so intensely. Good and bad. You are also a VERY strong-willed young lady. More than me and more than your Gee. That’s big, because you know that my mum and I are very strong ladies! These are not bad things. They can be good things if you are willing to learn about them. They definitely challenge me as your mum because at the moment, you want to question and defy pretty much everything I say and ask of you. Some days I feel like I’ve spent the day fighting a battle with you and that’s hard. I have always taught you obedience. How many times do you hear me say ‘obey straight away’? But I’m learning. I’m learning that it’s not your nature. That you need to know the reasons why, that you need to know what’s coming up, that I need to roll with it a little more and the less I fight your fighting back, the more we can get done. I’m trying baby. Every single day I’m trying to be the best mum I can – you hear me pray every night for God to guide me as your parent to help you be the best you can be, and I mean that from the bottom of my big toe.

Even on the days where your yelling and screaming and crying pushes me to the edge of crying myself, I never stop loving you. I never will bubba. I will love you to the end of the world and back. Sometimes I think your behaviour is purely to test this. Especially when I tell you I love you and you say ‘but how can you when I’ve been so naughty’. You will always get the same answer from me. “I will always love you. I might not like your behaviour but I will always love you. Nothing you can do will push me away or make me stop loving you. Same as God”. You don’t need to fear rejection from me baby. I will never do that to you.

Your strong will and passion will see you go far in life. I believe you have leadership inside of you. When you were dedicated Pastor Jack saw and prayed amazing things over your life. NEVER forget that. Sometimes, in the moment, when your emotions are running on super drive, remember that God is always working on us, always teaching us. He didn’t plant these amazing things in you to not use you for greatness in some way. And I will be your biggest cheerleader all the way.

Your Gee was also one of your biggest cheerleaders. One of her biggest sadnesses when she got really sick was that she wasn’t going to see you grow up. Wasn’t going to see you finish school, university, have a family of your own. She loved you so much and I know you loved her too. You are so lucky to have had such a special bond with a grandparent. I know you miss her crazy much, I do too. And that’s okay. You never have to stop missing her. Just know that you always carry her in your heart and she’s watching you from heaven cheering you on in everything you choose to do. Pop Pop is still here and he loves you as much as Gee did. I know it’s hard when he lives in a different town but you still get to see him and we’ll make sure you still get your special weekends with him.

You see beautiful girl, you are loved. So very loved.

Keep living a big life my girl. I think you are learning about friendships now and understanding what it is that makes a good friend. I hope for you to be a good friend and to make good choices about the people in your life. Choose people who make you the best version of you – and do that for them too. Don’t change who you are because of what someone else says or does. Don’t try to be anything other than yourself: an amazing kind and caring person who throws their whole heart into life. You don’t have to be the best at anything. You have to live a happy life and be willing to work hard. Let God direct your path, remain teachable.

Every night before I go to bed I come into your room. I switch your lamp off and kiss your cheek. And in that moment Natty, anything bad we said or did that day has disappeared. My heart grows with a wave of love for you. Together, we can work through anything. I love you so much I can’t even explain. You’ll understand one day.

Be strong, be you.

Blessings

Mummy x

Your than you

AbbiesBabble

Making Memories

While super-glue is one potential way to bond a family together, as parents, we firmly believe it’s our job to come up with ways to create a lasting bond between our brood. This is especially important in a blended family context.

As our family grows and they eventually leave home, we want the kids to want to come back home to visit. We want our children to be friends, we want their children to know each other. And of course we want to be involved in the lives of our grandchildren (when they come). I want to be cooking for a LOT of people at Christmas, birthdays and lots of days in between for decades ahead!!!

To just expect this to happen, I would suggest is naive. No, Richard and I are very intentional about spending time as a family now and building the foundations for a family who sticks together for the long haul. I’m talking about shared experiences that the six of us will remember for a lifetime. Fun family times, creating laughter and memories that we can lean on when the going gets tough.

We have the everyday things. We eat dinner together around the table every night – which ranges from some serious conversations to the absolutely ridiculous! We attend each others sporting events and prize-givings etc. We attend church as a family most weeks (although to be fair, the kids head off in the direction of their friends pretty much as soon as we arrive!). Sometimes we just pull the curtains and spend the afternoon watching movies and eating popcorn.

And here’s our new fun:

caravan

Yep, we are going to spend our summers camping and tramping. The camping in the caravan, instead of tenting, will give us so much more flexibility. We’ll be able to take impromptu trips when the weather looks good as this uber-organised mama will always have it packed ready to go. It’ll just be a case of grab a change of clothes and away we drive.

We’re all very excited about this phase of adventures and all the new beaches and bush areas we will be exploring together…

AbbiesBabble

 

WOULD THE REAL ME PLEASE STAND UP

WOULD THE REAL ME PLEASE STAND UP

I haven’t been posting so much the last couple of weeks. I don’t know what to say. Which is VERY unusual for me. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write, it’s that there’s just so much.

I’ve mentioned before that I feel like I’m in a real transitory place – accepting a new life in a blended family (it will be two years in December so not so ‘new’ really) and working out where and how I fit. Thing is, I spent so much time making sure everyone else in the family was ok, I didn’t work on me. And I got lost. So very lost.

So now I’m at a point where I really have to spend some time working out who I am. It’s going to be a process.  I’ve got a lot of thinking to do and have no doubt it will appear in future posts. I’ve never been scared to write about what’s deeply personal and close to my heart!

I want to be true and authentic. And I want to be happy. At the moment, there’s too much empty and lost, to be properly and consistently happy. But I do know that happy is within reach. And I do know:

I can’t do this alone. Continue reading “WOULD THE REAL ME PLEASE STAND UP”

MY MARVELOUS MR.

Let’s just get this said up front. I’m not writing this for brownie points. I mean everything I say (write).

I have one very truly amazing husband.

There are a lot of blog posts, and comments in general, about husbands who don’t do enough around the house, husbands who don’t spend enough time with kids and just downright negative blah blah blah.

I’d like to break that trend. Continue reading “MY MARVELOUS MR.”

WHY LOWERING STANDARDS IS AWESOME

perfection vs realismThere have been many lessons for all of us to learn in the blending of Harris6. A big one for me has been to be realistic.

Honestly, perfection just does not sit well in a house of six, four of them children, four of them males! It’s been a long road but I have finally started to relax my standards of what is acceptable in the home, and of myself, and oh my goodness, the relief is just a little bit a-may-zing! Continue reading “WHY LOWERING STANDARDS IS AWESOME”

LABELS: HIS HERS MINE YOURS OURS

LabelsThroughout life there are labels foisted upon us, we no doubt impose labels on ourselves as well. Some are necessary, it’s how we categorise the world. To be honest, I think labels are all about perception, so what one person may label us is quite possibly the complete opposite of what society may label us. But that’s a whole different post.

The specific labels I’ve been thinking about a lot lately are to do with our family.

We are a blended family, just 18 short months into our journey together. Before the blend there was ‘Abbie&Nat’ and ‘Richard with his Three Amigos’. I guess we came into our new life with labels. Richard was a widower. I had the less respectable divorced single mother labels to carry. Now we love the ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ titles (and roles!).

Very quickly, and very intentionally, we started talking about ‘we’ and ‘us’ as a couple and a family, and referring to the kids as ‘brothers and sister’. We also started referring to the children as ‘ours’. Because they are. Ours, that is. Continue reading “LABELS: HIS HERS MINE YOURS OURS”