Combine Ingredients and Blend...

My first indication that the home my boyfriend and I had created between us and our two boys (one each from previous relationships) was just that--a home--sounded like this:

"Yes it is."
"No it isn't."
"Yes it is."
"No it isn't"

It was coming from the backseat of the car as we all headed to my parents' house on Christmas Eve. It sounds terribly cliched, I know. I wouldn't have believed that exact conversation actually happens outside of sitcom scenes, had I not heard it myself.

As much as it annoyed me, as knowing as the glance exchanged between my boyfriend and me was, and as quickly as I wanted the nails-on-the-chalkboard sound of the bickering to end, I gained a new awareness upon hearing it:

This was the sound of Siblinghood (yes, that's a word...now).

It wasn't long, a car ride maybe two weeks later, before I was telling them not to touch each other. Next week I'm sure to hear "I'm not touching youuuuu" as one of their fingers hovers menacingly close to the other's leg or arm or face.

Because that's what siblings DO, right?

Last weekend, we were driving again when I heard my steppy son teasing my son by reminding him he'd left a toy behind where we'd been. Instead of giving the toy back to my son, he was saying "finders keepers" type things, playing with the toy in front of him and (until I stepped in) refusing to give it back. At first (even at second), I was really irked. I couldn't imagine what a 12-year-old would want with a toy a 4-year-old was into.

Then I realized it wasn't about that at all. For the first time in his life, my steppy son is an older brother. It's his JOB to tease the only person in the house smaller than him (for the time being anyway). Likewise, it's my son's job to drive my steppy son crazy by trying to imitate every last thing he does that my son thinks is cool (which is everything, of course). If I really want these two boys to feel like brothers--and I do--I have to recognize that this sort of thing comes with the territory.

Here's what else I realized: the kids are doing it better than I am...the blended family thing.

The mother of two biological sons would never have bothered herself with stepping in to stop an argument unless one of them were on fire. That mother is capable of tuning out all manner of verbal sparring and can probably even ignore a half nelson here or there. She knows they'll work it out on their own.

I am still hypersensitive, super vigilant, (probably over-) protective of my own child in these situations. 

As much time as I spend doing for my steppy son all the things a mother does for her child: cooking and folding laundry and interrogating about homework, I am always aware that he HAS a mom of his own, a real biological mom--and it isn't me. And though my boyfriend and I devote much time to discussing what's best for each of our children, for the most part we still retain a sort of unilateral executive decision making power over our respective domains.

Honestly, this can sometimes make things easier; we skip the difficulty of compromising because we don't always HAVE to, and we don't always have to agree. In the case of a hung jury, the DNA contributor always beats the other interested party (no matter how interested the other party).

On the other hand, our ability to take short cuts around those difficult arrivals at consensus is a reminder that our familial ingredients have yet to fully combine. 

I know these things don't happen overnight. If they did it would be weird. I think it wouldn't show the proper respect for what it truly IS to be completely integrated. And it would also downplay the monumental honor it is to be a child's biological parent. 

Still, our family quilt could certainly be more seamless.

I'm sure those days will come with time. It's a state to look forward to. For now, I'll pause to reflect on and appreciate all these little milestones along the way, no matter how irritating they can sometimes sound from the front seat.


No comments:

Post a Comment