I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
August 25, 2015
This post was sponsored by Tylenol.
At eight, my son is getting to the age now where he’s realizing that all families aren’t alike.
“Maybe you and Dad could get divorced some time,” he mused a few months ago over an afternoon snack.
“What?” I asked, surprised. “Why would you say a thing like that?”
“Because then I could have two houses, like Joey!” he said excitedly.
“I hate to break it to you, kid,” I laughed, “but Dad and I are not getting divorced. Sorry.”
“I knew it,” he said with a mischievous smile.
Clearly, I’m not troubled by comments like this from my son — but that’s only because this is not my first rodeo. My stepdaughters are grown now, but I’ve been in their lives since they were eight and ten years old. Within a few years of my marriage to their father, they came to live with us full-time. Of course I could never take the place of their mother and thankfully, I knew better than to try, but emotions aside, I did take on the lion’s share of what would have been her job. To make things even more interesting, just as the girls hit puberty, I had two children of my own.
With toddlers and teens in the house at the same time, life was certainly never boring. I learned the ropes of parenting on the fly and did some things right and some things very, very wrong. But looking back, I know I gave the role everything I had and the challenges I faced have made me a much better parent today.
I am, thanks to my stepdaughters, the kind of mom who can laugh when my son innocently suggests that my husband and I get divorced, instead of worrying what this says about him or about about me and my husband. I’m the kind of mom who really does cherish every single moment with my little ones, because I know the day will come when they no longer want to hold my hand or snuggle with me on the sofa or invite me to eat lunch with them at school — and that day will come much sooner than I had expected. I’m the kind of mom now who knows how important it is to give my kids a little more freedom to soar or fail on their own each year so that they can handle all of the choices they’ll face as teenagers. And I’m the kind of mom who realizes that my children aren’t extensions of me. They are uniquely themselves, and the decisions they make as adults will not be a direct result of what I did or didn’t do while raising them.
These are all things I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t spent the last 13 years as a stepmother. I am so grateful to have gained these kinds of insights to help me as we parent our second round of kids.
And of course, the good news about teens is that it does, in fact, get easier once they reach adulthood. Today, my stepdaughters are doing great, and our little ones are their biggest fans — and sometimes, their biggest critics! Yes, our family tree has some very complex twists, turns, and detours, but we unconditionally have each others’ backs. We put each other first. We have a big, big love between us, that grows richer every year.
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