Motherhood now: Blended family becomes a unitMarrying my husband was not a ridiculous affair. We had been living together for more than a year, with all four of our children.
By: Moriah Erickson, for the News Tribune
Marrying my husband was not a ridiculous affair. We had been living together for more than a year, with all four of our children. Well, not “ours,” his and mine. I was pregnant with our first — together, anyway. So we figured we’d make it official before the baby came. There was no dress, no tuxedo, no flowers, no hoopla. Just us and Judge Martin, making official what everybody already knew: This was for good.
We had both been married before, had both been divorced. We both had kids, a boy and a girl each, who live with us full-time. What we didn’t realize, getting married, was that we were inheriting each other’s children, and with that, our ex-spouses and all the reasons they were exes. We became America’s typical “blended” family.
The kids still all live with us, and there are more now. Those three that we all share are the glue that sealed this “family” deal, though the first one was more so than the other two. They are the brother and sisters that all our kids have in common. There is no “step-,” and we don’t advocate “half-,” though our exes encourage it. They like to make distinctions like that. What they don’t
understand or agree with is that once we signed that marriage certificate the kids all became “ours.”
We aren’t trying to discredit non-custodial parents, not by any means. They are part-time, and thus aren’t the ones making supper every night, making sure the homework gets done and doing load upon load of hideous laundry. They are the fun-time parents, the ones who take the kids for the weekend and go to the movies. We are the ones who comfort the children when feelings get hurt at school, when someone doesn’t get picked for first chair in band or for varsity sports, when a knee gets skinned on the playground, no matter what. We are the ones who will rearrange an entire week in order to accommodate their schedules instead of just backing out. No, we don’t go to the movies often, but we always, always pick up the pieces.
We aren’t typical, modern parents. Neither of us is involved in PTA. We have strict rules and, with them, consequences, high expectations and appropriate rewards. We do not agonize over whether our children like us, whether we are their friends. We simply demand a certain amount of respect from our children and, when given, will return it.
We are frowned upon when we take our brood places (yes, we all fit in one vehicle, albeit a large one) and the doors open and kid after grubby kid spills out. People expect our children to act in a certain way, based upon appearances, and are pleasantly surprised when they do not. The older children set an example, and the younger children follow it. And yes, there are some things we don’t agree with entirely, like the cursing, but we pick our battles wisely. After all, they’re only words, and everyone seems to know there is a time and a place for them.
I never imagined having a big family like this, and my husband didn’t, either, but here we are, with seven kids between us. People gape at us when we tell them how many kids we have, ask us if we are Catholic or insane, with all the implications that go along with each. They ask us who belongs to whom, and we all laugh. Because his kids are as much mine now as mine are his. The defining lines have been blurred by time and love, making us a singular unit.
Our wedding was not a gala, but it seems our family is. We have been married for four years, and our connections — our “family ties,” if you will — only continue to grow. We don’t celebrate an anniversary for the sheer fact that remembering the date seems foolish. We all know it was a Tuesday, but that doesn’t matter, either. What matters is what everybody already knows: This is for good.
Moriah Erickson is a writer and respiratory therapist for Essentia Health who lives in Duluth’s Woodland neighborhood with her husband, Brian, a self-employed flooring contractor; their voiceless hound dog, Huckleberry; and their seven children.