Monday, 18 November 2013

4 Step-Kids?! Are You Crazy?!

If you're reading this then....I'm officially on DAY 3 of our holiday! Right now...I'm probably lounging by the ocean, listening to the laughter of my children, and baking my skin nice and crisp! Please, peeps, yall know I don't tan! ;-)

I was so excited when Sherry offered to take a place one day as a guest blogger! And you can imagine my excitement overwhelmed when I got to read this story! It fits so perfectly with my own little blog! So, without further ado....hear how Sherry and her Hubby, The Awesome One, met!

I met my husband online. It might not be that unusual in this day and age; you hear stories all the time of so-and-so meeting their respective other half through internet dating sites and the like, but it was unusual in our respective circles of friends.  We didn't meet through a dating site. We met through the fan club of our mutually favourite band, Pearl Jam at the very end of 2009.

I had just ended my marriage and had four kids between the ages of 12 and 4, three girls and my little boy.  I won't go into the hows and whys suffice to say that it was a move I should have made years before; it was a bad situation and it took a fair amount of guts to quit being a doormat and tell him to leave. 

So I met The Awesome One on the Ten Club site, and we started chatting through the forums there. I'll admit the reason I started chatting first up was his profile picture. He had on a leather jacket and a Ramones teeshirt and he had the most awesome mohawk I'd ever seen. I was instantly attracted. Turns out that was a Halloween getup, and he really isn't some closet punk rocker wannabe. Which is ok with me. (He replicated the mohawk for NYE 2012, and my boy decided to do the same)

Cut to the chase and we went from forum chat, to email chat, to video chat. Then we started talking about meeting in person. Despite the best efforts of my friends to scare me out of the idea by suggesting I may be headed to meet an axe-murderer, I booked a return ticket to Minneapolis from Perth, Western Australia and we met face to face. 

I'd be lying if I said it was instantly comfortable. There was a little awkwardness, it'd be weird if there wasn't. But it didn't last, and by the end of the trip we knew we wanted this to go somewhere. We just had to figure out the logistics of it. So we kept chatting daily and we learned a lot about each other. And we still liked each other a lot, which is a bonus!

My kids were going to spend Christmas with their father, which would be the first time in their lives that I would be without them at that time of the year. The thought of spending Christmas alone (all my family are on the other side of Australia), didn't appeal at all.....I could see quite a few bottles of wine for wallowing into in my future. So we talked about it, and I booked another ticket to Minneapolis and we spent our first Christmas together. 

It was during that visit that we started to talk about how he could come to Australia. We knew that for this to have any chance of working we needed to spend more than two weeks with each other. So in May of 2011, The Awesome One said goodbye to his family and friends in Minneapolis where he had lived his entire life, and boarded a plane bound for Australia. 

He initially came out on a Work and Holiday Visa which allowed him to work short term and live here for 12 months. At the end of November we went on a weekend trip to Sydney with my art school friends and I received the loveliest proposal right in front of the Sydney Opera House on a beautiful almost summer night. 

So then we set about applying for a permanent visa after we got married in March 2012. That was granted in a short 7 weeks. I could be cliche and say the rest is history: we now have a beautiful baby girl who is 4 months old and life is pretty great. But then that wouldn't explain the logistics of coming into a household of kids, and how we've made that work would it?

So at first it was kind of awkward for the kids and The Awesome One. They didn't know how to deal with each other; he didn't know if he should try and take an authoritarian role and they didn't know if they were supposed to treat him as a father figure or not. Honestly, all it really took was time. It's one of those things were I wanted everything to be perfect instantly, and it obviously couldn't be. 

It's a learning process. The kids had to learn to respect this man that suddenly came into our lives; I knew I could trust him and he was (is) a wonderful, caring person, but they didn't know that. They hadn't met him beforehand and it was going to take time for them to learn to trust and love him (and vice-versa). I will say I think it helped enormously that he didn't come in all gung-ho and expecting them to listen to him, now! He took it gently, backed me up when I asked for it, and after a while he started exerting some authority and they mostly listened. There were many times when I would have to step in and remind them gently that they needed to do as he told them and they needed to listen and respect him. 

But I think if you as a person are treated with respect, then you will be more inclined to give that respect back in turn. So they did. The relationship with The Eldest One was probably the most trying. Not only was he trying to live with and understand her as a teenage girl, which was hard enough, he had to deal with her emotions over the abandonment of her father and that was hard. But with consistency and gentleness and a reminder to her almost daily at one point, that he wasn't going to leave, she came around. And honestly, they get along well now. They have a decent relationship, and she can joke and give him back the sarcasm he dishes out pretty well! 

The relationship with the younger kids was easier because they were younger. Given enough time, any young child will respond well to love, affection and discipline. 

I'd really like to say we have a happy content and well functioning household now. And we do, of course there are moments were we think we're crazy, and it's kind of chaotic all the time. But it works. So despite his family and friends quite literally saying to him "Four kids?! Are you crazy?!" We've made it work for us, and I can honestly without any shadow of doubt say that we've never been happier. 

This is us all dressed up for Halloween this year. 

My advice to people who are thinking about, or trying to deal with a blended family or Step Parent situation is simple. Take it slowly and gently, be consistent and NEVER let those kids down. Not once, not ever because they will remember and hold it against you. But if you prove that you're there for the long haul, and you treat them with love and respect (even when they're being an obnoxious teenager and you just want to yell and scream back), they will come around and respect and love you for it. 

Please head over and give Sherry some love!
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Shana Danae..

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