Sunday, July 11, 2010

One Pizza, One Pool, One Family

Alternatively titled-- Blending Families for Dummies (a book that we obviously need)

Last week I blogged about the challenges that a blended family faces, and one of the issues that we have come up against in the past is spending time together-- just the five of us-- doing something that we can all enjoy.  It may sound simple, but really it isn't.  Trust me.  Here's why:
  1.  The age gap between the boy-os and the princess is just enough so that they have absolutely nothing in common.  Unavoidable.
  2. I share joint custody of the boy-os with their father, so they are only here roughly half the time.  Unavoidable.
  3. The princess is a teenager.  That equals friends, a boyfriend, a job, a team sport, and lots of time in her bedroom.  Understandable.
  4. The princess periodically spends time at her mom's house.  Unavoidable.
  5. Asian husband and I can sometimes be selfish with our time together-- being newly married and all.  Understandable, but can probably be adjusted.
That is not a recipe for easy family bonding.  It is actually the exact recipe for an authentic surface family feel.  Co-existing in the same house, but not really bonding.  We didn't have the luxury of years of baby and toddlerhood to spend together and work through the kinks of children.  We have been thrown into the mix late in the game, after each of us had spent several years of raising our kids on our own.  We are a bit rusty with the kind of work it takes to be a family.  And by that I mean a for-real family, not just a group of people living under one roof.  I used to scoff at the number of failed second marriages that involved two sets of children, but now that I've experienced the reality, I understand it and have a great respect for it.  Because it is a crap ton of work.  A. Crap. Ton. Of. Work. And if you don't pay attention, it can easily crumble right before your eyes.

Luckily, Asian husband and I instituted a plan of action to assist us in this family bonding endeavor.  I call it the "do whatever we can whenever we can" plan or DWWCWWC.  It can be pronounced dee-wick-wick, which makes it fun to say and by extension fun to execute.  This very intricate and detailed plan requires a lot of forethought and careful organizing to ensure everything goes well.  You should take notes.
  1. Target a time when all of the family has intentions of being home and available.
  2. Make plans.
You can see why it has taken us about two years to come up with it. I will pause while you recover from great awe.

This weekend we had ice cream at the local fro-yo place (which I guess would be frozen yogurt, not ice cream, but whatever), had lunch at the local pizzeria, and crashed a relative's community pool with an extra pool pass.  (I was convinced that the Russian lifeguards were on to the fact that we were impostors, but for the sake of the dee-wick-wick plan, I was willing to take the chance.)

They all smiled. At the same time. And no one had a finger up his nose (Gage) or in his mouth (Pacey). 

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