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One thing that Instagram always reminds me of is that we have a blended family. What I mean is Instagram reminds me that I have a child from a previous relationship.  Alyssa Taylor, my beautiful 16-year-old daughter, is not my husband Claudio’s daughter.  I had her when I was 20 years old and in a previous relationship with her father.  We were together for 7 years and when she was 3, I became a single mother.  I was technically single for 10 years and then married my now husband in 2013 when Alyssa was 13.

The definition of a blended family is as follows:

blendedfamily

The reason I say that Instagram reminds me that we have a blended family is because I always post pictures of Juliette Grace and baby Penelope and not of Alyssa.  One of the biggest reasons I mostly post pictures of Juliette is because Alyssa doesn’t like when I take pictures of her, let alone post them on social media. Also, babies and toddlers are so fun to take pictures of!  However, one thing I never want others to think is that I “love” Juliette Grace more because I’m always posting things about her or not mentioning Alyssa.

I don’t know why I even worry about this. I realize I may sound silly. Those that know our family know that Alyssa is such a wonderful part of our little family.  She brings us so much joy. Reality is, I can’t control what others think or feel but I know how I feel about my daughters….social media or not.

Also…let’s be real.  Alyssa Taylor is a teenager and it’s not “cool” for her mom to take videos or pics of her and post them. She’s embarrassed enough that her mom and stepdad have SnapChat and Instagram accounts.  Let alone we think we’re cool and young and we post things about her.  Mostly it’s funny to her but when she’s at home with no makeup and she’s doing her homework, she doesn’t want a camera in her face.

I think one reason people may not discuss this is because they don’t want to alienate the child(ren) about the fact that they are “different”.  Alyssa doesn’t have the same last name we all have and duh, she is very aware of that.

OTHER BLENDED FAMILIES

It seems as though more and more families are sharing moments online but no one really shares if they are a blended family. A few days ago I just found out that one of the style bloggers I follow, is a stepmother to her husband’s two children.  I was both shocked and excited. “I”m not alone!”  That’s what I immediately thought. There actually are other blended families.

I have 3 older sisters and like me, they all had a child from a previous relationship when they met their current husbands (who by the way did not have any children of their own.) Neither did my husband. Also, my sister-in-law married a man who had a son from a previous relationship as well. I share that to say that I do KNOW that there are other blended families out there but I don’t see many people talking about it.

Having dated someone that had a child from a previous relationship, I will say that it’s not easy to do.  It comes with a lot of challenges such as having the person’s ex (child’s father or mother) sometimes as a constant topic in your relationship.  Your significant other has to raise their child and that typically involves including the other parent. They probably have to see them regularly for drop-offs and pick-ups.  Also, if the relationship isn’t in good standing, they may fight a lot and that could bleed into your guys’ relationship.

Needless to say it comes with ups and downs but when you love your partner, you will love their child and accept any challenges involved in being their partner.

It’s funny, my husband shared with me that he NEVER wanted to marry someone with a child.   Then he met me. Like they say….you make plans and God laughs.  He knows better.  And he also knows what will grow you as a person.  My husband loves Alyssa so much and says he couldn’t imagine not having us in his life.

STEPPARENTS

I thank God everyday that I fell in love with and married Claudio.  He is one of the sweetest and most patient people I have ever met.  When we were first married we decided it would be a good idea to have him co-parent with me.  He helped me discipline Alyssa a few times and we learned that for their relationship it was best that I be the disciplinarian.

Mind you…he met Alyssa when she was 12 years old and we got married when she was 13.  He basically inherited a teenage daughter overnight.  Although she respected and loved him, his disciplining style was a little different than mine and Alyssa didn’t take well to it.  She became very introverted and was so hurt that she didn’t want to share her time with us.

Claudio and I discussed things and chose to make me the parent that would discipline Alyssa.  We knew that eventually we would have more children and he would have more than enough time to correct and help our kids’ behavior.  He knows I had been a mother for 13 years and had so far raised a very well-behaved young lady.  He trusts my mothering skills and to this day if Alyssa needs a good smack on the butt, I’ve got it covered.

PLEASE NOTE: We realize that this isn’t the parenting model that most choose to implore but it works really well for us.

I do, however, ALWAYS consult with him for any parenting decisions I make about and for Alyssa. Claudio is an amazing father and role model for Alyssa.

She doesn’t call him “Dad” either.  Alyssa’s father is very involved in her life and she has her dad.  We’ve allowed and encouraged her to call him what she feels comfortable calling him. For now it’s by his first name. We like to say that Claudio’s role in her life is like a really cool uncle. He loves her, guides her and looks out for her best interest.

#FUNFACT: Claudio gave Alyssa a beautiful ring during our wedding ceremony to symbolize his commitment to her. Needless to say it brought our friends and family to tears!

CUSTODY SCHEDULE

We share 50/50 custody of Alyssa and her dad and I get along very well.  Because him and I were never married, we don’t have lengthy legal documents outlining our custody schedule however we’ve had the same one for over 13 years and it works really well for our families.  Below is an example of our schedule. X’s represent days we have Alyssa with us.

alyssa-schedule

Then the following week it changes to him having her Monday and Tuesday and I have her Wednesday and Thursday and he has her that weekend. And it goes back and forth like that every week.

We really like our schedule because neither one of us never goes more than 3 days without seeing  Alyssa. Again….every family is so different and this schedule works for us and our lifestyles.

GUIDANCE

My husband has a way with words. He is such a calming force in my life and is the same for Alyssa.  He always reminds me to do the right thing, especially when it comes to being a good role model for Alyssa and shares great ways to communicate with her.  His dad was a pastor for many years and I think that he learned a lot from him.

Alyssa had a very hard time adjusting to life with her stepmother (her dad’s wife) and I’d like to think we offered her a lot of sound and loving advice on how to get along with her.  Alyssa was able to experience a very loving and accepting relationship with Claudio and hopefully learned how adults (stepparents) should interact with their stepchildren.  I’m by no means saying that we are the authority on parenting but we have learned a good rhythm along the way.

Alyssa’s father recently commented to me how proud of me he was in that I’ve always been a good mother to her and that he appreciated my ability to always be flexible with each other’s continuous requests to amend the schedule for family celebrations, holidays or work trips. We went on 3 long family vacations this summer and he allowed us to take her with us each time.  Even flying and going out of state.

It’s been extremely important to me that we are all cordial and respectful. Although we all don’t go out for family dinners together with each others kids and respective spouses, I do hope we can aspire to that in the future!

SMOOTH SAILING

I don’t think any of us set out to break up or divorce our partners.  Especially if we have children with them.  But life happens and sometimes the inevitable occurs. My goal in life is always to evolve for the better and learn from any mistakes I’ve made.  Although my Instagram profile doesn’t represent my real life completely, it does offer a glimpse into my reality.  I’ll still try to snap more pictures of Alyssa Taylor so you can see the sweet soul we have the pleasure of experiencing daily.  But until then, know she lives in my heart as my first true love.

Do you have a blended family? I’d love to know! Comment below and let me know or comment on my instagram post about this blog. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post!

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About Anabell