Now where did I lose my mind…
© Susan Hetrick, March 2008
Springtime has always been a happy-go-lucky sort of season. Birds are singing, trees are budding, flowers are springing up, that sort of thing. It seems though, that this particular spring has emerged as a season of busyness and stress.
I keep a master calendar for our entire family. I color-code the calendar entries, with each family member represented by a different color ink. It keeps us organized, and helps me to visualize who needs to be where, when. With four kids at home, it goes without saying that we’re a busy family. In addition to school and homework, Zoni is involved in technical theater and guitar, Tanner has painting and drum lessons, Lysa is either auditioning or rehearsing for a play, and Chase has soccer practice three times a week. Add to that David’s and my own work schedules, appointments, and church activities, not to mention everyone’s social engagements and our calendar gets really full, really fast. I just took a look at our March calendar and noticed that it’s an explosion of color. I only saw one day which didn’t have anything written on it. One day! How in the world did we get so busy?
For those in blended families, our mornings are spent rushing out the door to school and appointments, returning phone calls from the car, and answering email on the fly. Our evenings are spent picking up kids from school, driving them all over town, grabbing dinner at the drive-thru, and then rushing through homework, and falling into bed. In the process, we lose touch with our families, our souls, and our minds. It may be easy to go through the motions, connect the dots and check things off our “to do” lists, but we’re so busy rushing through life, we’ve forgotten how to live.
One of the traps blended families fall into is resorting to a “my kid/my job, your kid/your job” way of thinking. Busy, stressed-out people tend to revert to familiar patterns of behavior. Say Jack’s daughter has a ballet lesson at the same time that Jill’s son has soccer practice; Jack automatically assumes that he will drive to ballet, and Jill will handle the soccer practice. Same old, same old. However, they could try mixing it up on occasion. If Jack took his stepson to soccer, and Jill drove her stepdaughter to ballet, everyone would benefit. The kids get a chance to show off their talent for someone new, and the parents get the chance to better acquaint themselves with their stepchild and cultivate an appreciation for what their spouse does on a regular basis. Stop thinking of the children as “mine” or “yours;” consider all of them “ours.”
Blending a family takes determined effort, lots of love, and plenty of time. Learn to think like a team, define your priorities, and be deliberate about how you live your life. Don’t let the busyness of life eclipse the purpose of your life together as a family. “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.” (Luke 11:17)