Sharing a Dance

Llamas, Fishing Poles And a Wedding

On August 30, 2019, We gathered our Famtourage together to celebrate the wedding of our second son Je and his new bride S. My husband C had the honor of marrying them.

The day started with Mimosas and pastries in the brides room and coffee, donuts and I suspect a little Jack Daniels in the grooms room (which was actually C & my suite.)

After sending the bridal party off to the venue for a “First Look” and photo’s, we parents got ourselves ready for the big event.

I even helped my Ex Big J’s wife tame her naturally curly hair. (Now that’s what I call trust…lol.) I’m sure she would do the same for me.

We could not have asked for a more picture perfect day for the happy couple. Although there was a bit of sadness that our entire family could not be together to celebrate, we all had a fantastic day full of beauty enjoying the gorgeous venue property (Llamas and all) and an evening full of love and laughter (and a lot of dancing.)

It also made me very happy to know what a respectful, loving, son we’ve raised.

When it was time, I shared the emotional Mother & Son dance with R. She has been Je’s Step-mother most of his life and she deserved the honor of a dance on his special day.

In the past I have shared these special moments such as mother son banquets, football mom moments and Senior Nights with R. It wasn’t always easy and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a hard in the earlier years, but I can honestly say that it was my pleasure to watch her dance with our son this past weekend.

R hesitated for just a split second and looked at me when she was called up and I gave her a quick sign of reassurance that I was more than ok with it.

https://www.marthastewartweddings.com/637858/how-to-include-mom-and-stepmom-in-wedding

It also made me very happy to know what a respectful, loving, son we’ve raised. A couple of months ago he said to me “I already know what your answer will be, but I wanted to ask you if you would mind if I have a mother son dance with R too?” Just the fact that he was comfortable asking and didn’t have to worry about what my answer would be, gives me peace.

From the first news of Je & S’s engagement, to the last dance of the wedding, Big J, R, C and I all worked together to make sure the kids had the best day possible.

R, Big J, me and C Enjoying the sunset

It truly was a group effort with lots of help, love and support from S’s family too. Her Matron of Honor and her wife were rockstars and such a huge support for Je & S. They are blessed to be surrounded by so many that love them.

Matron of Honor with her wife and S & Je

We could not have asked for a more picture perfect day.

And after all was said and done. R and I surprised the happy couple by purchasing decorative items and special treats for their Honeymoon Suite up at R & Big J’s lake house. They loved their surprise!

And they lived happily ever after…

Where is the baby going to sleep?

One of the sweetest most endearing memories to me was when I was pregnant with our daughter Ry and Big J and R’s son Ja was almost 4. When he saw that we were preparing a nursery at our home, he was super concerned that the baby wouldn’t have a place to sleep at his house.

You see, Ja had thought that when his brothers came to stay at his house every other weekend, that the new baby would be coming too. Try explaining to a toddler why that wouldn’t be the case. He didn’t understand.

“I never in my wildest dreams would have believed it.”

Big J and R offered to loan us their crib to use for our new baby. We had not yet purchased a crib and I had gotten rid of crib I used for my three boys years ago. So, we graciously excepted Ja’s Crib. He thought that was pretty special and we thanked him for letting us borrow it.

Our beautiful baby girl with her oldest brother J

Even now as I write these words, it blows my mind that we were able to get to this place where Ry spent her first couple of years in the same crib that my ex-husband Big J and his wife R had used for their son. If you had told me that this would be the case even five years before, I never in my wildest dreams would have believed it.

If I Had a Dollar…

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me about my blended family, I would have had a really nice pair of shoes.

It never seems to fail that when our Famtourage is out and about, someone will come over to inquire about our crazy crew. This was especially true in the beginning when the boys were very young and the soccer fields took over our lives most every weekend.

The four of us parents would be sitting there cheering them on and of course as kids do, the siblings would come up and ask about snacks, the bathroom etc. and others would overhear our conversations and try to figure us out on their own.

‘At some point they would figure out that we were ex’s hanging out together…’

At some point they would figure out that we were ex’s hanging out together, curiosity would get the best of them, and they would have to come ask questions or want an explanation as to how we all got along so well. https://www.2houses.com/en/blog/from-ex-spouse-to-friend-reinventing-relationships-after-divorce

Some of our Clan at one of Je’s football games.

At one such game about 18 years ago, a woman was so bold that she walked over with her portable chair, plunked it down right in front of me and said “Please explain this to me. Are you really here with your husband, your ex-husband and his wife?!” After filling her in on our family configuration she said “Ya’ll should be on the Oprah Winfrey show.” Maybe we should 🙂 http://www.oprah.com/index.html

Am I the Only One?

I have combed the internet looking for other blogs on blended families from the ‘Moms’ point of view, and I am telling you, I cannot find a single one. On the other hand, the choice of blogs written from a stepmoms point of view are literally endless.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/196680708703188956/?lp=true

Don’t get me wrong…I am very happy that there are so many wonderful stepmom blogs out there. I really enjoy and frequently visit these blogs. They bring a very enlightening and informative perspective on blended family living. I’m just shocked that I can’t find any blogs written from the moms perspective.

Is there anybody out there?

If you know of any other ‘mom perspective’ blogs on blended families, please leave a comment below. I would love to connect.

Our take on Holidays

All Are Welcome!

The holidays can be a stressful time of year for anyone, let alone children of divorce. They have the added stress of trying to make everyone happy and as they get older and develop relationships of their own, the number of people they are trying to keep happy multiplies.

When our boys were very young, just after their new brother Ja was born and before our daughter was born, my husband and I decided to extend an “olive branch” https://grammarist.com/usage/olive-branch/ to Big J, R and their extended families to join us for Christmas dinner.

The main reason behind it was that we were on a schedule that rotated on a yearly basis. One of us had the boys for Christmas Eve and the other Christmas day. The next year, it would be just the opposite. The boys were still very young at the time and it upset them to have to leave to go to the other parents house, just shortly after opening all their Christmas presents.

“We could see the signs of them being torn …”

We could see the signs of them being torn between parents and houses. Our thought was that it would take a lot of pressure off of all of them (and all of us,) if we could bring everyone together and show them that we all could get along and celebrate the holidays together. https://www.kainenlawgroup.com/can-you-and-your-ex-be-together-over-the-holidays-for-your-kids/

The invitation was excepted and much to our delight, it went so well that the next year, Big J and R extended the invite to C and me along with our extended family members. It started a tradition that continues to this day almost 21 years later.

Thanksgiving 2017 at Big J & R’s (even our even our International student guests were included)

Even though the boys are in their late 20’s and early 30’s, we still all get together for the different holidays every year. This allows them to be able to celebrate with all of us at one time. They are very thankful for this. As it makes their lives easier to divide their time with their spouses, fiance’s, and girlfriends families.

Walking on Eggshells

It was a difficult and awkward time

There are times in our Famtourage that life is fun and easy.

There are also those times when I (we all) struggle to keep everyone happy. In a group the size of our clan, this can prove to be challenging. I have used the term ‘Walking on Eggshells’ https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/walk_on_eggshells to describe different situations I have been in.

In the beginning, before I had met C and the separation and divorce was still new, I wasn’t always the kindest or understanding person to R and Big J.

I wasn’t always the kindest or understanding person…”

At that time the eggshells that I walked on were for the benefit of my children. I did not want to be disrespectful to either of them in front of the boys. Big J was a good father and what had happened was between us, it had nothing to do with our three little boys.

The boys and Me on our first trip as a single mom -1993

It was important to me that the boys always felt safe, secure, and loved on the weekends they spent with R and Big J. But most of all, I never wanted them to be made to feel guilty about being with one parent or the other. I had watched other families torn apart by such anger, jealousy and bitterness and I was bound and determined not to let that happen to our children.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/3-reasons-to-honor-and-re_b_10428114

This was probably the most difficult time for me in terms of our blended family. We were far from the ‘Famtourage’ that we are now. Back then I held a lot in. I did a lot of soul searching and I tried to create some semblance of peace, not only for the boys, but for myself. I felt very much alone.

I found myself having to fight this intense, innate, and animalistic need to protect my boys.

In the beginning, I truly was not prepared for the incredible urgency I felt each time I said goodbye to the boys. I found myself having to fight this intense, innate, and animalistic, need to protect them.

It literally caused me physical pain to see or even imagine my boys being cared for by the hands of another woman. Yet, my rational side kept telling me ‘you want her to be good to them. You want them to feel safe and loved. They need it, they deserve it.’

R was very good with our sons and grew to genuinely care about them. She made sure they were clean, fed, happy and had everything they needed. They didn’t need to worry about packing an overnight bag. She did a great job of making it comfortable for them so that they truly felt that they were going to their other ‘home’ and not just their dads house.

And so with time, it got a little easier day by day, month by month, and year by year. R and I began to communicate more and we began to form a more healthy relationship.

“I think the real turning point between R and me was when she and Big J had their son.”

I think the real turning point between R and me was when she and Big J had their son. I brought the three boys to meet their new little brother Ja just hours after he was born and I know that both Big J and R knew and appreciated how emotional that would be for me.

R now knew, and felt that same maternal need to protect her son. She truly realized the kind of love that only a mother can know. We actually had a very touching exchange about that shortly after.

The eggshell effect eventually became easier as time went on, but I still felt as if (and still do on a rare occasion) I needed to watch what I say around R as I did not want to make her or my husband C uncomfortable talking about the past with her husband, my ex.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-do-i-talk-about-my-ex_b_10548752 I cannot speak on her behalf, but I have to suspect that she has felt the same around me.

It is however, almost impossible not to talk about the past when you have spent 12 years with someone and have 3 children together. They were a huge part of your life and a big chapter in your story. It is this past that makes us part of who we all are today.

You cannot avoid these conversations and have a true friendship or relationship with someone, if you constantly have to think about every word you are saying. We have all worked together as a team on this and I think we have had great success.

Over the past 27 years that uneasiness has all but disappeared with R. We even have our own inside jokes and poke fun when discussing Big J or C. My ex-husband and my husband could not be any more different, yet they get along beautifully. This weekend they are together celebrating our son’s Bachelor party.

“Once again there are eggshells beneath my feet.”

Our family has grown over the years and all the boys now have significant others. Once again there are eggshells beneath my feet.

Each one of their girls has a very different personality and way of interacting with all of us. I believe in time it might get a bit easier. It is just a matter of getting to know each other better and being open and honest with one another. Communication is key to any relationship.

R, Ja, K, D, E, J, S & Je

I hate eggshells. I just want to be able to relax and enjoy my family. I hope and I pray for the day when I can just sweep all those shells away… https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/156441890/posts/616

“Blended Family”

This Painting depicts the strength, growth and courage it took to build our 'Famtourage'.
We have been broken, we have been bent, we have grown together into our beautiful blended family. ~Tami Kidd-Brown

I wanted to share this diptych https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diptych that I painted earlier this year. I gave it the title Blended Family and it is truly my inspiration behind starting this ‘Famtourage’ blog.

The left side of the painting represents me and my family and the right side represents my ex, his wife and their son.

At the base of both trees you will notice hot embers deeply rooted and coming out of the ashes. This area represents the pain, anger and volatile nature of the divorce.

Slightly above that point you will notice the trunks beginning to bend as our families worked and struggled to figure out how to co-exist and be the best parents we could be to our children by being the best respectful adults we could be to each other. http://www.steppingthrough.com.au/stepfamilies-respect/

Olive Branches were extended

A few years into the process as we each had children with our new spouses, olive branches were extended, our families grew closer and stronger, and the branches began to intertwine.

Through the process of years of working together as a team, allowing ourselves forgiveness, grace, respect and ultimately appreciation for one another, our tree blossomed and bloomed just as our genuine friendship has. The yellow blossoms on the trees represent each member of our immediate blended family.

I have future plans to add blossoms of another color for all of the additions to the family.

Meet Our Family

St. Paddy’s Celebration with the gang Clockwise from the left S, Je, ‘Big J’, my mom a.k.a. ‘Nana’, Auntie P, me, D, R & K (not pictured J & E)

So, here is the rundown of our crazy cool family. There is C and I (married for 21 years this Sat.)

Together we have our 17 year old daughter Ry, and C has been ‘Bonus Dad’ to our 3 sons J (33), Je (31) and D (28) since they were 6, 9 & 11.

The Siblings
Ry, Ja, D, J & Je

Next on the team you have “Big J” (my Ex-husband) and his wife R who has been ‘Bonus Mom’ to our sons since they were 2, 5 & 7. Together they have a son named Ja (21). Although Ja and Ry do not share any blood relation, they have grown up together and have always considered each other siblings in some sort of fashion. https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/244407/a-word-for-someone-who-you-share-a-half-sibling-with

3 years ago we welcomed our daughter-in-law E to the family and just this past December, our 1st grandson together as co-grandparents.

Next month on 8/30/19 we are excited to welcome another daughter-in-law into the family as our son Je weds his love S.

R and I will be working together with S’s family to ‘shower’ her this weekend.

More on our Famtourage gatherings coming soon. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.

Note: I have left actual names out to protect the privacy of family members. Here is the Code:

C = my husband

Big J = my ex-husband

R = my ex’s wife

J= 1st born son

Je=2nd born son

D=3rd born son

Ry=C & my daughter

Ja=Ex & wifes son

Nana=My mom

E= daughter-in-law

S=soon to be daughter-in-law

K=youngest sons significant other

G=grandson

P=Pat (Honorary Aunt)

Our Crazy, Wonderful, Blended Family

Welcome to our Famtourage

Being in a blended family can be challenging I’m not going to lie, but when you take the time and care that it needs to get it right, it can be so rewarding.

Why blog about it?

  • My hope is that by sharing what works and doesn’t work for my own famtourage, I can possibly help other blended families be successful with theirs.
  • To give others an inside look at the dynamics of our unusually close blended family.
My husband C and me, our oldest son J, bonus mom R and my ex-husband Big J

Without getting into personal details of my divorce over 25 years ago I want you to know that even under the most trying and painful circumstances we were all able to come together and make the best life possible for our children. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/parenting-family/co-parenting-tips-for-divorced-parents.htm

I look forward to getting to know all of you and hearing about your successes and failures with your blended family. I welcome your comments and feedback.

Tami Kidd-Brown

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