If I had my own theme song it would tell the story of a single mom and a single dad raising kids of their own till they came together to form a family that includes a teenage boy who ignores everyone in the house, a teenage girl who has something snarky to say about everyone and everything, and a 10 year old spaz who hides as much as possible to avoid getting bossed around by the rest of the household.
And that’s the way we became the Dysfunctional Bunch.
When I broke the news to DQ about Mr. W’s and my engagement, she responded by giving me the silent treatment. Well, not entirely silent. Her exact words were, “Your ring is ugly, and it looks like it doesn’t fit.”
And THEN she gave me the silent treatment.
Mr. W’s son had also decided to go mute for the rest of the day, though, to be honest, it wasn’t a remarkable change from his usual teenage way of responding to us whenever he just wasn’t in the mood to converse. Luckily, both teens’ silent protest only lasted a day. By dinner the next evening, the ring on my finger was almost forgotten as we went about business as usual, rehashing our day over chicken and potatoes.
However, all this didn’t take away from the tension that seemed to have been building ever since we started talking marriage to the kids. And while the mounting tension hadn’t yet blown, the engagement announcement brought us right to the cusp of the breaking point. As a result, all of us were walking on eggshells around each other, stuffing any resentments over strangeness or differences in the other family way deep inside.
Obviously, this was only going to work for so long.
A few weeks after our engagement was announced, the family woke up early to catch a plane to the Happiest Place on Earth – the Long Beach Airport. And then we drove the rest of the way to Disneyland. The vacation had been planned for almost a year. And the way the family was starting to feel like an “us against them” in regards to every difference imaginable, it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
Mr. W’s son caught up on sleep the whole drive to the airport, in the waiting area of the airport, on the plane, after the plane, and once inside the hotel room. His pillow became an extension of his unbrushed head as he racked up roughly 7 hours of sleep for the 3 he had missed by waking up early. When he wasn’t sleeping, he was trying to catch the flailing free-wifi on his laptop, growing more and more frustrated as he was kicked off the Internet. To his father, he was blatantly silent as he pretended to not hear anything his dad had to say to him. But he was courteous and responsive to me – even going so far as to direct questions to me. It was his passive protest, knowing that talking to me and not his dad would dig this hole of dismissal even deeper.
DQ hunched over her phone almost the whole vacation, typing furiously to her latest love interest as she made no bones about wanting to be back home with him and her friends instead of being held captive by her family. If I so much as left my iPhone unattended, she’d snatch it up and hack into it, wearing down my battery so she could catch up on her Facebook. And even though I graced her with every single ride she loved at the park, It’s a Small World had her threatening to jump overboard, taking small children with her if she had to.
And the Taz had about a day and a half of Disney excitement in him, and barely even that. By the end of the second day of our three-day vacation, he let us know that Disneyland was NOT the happiest place on earth (because, duh, the Long Beach Airport is).
However, this mini-vacation was slowly creeping into all of us, joining us together as we experienced all the fun, drama, and extreme exhaustion together. More often than not, I caught all the kids grinning real smiles. And the barriers that had been stubbornly kept in place were starting to evaporate. The most amazing parts were when the kids would actually speak with each other instead of just tolerating each other’s existence.
And now that we’re back from vacation, the calm is evident as an unspoken acceptance about our blended family rises to the top. Don’t get me wrong, the awkwardness still remains. All this is still a work in progress. But that’s what we’re doing – working on building this permanent new family while respecting the families our children treasure from our separate pasts. DQ even admitted that my ring isn’t that ugly.
I think we’re going to be ok.
(Just catching up? CLICK HERE to read all about our family’s engagement story)