We went to a wedding this weekend, one that was like looking back eight years in the mirror. The groom is a friend of Rob's, 40 something, with no kids. The bride is 30 something with four kids, three girls and a boy. Teenage girls. Except that she has one more daughter than I do, this was our situation.
I have been joking this last month that if anyone asked my advice I would say "Wait til your kids are grown. Don't do it." I'm only half kidding. I think this journey of remarriage and sharing my kids with a new head of household has been the hardest journey of my life. As a mom in general, it is hard to share the raising of your kids with your husband, their dad. As a single mom, you get very used to being the one in charge. When you remarry, there is another adult in the house with opinions that may not match your own. I spent a lot of time feeling like I sold out my big kids, like their lives would've been better if I'd stayed single. Truthfully, I don't think that is a fair statement, but it's how I feel sometimes.
I have learned so much in these last eight years. I have walked through a fire and been refined by it. I have learned submission, compromise, trust, how to forgive. I have learned how to build a different dream, while letting go of what I thought it was going to look like. I have had to turn my kids over to God, more than once, knowing that He is ultimately the One in charge and it is not all up to me to make everyone play nice. I don't need to be the "Holy Spirit" of this family.
So, if anyone calls for my advice, I would tell them this: Grace. Give it freely, but don't wait for it to come your way first. Recognize that every person in the house is a work in progress, which is easy for the mom to do with her kids, but not with her husband. Husband, recognize that the kids are a work in progress. Don't define tomorrow's success by today's failure. Don't let your feelings for your wife be dependent on your feelings for the kids. It's not fair.
Family life is hard, no matter how you end up together, but it could be the vehicle God will use to make you look more like Him. In the end, if you do it His way, it will be worth it.