So, we’ve been a so-called blended family now for several years – first unofficially, then officially and now with our status sanctified by marriage. Does it get any easier?
I don’t think it does.
To be fair, normal parenthood can be pretty damn stretching. Many is the time I’ve hit the bottle after a day with the girls and watched crap telly, my brain reduced to mulch by the demands of umpiring their squabbles. But, with your own children, there is somehow an insulating layer of love, which never goes away, however poisonous the behaviour meted out. I try to believe that the increased objectivity you have with other people’s children is actually a useful thing – any disputes do not have the fire you can feel with your own nearest and dearest. There is nothing like your own flesh and blood for winding you up. But, in the end, you can just sometimes feel the distance and sense of otherness more strongly than anything else.
Of course, there is one family to blame for all our high expectations of blended life. Yes, that’s right, the Brady Bunch. Those six impossibly cute kids, with a light sprinkling of problems that could be easily resolved to everyone’s liking in half an hour, with ads.
Most importantly of all, the two parents, charming, blonde haired Mom and the handsome, dark-haired Dad, did not have exes hanging about. Whether they were conveniently dead, or whether their respective divorces had been so heinous that their names were never mentioned again, there was no sign of them at all. No one changed a plan at the last moment. No one objected to the kids being taken away with certain friends, or insisted they had to be back with them by 6 on the dot. No one, subtly, dripped poison into children’s ears about the unfairness of life and they way they had been martyred by their former partner. No one accidentally forgot a cheque, double-booked or whined.
That’s not to say that life can’t be fun in the blender. It can, and often is, and I’m sure will be more often. But a blender is a blender – by its very nature, it chops everything up and squishes it all around. It can be a bumpy ride. But one day, maybe, we’ll make it – and become a smoothie family, like those blimmin Bradys.