My Lemons to Lemonade Family

By Diane Stark

“Here comes the bride, all fat and wide! Where is the groom, he’s in the bathroom,” sang my daughter and my very-soon-to-be stepdaughter. They looked absolutely adorable in their flower girl dresses.

“Hey!” I said, shooting them a look in the rearview mirror. “When we get to that church and I put on my dress, I better not look all fat and wide!”

Both girls giggled and assured me that I did indeed look beautiful – and skinny! – in my white wedding dress. Technically, it is ivory, I thought, with this being my second time around and all.

But the girls were oblivious to my thoughts. They had already gone back to their song.

Here’s to new beginnings, I thought. But out loud, I said, “Here comes the bride, all fat and wide!” And the three of us giggled all the way to the church.

Our new beginning certainly started out with a bang – and a Caribbean cruise – but we’ve definitely had our ups and downs since then. We’ve had days when our “his and hers” children are gelling so well that I feel we’ve always been a family. But, we also have days when they seem to hate one another, and I wonder if we made a mistake.

Being part of a blended family isn’t easy. Our family was formed because we’d all experienced previous losses. I’m only here because another woman didn’t want to be. I have my husband – and two more children – because she no longer wanted them. Our family began because two other families ended.

It’s not always easy, and like every other mother, there are times when I just want to crawl under the covers and stay there until the youngest one goes away to college. But, I also have moments when the reality of our situation hits home, and all I can do is take a deep breath and be grateful for this second chance.

In one such moment, my 12 year-old stepson said, “Mom, I love you, and you’re a great mother to all four of us kids, but sometimes it’s hard because…” He paused, unsure if he should go on.

I nodded and finished his thought. “I’m only here because your real mom chose not to be here.”

“Yeah, and I’m glad that you’re here, but sometimes I wish…”

I nodded again. “Sometimes you wish that your parents wouldn’t have gotten a divorce.”

He smiled a small, sad smile, but he seemed relieved that I understood what he meant, and that what he said hadn’t hurt my feelings.

I hugged him and told him that his feelings were normal. I said, “Honey, I think everyone feels that way. But, this is what’s happened, and we’re going to make lemonade from the lemons we’ve been given.”

He wrinkled his nose, and I explained, “We’re going to look on the bright side, Sweetheart. We’re going to focus on the positive aspects of our new situation.”

His face broke into a real grin this time. “Well, that’s easy,” he said. “You’re a way better cook than Dad! I was getting really tired of eating Hamburger Helper for dinner every night!”

I laughed, having heard many stories about my husband’s single dad culinary skills. Then I said, “That’s exactly what I meant. What else?”

He thought for a minute. “I always wanted a brother. And now I have a little brother and another sister.”

I nodded, proud of him. The way the children acted sometimes, I wondered if they counted one another as positives, but I was pleased that he said it. “Nice job, Sweetie. We’re focusing on the good stuff here.”

He stared right at me then, deep into my eyes.

“What are you doing, Honey?” I asked.

He looked at me a moment longer and answered, “I’m focusing on the good stuff.”

That lemonade sure tastes sweet.

About this writer

  • Diane Stark Diane Stark is a wife and mom of five. She loves to write about her family and her faith. Her essays have been published in over 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

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