He just called us a “broken family”

28 Apr

We're not "broken". We're more like Good Seasons Italian Dressing.

Recently, DH had a few days in which he had to care for his girls during the week.  For us that means 5 kids, 4 different schools in three different school districts and a plethora of afterschool activities all happening simultaneously.   Since I’m still in “step-back” mode and because the schedules of my 3 children are overwhelming enough, DH was his own.  He had to make lunches, drive them to school, pick them up and take them to their after-school activities while working a more-than-full-time job.  Getting home late one night, he looked at me and said, “How do real families do this every day?” 

Wait.  Did he just say “real” families?  He did.  When I pointed that out, he said, “You know what I mean.  Original families, not families that are broken like ours.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh hysterically or smack him upside the head because of the two issues that jumped right out.  First of all, has he not watched me manage the schedules of my 3 children?  If you’re a mom with busy kids or if you’ve ever been a single mom, you know where I’m coming from.  My son swims almost 20 hours a week and my daughter dances 3 times a week.  I manage both of their weekly schedules not to mention meets, shows and the occasional birthday party or sleep over on the weekends, I work full-time and take care of our 3-year old, and he’s going to complain about getting home late one night??  I think he just figured out how hard it is to be a mom. 

The second issue which made me want to smack him is he called us “broken”.  Broken.  This from the man with the biggest pair of rose-colored glasses I’ve ever seen. You’d think he would have picked a better/different word.   I know what he meant: “broken family” is equal to “kids from divorced families”.  But when those same kids join a stepfamily, do you refer to the stepfamily as “broken family”?  I think not.

I’ve heard stepfamilies called several different things: crockpot families, salad bowl families, blended families. With DH labeling us a “broken family”, I got to thinking:  how would I describe our family?   I think at this point in time, our family (two his, two mine, one ours) is best described as an “Italian dressing family”:  we can blend together for short periods and act like a first family (what DH refers to as a “real family”), but over time, we separate again.  Would I like us to eventually become a fully emulsified creamy Ranch dressing family?  Yes.  But it’s going to take time.  In the grand scheme of the universe, we are a fledgling stepfamily.  We’ve only been at this for 5 years and despite our enthusiasm and good intentions, we know that blending our families is a process that doesn’t come with a timeline. 

How would you describe your family?  You can stick with the food analogies for fun!  How does using the term “broken” to describe your family resonate with you?

Postscript:  When I told DH about this post, he said, “I have to say that moms are incredible.  You’ve got a knack that men just don’t have.   I seriously don’t know how you do what you do every day.”  Then he took his club and his bearskin and went back to his cave. 😉

11 Responses to “He just called us a “broken family””

  1. Linda Isenson April 28, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    Its true that moms are incredible – but its not just moms – its women. Men know if they drop the ball, a woman will pick it up. Women know there ain’t nobody else even watching where the damn ball fell. Kudos to both of you…My family is more 1000 Island – too thick to pour so ya gotta spoon it out, chunks of crap and some hair in there courtesy of the dogs.

    PS This blog has become even more helpful to me as I navigate my relationship with my man’s 4 kids – 2 grown, 2 little with different moms…

    • BioStep April 28, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

      Linda….so true. It’s WOMEN that are amazing!!!!

      Glad the blog has become helpful since I NEVER SEE YOU ANYMORE. Feeling guilty? Call me.

  2. Lee April 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    I love this post. I think men don’t realize how hard it is to juggle until they are doing it themselves. I often think what it would be like if we were “normal” family. I don’t say we are broken…just bi coastal and maybe a tad dysfunctional!

    • BioStep April 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

      As Peggy Nolan’s husband says, “Normal is a setting on the dryer.”

      • Deesha April 28, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

        Yeah, between vacationing with my husband, my ex and his wife, and all of our children, and being in a long-distance marriage…I left “normal” behind a looong time ago, lol. I love this post. I don’t know what kind of food to describe us as. A potluck, maybe? Since we contribute “food” from two different houses, and don’t necessarily always sleep where the meal takes place? Um, perhaps the food analogy just doesn’t work for us! 🙂

  3. ChristianSingle April 28, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    I cringed & threw up in my mouth a little when my x called us family one day. I never married him and for that I am ever grateful. Then he was absent for the first four plus years. ugh

    I don’t care how he sees us as long as he does what he needs to do as a man and a father. It is not the picture I had for my life.

    Getting over the shock of getting pregnant unplanned we still could have worked really well together. He blew it and continues to limp along.

    Only by faith does any of this make sense. I know my daughter would suffer more if he wasn’t around to know and see. I know he can see how much he missed and how it still affects their relationship.

    God is good cause I wrote my x off after a couple of years and his daughter has more than once.

    • Janet April 29, 2011 at 10:40 am #

      Very well written Brig!! Love you!

  4. Amy April 29, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    I would describe my family like a trifle. Layers of different ingrediants that looks really pretty on the outside. However, once you start digging in and those ingrediants mix, it starts to get messy.

    • Krista May 1, 2011 at 6:02 am #

      That would knock the breath out of me for a few seconds if my husband called our family broken. Whew. But you know he didn’t mean it in the way we would hear it.

      Thanks for referencing my salad bowl analogy. I also like Deesha’s potluck idea. You know, you never know what will show up on the table, whether there will be too much, not enough, whether the dishes will go together or who will get food poisoning.

  5. Sara Huizenga January 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    I don’t at all like the term – for one being that it tends to victimize the children … and who wants to raise a bunch of victims? However, on the flipside – the most beautiful parts of my life have directly come from “brokeness” … 😉

  6. rainbowbabymaker December 10, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    Men don’t always understand the words they use…I don’t know how I’d describe my family b/c my husband & I don’t have a child of our own yet. It’s a family….but the time we do have with my SD doesn’t feel like “normal”. It feels like everything turns upside down for a weekend & then I get to go back to my “normal” life.

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