When I met Mike I was 23 years old and he was 34, a father of two teenagers. We pretty much jumped right in and the next thing I knew I was sharing the holidays with his family. Not necessarily Aunts and Uncles, but his family. His children. I remember feeling torn the first couple of years. Part of it was incredibly exciting. I felt honored to be welcomed into a family, to be accepted and appreciated by Michael and Maegann. But it was also scary. What if I got their traditions wrong? What if I left something out that was important to them? How did I hold on to my own family traditions and ideas without stepping on theirs? And, holy shit, I'm the step mom? But just last Christmas my Mom took care of everything and now I'm supposed to know what to do?!
As time went on we fell into our own routines and developed our own customs. Some old, some new. I'm talking about things year round, but as the season changes I'm reminded of how we celebrate the holidays. Cutting down our Christmas tree, searching for the pickle ornament, and most recently our waffle breakfast on Christmas morning (somehow Michael has taken on Christmas morning breakfast and I LOVE it!).
This post is partly inspired by Emery at Moms Are For Everyone and this amazing post. It reminds me of the joy we're finding in Maxwell and Ella. Everything has been special these past eight months. It's a season of firsts. Their first smiles, their first foods, their first crawl...their first holiday. Emery's post stirred comforting memories from my past, from my home. It made me realize our kids, all four of them, experience that sense of familiarity and home when they walk in our door. At least I hope they do. Maxwell and Ella already know when they are home. They flap their arms in excitement when we return after a day of errands. Ella buries her face in her sheets when she lays in her bed. Maxwell goes straight for the doors on the entertainment center where he mischievously turns the television knobs. These things comfort them. They don't notice the carpet that needs replacing or the cupboards that need painting. They know the feel of being held in their rocker and the view they love outside the sliding glass door.
As we experience our first holiday season as a family of six, I want to focus on what we have instead of what we don't have. As a stepmother and a mother I want the kids to anticipate and enjoy our family traditions. I want them to get caught up in the excitement and enjoy twinkle lights, yummy treats, and giving. Whether it's in Christmas or July, I want them to have the feeling I still have when I walk into my parents house...I'm home.