Jill & I have been married now about 6 1/2 years. Our blended family consists of two teenagers (Andrew, 15 & Hannah, 13) and Maddie (9). Our son Nate will be three years old on October 20.
From the onset, we have been very fortunate that each of our children have given us "parental rights." Meaning our kids act, talk, and generally consider us (regardless of DNA) to be their parents. We do not spend any time worrying about step/half/etc. siblings, parents. We work hard to love each child individually, fairly, and appropriately. Parental rights have to be earned over time in a blended family, but I contend that unconditional love given is an incredibly powerful, spiritual force that over time overcomes all.
So Nate is getting bigger now, and his life represents so much that is good to us. Although he has a disability and at times that can present its own challenges, we firmly believe God created Nate perfectly, and we wouldn't change him even if we could. Similarly, a blended family can be a challenge at times, but to us it's our family and we are thankful for it just the way it is!
Having a child with a disability is, frankly, great. Maybe not for everyone, but all the people I know share this sentiment. And the truth of the matter is, I'm not trying to paint some rosy picture over a dark cloud in my heart. I genuinely love being this kids parent. But that's not the point of this post.
Seeing what Nate has done in our family is far more impressive. He was born 3 years ago, 3 years in to our marriage and 3 years in to our clan being fused. The kids were 12, 9, & 6, and generally getting along really well. However, those ages are when selfishness and division can really set in. And then there was Nate...
Just adding a baby to the mix would surely change the dynamic. But this isn't just any baby, it's Nate.
Nate is contagious. He's highly addictive. He's charismatic and clever. He's funny. He's charming. He's needy and clingy (in all the right ways). He's affectionate. He's adorable. He's unforgettable. He's one of a kind, he's just Nate.
So at a time when selfishness could easily take hold of this home, Nate comes along and forces everyone (including me) to focus on him. Not in a bad way, but in a necessary one. All of Nate's triumphs are earned. Every milestone is achieved by everyone in this home working together. And when we take ourselves out of the mix and collectively focus on Nate, we find our family is bonding. Growing closer, growing together, growing.
In so many ways and in so many times I am grateful for Nate. He's not only changed me in countless ways, he's also helped bind this family together. Everyone here is hopelessly and unapologetically stuck on Nate. Among all the other amazing things he is, I believe he's like heaven-sent glue that brought, and holds us together.