Blended and Winning - The Lopers

Faileded relationships and divorce take its’ toll on everyone involved, not just the adults that are going through the actual process. When children are in the midst of the “break-up” and they have to live a different lifestyle than they have become accustom to, they are left with many unanswered questions and unresolved emotions.

For my family, 2005 bought about arduous change, unabating resentment and blurred expectations, while at the same time offering fresh revelation, renewed self-awareness and new relationships to explore.

Successfully blending my family was one of the most strenuous and extensive, yet fulfilling processes I’ve ever experienced. This process came with making some sincere apologies and some firm good-byes; which I have to say, was the most difficult for me.

If I’m completely honest with you, I must tell you that I didn’t successfully blend this family alone. It took the heart of a dedicated father (my ex-husband Adrian), and a passionate, all-in individual (my husband Joaquin), to open me up to the realization that we could be a blended and winning family.

Our blending was 10 years in the making. None of this happened overnight. There were too many egos flying, tempers flaring, uncompromising opinions, and highly subjective outsiders involved, that blocked us from seeing the picture for its’ true value.

Boy am I glad we finally looked at our picture through the same lens!

The Chop
When Adrian and I began dating, my daughter Megan was a year old. Adrian became an intricate part of her life and Megan was our world. The product of a failed relationship, Megan’s biological father was absent from all aspects of her life and even at the tender age of 1 thru 2, Megan presented with many emotional issues that we were foreign to us.

Adrian and his family played a huge part in acclimating Megan to the family environment and making her feel loved and necessary for the family unit to operate properly.

Adrian and I married immediately after our daughter Morgan was born and Megan had just turned four. Blending our family came with many distractions and enormous opposition, but we managed to be great parents to the girls through the many transitions we made.

Shortly after Adrian and I married, the actions of Megan’s biological father began to confuse her about the roles of the men in her life and this caused her to have a strong separation anxiety from me that Adrian nor I could shake. It was difficult and because we were dealing with our own emotions and feelings within our marriage, we failed to see beyond the surface of what was taking root in Megan’s heart. 

All of it was perplexing to us. One day we were good and the next it was chaos. Moving from one state to the other then changing cities, it was all too much and it was truly taking its’ toll on the both of us and even the girls. We just needed to take a break, clear our heads and try again. . . . .

We never got the opportunity to try again. Once divorce became an option, the end was already in view.

Back to square one. . . . . single parenthood, a parenting plan, child support, and one unexpected gesture from two beautiful little girls and one amazing man.

The Mixing
When Adrian and I divorced, it wasn’t pleasant to see or hear the damaging things we did and said to one another. We felt many emotions; disappointment, failure, and resentment, just to name a few. Those emotions made us act in ways that were irrational and completely out of character because we had no idea how to channel those feelings to their appropriate place. Due to the ineffective communication, for many years, there were times Adrian and I couldn’t talk for an extended amount of time in order to avoid conflict that got in the way of us properly caring for our daughter.

We managed through the divorce with very little decorum and it completely destroyed a friendship that had lasted over 20 years.

It wasn’t long after the divorce was final that I met my current husband. Our connection was completely unexpected and yet very refreshing.

When he walked into the office of financial aid at The University of Southern Miss, saw me and acquired about who I was, it was no secret that I was a single mother with two kids and recently divorced. He gathered all his information from a mutual friend of ours on campus. At that point he had two choices;

1. Pursue
2. Not Pursue.

Joaquin was a young, single, black male with no children, on a college campus full of available young ladies that met all, if not more, of the qualities and attributes he was “looking” for in a mate. But he chose to pursue.

Joaquin presented with confidence, drive, desire and perseverance. He understood the severity of the decision, that if he pursued me to the point of an exclusive relationship, there would be some trying times ahead. Unaware of the unresolved relationships and situation in my life, the many trials we faced tested every aspect of his life, yet he chose not to give up, but stay the course. I shared everything with him about what I’d gone through over the past few years. I painted a clear picture of what he’d be getting into if we decided to take our friendship beyond just a friendship. Considering all factors, my kids were off limits. They didn’t need to meet him and he strongly agreed. 

I had a lot of growing to do. That was obvious after the divorce. Emotionally I felt defeated and Spiritually I was unequipped.

My emotional distress and lack of spiritual guidance really showed during the first 3 years of my relationship with Joaquin. There was a huge pink elephant in the room and it was becoming very uncomfortable trying to maneuver our way around it.

Truly Blended
It was the huge pink elephant in the room that caused the passionate bond of two dedicated and intentional fathers. When I couldn’t communicate with Adrian because of my own insecurities and judgmental tendencies, Joaquin stepped in for me to make plans, communicate arrangements and say good-byes.

Joaquin helped me realized that I had to get right with myself before we could ever begin to move forward as a family and involve all parties that we needed to help us obtain, sustain, and maintain, the favor that was on our lives. He helped me understand that our family would not and could not be what it is without Adrian in it. He shared with me how important Adrian’s presence was within our family because of how important he is in the emotional and spiritual growth of our daughters’ life.

Not all blended families can say that all parents are involved; and when I say all parents, I mean ALL. Biological (mother and father), step-parent (my husband) and even the absent parent and girlfriends (Adrian), have had the opportunity to be a part of the team that has helped us become the unit we are today. And believe it or not, it has been effective.

But I have to give credit where credit is due.

Joaquin is not perfect, but he has been willing to make some needed and very uncomfortable adjustments to help this family grow. He has taken on this family heart first! When I say he has put his heart into every aspect of making this family a blended combination of compassion, purpose, victory, love, and peace; I mean he has truly made it his purpose to help us love more, give without expectations, and believe that we can overcome any fear and frustration if we don’t focus so much on ourselves.

He didn’t demand transformation in all of us so he could get a pat on the back for being the head of his house. He did it because he saw two loving little girls, ages 6 and 2, who had so many emotions growing beneath the surface because of decisions that others made thinking they were doing what was best for them. He demanded transformation because he chose a woman who had been damaged from past experiences, yet she wanted and needed help making a drastic change in her life. He demanded transformation because he met a man who simply wanted to be a changing, effective, and present factor in the life of his child.

Seeing the dysfunction that we all contributed to our blended family, Joaquin started making some adjustments in his own life that would help him create transformation, not just in himself, but in the life of his family.

Our relationship (Me, Joaquin and Adrian) as parents show our children how to live in harmony with the people around them. As parents, we still disagree when it comes to the children, but we know how to find common ground to make, what we believe, is the best decision for them at that time.

Joaquin and I have expanded our family, adding two handsome young men to the equation. I realize, I am the common denominator. I set the tone of the way my children receive one another and their situations. Joaquin helps me balance that. Just because Megan and Morgan have other individuals that are part of them, doesn’t mean that more people love them than the boys. As the boys get older, we help them better understand relationships when we talk to them about the differences. Therefore, they only see their sisters as just that, their sisters. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Regardless of the number of individuals involved and the nature of the relationship, We are one big BLENDED Family.

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