Here I am blogging again. The last time I wrote a blog I had a very specific mission in life: accomplishing 30 of my long time dreams before I turned 30 years old. That blog—Hannah's 30 Before 30—was a hit, or at least it was for me. It was cathartic and gave me purpose during that season of my life.
Now, three years later, I am struck at how much my life has changed. That list of ambitions seems so far away, almost like the shadow of another Hannah. No longer a fabulous singleton living with lovely roomies, I am now a wife to a wonderful, nerdy, ambitious man who found me right on time. He was undoubtedly God's gift to me after much heartache. I quickly learned how precious he was and was compelled to be his life partner. But he didn't come alone... (there's no spoiler alerts here thanks to my blog title). Not only did my jazz-playing, business man come with all of his charm and care, he came with a little pack of peeps, and I don't mean those nasty, sugar-coated, marshmallow birds they sell around Easter. He had children! Four to be precise. Two boys and two girls, who at the time of our meeting were ages 13, 12, seven, and six. Thus at age 32—two years after accomplishing some of my greatest ambitions—I undertook a new ambition: to be a wife to an exceptional man and stepmom to two teenagers (yes, I'm crazy) and two young kids.
My wedding day was a defining moment (as I hope it is for everyone who takes that vow). But for me it was the final scrimmage in a war of self realization that I had been fighting for many months prior. I knew my life was about to change in major ways while I was engaged, but just how hadn't become fully real to me yet. Sitting here now typing this blog after one full year of marriage, I can say that I truly had no idea how much my life really would change. During my engagement I had an awareness, but now I have true understanding.
On my wedding day, reality hit home the moment my youngest step daughter—who I'll call Bonus Baby 4 (BB4 for short) from here on out—and her brother, Bonus Baby 3 (BB3), were trailing behind me down the aisle. BB4 had declared months before the wedding that she would under no circumstances be the flower girl (she does not do public appearances) while BB3 was excited to be front and center. When the time came to walk down the aisle, BB3 panicked at the realization that 200 pairs if eyes would be on him and decided to hide behind me with his sis.
So there we were—all three of us—walking down the aisle in the moment I had been dreaming of, oh, you know, since I was five years old! This was supposed to be my moment. The moment many girls fantasize about. And what were BB3n4 doing? Pulling on my floor length veil so hard that it was making my head snap back and forth. I felt like one of those inflatable punching bags the way my head whipped up and down. Needless to say, my moment wasn't as glamorous as I always imagined. Naturally I started yelling at BB3n4 through my plastered smile the whole way down the aisle. Imagine it. My face stuck in a smile, and through gritted teeth I ask them—okay, demand them—to stop bickering with each other about who gets to holds which side the veil. I am glad that the aisle was almost a two-minute walk. At the one-minute mark I stopped, laughing to and at myself and the situation. And then a flip switched for me: this was the rest of my life. There, in that moment I got a sense of the monumental undertaking that I was about to commit to, no going back. The summation of all the change I was embarking upon welled up within me There, with all eyes on me, I knew that it was no longer going to just be me anymore.
Here's where you say, "Duh, Hannah!" I was getting married; by definition it wasn't going to be just me anymore. But the emotion I felt going down that grassy walkway was something other. Life wasn't even going to just be me and my man. It was now going to be me, my man, and these four human beings who wouldn't just hang out with me sometimes. They would now depend on me and I was committing to be there. And in truth this commitment was more daunting than the one I was about to make to my almost husband.
So this blog, dear readers and friends, will be an account of my newest undertaking, being a stepmom. This latest endeavor was on no list of goals I would have ever written for myself. But I think writing about it will again be cathartic, the way it was when I was 29, though life is so different now. Through this blog I'll share my failings and my victories; I'll share what I've learned and what I just can't seem to get right, no matter how hard I try (don't all parents struggle with this?). My husband by far and away has been a healing gift to me, but these four people have put everything I've learned about relationships to the most extreme of tests. I'm going to tell you stories about these fascinating four—and myself in relation to them—always using the title of "Bonus Baby" with their corresponding birth order number instead of their names. And I'll share stories about other aspects of my life, because like many women, I wear many different hats. And while I believe this hat doesn't define me, I am still trying to make it fit.
I thought moving across the country with no job and only two friends was the wildest thing I had ever done. And maybe it was... until now. Come along with me as I move from living life as one to a tribe of six.