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The Kid Blender: A Single Mom’s Attempt to Find Joy in an Unexpected Life

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In this day and age, trying to blend two different sets of kids into one cohesive group (or four sets of kids into two cohesive groups.  That was some pretty advanced math for me, just so you know) is not unusual.  Divorce happens, separations happen, relationships happen, and hey…life happens.

It’s a fine line we parents walk, trying to find our own happiness and making sure the kids are okay along the way.

I’m in the thick of it myself.  Widowed in 2007 at 31 with three kids to raise…I knew I didn’t want to be alone for the rest of my life.  But that meant dating and finding a new relationship…something that when I said “I do” back in 1996 I never thought I’d be doing.

But I did.  I got out there in the dating trenches, fought for what I wanted, and eventually I got him.  And that “him” came with three kids of his own.

In this series of blogs, the “Kid Blenders,” I will be addressing our challenges, trying to blend our two families together.  The names of the children will be changed to spare the easily embarrassed.  And let me be upfront about this:  I’m no clinical expert.  I’m just a single mom trying to figure life out as I go.  But knowing that there are around 14 million single parents out there…I’m guessing that I’m not alone in this venture.

So…here’s the situation.  I met Mike almost three years ago.  He works for NASCAR’s #78 (Furniture Row Racing).  We met online, as just about everyone over 30 does these days.  And the only thing that keeps us from retiring to our own private island in the Bahamas (besides jobs, bills, and the small problem that we just don’t have an island) are our six kids combined.

Yes.  You read that right.  Six.

I have three kids who are 10, 8, and 6 and he has three kids who are 11, 7, and 4.  I know what you’re thinking.  Brady Bunch, right?  And you’d be close.  Just with better technology, real grass instead of AstroTurf, and no “Alice.”

On a regular basis, we battle personalities, schedules and, occasionally, each other.  We have the kids’ best interests at heart – all of the kids – and do what we can to make sure that they all feel loved and equally important.

For my kids, who lost their dad when they were 5, 3, and 1, Mike has become their primary “dad” figure.  He helps them with their math, shows my son how to upgrade things I didn’t even know could be upgraded, gives the girls the bear hugs they so desperately need, and fixes things that require more than the all-in-one screwdriver I have in my junk drawer.

For his kids…Mike is divorced and has partial custody.  I do my best to let them know that even though they have a mom who adores them…I would be honored if they would carve out a place in their lives for me.  I try to let them know that I realize that I’m not their mom…I’m just another person who supports and loves them.

With Mike’s NASCAR travel schedule – being out of town 38 weekends out of the year – our lives can get a little dicey at times.  Our conversations during the day usually include something like, “Wait.  Did you say you were going to be around tonight or do you have something else going on?”  Because between football, rock-climbing, ballet, basketball, piano lessons, and Boy Scouts…we’re never quite sure.

We’re out numbered.  And we know it.

I truly believe that a life together is possible and might even be enjoyable.  Ask me on a day when all six of them are running through my house playing hide-and-go-seek, dress-up, basketball, and Just Dance all at the same time…and I might tell you that that island in the Bahamas doesn’t sound so bad.

But when they’re all sitting around the dinner table, laughing and interrupting each other with outrageous stories (that usually involve some sort of bodily function)…I’ll tell you that there’s no place else I’d rather be than squished into my chair, looking at all of their faces.

As with most things, those moments of happiness aren’t constant and didn’t come about overnight.  They happen one moment at a time and can change in an instant.  And for you single moms out there who are trying to figure out how to balance your own happiness and the well-being of your children…

…let’s do it together.

Catherine Tidd is a writer, widow and mother of three. She is the founder of, a free peer support website dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other and has a Facebook peer support page under the name Widow Chick. Along with being published in several books on grief and renewal, Catherine is also a humorous motivational speaker who focuses on “finding joy in a life you weren’t expecting.” She also writes a blog on parenting and NASCARing called NASCAR Brady Bunch.

Author: Catherine

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson February 8, 2012

    AWESOME! Can’t wait to follow your journey. Like you, I’d have no idea how to jump back in the dating scene after being married so long. How much time had passed before you felt you could start putting yourself out there again?

    • comment avatar Catherine February 8, 2012

      Honestly…I felt like I started “dating” pretty early. Once your partner has been taken so suddenly…it’s pretty tempting to try and quickly replace them and fill that void. It takes a while before you figure out that they truly can’t be replaced. But as far as really INVESTING myself…now that took some time. And envisioning a life that is SO different from what I thought it would be at this age…that’s a lot to digest.

      That’s one thing that almost all of us who have been through something so life-altering (death, divorce, separation) have in common: Picturing a new life we thought we’d never have. That takes some time and I still struggle with it now and then!

  • comment avatar Jaime Swartzendruber February 8, 2012

    Great idea for a series, Catherine! I think we’re all trying to figure it out…regardless of where we’re at in life. Thank you for your inspiring messages of strength and perseverance when things don’t go as we plan – seems to me that it’s more the rule than the exception.

    • comment avatar Catherine February 9, 2012


      It is so funny that you just said that! I was talking to a friend I’ve known for years and she said, “If we had told each other 7 years ago what our lives would look like now…would you have believed it?”

      Heck, no.

      But that’s everyone’s common bond: NO ONE is living the life they pictured when they were 18-years-old, for various reasons. I always think of the quote “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” It’s what we do with the life we’re given…that determines our success and happiness. :>)

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