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The Steps

October 24, 2011

Like many of you, I have step siblings.  Mine are on both sides of the parental aisle and I must say that almost without exception, these step-siblings have added to and blessed my life in unimaginable ways.

Lest you think I’m over romanticizing the dynamics and challenges of living in a blended family – trust me, I’m not.  I remember all too well how difficult it was adjusting to having new siblings enter the family.  And, not all of them/us were thrilled at blending two families together – which in and of itself presented challenges.

My natal family was just my sister and me. So imagine the shock to our system when my mother married a man with 4 boys – all of whom lived with their father.  That’s right, our family grew from 3 to 8 when they married. And, my sister and I had to then had to make sure we were dressed appropriately just to go to the shared bathroom down the hall as there were now boys in the house. That most of us were teenagers at the time made things even more interesting – the hormones, drama, etc. But, we all adapted and, looking back, rather quickly.  What surprises me the most when I think about that time was how quickly the siblings forged bonds.  There were 6 of us – 6 of us – but forge we did.

When I ponder that time in my life, I often reflect upon the fact that all 6 of us grew up to be respectful, responsible and contributing adults. And, I can’t help but think that each of us had a positive influence on the other in some way. We certainly couldn’t be selfish and we all had to learn how to share and consider others – which only helped to build character. Oh, we fought and fussed like siblings do – but we always made up and never held a grudge – or at least none that I am aware of.

I know my life benefitted in having brothers.  Men – even young ones – seem to have a natural instinct to protect and defend. And, there have been several instances when one or more of my step-brothers came to my defense.  I liked that feeling of an important male in my life having my back. And, they are important to me to this day.

What I ultimately learned from my step sibling experiences is that our shared experience bonded us all in a life-long relationship – one that has outlived our parents, who are both deceased. I also learned that the capacity to love someone as a brother or a sister is not limited by blood. Indeed, it was living as a step sibling that I first learned the limitless capacity for love that we humans possess.  And, for that, I am very grateful. I’m also grateful for my 4 step brothers whom I do not refer to as “step” as they are and ever will be simply, my brothers. Period.

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