The night my husband proposed was one of the happiest nights of my life. We were on a rare date night, and as the opening credits of Star Wars: The Force Awakens moved down the screen and the theme song began to play, he handed me a box with a ring. I, of course, said yes and immediately started planning in my head. Not just things like the venue and dress, but how we'd tell our kids about our engagement. There are so many things that go through your head when you tell your kids you're engaged.
After all, we weren't just marrying each other. We both had children from previous marriages, and we were going to have to "blend" our families together. The phrase "blending" families is not quite right, though. In my experience, it's been more like making a fruit salad than making a smoothie. The "flavors" don't always work well together and often they compete with each other for your attention.
As much as we were happy and excited about our engagement, we knew there was a possibility our kids might not be, at least not right away when we broke the news. And while we both believe in letting our kids feel and express emotions, if I'm being honest I have to admit that we were nervous that they were going to cry or be disappointed or that they would never warm up to the idea at all. We wanted our children to be happy about our marriage and to not worry about the complicated things to come but, unfortunately, there's no handy guide for how to break the news.
"We Want Your Support"
I want you to support our marriage. I need you to be on board or at least be willing to try to get used to the idea and make things work.
"We're So Excited"
We were so freaking excited about our engagement that we wanted to tell our kids right away. We ended up waiting until we could tell them all at the same time. It felt impossible to hide such big news, but we knew if we didn't tell them all at once, feelings might be hurt. I felt like I was going to burst with joy.
"Please Be Happy"
Our kids' happiness is so important to us. We desperately wanted them to love the idea that we were getting married and becoming a family.
"Please Don't Cry"
Fortunately, there were no tears. There was definitely surprise, excitement, ambivalence, and a tiny bit of concern, but OMG I couldn't have handled it if they had cried.
"We Want You To Be Involved"
Our kids are so important to us. We wanted them to be a part of our ceremony and, when possible, actively participating and making choices about our family moving forward.
While I believe in being honest with my kids, I also believe in letting them know that they don't have to worry. Kids should be able to be kids and adults should figure out the hard stuff.
"We Understand If You Aren't Sure"
I completely understand that this is new and different and scary. I want you to be happy in the long run with your new stepparent and step-siblings, but I understand if it takes you a little time to get there.
"We Love You"
We seriously love you and can't wait to become your stepparents.
"I Know This Might Be Confusing"
Change is hard. You might not understand why we want to get married, why we want to get married now or how everything will work. It's OK.
"Everything Will Be OK"
It might not be easy or wonderful all of the time. I mean, nothing ever is. However, I want you to know that we are going to work hard to make this work, not just for him and me, but for all of us. We love you and you matter. We're in this together.