Most people who know me personally, know that I am a step-mum. At 27 the prospect seemed quite overwhelming, but when I met my Husband to be I knew that whether he had 1 or 15 children, I was in.
Given our proximity to the kids and living inter-state, I have not had too many opportunities to bond with the kids or get to know them beyond my bi-annual trips down to Sydney or when we are able to bring the kids up here for holidays.
For this trip, it had been a long time since I had seen the kids and I was both nervous and excited. Like I mentioned above, it is a different situation to your standard shared-custody, week-on / week-off arrangement. It just is not always fiscally possible for me to visit with the kids whenever my Husband does.
So when there was an opportunity to spend an afternoon with my step-daughter during our trip, I was over the moon. Little C is only 11 years old but she is wise beyond her years. She is her fathers daughter in every way possible and these children will be the older brother and sister of any children which we may have in the future. As an example of who C is in character, she was singing songs at 18 months old, has written beautiful letters since she was six years old and at our wedding, she sat one of my girlfriends down and asked her what she wanted in her life (long-term!).
After our incredible visit to the Australian Maritime Museum, the boys headed off to the new Star Wars movie and little C and I ventured down the street, picked up a couple of girl drinks (coffee and milkshakes) and walked our way down to the Chinese Garden of Friendship.
This place is so wonderful and provides such a unique respite from the pulse of the Sydney CBD. Rather than set out like any manicured garden, it is arranged to reflect the wild uniqueness of a traditional Chinese garden. It was created out of respect and in recognition of the city of Guangzhou in China and its friendship with the city of Sydney.
There are lakes, weeping willows, temples, beautiful shaded areas and pebbled paths. Some of the largest and fattest looking koi carp floating along in the lakes and fountains. It is a photographers dream. I was taken back to my childhood book-favourites such as the Secret Garden and felt quite giddy walking around the area, so I can only imagine what it must have looked like through the eyes of an 11 year old!
C and I spent an hour and a half walking around the gardens slowly, taking pictures and talking, Getting to know each other better, talking about my job and her transition into high-school this year. We discussed our love for our family members, our favourite foods and also discussed our love for one another and how thankful we were that we were able to spend some time together.
I am under no disillusion that being a part of a blended family is tough, especially given the distance between the kids and us. We have transitioned the best we have been able to given our relationships with one another and I am so thankful that she is one of the smartest, kindest, most intuitive young women I have ever had the pleasure to meet.
The kids have two wonderful parents who love and provide for them greatly, they have great families on both sides and a wonderful outlook on the world. They are going places and I will support them as well as I can, not only as their Step-Mother but as their friend, if they wish that to be the case.
The feeling of tranquility, peace, mindfulness and appreciation for all that we have which you get when visiting the gardens is something which will stay with me for quite some time.
After our walks around the gardens, we headed home, grabbed some snacks and pink lemonade, picked a romantic-comedy to watch and did hair/feet/face masks and also did our nails. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day – our peace only broken when the boys which we had missed for the afternoon came bursting through the doors on their Star Wars high! We made sure to greet them at the door with our hilarious bubble-cloud face masks on. I highly recommend you give this a go, if only for a laugh!
You can visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship any day of the week between 9.30am-5pm and an Adult ticket is $6, a child ticket is $3 and a family can enter for $15.
Are you from a blended family? What have your struggles and rewards been? Has it been harder or easier than you expected it to be?
x C x