We’re a blended family. We’re Christians who don’t believe that culture should determine how we raise our kids. We’re a partly homeschooling, partly public-schooling family, which mean we don’t “fit” in either camp. We’ve adopted a teen, and we’re planning to adopt again, which means many who know us think we’re nuts. And now, my youngest is taking bat mitzvah classes.
We are definitely not “normal.”
As time goes on, it seems like we are becoming more and more un-normal. That’s okay, but it’s hard sometimes, too. Not so much because of what people think, but mostly because of how difficult our schedules are. A family vacation, for instance, would be nearly impossible to plan — which is why we’ve never been on one with all of our kids. I still hope to work that out someday. And holidays? Don’t even get me started on the complications that brings in our family.
Both of my daughters, at various times, have said they wished they had “normal” families. There are some things we’re not willing to compromise on to be normal in the eyes of the world, but there are some things — like growing up in foster care, or having to go back and forth from one family to the other for visitation because your parents are divorced and now have separate families — that are simply beyond my control.
The decision to allow Kathryn to participate in bat mitzvah classes wasn’t made lightly. Kathryn’s step-brother and step-sister are doing these classes, and she really wanted to do them, too. First, I researched what would be taught in order to be sure it is in line with our beliefs; it is. In fact, I think understanding Jewish culture/traditions/history brings a deeper understanding of the Bible. The time commitment ended up being the most difficult thing for me to accept. It’s nearly every Saturday morning, plus one evening each week from September through June for two years. Also required is attendance for every high holy day service, attendance for all other bar/bat mitzvahs at the synagogue, service projects, and more. This is a lot to ask of a child her age, and it’s a lot to ask for us to sacrifice that family time. Her dad’s family does not have church on Sundays, so they still have one day of the week to sleep in or do something together as a family, but Saturdays were our only day for that. We’ll have to get even more creative with carving out family time.
This will be all new for me. Even in all the time we were married, I never knew her dad had any Jewish heritage, and he never attended a synagogue (messianic or otherwise), so this seemed to come rather out of the blue.
I’m choosing to focus on the positives. For instance, Kathryn will be learning Hebrew, so I can count this as a language in regards to school. I’m considering getting a Hebrew language curriculum of some sort (even Rosetta Stone has one!) so I can learn it, too — and to help her in learning it. I’ll be able to count Saturdays as school days which means I could take one day off during the week. We’ve also tweaked our visitation schedule a bit so Kathryn is actually here all day on Fridays, which helps in our flexibility during the school week.
Normal would sometimes be easier, perhaps. But life doesn’t have to be perfect, or easy, or “normal” in order to be wonderful. I thank God for this family of mine.