I am trying to be better at sending little surprises to my kids…especially my grandkids, particularly around the holidays. I’m still trying to figure out the timing of when to mail things. How long will the shipping take? Don’t want it to come too soon and never late. Timing is everything!
With Easter approaching, it was time to get some goodies in the mail. My goal is to build traditions with my new daughter-in-law’s and grandkids. Nutcrackers at Christmas and bunnies at Easter. Although these are little tokens of a holiday, hopefully, new traditions are being established that will carry on to the next generation.
So I gathered my treasures on my kitchen counter and started wrapping them. Using some Easter grass from my “Spring Decorating box” as packing material, it made the trinkets look happy and enticing! The grandkids are going to be so excited.
Honestly, I still can’t believe I’m a Nonnie (Italian for grandmother.) How did I get this old? Luckily I stay active so I can keep up with them! They keep me on my toes, as most grandkids do.
So I am wrapping up the boxes (for my bio kids/grandkids) and writing the address on the box: “The Lowndes Family.” Before I could even write the street address the tears were coming. BAM…hit with a Sneaker Wave (the tears come even now as I write this.) For those of you who have never heard of a Sneaker Wave, here is a brief description:
When you are on the beach, the rule is, you don’t turn your back to the ocean or take your eyes off the water. The reason for this is that a wave can sneak up behind you and pull you down, right off your feet. If you don’t see it coming it catches you off guard. It can be scary because you don’t expect it. In terms of using this in our life, a Sneaker Wave is connected to your past.
You can be doing something totally normal, and then out of nowhere, this wave of emotion takes you out. The emotion is a reminder of a past situation, feeling or experience. It feels like your legs have just been knocked out from under you. You don’t see it coming, just like a Sneaker Wave at the beach.
Back to my experience:
As I was writing the family’s names on the boxes, I realized I would never be sharing the same last name as my (bio) daughter-in-law’s. Now I have been hit with this same Sneaker Wave before, but have just put my head down and tried to ignore it. This time I let it overtake me. I put the pen down…and cried. Another reminder of my “previous family.” Another reminder of how I thought life was supposed to be. Another reminder of the loss. How can something so simple as the last name affect me so much? For me, it’s all about tradition, legacy, and family.
Being part of a stepfamily has many Sneaker Waves. This is just one of them. It may feel like a tidal wave to me, and just a small splash for you. Something could be huge for you but maybe minor to me. But bottom line, it’s all how we navigate these waves. Some people have never grieved the loss of their previous family; they haven’t given themselves permission. Grieving is a part of life. The healthiest thing you can do is embrace the grief, feel it, then let it go. It may feel like hugging a porcupine but in the end, it brings healing. And this does not mean that the grieving process is finished. Just because I have grieved a moment or memory from my past does not make the present bad or “less than.” If anything it strengthens it.
I’ve been in a stepfamily for 13+ years now. I absolutely LOVE my family…especially my husband. I live in the present and try not to have a past impact today. It can be a challenge sometimes…part of being human I guess. Will I experience another Sneaker Wave? Probably. When I get hit with one I can say to Gil, “Man I got hit with a Sneaker Wave today!” It gives him the opportunity to offer empathy and support. He can do this because he realizes the Sneaker Wave is about me…and my past…not him.
The Easter Bunny this year got nailed by my Sneaker Wave. But as I navigate these waters of remarriage and the stepfamily these waves become fewer and farther between. They are replaced with new memories, new history and a new legacy for my family.