Some things take time

Published 1:54 pm Wednesday, January 28, 2015

If someone told me a few of the things I have learned about relationships and life since my late husband passed away, I would probably have had to find out for myself anyway. Not only was it difficult to lose the man I thought I would grow old with, but also it was equally as hard to marry again and be a stepmom to grown kids. Many times I thought, “Just exactly how does this work?”

Truth be told, I don’t think anyone has a manual. People deal with change in such different ways and time frames that to have a pat answer as to how to make a blended family work is not feasible.

It has been several years since I married Mike, and his kids are great. But I have struggled with just how to relate to them. They never lived with us, so it’s not like we have spent a great deal of time together.

I’ll never know, but my natural friendly manner may have seemed put on to them. They were too polite to say anything negative, but I could feel certain wariness in them. Do you know what a Hollywood hug is? Just a kind of perfunctory squeeze of the shoulders with not much warmth is what I call one.

Well…after visits with my stepchildren I always got a Hollywood hug and went home feeling like I wanted us to be real friends. I prayed for God to create a bond between us.

I tried to be especially nice, but to no avail. Occasionally, I told God, “This really isn’t fair. My old students almost always act like they are so glad to run into me. When I see them it is always a delight — no Hollywood hugs from them!”

Over the years I realized it really wasn’t all about me. I’m sure they deal with their own stuff that probably has nothing to do with me. I decided to be happy because we all get along, and Mike’s kids are really good people. I quit trying so hard to please them and make them like me.

My decision to be myself and let whatever happened happen without worrying about it gave me a lot of peace. I always continued to pray for a sweet bond between us all.

This weekend, Mike and I visited our little grandson in Columbus who just turned 5. He is growing up so fast, and it is always a joy to see him. We all had a great time laughing and visiting. Most of our time was spent playing with Aidan and his monster trucks. Our 14-year-old grandson in Tennessee is named Aidan as well, so they are big Aidan and little Aidan when we speak of them.

When we got up to leave I stood waiting for the usual halfhearted hug, but something happened that I wasn’t expecting. No Hollywood hug!! It was a real, honest to goodness, I’m happy you’re part of my life hug, and I was glad.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at