From Single Mom to Blended Family – “I Wish I Knew…” Episode 04

Toddler boy smiling towards camera over the shoulder of his mother.



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"I wish I knew"

I'm Marjorie


I work with parents who want relaxed and unposed photos, providing them with images that capture the joyful and unscripted moments in life.

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Shannon describes her experience as a single mom who later found love and formed a blended family with her husband, Dennis.

From Single Mom to Blended Family

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Shannon talks about the challenges and responsibilities of being a single parent. She goes into how she managed to raise a child while also getting a bachelor’s degree and working, all with the help of her family. Dennis discusses entering a relationship with a single mom and winning over the love of his stepchild. Together they talk about their life as a blended family and raising kids with a big age gap.

Below, you’ll find resources on step-parenting and creating a harmonious blended family. Please check out the linked articles for more information.

Photo collage containing three photos of a blended family: a teenager, mom, toddler, and dad.


Photo collage with two photos of a blended family: the first one with the two step-brothers, the other with the couple, mom and dad.

The 7 Stages of Becoming a Step-parent

“Step-parenting itself— that is, forming a relationship with someone else’s kid— isn’t the hard part. It’s the intense, conflicted emotions you experience as part of the transition into becoming a stepparent that are the real killer.

Becoming a stepparent is a mean ol’ tangle of emotions. One day you’re hopeful and the next you’re ready to throw in the towel. You have moments of bone-deep loneliness alternating with feeling like you’re creating something magical with your partner— a new family that didn’t exist until the two of you met. You feel furious, jealous, angry, guilty, then calm, accepting, loving, and/or totally over it. All of this in the space of a single afternoon sometimes.

What you’re feeling right now— the contradiction and confusion and wondering which emotion’s going to hold you hostage next— all of that is completely normal.

I’ve heard the exact same issues come up for hundreds of people as they’re becoming stepparents, and they’re the exact same issues that I experienced myself in the early years of blending our family. By breaking down the process of becoming a stepparent into distinct stages, you can start recognizing patterns and pick apart each emotion separately so it’s easier for you to accept, deal, know that hard is normal, forgive yourself, and move on to the next stage. Some stages may overlap, and you might take one step forward, two step backs the entire way to acceptance. But eventually you will reach a place where life once again makes sense and find stepparenting is a gig you find you can live with.

The feelings you’ll experience as you’re becoming a stepparent fall into 7 stages:

  1. Optimism
  2. Bribery
  3. Jealousy
  4. Guilt
  5. Anger
  6. Isolation
  7. Blended”

Read the full article for more information.

Source: Blended Family Frappé

Photo collage with two photos of a blended family: Mom, dad, and their toddler son.

Expectation Versus Reality of a Blended Family

Here’s an except from the blog : Blended Family Frappé, which is packed with resources for step-parents and blended families.

“In a blended family, there is no “should” that acts as the gold standard. Ever.

Some parents have 50/50 custody, some have 60/40 long distance, some do that 2-2-5-5 thing, others have nothing written on paper at all and just wing it. Are some blended families more family-like than others because of a particular custody schedule? Nope.

Some stepparents fall right in love with their partner’s kids, and becoming a stepparent is a breeze for them. That definitely was not my personal experience (and also I’ve never met any of those stepparents…) but that doesn’t mean that I’m any less of a stepparent— or any worse of a stepparent— just because my stepdaughter and I have had a rockier road. Turns out it’s normal and okay if you don’t love your stepkid! It’s also super normal for stepkids to reject their stepparent.

Don’t get hung up on the disconnect between what you think your blended family should look/act/function like and what it actually looks/acts/functions like.

Get rid of that should. Just— stomp it dead. “Should” implies that your blended family as you know it is not enough. That we should be less than, more than, better than.

Other than.

What about letting life in a blended family just… be what it is? Spend the time you have together, however much or how often that happens, without such high expectations for ourselves and each other.

Let’s stop obsessing over how we envision a family should be, and learn to enjoy how our blended families really are. Stop wasting time on wishing for something different— for a family that doesn’t look like Y or act like Z, or for the ex to disappear, or for stepparenting to not feel so damn hard — and sink that energy into appreciation instead. Embrace the complicated, chaotic love/stress/tangle of blended family life instead of beating ourselves senseless and bloody against the unyielding should.

It’s only when stepparents let go of “should” that we can stop struggling to define our role and find relative peace within our blended family. It’s only when our partners let go of “should” that they can start appreciating the gifts we’re bringing to the table— even if our role isn’t what they (or we ourselves!) originally envisioned us taking on. And it’s only when our stepkids let go of “should” that they can finally accept that their mom and dad will never get back together, and they have two families and both are valid.

Let go of should, and you’ll make room for the blended family you already are. And living in that blended family will look and feel about a million times better once you shove all those “shoulds” outta the way.”

Source: Blended Family Frappé

Two black & white photos of a mom and her toddler son.


Hi, I’m Marjorie. I’m a Newborn & Family Photographer based in Los Angeles, California, and the creator of this documentary series, “I Wish I Knew… A Series on Parenthood.”

Portrait of newborn and family photographer Marjorie Cohen.

Soon after I started my business and began hanging out with different families, I realized every single parent I knew had gone through something. Everyone had a story.

I decided to use my background in filmmaking to create a platform where parents could share their stories. My hope is that we can learn from each other and normalize events and experiences that have been labeled as taboo.

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We cover topics such as mental health, pregnancy loss, adoption, divorce, out-of-hospital birth, and more.


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