by David T. Bruce

We met in 1997, and we married in 1999, hoping that the seventeen years of marital experience we had between us from our failed first marriages would help guide us to a more successful relationship. As individuals, we each dreamed that anything was possible—that no goal was unattainable. Together, we found the strength and conviction to make our dreams a reality. Dave retained sole physical custody of his three children (now ages 22, 18, and 18); together, we have been raising them for the past twelve years. Shadra gave birth to two children (now a nine-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl).

our fiveRegardless of the diverse backgrounds and age differences of the members of our family, we strive to blend together and maintain some semblance of a typical lifestyle. It has been quite a road we’ve traveled to get to that point, though. When born into a family, you tend to grow together perhaps overlooking personality traits that you ordinarily would not. When married into each other’s lives, a little more time and effort is sometimes needed. There have definitely been some growing pains along the way, but the effort pays off.

In the meantime, life happens. Dreams take a back seat to late nights waiting for a teen to come home or a soldier-son to call and reassure us he’s safe, struggles with an independent kindergartner’s newfound sense of identity, tutoring older children on any given school subject, housekeeping, and working day-to-day to make ends meet. The dreams and aspirations are still there; however, the daily experiences we share help us grow and gain insight to our world and ourselves. Without these experiences, our dreams may never come to pass.

We have come to realize just what an awesome family we have. Along the way, we have had our bumps and bruises; but as we look back over the last twelve years, we see that scars have healed. We have grown together, and we have fun together. We see that there has never really been a moment that hasn’t been the most rewarding of our lives.

As we share with each other, we gain strength and we believe we can be what we want to be without limitation. We hope to pass this strength to our five children, as they watch us struggle, grow, and have fun. We hope to pass this wonder to the reader as well. Our pasts do not have to limit us. Success can be wrought from a failed marriage. Burned bridges can be rebuilt. We believe our family can be a more perfect union.

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