The Abary-Farol Stepfamily On Raising Kids And Moving Abroad
After six years of a long-distance relationship—including a year of being married—my son Enzo and I moved from the home we loved in Manila in July 2020 to be with my husband Jofer Farol and his three children Lana, Lex and Luke in San Francisco. This was planned so Enzo could graduate 8th Grade in Manila with his friends and start new in San Francisco as a high school freshman. When the time came, some questioned my choice to move in the middle of a pandemic; but Jofer and I have been waiting so long to finally be together, that there was no time like now to make this move.
The quarantine in Manila was like a test run for living in San Francisco—social distancing taught Enzo and I how it would feel not to see loved ones in person but instead see and talk with them over social messaging apps and Zoom. The days leading up to the move were the hardest on the heart, especially saying goodbyes with dear family and friends; but as soon as Jofer picked us up at the airport, we could not hide our biggest smiles. No longer would we need to count the days of our time left together, the months until we would see each other again, or feel the heartache of being apart. This was our new home.
It takes work to blend a family whose six members all have different personalities and operate at different speeds. During a pandemic, you quickly get to know each other since you spend most of your time at home doing everyday tasks. I realised how different American-raised children are from Filipino-raised children— with teenagers in the mix—and we are still figuring out our boundaries. Next, having raised a son, I find it a challenge to connect with a teenage daughter and navigate her mercurial moods.
On the bright side, I love that Enzo—who used to be an only child—has adapted well to life here and now has three other siblings to spend time with, like taking bike rides to the beach or a snack run to the local store. Last year, we carved our first pumpkins, got lost in our first hay maze and decorated our first Christmas tree together as a family. The dinnertime conversations and family game time we have are always a riot. Plus, because Jofer’s kids are used to helping around the house, they are a good influence on Enzo who has become more independent living here. Best of all, I am getting to know my husband better. I find that just hanging out in our pajamas and making breakfast together is as much fun as it is lounging on an exotic beach somewhere and sipping fancy cocktails. We’ve never been happier.
We are far from a perfect family with our own issues just like anyone else, but our beautiful, blended family is God’s blessing. I know with lots of love, patience, understanding and, of course, Jofer by my side, all will be well.