The Millennials: The blended life of Kate Krieger.

May 31, 2015
Kaya, 12 and Ana, 10 holding Lauren, now 10- months-old.

Kaya, 12 and Ana, 10 holding Lauren, now 10- months-old.

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Writer’s note: Over the last several months, Mason County Press has been featuring stories on millennials and other people who have inspirational stories. After writing many of these stories, I asked my editor, Rob Alway, if I could share a personal story as one of these stories. This is my story and I’m sure if will differ from many other people experiencing similar situations, but I felt that I wanted to share, so instead of featuring a Mason County Press, Mason County community member, I am going to share my story in my own words.

By Kate Krieger. MCP Senior Correspondent.

LUDINGTON – I decided to ask my editor, Rob Alway if I could share my personal story after watching and hearing so much hoopla about the whole Bruce Jenner media coverage. No, I’m very happy with being a female and that’s not what this is about at all.

But there were so many aspects of Bruce’s story that I felt I could kind of relate to on many different levels, not just the LGBT portion and I felt so many people are so quick to judge people who they don’t even know or their personal stories they live everyday.

So this is my story, one of millions out there existing at this very moment.

all_access_sponsorship_100114Growing up in a small town in the 1980s-1990s, you sometimes felt like everything you did was under a microscope, especially when one of your parents was a schoolteacher. I grew up in a middle-class family with a father who worked as a librarian and a mother who was a local schoolteacher. Most people in our community knew my brother, Nick and me one way or another.

I can remember every year on the first day of junior high and high school when we had to fill out those orange colored emergency contact cards that they kept in the office. I was always so happy when I got to check the box that asked about your parents, whether they were married, divorced or separated and I always got to check “married.”

The first day of school of my junior year of high school in 1996, I got that orange card handed to me and I had to check “divorced” and it felt so bizarre. Not only was it bizarre that I only lived with my mom, Nick had since gone off to college, but we also knew a huge secret that more and more people in that small community were finding out; my dad had come out of the closet revealing to the family that he was gay.

I had always known his twin brother also was gay and never really thought anything of it. I love my dad and my uncle and I don’t care who they love as long as they are happy. Some may think that it being your dad, the reaction would be a lot different — emotions of anger, embarrassment, ashamed, etc. — but I felt the same way I had always felt about my uncle and any other person I had ever met who I knew was “categorized” as LGBT. Let me rephrase that, I feel the same way about them as I feel towards anyone else, no matter who they are, who they love and how they chose to live their own personal lives. I have always been one to believe that it isn’t something you choose, because why would someone choose a life that is ridiculed and made fun of to some extents where people take their own lives over it?

After learning the news and dealing with a lot of nasty comments, along with a lot more supportive comments, my entire life changed. I was kind of a follower my entire childhood, but after growing older and realizing I had people in my life, both relatives and friends, who were targeted every single day just because of who they were, I started to speak my mind a lot more and became a lot more supportive to people, no matter who they were. I remember my mom telling me never to judge anyone because you never know what kind of day they are having or what their own life looks like, so be happy with who you are and try to make them happy as well.

Probably one of the reasons I chose to go into journalism and then social work had a lot to do with my upbringing. I still try to educate people as much as I can. I know everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I just hope they take a moment to think before they judge and/or speak negatively.

After my mother passed away in 2010, my life changed again, I became an adult in an instant. My mom, Jeanine, always was my mom, even as an adult and when you lose that person you have to grow up fast. That was very difficult for my brother and for me. She was our rock and a huge support, along with our father in everything we did. I traveled through a spout of depression because I had lost my best friend and because everyone knew her. Basically everything reminded me of her and it still can, but it has become easier. I ended a long term relationship after my mom passed away and then I did some soul searching. I met my now fiancé, Kevin Watkins, a 1999 Manistee High School graduate.

Another thing that I never expected to happen while I was growing up was to have a baby before I was married, or out of “wedlock” as many of the people say. Well, Kevin and I got pregnant and had a daughter, Lauren last July. To add more unexpectedness to my life, Kevin has two older daughters, Kaya, 12 and Ana, 10, from a long-term relationship, ranging from high school until 2009. There were periods of time where they did not see each other, which put a strain on the entire relationship and it ended up terminating it in the end. Kevin and his ex-girlfriend hadn’t really spoke in a few years and knowing this, I knew that he needed to make things right, because he needed those girls as much as they needed him in their lives.

While being pregnant with Lauren, I really tried to encourage Kevin to get reconnected with his daughters. He met with their mother and they both were on the same page about how important it was for Kevin to be in their lives. Kevin began to rekindle a relationship after not seeing them due to his four years after high school in the military, including two deployments and then moving out west for different jobs. Shortly after he began seeing his daughters, I gave birth to Lauren and I knew I had something I needed to do. I needed to meet these two girls, introduce them to their half-sister and start to build a loving relationship with them and let them know that even though I would never try to take the place of their mom, I would be there for them and do whatever I could to help them through life.

More importantly, Kevin has been re-accepted by Kaya and Ana after not seeing him for many years, and it has been extremely important for them to become part of our lives and to come spend time with us every weekend.

Growing up, I never thought I would have a blended family, it was almost looked down upon when I was young and I think that has changed so much in the last 10 years. My relationship with the girl’s mother is good and we all co-parent to the best of our abilities. As my own daughter gets older, I hope she knows that she has two amazing, beautiful, educated and very well-manner sisters — not half-sisters — I will always treat them as her sisters because really there is not much difference, especially when the adults can come together and do what’s in the right interest for the children and can leave their drama out of it.

We may not always get along, but who does? But as long as the children don’t see it, it’s always good to communicate, even if it’s not always in agreement.

I would not change my life for anything in the world. I am a mother, fiancé, soon to be step-mother and I enjoy every minute of it. If you would have asked me when I was 25, where I would be, I wouldn’t probably had said here, I would have probably said I’d be out working using my degrees and building my career, but sometimes the unexpected is better than the planned.

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