This Mother’s Day you will not find Tanji Cifuni soaking in a bath or sipping a mamosa – but you will find her at Miller Field watching her four sons, and four stepsons play lacrosse and her husband Rich leading the way as coach.
“The days always start early and end late. For the last six years we’ve literally had a lacrosse game every Mother’s Day,” she said. “I celebrate with other mothers and watch six hours of lacrosse games. In the end they usually take me out to dinner. Honestly, I’m doing what I like best. I love to watch my kids play and I love to watch my husband coach.”
These days having a blended family isn’t unusual, but having eight kids from previous marriages when all eight are boys is unusual.
When Tanji Cifuni, a former Patriots cheerleader who now runs the ferry service for the town, married Richard Cifuni, another town employee, they knew they would be co-parenting eight boys from ages 16 to 9, and it didn’t phase them.
Logistically it works for them because all four parents, live in town and they all agree on co-parenting Austin, Andrew, Alex, Ace, Ayden, Ryan, Colin and C.J.
“Over the years we’ve worked out any issues we’ve had for the best interest of the boys, and I think we do an excellent job co-parenting,” Tanji Cifuni said, adding the key is that it took work and they are all on the same page when it comes to discipline, education, behavior and more. “I think right now we’re in a very solid place and I think the boys feel that as well.”
She said the best thing about a blended family is perspective. The boys including a set of twins, get to grow up with two sets of grandparents, a lot of extended family and they’ve all become one really big family.
“The support is there,” she said. “I love seeing all the different personalities, see them interact and grow together. They have grown up together and been parented the same way for a long time. When we go out people will ask if it’s a birthday party, or Cub Scouts, and are often asked if they are all brothers.”
Stepmom Alyssa Daigneault (birth mother to Ayden, Ryan, Colin and C.J.) and ex-husband Aaron Daignault all play a key role in making the blended family situation the best it can be.
“This couldn’t happen without her,” Tanji Cifuni said. “She is a partner in that aspect for life.”
Tanji Cifuni said one pointer she would give for blended families, is making sure you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to house rules and rules you expect your children to follow.
“There have been multiple times we’ve had to have a discussions about things,” Tanji Cifuni said, adding that the boys have academic expectations, expectations on how to behave, and how to represent both households. “For example, we do not allow C’s on a report card.”
Her son Andrew, who was home sick from school, confirmed there are not to be C’s and he acknowledged that he got a C in science on a progress report. So, he tidied up his work and improved his grade. If you get a C on your report card you lose your cell phone.
“I don’t want to sit back and just have my sons bring themselves up,” Tanji Cifuni said. “I’m here to help them be their best. So, are my husband, their stepmom and my ex-husband. My ex-husband coaches them with football and basketball. My husband coaches them all in lacrosse. Their stepmom works in the school system. I’m on the PTO. They have a strong foundation here, they know what we expect.”
All four parents discuss every aspect of the boy’s lives, either on the telephone or in person. “We try to do the best that we can under two different roofs,” Tanji Cifuni said. “It doesn’t always work and it takes years to figure this all out. I truly believe we’re in a good groove when it comes to this stuff. The number one thing in making a blended family work is being on the same page with your spouse,, your ex and the stepmother. If you’re not the children are going to know it. It doesn’t matter if it’s boys or girls, it also highly important that you are organized.”