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I never…words from a bio/step mom that hit home.

This morning I received a letter from a fan of my Facebook page named Bobbie Ann Phillips and as I read it I knew instantly this needed to be read by all of you. This is her story and its an honest account of how it feels, of what we don’t expect, our fears and our goals. Enjoy!

” I never imagined I would have to co-parent with an ex of mine, much less an ex of my new husband. I did know I would be co-parenting with my own husband. I never imagined my husband would be someone else’s ex husband. I never thought I would have to share some of “my” weekends and “my” holidays, separate, from “my” son. I never thought I would have to long for the chance to do those same things with and for a son whose dad is dead. I also never thought my deepest fear would be that my third son may someday meet the same fate of a broken home. I never thought I would be fearing completely loosing two of my children if my marriage ever did fail. I never thought most of my scheduling would revolve so much around picking up one set of kids at 6p on Friday, meeting to drop off another kid before or after that, and then meeting back on 6p Sunday for drop off of two kids and then meeting before or after that to get another kid back. I never thought I would both look forward to, and dread those weekends at the very same time. I never imagined I would explain to two of my three biological children why daddy can not be here, or does not live here and the reasons be because of such different circumstances. Circumstances that would cause as much hurt for both of “my” boys and myself as both situations do. I never even imagined my children would have different dads. I never thought I would have “other” kids ask me why my husband, their dad, is not with their mom. I never thought I would be making beds, cleaning laundry, preparing meals, buying necessities, and supporting “other” kids. I knew “my” kids may look past all I do for them and it would hurt some. I did not know having “other” kids look past those same things would hurt as much. I never thought I would have “other” kids sometimes resent me for my role in their lives. A role they only want their mom, and their dad, to have. I never thought I would feel so much hurt for them, and for my husband, because they too come from a broken home. I never thought I would love each person in “my” blended family so much that I would wish each child could have their mom, and their dad, in one home. If I had that wish though, several of my biological children would not exist, and I would never have a chance to even meet two of my “other” children. I would have never met my husband. I never thought I would have to accept that because someone I loved died, and because a different relationship failed I would find new love and create a new family. I never thought I would agree that when one life ends another begins. I feel as though I have personally lost two lives and began a new one each time. I feel I am on my third life, and feverishly pray for it to be my last.

I never thought I would be the “other” parent that another parent would resent. I am that parent whose mere presence in a child’s life causes another adult resentment, and pain. Though “her” family ended long before “mine” began, I never imagined my place with my husband would be a stark reminder of another woman’s lost place with her husband. I never imagined That my place with my step children would be a reminder of “her” time she “has” to share, with me. I never thought my loving them could hurt her as much as it would if I did not love them. I do acknowledge that my presence does cause these things, though completely unintentional. I never imagined two children who “are not mine” would have me so wrapped around their little fingers. I did not know I could love a child I did not give birth to so much that it literally hurts. I did not know I would want to fight so fiercely for my time, my bond, and my place with two children who I feel with every bone in my body are mine. I knew I would have children that would fill my life with love, joy, hope, chaos and clutter. I knew I would do everything in my power to protect, love and cherish every moment with “my” kids. I knew I would become a mom by choice to children I gave birth to. I did not know that I would have that same desire to love, protect and cherish children not born to me. I knew there would be times my children would be angry with me. I knew I would make mistakes and cause hurt. I knew I would mend the hurt, calm the anger and explain why I do what I do to “my” kids. I knew I would both reward and punish “my kids” with no remorse because that is my job as their mom. I did not know I would feel so guilty by my own presence that I would overly reward, and seldom punish the children I did not give birth to. I never knew I would feel I don’t have the right to demand and earn respect from “other” children as much as I do from “my” children. I never thought I would always worry my actions and words would favor “my” children over the “other” children so much that I actually show more favor to “other” children over mine at times. I never thought I would say I am an ex, a wife, a mom, and a step mom, All in one. I am all of those things and I am these things at the very same time. I sometimes struggle to decide which hat I am suppose to wear at which time. All of these inner struggles are real, and part of my life. I am exactly where I want to be. I realize I am exactly where God planned me to be. I do have the husband and children I did always long for. I am thankful for all the good and bad that comes with this life and these roles. Yet I have no idea how to navigate my happiness and love without someone else being hurt, or resentful, in some way because of it. I have no idea why I even care that my presence, my role, and my place effects any person other than my husband, and our children. I just know that I do care.

I do not co-parent with my ex’s new wife or serious girlfriend, not yet anyway. I do know that the day will come when I will. At least, I pray it does. I do want “my” son to have another parent love him. I do want him to have someone else he can learn from, respect, love and cherish. I so want him to know I am okay with him loving some “other” parent. I want her to know that while her presence may cause some stinging, I’m happy to share “my” son with her. I want her to know that he’s “our” son, and that “our” will include her. I know that during my time as a step mom I have learned many things to do, and not to do both with “my” son and towards the “other” parent. I hope I will remember to respect her, and to honestly cherish her. I hope I will remember I should view any person my son loves as an extension of himself. I love “my” son, and so I will love those he loves and that love him. I hope I can remember I should love “my kids” mom because they love her and she is an extension of them. For the love of a child even the most difficult situations on all ends I am involved in will be handled with love and care, by me, for them regardless of how the opposing end on either side of these blended families are behaving. That is my goal anyway. I know I pray daily that God shows me the way to do all these things with Grace in each of the roles I am fulfilling.

~ Bobbie Ann Phillips

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Nine secrets your spouse’s ex may not tell you.

Do you have an ex in your life, which makes your life hell? Does it feel like even though your spouse got divorced, that they are still married? Would it surprise you to find out that you put up with more than you have to, simply because the ex says you do?

Below are nine ways to stop allowing the ex to run your life. And, how to remove the welcome mat from your porch and your forehead respectively.

1.  You didn’t marry them; they are not your ex.

This person your spouse or significant other married and consequently divorced, was not who you planned to spend your life with. The word exclude, starts with ex, do just that.        

2.  The ex does not own your spouse just because they share a child.

If your spouse is the non-custodial parent with visitation; it is difficult, but not impossible. Though no longer a team in terms of marriage, they are a team in terms of the child/ren. The ex can only control what the divorce decree says. If the ex has sole legal and sole physical, s/he has the say over schooling, medical and religion. However s/he is required by law to encourage and nurture a relationship with any and all family members of the child’s non-custodial parent. This includes stepfamily, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Better yet, did you know your spouse has a right to daily phone calls with their child, unless noted differently in the divorce decree?  

3.  If you want to attend a school or sporting event – you can. Doctors’ appointments too.

Sporting events are public; anyone and their grandmother can attend. If you want to go, go. Same goes for school recitals, back to school nights, etc. In fact most schools will do separate conferences so that both homes are involved in the child’s educational progress and needs. In terms of doctors’ appointments you can go with a spouse, or have your name added to the child’s file as someone who has a right to medical care and information. It is really no different than having access to a credit card or utility bill that may be solely in your spouse’s name. You can gain information and have some involvement.

4. Your spouse’s visitation time is your spouse’s choice to spend it how they wish. 

The ex-spouse cannot commit you to anything on your time. This includes sports, doctors’ appointments, birthday parties etc. It is a double edge sword though because if by not taking the child to certain engagements will hurt the child in the process, it is a no win situation. But, by no means are you required to do it.

5. Follow your divorce decree, not the ex’s divorce commands.

It can’t be any more plain stated than this. The divorce decree is your spouse’s bible in a sense. It states what is expected, allowed and forbade. Non-custodial parents have more rights than most realize, like rights to medical and school records. Do your research.

6. If your spouse and their ex share joint legal and joint physical custody – your spouse’s say is just as important as the ex’s.

One is not more than the other. In some cases, one parent may have sole physical custody, while both retain joint legal custody. You need to know the differences of these and what your spouse has.

7. The ex can only control what there is no control over.

If a void is visible, the ex will invade. One place the ex will try to invade is your marriage. This is your territory – be territorial enough to remind the ex, this is not their place, and their existence will not be tolerated. Stand your ground.

8. The ex’s issue with you, is a reflection of an issue with themselves.

Any parent who is content with themselves and their own level of involvement and parenting they provide will never limit or control the parenting or involvement of anyone else. This is a well-known fact.

9. In terms of child support, do your own math and research.

Many parents pay more than they should, and feel as though they have to roll over and take it. If your spouse feels there is a substantial change either in their income or the ex’s, request a review. If your spouse is on disability or the ex is on disability make sure the child support office is aware. You’d be surprised how many parents overpay because they failed to double check or request a review.

There you have it, nine ways to limit or exclude the ex’s involvement in your home, your marriage and the relationship with your stepkids.
 

Well there is no hiding it now.

Imagine my surprise while Twitter alerted me that DivorcedMoms.com had tweeted a link to me. Of course I click on it, and too my surprise and almost embarrassment – there is my story. There is my story, and there is my name. There was no hiding from this now, it was out there.

I had in fact sent them this personal writing as a pitch idea for those going through divorce. To share how I felt in those first few months, the emotions that came and went – so that anyone else in my shoes could feel as if they were no longer alone.

But there it was, in black and white. My fears, my life, my inner most personal details were screaming at me from their site. While feeling proud, and in shock at the same time – I figure that if they posted it that quickly and without any communication, it must be worth reading. Click the link below to read what I never thought anyone would, and what the inner workings of infidelity and divorce feel like.

http://www.divorcedmoms.com/articles/he-left-two-weeks-ago-this-is-what-hatred-looks-like

This is how hatred feels

http://www.divorcedmoms.com/articles/he-left-two-weeks-ago-this-is-what-hatred-looks-like

Wait, awareness costs $10?

ALSIceBucketChallengeBefore the ALS IceBucket Challenge, if you had asked myself, or my family what ALS was, we would not have known the answer.

In our home, it was something we saw our friends and family doing on Facebook, and something we had seen our favorite baseball players doing, and then our favorite musicians and actors, and so on. We knew it was raising awareness for something. That was all we knew.

That was all we needed to know; to know we needed to know more. People who are focused on the monetary rule of the challenge and the water conservation – are missing this monumental piece of vital information.

We didn’t know what we were raising awareness for. We knew it was a disease, and that it necessary to help find a cure. We wanted in. We wanted to help. We wanted to know more.

One by one, our family of five was nominated. The excitement in our home was exhilarating, we were joining millions of others in this challenge, we were banding together for the greater good, for a GOOD cause. It led us to inquire as to what disease we were raising awareness for. It was upon my research that I realized I had heard of it before, but had heard of it as Lou Gehrigs Disease, and still did not know what it really was, or how it affected the people living with it day in and day out. I looked it up. I read about it. I learned about it. I shared it with my family. 

Now five people were made aware of this, the five people in my home. Then the five people we nominated, and the five people they nominated and so the ripple effect rippled on. No, we did not donate $10, we solely did the Ice Bucket Challenge, we talked about ALS, and tagged our friends and family. We donated our effort, our compassion, and our desire to help and to raise awareness. Is that insignificant for you? Is it your intent to teach your child or neighbor that the only awareness important is by monetary awareness?

If so, extending further clarification would be as worthless as the $10 you are donating. Your money, void of the understanding, compassion and desire to be learn; to band together with our communities and the world for the benefit of research and a cure is lacking any value. 

Last night I was told, the purpose of this challenge was that you HAD to donate $10 along with dumping the ice water over your head. That if you could not donate $10, that you should not have accepted the challenge. So, I ask you this. If I were nominated by someone, and I did not have the $10, and I refused the challenge, what happens then? What happens to the next person who doesn’t have the $10 to donate, and is forced to refuse the challenge? THE AWARENESS STOPS. However, if we do the challenge, minus the $10, and nominate someone else, who nominates someone else, who donates $100 – what has happened? People who aren’t aware of the disease are learning about it, and money is donated toward the cause. THAT IS SPREADING AWARENESS. In every possible manner.

Since when do we only want someone’s help when money is involved? Since when do we not accept someone’s desire to help because they do not have money? What is that teaching our children and our society?  A cure is not going to be found because you blindly handed over money, instead of those who are investing their time and understanding. Awareness bears no cost, awareness is a desire to know, to learn and to share. That is priceless, it is a gift to the people who live with ALS, who fight ALS, and the families who strive every day to make one more person understand what ALS is.

For more information please visit http://www.alsa.org.

What ever happened to…

Respecting our elders.
General kindness and courtesy.
Minding your own business.
Giving the benefit of the doubt.
The Golden Rule.
Not judging a book by its cover.
Owning and Rectifying our mistakes.
Getting to know someone ourselves.

Growing up it was expected that I lived by this list of expectations. If there wasn’t enough of something for everyone to go around, I’d go without. Whispering was rude. Inviting myself anywhere was never okay. Excluding someone intentionally was not acceptable. Gossiping was bad manners. I was raised with sayings like: “Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” “Be kind to strangers, and to those who appear to have less than you. For those who appear to have less, their hearts have more.” And, my personal favorite “Pretty is as pretty does.”

While walking into work, I hurried past an elderly woman who was being helped by what I am guessing was her daughter to the door. Once to the door, I stopped and held the door for them. The look of surprise on her face in that moment was incredible. Here I was a young able bodied woman quickly passing her by. In her mind, I was just going to blow through that door and leave her in my dust, possibly like others had done before. But, I didn’t, and I never would. Her smile, and exasperated thank you, affected me in two ways – it made me feel good to have helped her and sad that her faith in humanity had shattered so greatly that this act of general kindness was abnormal. 

The simple rules we were raised by seem irrelevant and non-existent to many. Offering a helping hand is too much to ask to those whose hands are full of selfishness. Making time for our children, and our families, is too demanding on a schedule filled by personal appointments that reek of empty moments that will amount to nothing when the hands of time can’t be rewound.

It is as if we have all lost sight of what is most important. We’ve lost the desire to care, to show compassion, to go above and beyond for a friend in need – to allow room for our loved ones and friends to make mistakes. We have created such an uptight and demanding society full of worthless objects and sentiments void of any real volume or validity. 

Living in a small town people here think they know someone because they have heard about them. They chastise and make a mockery of those whose lives are not their own, and whose choices do not affect their lives. They volley conversations about personal matters and misfortunes as general topics for enjoyment. Making remarks such as “Oh did you hear about so and so?” “Oh here look at this picture, or mugshot, can you believe it?”   Why is this acceptable? Why are we blindly passing judgment? Who do we think we are?

We have become obsessed and consumed with not only finding out but revealing everyone’s skeletons hidden in their closet – that we forget our closet has a few of our own. Are we the mean girls and bullies from high school, hanging posters with peoples pictures and labeled mistakes for enjoyment? Why is the benefit of the doubt and the golden rule being tossed away in a gutter without any real remorse or understanding for what we truly are losing.

How many people do you know of, verses know? People whom you don’t like or associate with, solely because of what you’ve heard of them? Who is really missing out there, you or them? In my opinion – you are at a loss and they are at a gain. Personally, I would not want the company of a person who wishes me well, but not that well. Or a friend who would rather calculate my value beginning with my past. If today you are a kind to me, and a good friend to me – I care not what you did yesterday or a year ago. 

Life is about making a difference, sharing a voice, loving, caring, and raising our children to do the same. When someone falls, you help them up. You don’t stare, point and laugh. What is that teaching our children?

Our society cares more about the why, than the who. We share judgment before giving the benefit of the doubt. We condemn and chastise rather than commend and praise. Our conversations are overflowing with condescending overtones instead of respectful dialogue. For what? What do we benefit from this? A rise out of someone, a battle of wits and distorted temporary feeling of superiority? If that is what you want, go for it honey! But, I am not interested.

I say we, because I know I am not innocent. I too fall have fallen victim at times. However, I’ve made mistakes, I have, both on a small scale and a large scale. But, I will never choose to dislike someone because someone else does, or told me to. Others misfortunes will never be a gain in my eyes, and it is my choice to not pass judgment where compassion could prevail. I dare you to do the same, and to get to know someone for who they are to you – and not their past or their mistakes that were made yesterday or the ones they will make tomorrow.  Mistakes are made from trying and they provide a lesson learned, and an experience gained. 

Pride means nothing without humility. A little respect and compassion goes a long way.

 

Make them aware that they are loved.

It doesn’t matter where the love comes from, it doesn’t matter if it’s a bio-parent or a step-parent – as long as there is love being freely given. Someone who gives their time, their energy, their love without any regard for a personal gain – solely to benefit the child. We all get some portion of this in life. A little piece of completeness.

When you look at your child/stepchild – look at them and see the child – not the other parent. See what needs they have, what talents they possess and can share with the world given your love,  your time, and your extra attention. Don’t be afraid or too busy to hug them, to discipline them, or to not be their friend. Because, inside of us all we have that small place that’s missing something? Don’t you?aware

The truth is…we lie.

I think I speak for most parents when I say we are pretty damn near perfect! I mean, who are we kidding here? If we do lie, it is completely for your own good and protection… or is it?

Document1_01

Okay, so the truth is we do tell white lies to our children in hopes to prolong the innocence they possess and to encourage make-believe and fairy-tales. White lies about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and that minions and oompa loompas totally exist in a world of chocolate covered scientific laboratories. Or, that one day prince charming will ride up on a white horse (or black if you prefer), sweep you up and all your worries will wash drown the drain, along side some calgon…and maybe a glass of wine, when you are thirty and still living at home playing with barbies, because you will be mommy’s sweet baby princess forever...for-ev-er! Oh wait, I got swooped up in those white lies again, dang it!

The truth is we flat out tell “whoppers” and sometimes it is for our own humor and selfishness. What are we going to do when our children get old enough to know better? I am lucky in that my daughter being two years older than her brother – helps with cover-ups. Wait, that sounds bad…but it is true.

In my jewelry box you will find an assortment of items, not just jewelry. In this particular case, my son was looking for something, and pulled out a small plastic baggy filled with baby teeth. As soon as I saw him holding them, I couldn’t move…and when I heard him ask “Mom are these my teeth?” I couldn’t mutter a sound. I just stood there thinking to myself, CRAP! Now, what? and looked at him. Then, my daughter swoops in and saves the day with a whopper all of her own “No, Gage, those are moms teeth from when she was little, but she probably has yours somewhere, cause you can buy them back from the tooth fairy – for memories!” Breathing now and able to speak again, I laughed and completely lied through my teeth and the bag of the teeth she was holding, and said “Yep, what your sister said!” Should I be worried or proud that she came up with that on her own? I don’t know, but while I ponder that thought here are some whoppers, white lies and fibs that parents use to get us through, and the truths that lie behind them.

Lie: When you get grounded it hurts us more.
Truth: We enjoy the quiet, and getting to watch what we want on tv.

Lie: The ice cream is all gone.
Truth: It is just cleverly hidden in another container in the freezer.

Lie: You can get pregnant from kissing or sitting in the hot tub with a boy.
Truth: We’re not stupid!

Lie: Eating veggies will put hair on your chest.
Truth: We have no idea if you will ever get hair on your chest.

Lie: The tooth fairy is off on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Truth: Mom or Dad either forgot, didn’t have ones or they get paid on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Lie: God emails me every day, I can just go check my inbox.
Truth: I am digging for answers and hope you still fear God and will tell me the truth.

Lie: If you keep making that face it will freeze like that.
Truth: It won’t.

Lie: Boy have cooties
Truth: Scientifically, girls actually have cooties.

Lie: The park is closed
Truth: We’re tired.

Lie: “Mom, what are you eating?” Answer “diet chocolate”
Truth: It’s not diet and I am not sharing.

Lie: Maybe, We will see.
Truth: I mean no, but I’m avoiding a melt down wherever we’re at currently!

Lie: If you swallow Watermelon seeds, they will grow in your tummy.
Truth: You are gonna poop watermelons. Oh wait, that’s another lie.

The truth is, that most of these are harmless and funny – which is good because I get in enough hot water for the amount of honesty and over indulging information I do share with my children. A good white lie, may be just what the kids may need these days. What are some whoppers you tell your children?

For more stories from Jessica, check out her blog at https://totallyjessifiable.wordpress.com

From highlight reel to extended scenes…you deserve better.

I’ve always settled for “okay” love, “momentary” love, material love and graciousness, you know the kind, that when you buy someone something they really want – you then become the best thing that has ever happened to them, that isn’t real love.

We are raised with such convoluted ideals of what is expected, normal and acceptable for society to accept us. However, we relent, we condone, we allow others to interject their opinions and what they feel our relationship should produce or protect. Truth is – it is not their relationship. I’ve heard wait until your with someone for 15 years – that is a real relationship, real dedication, and real love. Bullshit. Real love, real dedication – has no essence of time. Period.

Being a relationship addict or addicted to love and the belief that one day if I put up with enough this relationship is sure to blossom into a lifetime commitment and I can finally relax into what normal people have – is a ridiculous ideal. I’ve literally laid down and allowed men to walk all over me my entire life, I allowed my father to treat me as if I was worthless and that rolled into relationship after relationship after relationship. You want to know why that is? The old adage you might as well stick it out – because the next person has just as much issues as the one you are with. LIES, LIES, LIES people, listen here that is just completely false and inaccurate. Everyone has their flaws like leaving their clothes beside the laundry basket, forgetting to take the garbage out, not always helping with the kids, but let me tell you…serious issues…there are men without them. You can do better!

something different

They say if you want a different outcome, do things differently. In each relationship I took from the previous failure and then tried to rectify that in the new one. If the guy before was unfaithful, I made myself more sexual, more available, more pleasing. If they guy before was unhappy or felt un-cared for, I learned to cook, to provide, to take care of. If the guy before was deceitful and untrustworthy I tried to open up more- communicate more, to allow and invite an openness in the relationship. If the guy was emotionally, mentally or physically abusive, I would modify my looks, my behaviors, I would give up my life, my fun, my wants and needs and dedicate myself completely to helping and fixing them…DO YOU SEE THE PROBLEM HERE?? The problems and changes to be made were not mine to make, it was simply the wrong relationship. I didn’t trust myself, I didn’t listen to my brain or follow my gut…that part was my only fault.

It is important for women to realize this: It is not your job to take on the success or failure of a relationship in its entirety. If the marriage/relationship is failing and you are the only one fighting…STOP. If the first time you meet a guy he has texts from women on his phone saying they are waiting naked in bed for him, honey… walk away! If a guy slaps you then tells you he loves you, walk away, (well I would slap him back and then walk away) but you know what I mean! If you find yourself in a dentist chair having a tooth extracted solely to provide your addict boyfriend with Vicodin – dear lord child, walk away! Cheaters, cheat… Liars, lie… Abusers dominate and destroy and Addicts, simply transfer their addictions. You do not need to stay in any of these situations if you do not want to. It is your choice – not God’s choice, or the Bibles choice, it is not what is best for your children, or what is best for you, or for the person you are desperately trying to fix. You will lose yourself, you will lose this battle and you deserve better.

higlightreel

Here is the thing, yes we tend to fall into relationship ruts, and often times can repeat the past and pick out of a pond packed with emotionally and mentally damaged fish that are most likely floating sideways if not upside down already! BUT, you have this amazing ability to change that. You are more wise that you give yourself credit for. And, my favorite part is this: Not every man will abuse you, not every man will cheat on you- repeatedly, not every man will be systematically deceitful, hurtful and unavailable. In my lifetime, I have loved entirely and completely three men – an abusive alcoholic, an unfaithful deceitful younger man, and an honest to goodness good man. They exist…I didn’t settle, I didn’t have to allow him to hurt me to be loved, or chase him for affection, or fight to keep him every night. He chose to stay, he chose to be kind, considerate, to listen, to communicate and to love me – even when I don’t deserve it.

You’ve heard the saying do not compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel, and it is true. Trust me, I lived a highlight reel life, I boasted and hung tightly to every UP, because I was so tormented and heartbroken by every LOW. I thought I needed to be thankful for the good times, because they made the hard times worth it…which is true to a point. However, when the hard times are many and the good times are few…you have to be strong enough and value yourself enough to draw the line.

There are a number of unhealthy relationships, guarded secrets, ultimatums and foundations built on infidelity, deceit and immoral actions – unfortunately the sad part isn’t that these exist, it is the people who think this is what they deserve. That this is the best they can have, that no one will love them outside of this relationship. That they have nothing to offer the world, no dream to chase, or talent to offer. They look in the mirror and see failure, ridicule, embarrassment and despair, when they should see strength, honor, integrity, beauty, hope and success.

In my mirror I can choose to see all those negative things as well, I can see my flaws and imperfections, my failed endeavors, relationships, parental screw-ups, employment mistakes, and lord knows what else. But, you want to know what I see when I look in the mirror? I see my daughter, I see her impressive beauty, her intelligence and witty personality, and her STRONG sense of self-esteem. I see my son, his goofy ways, his kind heart, and loving soul. I see my green eyes that I love, that have cried tears of happiness more than sadness, and that many have looked into, viewing the goodness of my heart. I see a woman who has been real, honest and fought when necessary and is learning to let some battles go. I see a woman who is beautiful because of my actions, my children, my mind, and my heart – not because of my physical features. And most importantly I see a woman who is unafraid, intelligent, quick witted, stubborn, hilariously funny, dorky, goofy and flat out 100% one of a kind.

you

That is what I choose, and what I will raise my daughter to choose…it is what all women need to choose…choose yourself and own your life. It will be the best investment you will ever make.

And I created that..well half anyhow.

Laying in our overstuffed chair with my now almost eight year old son, and ten year old daughter – my mind wanders. How did they grow so tall, their legs so long, their fingers and hands so big. It seems like just yesterday, there were still protected within my belly – and now their live, loud, funny and smart people. When you hear people say “don’t blink – they’ll be grown before you know” I should have listened.

Pregnancy for me was incredible. The feeling of them moving inside of me, or getting hiccups – every little kick, drag or roll, excited me to no end. Hearing their heartbeats, planning their names, their lives – imagining who and what they would be, consumed my every waking breath. Worrying clouded by dreams at night as well. What if they are missing a finger, or are born with an incurable illness, what if they are ugly?? Yes, I worried about that – you are not normal if you never worried that your kid might be the ugly kid. Yes, we would love them anyhow, and tell they were perfect and beautiful either way – but I still worried.

Truth is, my children are beautiful, so beautiful that if I hadn’t know for a fact, and attended their own birth witnessing them come out of me – I might wonder who they came from. Their eyes are green with specs in them that I believe are awesome sprinkles. Their skin tone is one many purchase in a tanning salon – or spend countless hours baking in the sun to attempt achieving. My daughter has long golden, soft, blonde hair that drops past the middle of her back – effortlessly. My son, carries a smile that aids in avoiding or lessening punishments when he rarely misbehaves.

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If you are like me, you may not have planned your pregnancy to one or possibly all your children. My daughter was planned, and my son was a blessing. With Gracie – I soaked in everything, especially once I found out she was a girl! It was all over then! Everything was PINK, girly, sparkly and frilly! She was born gorgeous, truly perfect and pink. Never in my life, have I ever felt the love you feel as you hold your child for the first time – the bond, and promise to never lose sight of what is most important.

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My son, he was a different story – I found out I was pregnant with him during a hard time in my life. My husband and I were divorcing and I was in a constant state of disbelief, hurt and anger. Many times I secretly hated that I was pregnant, and questioned how I would be able to do this alone? What would people think – Who would ever love me? When I found it he was a boy, I cried and was angry more – all I knew was girls..what am I going to do with a boy? They are loud, dirty, obnoxious and unruly – what in the hell was God thinking giving me a boy to raise on my own? My delivery with him was difficult, and he had a small pallet so when he cried, he snorted – something now I wish I would have enjoyed a little more. He had a small face, and a protruding chin – he was a boy. He also became my world.

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It feels almost impossible to express a mothers love for her children. With Gracie, I never thought I could love anyone as much – until Gage came to me. God was smart, knowing exactly what was given to me – one of the greatest blessings a mom could hope for… a Son. My daughter is witty, spunky, too smart for her own good, beautiful beyond measure and can make me laugh when I need it most. BUT, my son, Gage – he has the heart of an angel, his eyes can tell me he loves me, misses me, needs me, is hurting, anything without him uttering one word. His hugs don’t just wrap around me, they envelope my soul. His smile – makes me regret every day I questioned why he was being gifted to me – and makes me wish I had enjoyed him longer when we were still one.

Still, I spend moments of where I just gaze at them both and thank God they are mine. It’s hard to verbalize the pride I feel when I watch them succeed at something, or do something kind for another – or at times just how they breath. Questioning myself under my breath..I made this? Me – the most imperfect person, who has made mistake after mistake – how do I deserve such miraculously perfect children to call me mom – everyday? It’s enough to bring tears to my eyes now as I write this, and on many occasions past, present and future.

The point of this blog is for those mothers pregnant – maybe scared, worried, alone. Soak this all in, every Dr’s appt, every heartbeat, every uncomfortable elbow in your side, braxton hicks or even the fiftieth trip to the bathroom. If you lay in bed alone – remember you aren’t alone – you are becoming a mother, you are the beginning of the most important person you will ever be. Nothing will ever surpass being a mom – no love will ever touch it, and no person will ever love you back they way a child does.

Life is hard, and things don’t go as planned – and when you think you have it all figured out; you’ll find out that’s not always the case. However, one thing is planned and perfectly meant for you – and that is the child your carrying both in your belly and in your heart. Enjoy them, enjoy this moment – because you never have this again.  You will wake up one day with a boy who is eight and a girl who is ten on your lap – and although they won’t be tiny – you will realize you still have the whole world at your fingertips and close to your heart.

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You are raising a human being — Remember that.

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In the shower (where it seems my clearest thoughts prevail) I was thinking about how many people lose out when they simply don’t allow, encourage or welcome a relationship with their step-children. Many times I overhear that they don’t accept them due to manners, dislike for the other parents, their behaviors etc. When your family includes either your own children and a new spouse, or the children between you only, that is not a family and you are not only hurting the children you are hurting yourself.

I have a friend that I adore, she and her husband were granted full custody of a boy about 10 or so, due to a mother that just left him one day. My friend was less than pleased, this boy dressed scroungy, he had different manners, picked on her kids, and she felt he was more of a hassle than a blessing. Her husband worked nights, and she would complain and feel that she was raising “his” child, and it wasn’t her responsibility.

She would come to me and ask how come it was so easy for me, with my prior stepson, and how did I do it without getting upset – her biggest question was “How can you love him?” My answer to her was that for me, it was easy to love him – but that doesn’t mean we don’t have hard times. We all come around to things differently. Now in my current relationship, I went from raising a one year old to a nine year old. HUGE difference, difference in parenting, difference in attitudes, lifestyle and to be honest he isn’t used to have a mother type figure – let alone a steady one. We have our days of where it is real work, and there are days I am sure he doesn’t like me. But, tomorrow is a new day and I am not giving in. One day, one step at a time.

While being able to understand her frustration, I never could see how she could dislike this boy, because she had such a wonderful heart. After awhile I noticed she complained about him less, and he appeared in more photos, and the stories she shared were about him and the great things he was doing.

Fast forward a couple of years, and she and her spouse are now divorcing. Something that needed to happen a few years back, but when I say she has a great heart, I meant an extremely forgiving heart. Of course, I asked about her stepson and her response warmed my heart ” He goes with me of course, he is my son — it is written in our agreement that when the kids are with me, they are ALL with me.”

She took on a situation that wasn’t hers, she often did it alone, however the resentment wasn’t put on the child, the discipline, the nurturing, the love and care that she at times wanted to withhold – she never did. In the end, this boy grew into a young man who gained a mother and a sense of worth because someone who he fully expected to let him down, instead lifted him up.

My point here I guess is not just to share how easy it was for me, or how difficult it can be these days in a new relationship or how she was able to come around. But, more in that you all stand to lose when you choose to divide your family, solely due to the differences in hygiene, clothing, manners, attitude, or because they are simply not your responsibility. The truth is, that any child inside your home is your responsibility – whether it be a friend of your child’s, or niece or nephew, or a stepchild. And, the real question is why would you choose to shut out a child in any manner any how? Simply because you don’t like him or her – a child is a product of their environment – show them a positive environment – and watch that child make positive changes.

If not, you and your spouse or significant other will have an endless battle on your hands, there will be underlying resentment around every corner, and hidden under every argument, every family discussion – because you are not truly a family. Being a family doesn’t mean that you will agree, or that everyone ends up happy – it means that all are considered an important viable interest in your choices.

If you get to the point where you don’t like her/his kids, and they never say thank you, they will never be as good as your kids, and your spouse will never be as good a parent as you are – Is it time to ask yourself a different question like what am I doing with this person, is this the relationship for me? Seriously sit back, and ask who it is that you are hurting, because no one wants to be with someone like that. If your complaint is constantly their kids, that is a problem that needs fixing instead of complaining.

Do you want to fix your relationship with a stepchild or maybe build one? If so, here are some great ways to do so:

Sit and talk – even observe – see what they have to offer, a talent they possess and get involved.

Listen – put yourself in their shoes, remember they are a child.

Go on a date together – you, your spouse and them. Just you – not your kids at first.

Then go on a date with them all together.

Then go on  a date just you and them.

Eat dinner together as a family – sharing your day or something that happened that made it great.

At the end of the day – your family gains the world by simply trying. Have you given your all?

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