I got suckered in. That is how it happened.
I’m sure the same has happened to you as you scroll through your newsfeed on Facebook and some silly post catches your eye. For me, it was – – type your name into Google with “is a” after it and see what comes up. Clearly I was avoiding working and jumped right on this humor train. Typing it in, I dreamt up all the cool possibilities, Jessica is a Rockstar, Firecracker, Comedian, maybe even a Genius…but nope, I got, Jessica is a poop. Too bad the search terms weren’t “is the” instead of “is a” but some day I will be the poop, it is a dream I will keep striving for.
Somewhere it amused me just enough to recruit my house husband to do the same and see what the google gods would spit out. Matthew is a poopyhead, is what we got. Jessica is a poop, and Matthew is a poopy head.
“Of course you would be the head poop, because you are so bossy” I say to him as I am flicking him – well poop. Then it hits me “We are two P’s in a poop, you know like two peas in a pod, but poop, oh my goodness there is two p’s in poop – get it?” At this point I am dying laughing, and he is laughing solely because I have obviously cracked myself up – and every time I say something funny, I follow it up with, “get it?” to which he always replies – “Yes, I got it!” Ah, this man gets me every time.
Goofiness is next godliness, it far surpasses cleanliness – trust me. Although, there was that one time they all collided at once.
Early one morning, I thought I’d slip into the shower and surprise Mr. Poopyhead, I just didn’t realize the kind of slipping that would be involved. At the time I slipped in, he was fully soaped up, and as soon as he turned, and saw me, he slipped and slid trying to maintain balance, which at that moment was none at all, and before I knew it, he was on his back half in and half out of the shower – with a look of humiliation and “why would you do that” all over his face. I DID NOT LAUGH, but I wanted to, so badly. Reaching for a place to grab to help him up was tricky, but we did manage it. After he dried off, he says to me “I bet that would of been funny to watch” and I erupted with the laughter I had held in. He quickly followed with “I’m guessing this will be on your page later, huh?” And, I fell in love with him a little more.
When you like someone, it’s cool, but when you like and love someone – its far better. His bad days are my bad days, and vice versa. When he wakes up cranky, I’m not above dancing naked and being a goofball to make him laugh. Or waiting until he gets all dried off from a shower to spray him with the shower hose, or after he washes all the soap off – to either rub my soapiness on him, or just squirt the bottle of soap all over his back. One thing I don’t do is sneak into the shower anymore. In fact, I loudly announce now that I am joining him, and to stop soaping up!!
We have fun, we laugh, we enjoy each other, and if I had to choose who to be two P’s in a poop with, its him, hands down every time.
Is it possible I get nothing from my family but reverse psychology? Is it possible that every lesson I have learned in how to be who I am — was solely by watching them be who they should not have been?
Do you ever feel as if you do not have a place, a place of origin, a true place to call home, an explanation to the whys and who’s of what made the person you have become? That is me.
At my son’s baseball try-outs he was incredible, he is naturally athletic – and I thought to myself, I wonder where he gets that? My last name is James, but I know nothing of my origin. How can that be possible, for a name, a history – the ins and outs of who I am – to mean nothing? I guess that is something I am still figuring out.
My kids, they know where they come from – who they get certain things from, or who they learn it from. My son is built just as I was as a child. My daughter is built like her father, she is beautiful – not just the beautiful that every mother says, but the truly takes your breath away beautiful. My son gets his sensitivity from me, and my daughter gets her attitude from me. They both are direct results of the people around them.
There are some key aspects I give credit to my grandparents for teaching me – the old school values like, Sundays are family days, Church, family dinner at the table every night, praying before every meal, never invite yourself, or eat in front of someone, don’t call a house during dinner time — all things our fast paced society could care less about anymore. However, who I am, whose nose I have, or laugh I have, I couldn’t tell you.
What I know about myself is how I feel about things, what makes me who I am, my reactions, my instincts, my abilities and strengths — those are mine, built by me, and God. Do I know where my insecurities come from? Absolutely! But, could I tell you where I get my writing abilities from, or my love for Literature? No. Do I know why I love my children more than life itself, and I will make sure they know they can do anything they want, and they are important, intelligent, and loved? Yes — But, do I know who I get that from? No.
What I learned from my parents was that for my mother, drugs, alcohol and random men – were more important than me. And, from my Father, was that the wind blowing through my hair on the way to bus stop was not okay and made me appear beautiful – therefore it was chopped off like my brothers. My father said I talked too much, so sent me to school with an entire roll of duck tape on my mouth. Apparently, I get nothing from him, because I would NEVER do that to my children.
Do you see what I have to work with here? My father has since passed and I find myself internally giving him some slack due to some medical issues and what-not, however I just don’t think I can ever bring myself to ever like that man – or see that I am anything like him.
What perplexes me is that I believe God gives us our parents for a reason, and so far I am missing what good it has done for me to have such shitty parents. It has done wonders for my children, which I guess is for me, I don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, God has blessed me in many ways, and if the only blessings I have from here on out are my children I am perfectly content with that. But, I would sure love to know, for it to all make sense, as to why I have no place to call home — before the home I built with my children.
After reading many educated articles, I decided to detail what works in our home – in our family. We may not go about it right, and people may disagree but in our home, we are happy. We follow these 10 rules and are a very close blended family. I hope this helps you a little.
- Discipline when the discipline needs to be done and per the situation – (no fair about it, and no waiting)
One of the reasons our blended family works is because we are a family. When my children do something that needs reprimanding, punishment or discipline, they get it per the situation and in that moment. There is no waiting until Dad gets home, or waiting for Mom to get home – and no difference whether step-child or not. If you have trust within your relationship, then the basic understanding of appropriate punishment should be understood. Ensuring that children’s behavior and respect for the parent exists at all times, not just when a certain parent or both parents are home. It also shows the children that you are a team!
- Keep a united front – (even if you agree only to disagree)
This is the one I still struggle with, although I see and feel the importance. If you are anything like me and have Bio-Kids as well as Step-kids, you may suffer from ” they are just kids babe, geez!” for all kids involved. I stick up for ALL of them and can be a little pushover at times. But, trust me when I get my fill – I get my fill! After my repeated interjections, I noticed two things. First, they would go around husband all together and come to me to ask for, ask to, or ask anything. Second, if my husband told them to do something, they would come to me to “check” if they had to obey. This made me snap out of it and I started answering any query’s with ” I don’t know what did Dad say?”. They caught on pretty quick and it created better communication with my husband and I, and the kids learned to respect my husband more, and even me for not being a pushover. Remember children crave discipline and schedules, normalcy is key.
- Tend to your marriage – (without you two, this family would be broken again. Let them see that happiness can exist after divorce)
Following a tough couple of weeks, and endless crap from “the other parent” I felt like the glass was half empty. The husband and I were fighting, I was going to bed sad and worried about our marriage, the kids, everything. We had lost focus on us – we focused only on all the negative going on and the kids and their needs but not us at all. We forget to talk, to ask how the others day was – to even greet the other with a simple kiss. My husbands grandmother told me that regardless of her day, or her husbands day, she would be waiting by door when he got home with a big kiss and hug. Sounds a little silly, I know, but – it makes a huge difference. Go on a date night, go see a movie, order pizza in and have it by candle light. When the kids go to bed, play a game of cribbage, or even a video game – maybe a boxing game if your frustrated!! Any interaction is better than none, and will almost always open up the lines of communication. It is important for kids to see that just because they are part of a broken home, that they don’t have to continue to be. That sometimes things fall about in order to let other things work out. Seeing your parents happy, whether step or otherwise is a good feeling for a child and an important feeling.
- Take a trip – (even if it’s just a couple hour drive to a water park)
Following the tough couple of weeks above, I planned a trip without anyone knowing, not even the hubs! We were going only 3 hours away to a water park. We would leave on Saturday and stay one night in a hotel (kids always love a hotel-especially if there is a pool) and then come home Sunday in time to get our youngest back to mom. The excitement of them not knowing where we were going, was a thrill for them and myself. We all talked during the car-ride and played some games, the husband reached over to hold my hand as we drove. My love tank was filling up – and everyone was happy. Getting away – no matter the distance is huge for any family, but blended families where you get to deal with two sets of “other parents” sometimes we just need a break! With work and everyday life, we drowned out and sometimes take advantage of the people closest to us. Taking time to remedy that works wonders. We didn’t spend tons of money or eat at 5-star restaurants – but we did have a fantastic weekend that put everything back into prospective and back on track.
- Encourage them talking about the other parent, discourage any negative comments as well. (I know, but trust me)
During our week with “little man” he talks non-stop about uncles, grandparents and even mom. As annoying as sometimes it is, and even hard to seem actively interested in every story – it’s worth it for a few reasons.
First, you can almost bet – the other side isn’t like that. In our situation he isn’t allowed to talk about me and dad to anyone on their side. This creates confusion, self-doubt, and unnecessary concern for a child. They should be able to love and share about anything they feel. I won’t lie and say that I don’t ever nod and say “oh really, wow, that’s great” without full knowing what awesome thing mom did – but to him he is happy he is allowed to say it! I still have to elbow my husband, when I hear him muttering under his breath, but he for the most part gets it too.
Second, is that “kids say the darnedest things” right? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve participated in a conversation where all of sudden I will click in that something is being said that we should be listening to. Kids share all kinds of stuff, mom’s moved, mom has a new job, mommy’s boyfriend locks me in a closet – you just never know! Pay attention, and when necessary keep track and document it.
Third, and most importantly is that you are creating a bond, a trust with your stepchildren. If they feel like they can talk to you about anything, they will do just that. If they feel like you hate the other parent – they will withhold, reject, and even possibly remain loyal only to the other parent. They should love their parents, even if they are crappy parents and we just wish they’d take a long walk of a short pier – its about them, not us. It goes the same with badmouthing the parent – if you allow it in your home, they will carry it to the other home and vice verse. Its always best to air on the side of caution and expect the same and you provide.
- Don’t treat them any different (Treat them how you’d want a stepparent to treat your children)
When the kids are home, they are home. This isn’t a pit-stop, it isn’t temporary or pretend – this is real life and a real home. We eat meals together, run errands together, attend kids sporting events and school functions together. It should be the same in your home. Children need to feel included, welcome, and at home whether they share your home full-time or part time. If you have children in your home all the time, and one or two that are part-time – they need to feel like it was still their home, their room or whatever else while they were gone. If there is a rule for one child, it should be the same for the other, within reason of course. Your stepchild should never be less while in your home, ever.
- Allow them to call you what they want (respectfully of course)
Here it is, the elusive, she we or shouldn’t we allow them to call us mom or dad? The answer is quite simple – YES. If the child wants to call you mom or dad, let them. If they want to call you Joe, or Molly, let them. Any variance of the two are acceptable per your home when it is their choice. Should you force them to call you mom, or force them to call you Molly? Absolutely not! This goes with the Don’t treat them any different above, most of the time children especially younger – mimic siblings. When you have children calling you mommy or daddy and one that doesn’t, he most likely will at some point because he wants to be just like them. Or, even school age kids who will talk about their mom and dad at home, and you’ll see that even if they don’t call you it at home, they may at school to friends or officials, just to not be different. I couldn’t tell my 1 year old at the time, that he couldn’t call me mommy, and that only brother and sister could. All it does is make them feel like less, not part of the family – and in our home we are a FAMILY.
- Ditch the word: Step (unless you’re talking about the ones that lead upstairs)
We never introduce the kids on either side as our step-son or step-daughter. My husband always says “these are my kids” or “this is my daughter” even though they are technically his step-kids. The same goes for me. In fact most people don’t know where a blended family until we share it, if we share it. The kids call their step-dad by his name or whatever rendition slips out, but at school, practice, or talking to others they always refer to him as their dad. By their choice. Step is an ugly four letter word and we just don’t use it. If you are looking for a way around it, and your uncomfortable saying they are your children, may be try “This is my husbands daughter”, or “My wife’s son”…etc.
- Find a common hobby and share it ( or encourage their talent)
Every child has a desire or something they excel at. Watch them, interact with them and learn what this may be. It may even be something you do, that they begin to like or want to do also. Encouragement with children of any age is huge and goes a long way. Not to mention the undivided personal time with them is priceless.
- Don’t step-back while they are in your home. (Remember: it’s your home too!)
Almost every article, at many educated women with years more experience and degrees, all say to step back – I say STEP UP. Last time I checked we lived in a world where the women are equal to men, and this home I live in is as much mine as it is his (even though the ice cream in the freezer & the hubs don’t seem to agree). Therefore, when his son is in our home, he is just as much mine as his – okay? Granted, on Sunday when he goes home, he is not mine as much – but still is mine in our home. If he is sick, or my children are home sick with my husband, we care for them, if they need to be taken to a doctor, we take them. We do not sit back and wait for the other, nor will we ever. It is no different then if my stepson were on the potty and needed to be wiped, and I go do it. Am I supposed to tell him to wait until dad gets home, or just hold your potty till later because I am only your step-mom? NO WAY! We are a family, all for one and one for all. Even daycare providers care more for children than “they say” Step-moms should be allowed to. That’s ridiculous – and I refuse to step back.
What do you think is missing? Did I forget a key element?
See you next blog – Jess