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.
Dad verses mom appears to be an easy win for Moms, right? You’d think it would be a slam dunk because we are natural multi-taskers, nurturers, nurses, teachers, homemakers, maids, etc. I mean, come on, we literally do it all! Or, do we? We can tease them and share random facts which are absolutely true and humorous like these things…
Dads never sleep, they are simply resting their eyes. Even if they are snoring – they are resting their eyes damn it!
Dads can’t change diapers, they will throw up! It is a scientific fact – proven by the obnoxious, melodramatic gagging met my our mere thought of even asking for help.
Dads can’t go grocery shopping. Cheap, coupons, budget and list are not words that exist in his vocabulary.
Dads have a whole different time frame. In a minute – can literally be in a minute or the minute they see you actually doing what you asked.
Dads clean house without being asked for three reasons. 1. Sex 2. They want something 3. They did something already.
However, the truth is dads are kind-of AWESOME! Yes, there are single parents who fulfill the role of both parents, and this isn’t meant to negate that in any way… but there are some things I think dads just do better than moms.
First, dads know sports. They are the first to teach competition, the desire and drive to win, to be #1, the absolute best at anything and everything. They teach dedication, practice makes perfect and its okay to fall down as long as you get back up again. And, it’s a bonus for Moms because there is nothing more sexier than seeing your spouse out playing sports with the kids!
Second, dads understand that “mom doesn’t understand”. I mean, who better to understand being misunderstood than dad, right? You can tell him everything, and he can completely sympathize.
Third, dads are a sons best friend. They know everything boys. Video games, sports, fishing, ball games, hunting, you name it they can do it together! They also know all about those “changes”, why your son is still in the shower, why mom may not want to clean up those dirty socks on the floor, or lift up the mattress at a certain age. Needless to say anything further.
Fourth, dads are natural conquerors. Whatever you need, they have an idea of what they can construct to do it! They can also get anything down from the ceiling, the roof, the top shelf etc. They know just how to fix, or repair whatever a child needs especially if it creates a project! (Extra kudos if said project supersedes mom’s honey do list) Same with lessons on cars, car repairs, etc. They are great at teaching with their hands, those are their best tools.
Fifth, dads are a daughters first love. A simple bat of the eyes, and daddy you are my favorite teaches little girls and grown women how to get exactly what they want! They are natural protectors and create that first sense of safety for a little girl. Daddy’s are everything to a little girl. They don’t care that she doesn’t wear a skirt, or that she has dirt on her face, they love that she can bait a hook, and loves to play with worms – they love little girls who can be boys when the time calls for it. (Now, boys that want to be girls…that’s a whole different ballgame)
Sixth, dads are calm. They diffuse situations and make sense out things, they are a natural peacemaker between mom and her children. You can call dad and even if he is pissed, disappointed or hurt, he will remedy what he can. He will also let you fall on your face, if it proposes to teach a good lesson.
The final thing I think dads do best, is teaching their children how to be a good husband, father, wife and mother. They watch the relationship between mom and dad, they see the way dads are supposed to be, how dad treats mom, and it sets forth an example and expectations for both sons and daughters. It is best said in this quote “The best thing a father can do for his children, is love their mother” and it is quite true.
Glancing at the clock on the computer I see it is 12:30 – holy crap, the kids will be out of school at 1:45 today – its Wednesday and early release – and I haven’t cleaned the house. Setting the computer down on the floor in front of me, I jump up in a mad rush! Looking around I realized that I had already cleaned the house for the most part – which was odd that I had forgot that – but then again the morning was pretty different considering I even worked out this morning – and I just don’t do that! Like, EVER.
Walking into the kitchen the sink is full of dirty dishes, the one chore that takes no time really, yet I procrastinate in doing them. Dishes are now loaded and dishwasher is running, so I begin sweeping. Next to the refrigerator, there is a towel that catches the water, our freezer leaks – for whatever reason we can’t figure it out. Grabbing the huge shower towel, I toss it in the laundry and head into my room to find a more appropriate sized towel. Standing in my bathroom – I stare blankly thinking what in the hell did I just come in here for? Seriously, I must be losing it – only to focus on the laundry basket full of clean towels in front of me. Ah ha! That’s what I came in here for. Searching for a washcloth – I recall, bitching at my husband yesterday for doing the load of towels for me ( yes, I know…) because I was on a women empowerment trip and retorted with some smart ass remark like “ I don’t need your help, I can handle that all by myself – thank you very much”. Apparently, I was wrong – since they are not yet folded.
While placing the washcloth at the bottom of the freezer I notice the kitchen rug needs to be taken outside to really shake it out good and not make sweeping the kitchen a complete fail. Leaving the rug hanging over the edge of the porch, I think “Man this porch needs to be swept” and head into the kitchen for the broom. Next to my feet on the porch, is my sons football stuff, which I grab to take back to his room (as he apparently lost the ability to do so himself). Opening this door to his room, I see poop – dog poop – and do now recall him saying “We need to train the dog to poop in Gracie’s room – he always poops in mine” apparently he lost the ability to pick up dog poop also! Irritated, I head into the bathroom to get some toilet paper to pick up the poop with – and start cleaning the bathroom.
Boys’ toilets are just gross – until witnessing my stepson who is three, literally pee on his head and all up and down a wall in a restaurant bathroom, I never understood how exactly pee got to the back of the toilet. We managed to learn a pretty good tuck and weave – to avoid anymore (pee-pee /face moments). However, it seems we have not perfected it yet, because there is pee again behind the toilet. Thinking to myself – “I need bleach” I head into the kitchen – only to find the pile of dirt I had left there from my previous attempt at sweeping, before I took the rug outside. Tip-toeing around the pile, balanced on one foot, teetering, I open the cupboard and grab the bleach. Happily and almost villainous, I dump half the bottle into their toilet – there you evil pesky boy pee germs – die you suckers! Pleased with myself, and confident that this should do the trick, I move to my next task, sweeping the bathroom. Now where did I leave the broom??
Out of the corner of my eye, on the floor next to the kitchen counter – I see the boxes from yesterday’s shopping trip to Costco. I gather them up and head outside to take them to the carport– only to realize that the whole reason I came back in from the porch in the first place was to get the flipping broom to sweep the flipping porch! SO – I set the boxes by the front door and head back inside to find the now elusive stupid-stinking, broom – which I find in the kitchen, exactly where I left it! Damn –it, I now force myself to stay put and sweep the freaking kitchen and the now the stupid-stinking bathroom. The toilet still needs to soak, because the pee germs haven’t died to my liking yet – so I head to the kitchen to put the bleach back. It’s then that I notice the front door is wide open, the front porch is still un-swept, the boxes are still sitting by the door and damn-it if I still haven’t picked up the poop in the boys bedroom. AHHH! That’s it – I’m sweeping this porch NOW!!
My ninja powers are of epic proportions as I sweep not only the porch but every cob web from the house. Feeling the possibilities of spiders crawling all over me, my arms are flailing wildly and I am now getting pissed – I’m mean, how dare the freaking crap I just brushed off the house, fall on me. Never mind the fact that I was the idiot that stood under it in the first place – but why would that matter, really? “Whoa, okay stay calm, ignore the fact that you just brushed down a beehive – and nope, that was not a bee that flew right at me” I’m going to pretend that never happened.
As I continue sweeping down the stairs of the front porch, I can hear Justin Bieber on the stereo, “If I was your boyfriend – I’d never let you go” and think – what does the world really have against this kid, anyway – I think he rocks! Somehow, my mind wanders to if I had his money, I wouldn’t be sweeping this stupid-stinking crappy porch of my un-owned manufactured home, that we we’re originally going to buy – but now I’m thinking not-so-much. As, I move from sweeping the porch to sweeping the walkway – I think about whether I am considered white-trash or trailer trash, and if so I choose classy-white-trash as my title. Quickly, I realize I can’t be white trash because I have all my teeth, well, all but one – but it is in the back and you wouldn’t even know, had I not told you. Furthermore, I don’t live in a trailer, it is not metal – not that, that would matter anyhow – HELLO – Eminem grew up in 8-mile and look at him now, in his mansion, looking all sexy. I bet someone sweeps his porch, in more ways than one!
Almost done sweeping – when I realize that I’ve yet to take a shower, the bleach in the toilet is still soaking, the boxes are still by the front door and the stupid-stinking poop is STILL in the boys’ room. How many times have I walked in and out of this house today – and forgotten how many things – seriously? Grabbing the boxes, as if I have a personal bone to pick with them, I make my way to the carport, see a 2X4 in the grass –( I’m not even gonna ask) I grab it and both the boxes and the 2X4 get tossed against the wall in the carport. On my way back to the porch, my daughters’ bike catches my eye and I wonder why in the hell she didn’t roll the bike the extra twenty feet to where it actually goes?? If the Hubs found this, he would take it, hide it and tell her it was stolen to teach her a lesson. Leaving the bike there, I consider doing the same thing.
The walkway is swept clear to the street; I move the garbage can to the acceptable, unnoticeable side of the house – finding crap along the way throughout the yard. Apparently, the kids were enthralled in some project and forgot again how to clean up after themselves. On one side of my car there is a screw driver, I pick it up, then around the other side of the car I find a pair of socks – seriously – WTF? Placing all the crap I have picked up inside the garbage can, I see my beautiful daughters’ bike taunting me, and with the power THOR used to grab his hammer, I swoop the bike up in my one free hand, walk twenty or so feet – and chuck it beside the other bikes, scooters and skateboards. Such an incredibly hard task – I totally can see why the kids fail to manage it. NOT!!!
Looking back before I head inside, the yard looks nice – the porch is swept, no spider webs, I feel good about my work. Walking in the door, the entry way needs to be swept since I brushed the house off with the front door open and it has now fallen inside. With the broom in my hand, I sweep it up quickly – realizing that I have no clue where the dust pan is. In my attempt to locate said dust pan, I walk through the living room, where it is obvious it needs to be vacuumed. Depositing the screwdriver where it goes, toss the socks in the laundry basket – then force myself to drink something because I have been parched for over an hour.
Opening the fridge, with every intention of drinking out of carton – because I can, after all this is my carton of peach juice – which the kids are not allowed to touch. So, if they decide to sneak it, then I guess that’s their bad luck! Damn – that juice is good – definitely hits the spot. Heading over to the bathroom to see if the dust pan was left in there, I see that the bleach is still killing boy pee germs. Scrubbing as best I can, I realize that there is no amount of bleach that is fully going to clean this toilet – so I better just accept this – as clean. Stepping back, looking around I see that I have officially finished a room in the house – woofreakinghoo! Hallelujah!
Walking by the boys’ room, I see the poop, and I keep walking. Still can’t find the dust pan – CRAP, did I throw it away outside in the garbage can on accident, I ask myself. On my way out to check the garbage, peeking at the time on the phone, I notice is 1:15 pm, shit – it’s only been forty-five minutes, really?? As I hit the porch, I see the dustpan sitting there, where I flipping left it – sweep up the entryway and put the broom back beside the fridge where it belongs. While checking the time on the phone, I noticed a TMNT – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles coffee mug on the coffee table, with the coffee that I forgot to drink inside it. Rinsing it out in the sink, and leaving it there, I realize the kitchen is done now too! Yes!
Now – do I vacuum or clean up the poop in the boys’ room? Vacuum, of course.
What is with the word vacuum anyway, how the hell do you spell it – two c’s or two u’s – two of each? I mean, really, who thought up that word, and why not just call it the sucker-up-thing? Moving the sucker-up-thing to the front room, I notice my laptop is open on the floor in front of the couch where I left it; I close it – place it on the coffee table and move both the couches back so the sucker-up-thing can do its job. Which where the couches are concerned , its job is to clean up all the crumbs of the food, my wonderful children are not supposed to be eating on the furniture in the first place, but whatever. Behind the couch, I see two paper airplanes, my son’s newest infatuation – holding them I question whether they would be missed if I tossed them, and decide to keep them just in case. Seeing my phone on the coffee table, I decide to plug it in, since I hate my phone dying –
Just as I am about to push the button to the sucker-up-thing, I hear the dogs bark and wonder why I can hear them when they are outside, realizing the window is open, I walk back to close it – since the A/C is on and all! Walking by the washer & dryer, I notice its silent and decide to swap the load since I am back there now – lord knows I will forget if I don’t do it now. Cleaning out the lint trap, I subconsciously reach for the plastic bag that is clothes pinned to a basket, realizing it is not there, and is now on the ground. Picking it up – I head to the garbage to throw it away – get to the front door just as a loud knock comes from outside. “Oh shit, who is that? I can’t open the door looking like this”. Giving in, I open the door to see it is my son’s friends, mom – holding his football practice stuff, since he is walking home with my son today after school. We spend a couple minutes chatting mom talk – verify there isn’t any allergies I need to know about and then I walk her out on my way to the garbage can.
Back inside I am sucker-upping away, and pull up the corner of the large floor rug to ensure I get whatever it was that was under the corner of it, a little excitedly I guess, because I pulled it back further than I had expected. While it’s cleaning up all crap under the rug – I notice a baseball card – I maneuver around it, then flipped the carpet right back over it – I’m not even gonna lie – it’s still there. Now that this is all done, I put the sucker-up-thing away.
Checking the phone again to see what time it is, I see a text from my son’s, friends mom from earlier, saying she is on her way to drop off her sons football stuff – little late for that now. The time on the clock says 1:45, which means the kids are now out of school – and holy crap I haven’t taken a shower yet, Gage’s friend will be here and I can’t embarrass him – and SHIT – I forgot about the shit in the boys’ room – ughhhh! Running into their room, clean up the poop, look around and realize this room is a lost cause for today, so I just close the door. Looking across the hall into my daughters’ room – I just pull that door closed as well.
Thirsty again, I sneak one more drink from the carton in the fridge before the kids come home. As I tip the carton back for a gloriously de-lish gulp, I notice the dryer door is open and must have been in the middle of doing something there at some point, though I have no clue what it was. Clothes are hanging out of it, and the wash has since been started and completed. Dumping the dirty clothes in the basket beside me on the ground, I fill the basket with the clothes from dryer. The amount this dryer is packed with my husband’s idea of a load is insane – so I stop to get the camera – in order to document and share this with Facebook! While grabbing my phone to use the camera, I see I missed my daughters’ call to let me know she is walking home – I call her back. Take the picture of the dryer load – make two trips in order to empty the dryer and add the clothes to the towels I tossed on the bed earlier in order to not forget again – since I have a point to prove to the Hubs!
Returning to the washer & dryer, I reach up to clean out the lint trap – only to realize that I had taken the bag out to the garbage. Oh ya! That’s why the dryer was open – I obviously forgot to come back after I took the bag out to the garbage while talking to my sons’ friends’ mom. Geez, I am really losing it! I finish swapping the loads, get a new one ready but don’t start it – so I can jump in the shower.
While starting the shower, I notice my daughters’ clothes on the floor of my bathroom – ughhh! Gathering it all up, I toss it all in the dirty laundry basket. On the floor beside it I see my neck massager – “NO” it is an actual neck massager – whatever – it really is! Anyhow, I toss it under the bed, only to see my husband’s shorts and underwear that were left there this morning from our “encounter” which brings a smile to my face as I gather them up and toss them into the basket as well. Undressing, I add my clothes to the same basket, which everyone else in our house seems to be unable to – and then check the time to see how close the kids are to being home. Its 2:02 – and I jump into the shower.
Twenty-five minutes, and three mild interruptions later, I exit a relaxing shower, with shaven legs, smelling of coconut-milk body wash and a clean house. Not bad for being only 2:27 pm on a Wednesday.
When you truly realize you are JUST step-mom, your heart will break.
When you truly realize you are JUST a step-mom, your heart will break. It will feel like you have lost all control, all sense of function and almost as if you’ve lost a child. Once you realize or are even possibly smacked in the face with it – it will feel like a shock, like you were blindsided and never saw this coming. The reason I know this, is it happened to me today.
During this exhausting fight over contempt, parenting time, child support, having me banned from pickups and drop-offs and whatever else she deemed necessary – I feel like every aspect of myself has been tested and re-tested and I am the one who loses.
How did I lose exactly? Because, I married a man and we live in Oregon apparently-
Our attorney called us last week and said that he was going to turn in paperwork asking for in addition to our Tues-Sun every other week, that we also get Wed-Sat on the other weeks, so that we get him every week for at least a couple of days. You’ll notice I say “We” when another cold hard fact is it’s actually “he” and not we at all. My heart was ecstatic at the thought of having little man around every week, watching his bond with my husband growing more than it has already been and all the happy thoughts that follows having our family whole a little more than we have had.
Then, within a flash – it all changes. Husband walks out of mediation with a grin – he whispers to me “We got more time” my heart is about to leap out of my chest I am so excited!! BM even talked with me about Ethan and was very pleasant – things were really going our (his) way, finally. Then once were outside I ask the details and he tells me ” during Summers we get him every other week from Sun-Sun and we get him spring break, and Christmas break” so he is set for school. Instantly I feel my breathing stop, my head is screaming internally WTF, you agreed to what?? and as he is trying to explain how this is MORE time, and now it’s not up to the Judge, and this is GOOD, all I am thinking is my heart is broken! Who cares what happens next SUMMER, and we already have him on Christmas break, that’s not EXTRA that’s not what I want – Damn-it that’s not what I want!!! And guess what – It doesn’t matter what I want – because I am just a Step-Mom. As much I want him to be, he is not my son, I am not his parent and nothing will ever, ever change that. It makes me hate every article I read and was against, it makes me feel like a failure – it hurts – A LOT!
As I yelled and freaked out, then calmed down and tried to rationally explain my point and how he just traded in for a horrible offer, because he is afraid the Judge wouldn’t have given it to him, because he is a man and we live in Oregon – we got nowhere. I should just be happy we got more time. In my mind we lost days,months even – this year overnight calculations will be 130 – next year with their “new agreement” he will have 145, had he waited until Monday and had his attorney go in like he was supposed to – he would have got 209!! TWO HUNDRED & NINE days out of THREE -SIXTY-FIVE – but I’m just a step-mom, what do I know? I’m exhausted and don’t know what else to say at this point.
Have you felt the pain of realizing you’re just a step-mom?
I’ve followed my heart, I’ve created my own path and I did it all for myself. I’ve failed, I’ve fallen and I did it in front of the world. I got back up, I learned from my mistakes, and I became a better person. I redefined my priorities, I fell deeper in love with my children and myself. I ended relationships and friendships, only to build new ones, or to allow for them to build new ones. I’ve never been the girl that does what she is told, I don’t sit back and watch and wait and see. I’ve allowed myself to feel, to love, to laugh and cry. I’ve dealt with loss, and goodbyes I never planned on, but am thankful for both.
I’ve learned I have alot of learning left to do, alot of mistakes to make still, and Im ready for whatever comes my way. I’m okay with people not understanding me, or thinking I do things wrong. I am okay with building my own path, my own way, because I am me, and thats who I plan to stay.
I’m thankful for my children, the ones I gave birth to, and the one that I get the pleasure of loving as if I did. I ‘m thankful for my daughters infectious personality, her smile and laughter that light up a room and the way she allows me to feel like the best mother in the world. And for, my son, who’s eyes light up my entire existence and wakes up my soul. My children are the greatest gifts and if i all I do in life is be their mother, I will be completely satisfied. I’m thankful for our home, which is modest but filled with fun, laughter and so much love.
I’m thankful for my husband, for his unorthodox approach to life, his dedication to family and his unwaivering ability to love me regardless. Im thankful for his family who has accepted us, my children, me with all my flaws, with open non-judgmental arms.
There isn’t a gift I would or could want, because God has blessed me with an amazing end to a year that could have ended so differently. My life is perfectly imperfect with a perfectly imperfect love, and I wouldnt want it any other way.