No, you already have a mom.

If I am being honest with myself, I knew when he asked to call me mom, my answer was not coming from a kind and loving place. I knew I was coming from a “you already have a mom, and you are her responsibility, not mine” type of place. And, a place of “you are too much “work” for me.”

I still the remember the first time my stepson asked to call me mom, and I very curtly said no. The verbal playback from how I heard my response come out, the tone, the very evident feeling of repugnance behind it, and the visual of his reaction when he received my response – is a moment that I wish I could erase, for us both.

In the beginning we both felt like we were fighting for a place in his fathers life and neither of us were giving in. Imagine having your child ask if their friend can stay the night, then another night and another night – then moving in. Forever. During a single night sleepover, kids are endearing, quirky and fun even. If they misbehave or river-dance on your last nerve, you can breathe through it knowing they go home soon. But, when they never go home, because their home is now your home – that’s rough.

Listen, I know as you’re reading this you’re thinking I sound like an evil stepmom and let me tell you, I felt like an evil stepmom too! Additionally, I felt like I was being bullied, being a bully, being tested and testing, and failing miserably. Did I mention he was my son’s best friend? That I met my husband because they were best friends? I fell head over heels in love with a man, and gained a son – that I wasn’t head over heels in love with. At first.

If I am being honest with myself, I knew when he asked to call me mom, my answer was not coming from a kind and loving place. I knew I was coming from a “you already have a mom, and you are her responsibility, not mine” type of place. And, a place of “you are too much “work” for me.” Which translates to a child that they are not important enough to love. Because, would we not put in all the effort, every tireless hour, every bit of heart aching pain to help our biological children? Over and over again? So… essentially our own biological children deserve our unconditional love, but not a child who was not born from us? That’s awful. And, that was how I felt. At first.

One of the biggest misconceptions about being in a blended family is that you blend well. Think of an actual blender, the settings are: Blend/Stir, Shred/Beat, Grind/Puree, Mash/Chop, Liquefy/Whip, and Frappe/Mix. Those are some serious options just to blend something smoothly. I mean shoot, if I am making a margarita, I throw all the stuff in and press all the buttons praying they do the trick — and I’m quite certain that is exactly what I did in the beginning as a stepmom. And, with the lid off at least 50% of the time, because some days I wanted to make a mess, this uprooting in my life was a daily grind where I was being beat, shredded and liquefied to a point of tears. At first.

Babies and toddlers, they are one thing. They’re pliable, naive, and still young enough to create that sweet bond with. But at seven, their mannerisms and personality traits are primarily already set in place, and none are from you. You didn’t spend the past seven years teaching them how to walk, talk, count to 10, sing the alphabet, how to write their names and how to say I love you mommy. You weren’t able to share the values, morals, and lessons that you taught your own children either. Instead you inherited someone else’s values, morals and lessons all wrapped in a cute kiddo who you have to simply just accept because if you don’t you’re a horrible person. At first.

There was a day early on that made me very aware of the manipulation that could exist in the world of “I don’t want my dad to date you” (which was a super fun place to live, not at all). We were in the drive through at Carl’s Jr when my stepson saw an attractive girl taking our money at the window, and he says “my daddy calls her beautiful every time he talks to her “hi beautiful, thanks beautiful” every time” and he flashes this look and laughs. And, I laugh too (as I’m texting his dad asking who the girl at CJ is) through the moment and play it off. He just wanted me to leave, and he was too young to understand that by hurting me, he would hurt his father. But in that moment, none of get that – were all just fighting for scraps at the dinner table. He would flip flip though very rapidly, one minute he would try to break us apart, and the next he would want a hug and ask me if he could call me mom. Things I can now look back on and see very clearly. But then, I’ll be honest again, I didn’t have the type of heart that reminds itself this is a child, they do not mean it, it is their backstory causing this – in the moment. In the moment, I was mad, I was affected and I was annoyed. To me this kid was a disrespectful and needed discipline, at first.

A few months later, he asked to call me mom again, and this time we were not alone, it was in the car with his dad and both my children. Before I could respond, they both said “No she isn’t your mom.”, And, while his dad looked at me with that look of what do we say, when he heard how quickly my kids blew his son off – he was hurt too! It was a no win situation, and things were still choppy – but this time was little different, and I felt stuck. When a child asks to do something that another child in the same household does, it’s because they want to be the same, to be included, and to feel like part of the family. I was told once that if a child asks to call you mom or just does it on their own, and you have other children in the home, you are setting yourself up for failure by saying no – because you are then ostracizing your stepchild. Great! So basically I’ve been ostracizing him since the beginning, and now if I cave – my kids will be mad. Who do I please? Who is more important? Honest people will say their bio kids come first, goodhearted kind people will say it should be equal and so will your spouses. But that doesn’t always happen at first.

Just a side note about this, everything I’ve experienced as a stepmom, my husband has experienced as a stepdad too (my daughter who is 16 calls him dad now too actually). My two had their father involved at first – and he hated my husband for sheer fun. For me, it was a little easier in that my stepsons mom was really not in the picture. At that time her involvement and communication was minimal at best and she lived in another state. Basically, I was his mom, whether we liked it or not. His physicians, teachers and coaches all knew me as mom because none had ever met his “real” mom. So, as I am saying no, you can’t call me mom, they are telling him talk to your mom, and this poor kid is confused.

It was very clear my stepson was nothing like me, but there were definitely things about him that I started to love. He was and still is so great with little kids, he gets down on their level and is patient and kind with them. He loves to be with adults, and would prefer to hang with them then go outside and play. And, I learned very quickly (thank goodness) that he just craved love. He needed and wanted so much love – and here I was being an ass and saying no. Saying I have no room, no extra love to give, sorry not sorry. I couldn’t stop focusing on how much re-work I was having to do with him. Simple things like brushing his teeth, taking a shower, doing his homework, not lying (oh my goodness the lying!!!) his constant need to be glued to his dad at every moment – it was almost too much, almost every day. He was on an IEP in school because he needed help in most areas and my children were none of those things. They were good kids, easy kids. Because they were my kids. Looking back now I can see that while I did have really great kiddos, we let a lot slide because we don’t notice it the way you do with someone else’s child. And, that is what they are, someone else’s child – at first.

Around his first birthday with us as a family, I had a feeling he was going to again ask to call me mom. I knew this because his mom hadn’t called him in almost a year at this point. My husband asked me one thing when we first started dating, and that was to never contact her, that she had made her bed and to just let it go. Well, if you know the me from 7 years ago, letting anything go was a joke. So, one day after watching my stepson sit by the phone waiting for it to ring, I lost it and I broke that request. My insides were literally burning with fury, and the inability to understand and I wanted to know why she didn’t love him enough to call??? And, then I wanted to know why I care all of a sudden? Was it because I needed her to step up and be his mom so I didn’t have to, or was it because she was missing out on a phenomenal kid who just wanted her to love him? The real answer was a good mixture of both I suppose, at first.

I remember writing his mom, and I pissed her off (maybe you read the blog If I could have a word with you , which is all about that and technically my first love letter to my new son in a sense) and rightfully so because who was I coming in acting like I knew it all. But, after that talk, I took my children aside and had a talk with them. I asked them why they were so against him calling me mom, and I explained to them why I felt like the next time he asked, I wanted to not only say yes, but have them okay with it too. It was a great talk for all of us, and we walked away from that knowing that if he asked again, I would say yes, and things might be different, but nothing would change my being their mom.

I tell this story because not every stepparent/stepchild relationship is easy. There are times where both are wrong, both are hurt, both are guarded and both are selfish. Aside from writing about stepparent related stories and situations I don’t use the word step to describe him, he is just my son. His is not a stepbrother, he is just a brother – and even though his mom moved back here two years ago, I’m not his step mom, I’m just his mom. He hasn’t stopped calling me mom since, and I’ve worked my butt off to earn that title, and he has my love unconditionally and equally always. We still have our moments, he will be 14 in a week and I will tell you that back then, I never thought we’d make it here but there is something really special about resilient love – and God knew we both needed the other. We just didn’t realize it at first.  

Okay, you be the Mom and I will be the kid!

I’m willing to venture a guess that almost any adult would choose to go back to being a child in a heartbeat. No bills, less stress, maybe do better in school the second time around and ENJOY those naps! I mean, life for our kids these days is just so hard, they get bored, they need instant gratification, video games, cell phones, bedazzled jeans, and so on. Have you ever asked your child what is it about being a kid that is so hard? Well, I did! And then, I took it a step further – what if our roles switched? What would our kids make us do if they could be our parents for a day? And, what would we do to them, if we were the kids? Read below for the hilarious switch.

The hardest part about being a kid:

Allison, 5: Umm, working and working out – I have to do that at NaeNaes. My favorite part was when I asked how she spelled her name, and she said A, L, L, I, S,O,N – but I do my “S” backwards!

Pierce, 5: Dumpster diving! The look on moms face, and the adamant denial that she does not make her children dumpster dive, may have been funnier! She swears its from Sponge Bob!

Coleton, 9: That sometimes kids really don’t understand

Gracie, 11: That we makes mistakes, and parents don’t always get that!

Kaiden, 8: That we can’t play all the time, because of chores and homework.

Emma, 8: That I can’t spend the whole day with my mom – cause I have to go to school.

Nick, 15: Having to listen. You have to try to remember to listen!

So, just for the fun of it, lets switch. If you as a parent could be your child, what is the first thing you would do? Would it be enjoy a nap? Maybe sleep in, play with your friends all day? Or, would you have a little fun with some get backs?? The answers were 50/50!

Telia Fogle: Yell “I’m hungry, fix me food” and destroy the house

Jami Fernandes: Get in a bathing suit and run through the sprinkler!!

Dina Fentiman: TRASH MY ROOOOM!!!

Amber Martin: Pick my nose and wipe it on the seat of the new car. Ask them to make something special for dinner, then say I don’t like it anymore. Say I cleaned my room but really I shoved it all under my bed.

Tiffany McIntosh: Eat whatever I want & not gain a pound… & then take a nap!

Desiree Rafferty: Leave socks ALL over the house!

Kathleen Winfrey: I would eat a million lunchables and then actually enjoy a nap instead of fighting it!

Sherri Tucker Tunnell: I’d yell “Mom mom mom mom” that is what I would do.

Now your kids are your parents, what would they make you do? What rule would they change? Would they have ice cream for dinner, or buy you whatever you want? Would they have a case of the “getbacks” also? Let’s see!

Allison, 5
“ umm laundry, washing the counters, cleaning the dishes, make my bed and clean my room … pretty much everything, I’ll make you do all my house work!”

Kaiden, 8
Allow ice cream BEFORE dinner, and set bedtime to 8pm.

Riley, 8
I’d make you massage my feet, do my chores and go to school for me!

Jacoby, 15
I wouldn’t make my parents do anything, I would do everything AND buy them whatever they want.

Josh, 9
I would make my parents do everyone’s chores!

Tommy
Make you clean your room, and if it’s already clean then give you a treat!! Then take us to Rogue Air!

As for me, if I could swap places – I wouldn’t. My daughter would have way too much fun with that – but then again I could always get her back by slamming my door, flipping my hair, stomping off with attitude and knowing every thing about everything and bossing everyone around! Wait, that is kind of me now? Hey! Well played Karma, well played!

Being a Mom

Being a mom means more than having given birth to a child. Its loving and knowing a soul before you even see it. It’s carrying, and caring for a life completely depending on you for survival. It’s giving air to the lungs that grew with-in you, and sight to the eyes that will never see you as anything but mommy. Its sleepless nights, its nursing scratches and scrapes, its being stern and protective. It’s teaching them to talk, to walk and to eventually run. It’s learning to hand your child to a stranger to let them teach what you cannot at times. It’s bracing them for a fall, and dusting them off after they do. It’s seeing them cry, and not knowing how to fix it, so you sit on the floor and hold them and cry right along beside them.  It’s teaching them, that they are smart, capable, funny and giving them the security to do great things. Its building their self-esteem, supporting their dreams and loving them unconditionally. Its letting them go, letting them fail, and teaching them how to get back up. It’s going without, so that they don’t have to, and being okay with it.

awesome

Being a Mother, is a gift that is unimaginable to any woman who does not have a child in their life. It’s a connection that is unmatched and insurmountable in any form or other relationship.  It’s a love that grows continually, a love that always wants more and better. It’s being terrified that you can’t prevent pain, injustice, heartbreak, and at times even death.  It’s laughing at jokes that aren’t even funny, but the way they say it,makes its hilarious. Its listening to stories, that go on and on without a point. It’s always being available for the “mommy watch ME’s” and “mommy I need you”.  It’s drowning out the word MOM repeated over and over, in attempts to get your attention. Its songs sang out of tune, and settling squabbles with siblings. It’s being mean, and teaching hard lessons, that hurt you inside so deep you want to cry, but you must stand strong with resolve. It’s being strong for them, when you are weak. It’s smiling when you want to cry, and crying when you’re smiling with pride.

It’s looking through photographs and feeling your heart swell with love and happiness when you see the beauty, the happiness and life in your child’s smile and eyes.  Its confusion, mistakes, uncharted territory and blind folded guessing. It’s snuggling on the couch watching a movie, braiding hair till your fingers hurt, it’s being woken up early on Saturday morning because they want to crawl in bed and be close to your heart. It’s having the worst day, and having them hug you and tell you ”mommy I love you”, and needing nothing more.

It’s a blessing, a gift, a relationship that never ends, and a love that never dies. It’s the best thing I have ever become, the greatest love I have ever felt and the best part about being me.

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?

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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

KIDS…down right hilarious!

eathen heartEathen, age 7

Some of the best parts about being a parent is witnessing the honesty, the innocence and the down right hilarious statements that come from our children’s mouths. They often happen in times that may leave us a tad embarrassed, or in moments when we as parents really needed to laugh…or at quiet moments when they are just sharing their day.

We get so busy in our days of working, shuttling kids back and forth, and the normal craziness of day to day life, that we don’t always realize how much these little sponges soak things up, even from us. My grandfather always knew when I, or my brothers were eavesdropping and he would say ” little ears have BIG mouths” and boy was he right! And, what comes out of those mouths can be great stories all of their own. Take the picture above for instance, in response to receiving a valentine from Eathen, who is seven, the little girl sends a thank you along with ” I don’t love you. Love, Stella.” Priceless.

We often take for granted small minds, and what those may contain. A friend of mine caught her sons Cooper 5, and Logan 4, saying butt hole, and told them very sternly that it was no longer allowed to be said. They understood, and then she overheard them say “butt circle” instead! In all fairness, she didn’t say they couldn’t modify the name or shape.

The first time I let my daughter sit on my lap, and help me drive from the mailbox to the driveway she was about two. I am still in shock by what happened that day. She messed with the rear-view mirror, then blurted “Um hello, drive or get out of the way” while waving her hand and bobbing her head. And, where did she learn that? Me. I knew I was in trouble that day, but it did make me laugh…hopefully the rest of these will make you laugh too.

Coleton, age 8:
Me: “Why don’t you want to go to the football camp?”
Coleton: “I can’t run, I have liver problems.”
Us: How do you know it’s a liver problem?
Coleton: Points to his chest and says “It hurts here”
Us: “That is not your liver”
Coleton: “Well, I don’t know I am not a body-i-ologist”

Gracie, age 11:
Driving through the BestBuy parking lot, I see a man entering the store wearing pajama pants, and slippers and make notice of it to Gracie who promptly says: “He best buy himself some new clothes!”

Ethan, age 3
Me: “Honey you can call me whatever you want. Jess, Mom, whatever”
Ethan: “Anything?”
Me: “Yes, anything”
Ethan: “Sweet, I will call you Five Finger Death Punch – I love them!”

Sophia, age 2:
When asked by her mom “what does mommy say” and she would respond, “I love you”When asked “what does daddy say?” she would respond “what the hell?”

Gage, age 6:
Upon finding Gage’s fish dead, we break the news to him gently and he looks at the hard bloated obviously dead fish and says “No, he is just shy like me, he’s fine!!!”

Tia, age 5:
While eating dinner she loudly proclaimed, “God talks to me when I’m drinking”. When asked what God says to her when she’s drinking, she responded, “I don’t know, He’s speaking in Spanish!”

3 or 4 year old boy:
While working at a daycare, the worker overheard a little boy who kept saying a certain four letter F word, and when they pulled him aside and asked him why he kept saying it, he responded with “my dad keeps saying it, its tax time.” His dad was a tax accountant.

Gage, age 8:
On a family trip to Six Flags Gage says from the backseat:
“Since we are in California does that mean there are a lot of Cows?”
He thought it was “Cowafornia”

Gracie, age 10:
“Mom if the dishes taste soapy, it wouldn’t be because we were out of dishwasher detergent and I used your shampoo! But, hey, at least they smell like coconut! And, yes the kitchen filled up with bubbles too.”

Wyatt, age 4:
From Mom (Christina): My son would sit on my lap and when he got up he would always jab his elbow in my boob and I would say ouch my boob! He called his elbow his boob all the way into kindergarten. If he would scrape his elbow when he was young, he would ask me to kiss his boob!

Gage, age 7:
Me: “Are you getting sick honey?”
Gage: “No, its just my voice changing!”

Gracie, age 9:
Gracie: “Mom, I can’t watch the Justin Bieber movie before bed, because its too sad.”
Me: “What is sad?”
Gracie: “Mom, he loses his voice and can’t sing for a week, it was horrible!!!!”

What about you, what are some humorous things your children have said?