This is an example of daily phone calls with my daughter, when I call to check on them, or when she calls to tattle. Because, when all else fails, call mom. Enjoy!
Phone Call #1
Me: How is everything going at home? Are the boys being good? Did they eat breakfast?
Gracie: Umm ya they ate, and they are running around in their underwear.
Gracie: I don’t know. They took their shorts off and are being weird running around and being loud.
Me: Get the boys and put me on speaker phone
Gracie: (screaming in my ears) BOYS!! MOM WANTS TO TALK TO YOU!! Okay mom they’re here.
Me: Boys put on your shorts! Stop running around in your underwear, being ding dongs. No one wants to see whats under your shorts, especially your sister!!
Boys: OKAY – giggle giggle.
Phone Call #2
Gracie: Mom, since I made sure the boys cleaned their room, and I did the dishes, can I have some of your chocolate you have hidden in your room?
Me: Yes, but you have to do a load of towels first! And quit snooping in my room – one of the days what you find WILL NOT BE AS SWEET AS CHOCOLATE!
Gracie: Yes mom.
Phone Call #3
Me: Hello lovely daughter
Gracie: Oh, you are going to be thrilled!!
Me: Really?! Somehow I doubt that. What happened?
Gracie: Oh, well, remember your rule about no balls in the house. Because all your stuff always gets broke?
Me: Oh no, what broke?
Gracie: Well they were playing with balls in the house, and I told them no balls in the house, so they went and got a pillow – which was a foot BALL pillow. And don’t worry Gage already knows that was not a good idea. Then, Boone kicked the football pillow, and they broke the tall glass lantern you had on the table. So, Coleton is in one corner, Boone is in another corner, and then I ran out of corners so Gage is crying in his room.
Me: (laughing) Did anyone get hurt? Is anyone bleeding?
Me: Okay can you sweep it up, and make the boys wear shoes until I get home and can make sure it’s all cleaned up?
Gracie: Yes, but what about the boys?
Me: Tell them I will talk to them when I get home, and let them stay where they are for 5 more minutes. and then call it good.
Gracie: Okay. Love you bye.
Phone Call #4
Gracie: Mom. David (Step/Grandpa) is here to check on us and says we have practice, and I told him we don’t. But he says we do. Do we?
Me: No, practice got cancelled, let me talk to him for a second.
David: Hi there
Me: Hi, hey practice got cancelled, so I can get the kids tonight. Thank you though.
David: Oh okay, Matt told me they have practice.
Me: Yes, they did. It got cancelled. Matt didn’t know when he told you that this morning.
David: Oh okay. What are you doing?
Me: I’m working.
David: Oh okay, well they need practice. (laughing)
Me: I know, they’ll make up for it.
David: Okay then, bye. Have a good day.
Phone Call #5
Me: How are things going? Did they do their chores?
Gracie: Um ya they did them, but then they made a mess again in the front room, but they won’t listen to me when I tell them to clean it up. They keep going out in the backyard.
Me: Give the phone to Gage
Gage: Hi Momma
Me: Gage Riley, clean the front room, do not go outside, do not get a snack, do not get water, don’t go pee or poop. Just clean the front room.
Gage: Okay Mom
Me: Give the phone to Coleton
Me: Coleton Michael, clean the front room, do not go outside, do not get a snack, do not get water, don’t go pee or poop. Just clean the front room.
Me: Give the phone to Boone
Me: Boone, clean the front room, do not go outside, do not get a snack, do not get water, don’t go pee or poop. Just clean the front room.
Me: Give the phone to Gracie
Gracie: Hi Mom
Me: I told them all. Do you need anything else?
Me: Okay. Love you
Thank goodness school starts next week.
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!
“ 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!”
Allow ice cream BEFORE dinner, and set bedtime to 8pm.
I’d make you massage my feet, do my chores and go to school for me!
I wouldn’t make my parents do anything, I would do everything AND buy them whatever they want.
I would make my parents do everyone’s chores!
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 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.
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.
Okay, so it is hard… it really is. And, honestly if you haven’t thought to yourself “What the hell am I doing here, or dealing with this for?” at least once, you aren’t doing it right. Stepping into, or welcoming someone into a blended family – is much more than just another pound of ground beef for taco night. They do not call it blended for lack of a better term. Yes some days it can be blissfully blended, and some days the switch is left on puree/chop and you find yourself hiding in your room, scarfing down reese’s peanut butter cups like they are going out of style!
I’ve been told a number of times by step moms that being a stepparent is the hardest job – and I agree…but why is that?
Too much credit, not enough effort
Broken homes, broken children
All the responsibility, none of the say
You’re an extra – sometimes you take a backseat
Struggle with finding your place
While all those are true, and validated I feel like it can go a little deeper. Stepparents carry along a stigma, and with any statistic, any stereotype and biased opinion – strong individuals like myself feel the need to stand up for, rally against, and prove the nay-sayers wrong. Some stepparents walk around as if the world owes them a favor, for taking on the role. However, those people are who create the stereotype, not negate it. If you are a good stepparent, it is because you are a good person. Because you have strong work ethics, strong resolve and most likely a good sense of self. We don’t get a badge of honor because we stepped into a role, we earn that honor, from the relationship and time taken to honor your spouse, by loving and caring for their child.
Think of it like this: take all your experience about parenting, life, and your opinions about religion and so on and throw it in a bag, every trick you have used to raise your children, and toss it all in there. Then add in every emotion, confusion, frustration, love, doubt, etc. that you have felt as a parent or human being – and shake that bag with all your might. Now take out all the experience, and opinions – and leave the feelings…that is being a stepparent. You have a bag of all these tools, ideas, and ways that worked for your children, or the desire of something to try, but ultimately you can’t always parent the way you want or see fit, because your role isn’t always to implement; sometimes it is solely to support.
Now if you are like me, you are an implementer, we always know the best way – the RIGHT way. Therefore, when we see struggle, you want to rush in and save the day – but you can’t. Can’t isn’t addressing your ability, it is addressing your position. And, that sucks…nothing is harder than having a motherly urge to fix a situation, and then realizing that it is not yours to fix. Trust me, I am fixer…I can fix an-y-thing! However, this is where being Dad’s #1 support comes in. Behind closed doors, discuss with him some options, opinions, etc that he can implement as he see’s fit. Then stand behind him and support him. There is of course, a sticky downside, you can’t get upset when he doesn’t agree or want to implement what you see as fit. And, although you may be muttering a smart ass remark under your breath – you will learn to smile, breath and try again tomorrow 😉
Will you love your stepchild right away, or will they love you? NO! In fact, I liked my boyfriends son more at first, before I started dating him, when he was purely my son’s friend. Then we started dating, and his son and I just butted heads at times. We still do, there are times where I am the frustrated, wicked step mom, and there are times when he loves me. It is expected that both you and your step child will have hard times, a child is a wonderful blessing yes, but as with your biological children, you will get frustrated, irritated and disappointed. The difference is the bond being built at birth, verses being built following the break of another. I’m sure you have heard the saying “It takes a strong man to step up to the plate another man left at the table” but what about the child whose plate was served by one person, and cleaned up by another? That is a monumental life change. Its an act of getting to know each other, likes, dislikes, building a foundation. I am sure there are times where I am seen as the evil step mom, and there are times where I just don’t get him; but at the end of the day – we keep trying. And eventually, it will make more sense, it will be less effort and more natural.
Ahh Blended…lives, homes, beliefs, families, parenting, rituals, traditions etc… that is a whole hell of a lot to blend; does that even all fit into a blender? No wonder, the top blows off and you have an explosion in your kitchen at some points. But, we learn to enjoy the mess it makes, when the lid is off.
One of the most vital parts of being a parent is making mistakes. Mistakes are what causes growth and results in lessons and ultimately change. On a daily basis I make mistakes and there are times I lay awake at night reviewing those, and how I made them, why I made them – and how to not make that same mistake again. Quite possibly I am about to give you more credit than deserved, because I am hopeful you lay awake at night and feel some sort of anything for the abandonment of your child. You do feel bad right? Maybe cry when no one is around because you make the same mistake day in and day out. You get angry at yourself for not calling, writing, asking for photographs, or knowing how his day is, right? You do realize the irreparable damage you have caused your child, right?
We have never been introduced, which is difficult, given the lack of involvement you have in your child’s life. I’ve seen you at one baseball game, when you moved back for a month, ten months ago, only to abandon your child, again. Since that time you called at Christmas, and not since. There are times; I desire nothing more than to shake some sense into you, and ask if you realize what you are doing, what you are losing? This is your child, my god! However, I feel as though that would fall upon deaf ears, and a cold heart. I’m not nice like everyone else, I don’t give you credit for being a good friend, or continue to bite my tongue for the sake of graciousness. You are messing up, you are wrong, and lack in any accountability what-so-over. But, my opinion won’t change you, will it?
Instead I want to let you know something’s you don’t know about your child, and his life. Since you left again, he had his first school dance, where he didn’t dance at all, but had a blast. He loves dress shirts and ties, and really wants a three piece suit. He played football, and basketball for the first time. The other day he started baseball; and is showing strength in pitching. At practice the other day, he got hit in the head with a ball; don’t worry though his dad was there. He is terrified of getting hit with the ball by the way. He is having a nerf birthday party, which he is very excited about. There will be a nerf battle, and we ordered this great nerf gun cake, and his friends and family will be there, all of his family but you of course. Do you even know that tomorrow is his birthday? That he is turning nine? Will you even call him? Well, in case you don’t we are taking him to see the Oregon Ducks play a baseball game, he has no idea – and will be ecstatic! He even gets to meet the players, how awesome is that?
See, I may be just dad’s girlfriend, but I have to wonder if I worry more about this little boy than you do. Sure, I have only been in his life for a year, the shortest amount of anyone but I can tell you this, in a years’ time he already asked me three times, if he can call me mom…because he doesn’t have one. In fact he is making this board for his room right now, one of those tri-fold poster boards that you use for science projects – you know? Any how, he is putting pictures of his family on it, and he said “I’m going to put my dad and you in the middle and then us kids under that and on both sides.” Doesn’t that break your heart? Where is he putting a picture of you? Or, did the role of mom – not create a picture of you in his mind? That breaks my heart as a parent. We share a home, a life, and are building a relationship every day, and there are hard days, mainly due to you. But, I don’t give up, and move away because when he moved into this home, he became my child too, and he moved into my heart. When he comes home from school, we help him with his spelling words, his multiplication facts – which he struggles with, and I try to show him I am woman he can trust, that won’t just leave one day. I grew up without a mother, and it something no child should experience.
Yes, he has constants in his life, Grandma, Aunts, and friends that have filled a void since you left fulfilling any piece of the role of mom – but you and I both know – no one can fill that role and void but you. He will always hold out hope that one day you will pull your head from wherever it is stuffed and realize the mistake you are making. Meanwhile, tomorrow I will spend the day with your child, and every time his fathers phone rings, I will hope that you are calling and that you don’t call at the same time. I hope you call because he so desires you to remember him, and what easier day for a parent to remember their child, then the day they were born. And, a part of me hopes you don’t call because in a sense it is easier for him to not be reminded that you exist, and get hopeful you’ll call again, or maybe come for a visit – only to be left sitting on the curb – with a broken heart.
He is a sweet boy, damn it! So naive in this world still; he is funny, extremely goofy and wants nothing more than to please. While snuggling with his dad last night, his dad said “You are almost too big to snuggle” and your child responded with, “I still fit in your lap” which was true. How long has it been, since he sat in yours? You never realize what you have until it’s gone, and you are losing a connection with your son. You already lost a wonderful man, a giving man, a man who selflessly busts his ass to provide for your son, without the help emotionally, financially, morally or otherwise from you. He nurses the scrapes, attends every practice, every game, school conferences, plans birthday parties, etc…because he takes his role as a parent, seriously. When are you going to? Because, honestly every day you don’t, is a day you will regret down the road – and when your child is grown that void, will fill with questions of self-worth for himself and distaste for the woman who gave birth to him.
The pitter pat of footsteps are every mothers joy, the thought of cuddles, squishy kisses and a squeaky sounding, eye-rubbing foggy good morning. Unless of course the pitter pat is a pitter pound which we all hear from across the house – while a child is making a hard dash to the closest toilet…to get sick. Mass confusion, bare feet calculating every step to miss any possible spots that didn’t make it to the toilet, telling our child it is going to be okay, while internally telling ourselves to not throw up as well. Rubbing their backs, holding their hair, running for water, a towel, pony tail holder (for them and us), all still while walking on our tippy toes.
Our house got slammed by the every giving flu bug and its counterparts this year. First the oldest of two boys, who missed the toilet, but managed to the get the walls, my daughters bedroom door (which was closed thank god), the hallway, the bathroom door and the bathroom floor. Luckily his father and I were a team, because let me tell you – it was horrible. Poor kid threw up the one time, and bounced back the next day like nothing, while my stomach was still turning as if it was the gravitron ride from the local fair.
Then two nights later it hits again, only this time its my daughter. She ever so sweetly climbs in my bed and whispers “Mommy I don’t feel very good” which is met by my over zealous attempt at setting a new record at the high jump as I catapult over her, running to the kitchen grabbing the biggest bowl, and a mad dash back in case – in the next minute she decides to reek havoc anywhere near my bed. Once, I’ve returned and all is still in tact, I get her tucked in beside me, a bowl firmly placed beside her and we sleep for an hour. Then were both up and running to the toilet, her long beautiful blond hair in my hand – and we just have to sit there and let this yucky bug take over for three or so minutes, and then a rinse of the mouth, sip of gatorade, and back to bed for about an hour, only to repeat four or five more times. Then as the morning comes, she is back to life of the living, and I’ve reprised my role in night of the living dead, and the previous nights gravitron stomach twirling.
Mom’s handle sickness differently than anyone out there, we keep moving, we don’t have the luxury of staying in bed most often. The kids still have to eat, still need to be taken care of to a certain extent – so although on the inside we feel like death warmed over, we keep going. Which often can makes us look like we’re not really sick, and still capable of well…cooking dinner, cleaning the house…being normal. However, when the sickness has made its way fully through the house (youngest son spared) and to the “I never get sick” man of the house…watch out. The flu bug or its counterpart morphs into a sickness I like to call “manchild disease” and for all intensive purposes the world ends. Literally, it implodes, and for three days this previously capable and strong man – revisits his toddler days where all he can do is sleep, whine and eat.
Truth is, vomit is disgusting, down right undeniably the worse, it’s the worse to do, to see be done, to hear, to smell…oh my dear heavens it is horrible! So, today I am thankful its packed its bag and moved on. From our house to yours, stay tuned to whatever is around the corner.
The other day while looking at pictures of you I came across a letter I wrote when I was pregnant with you. It was full of hope and making every promise any mother intends to keep to their child. However, I promised you something that was necessary to myself, and not common; I promised to never let anyone take you away from me, and to always be there for you.
When you were placed in my arms, there was nothing in my life that I took more seriously than loving, protecting, caring and raising you – even if it meant I had to do it alone. Much to your fathers dislike, you slept with me, and I never let you out of my sight. We rarely got a sitter, and the first time you spent a night away from us was when you were almost three, and your brother was born. You were this beautiful, rosy, soft, smiling, perfect little angel, and by far the greatest thing to have happened to me, and from me. The pride I felt when I looked at you, listened to you and watched you learn everything that every other baby learned, simply left me in awe. You were perfect.
Now, here we are eleven years later, you are still perfect, it’s just you, your brother and I, and I’ve kept my promise and you’re right by my side. You have grown into this genuinely beautiful, hilarious, intelligent little girl that fills my days with equal amounts of frustration and laughter. Although at times, it can be excessive, you speak your mind clearly and precisely. You are extremely quick witted, caring and kind.
My grandmother always told me “Pretty is as pretty does” and you my sweet baby girl, are absolutely gorgeous. You are a great big sister to your brother, protective and loving. He knows he can count on you, and that at night, you sometimes sneak in when he is asleep and kiss him goodnight – which melts my heart.
Truth is Gracie, you are the first great and right thing I have ever done in my life. I know there have been times I’ve made mistakes, and I wont lie and make false promises that there won’t be more. However, I will tell you as your mother, I will give you my all. Even more you need to know that there is no way you could ever let me down as my daughter. You have already surpassed every hope I had for you thus far, and I have more faith in you every day. No matter what path you take in this life, you need to know that you are perfect just the way you are. There isn’t one obstacle you can’t overcome, there is no distance you can’t travel, and there is nothing that can ever keep you from chasing whatever dreams you want to chase. You have the world at your finger tips.
I’ve never known the love a daughter feels from her mother but I knew I was going to make it a priority that you did. My intentions were clear from the start, I wanted for you to know the safety in my arms, the confidence and security in who you were growing into as a young woman, and finding a voice that speaks volumes when necessary, yet holds silence when needed as well. Always keeping open and honest lines of communication was important too. Making sure you knew you could always ask me anything, and tell me anything because, trusting each other was and is vital. It was also important to me, to ensure that when you looked at your own reflection you saw beauty, natural, raw and effortless beauty that grew from the inside out, and that only enhanced the beauty on the outside .
I want you to be aware that your abilities are endless, to make your own path, and test the limits. Do not be afraid to love or to be loved in return. Love who you want to love, even if others dont agree or understand. You may at some point in your life love the wrong person or a bad person, so be resilient and wise enough to know you can choose to love someone without allowing them to stay in your life. Fall hard, trip, land on your ass or flat on your face, whatever it takes to learn the lesson you need but remember to always get back up. Know when to respect and obey an answer or response of NO, and when not to. Trust, believe, hope, dream and wish on every star if it pleases your heart. Know God, love God, believe and talk to him for he will never leave your side.
Ask questions, silly ones, uncomfortable ones, necessary ones, because you can’t ever know too much. Always try, even if you have ninety-nine reasons why it won’t work and only one why it will. Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself, to be wrong or fight for something that is right. Stand against the crowd, and stand proud for your beliefs are your foundation. Kick, scream, throw a fit and cry like a baby, if that is what makes you feel better, but do it in the privacy of your own space, or with a best friend.Get it out, feel it, deal with it but most importantly once it’s out, let it go and move on. Do not let anything or anyone hold you back or tell you you can’t do something because believe me daughter, one thing I know is YOU CAN.
Give everyone a chance, the benefit of the doubt, lend an ear, a shoulder, and even your last dollar to a loved one or stranger in need without prejudice, preference or expectation of gaining anything in return. Don’t judge people or situations because you never know the struggle God has asked them to take on. And, most importantly if you forget all of these, fall short or fail, know I’ll be here always in your corner, believing in you, until you remember how to believe in yourself again.
There is no way to adequately describe the amount of life, love, pleasure and happiness you have blessed me with – except to simply say that my cup runneth over for you baby girl, cup after cup, after cup.
Here’s to you kiddo and a very Happy 11th Birthday