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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tough moms blend with the lid off!

blenderOkay, 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.

#1 Dad

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.

If I could have a word with you

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?

nerfInstead 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.

Together we have become one – but are two very different people, and that is okay.

Today marks day 12 of the Love Dare, technically I should be on Day 13, but I struggled with one of the days. One of the reasons for doing this, and tracking the progress on my blog is to give those of you who think things might feel “impossible” a little help in seeing, it doesn’t have to be.

On Day 12, a portion of it says this:

No, you won’t always see eye-to-eye. You’re not supposed to be carbon copies of each other. If you were, one of you would be unnecessary. Two people who always share the same opinions and perspectives won’t have any balance or flavor to enhance the relationship. Rather, your differences are for listening to and learning from.

Truth is this is a HUGE relief! Sometimes the most common phrase I think to myself, and even at times spout with frustration and confusion is  “What in the hell do we have in common? We couldn’t be more opposite!” But, what a boring life that would be. Right?! Hearing that we aren’t supposed to be carbon copies made me not only feel better, but also made me proud of all the little things that I bring to our marriage – and forced me to look more in depth at what it is that my husband brings in as well. Shockingly – there are many 🙂

Yes, they bring in irritation, frustration, exes, baggage, past issues, BUT so do we. One of my biggest downfalls is control – I can (and most often do) better at things when it comes to the things I like done my way…get it – my way! Take for instance cleaning the house, when I am done my husband almost always asks “Is someone coming over?” he thinks you clean for company and just brush off the counters for normal days. Schedules with the kids are another difference, I am incredibly stressed when he is late getting home and the kids are alone – even though they are old enough to handle it.

The other day he went to pickup the youngest from daycare, and somehow talked with his cousin who runs the daycare for two hours – while the older two were home alone. Smoke was billowing out of my ears – I just couldn’t understand why, when he knew the kids were home alone, he wouldn’t grab the youngest and head straight home – I couldn’t understand that – because “I” would never do it. That doesn’t make him wrong..it is a difference. We get so stuck in how “we” feel, and how “we” would do things, that the attacks become personal instead of personal preference. He is not a bad dad, or husband because he did that – and because of this dare – I had to think before I reacted.

When you constantly tell someone they are doing things the wrong way – they begin to think they are never going to figure it out. That they are not what you and who you want.  My standards are really high, my expectations are higher than those standards – and as much as I would love for him to meet or exceed those, it is extremely unfair for me to expect him to. That is my issue – not his.

When you get married with a preexisting family on both sides – its more than just the normal work that a marriage takes. We struggle with parenting differences, discipline differences, food differences, etc… on both sides. I want the children on both sides to feel content within themselves, to feel good and happy with who they are – that is okay to cry – to feel upset – and give them the tools to self-repair after all is said and done. My husband thinks kids shouldn’t cry, especially boys – unless bleeding, dismemberment, or if maybe the Dallas Cowboys lose yet again! Neither of us are wrong, and we both want the child to learn key important lessons and ultimately are on the same side – however if we choose to – this can turn into an argument.  It is okay for boys to cry and show emotion, however no one likes a crybaby sue that makes it hard to tell if he is crying wolf or seriously hurt, Right?! I get it…

We do the best we can, with who and what we have to bring to the table. Patience, love and understanding go the distance that many couples without,  fall short on. We are not perfect, we are not supposed to be, and although together we make one person – we are two. This Love Dare is hard at times, because a lot of it is working on yourself – and when its a bad day and you want things to go your way for once – conceding and doing for them is hard. Reading one of the dares, I flat out said this is ridiculous – how is my bending over backwards to make him feel special and important going to fix him being a jerk and not giving me enough attention?? And, I was serious! Still am! However, in 13 days we haven’t had one nasty exchange, one heated argument or any fighting at all. To you, that may not a be a big deal, and to us at times that’s nothing either – because we have months where things go great. Just lately, we have been stuck in the months that marriage is simply stacking the odds against us.

I’ve read time and time again this quote that I love than most any quote about love:

love

 ― Louis de BernièresCaptain Corelli’s Mandolin

Truth is, 11 days ago I set the one I love free, and he came back to me. Today – that’s all I need.

Bio-Parents & Step-Parents: Get over yourselves – it’s not about you.

It’s not about being a Bio-mom or a Step-mom – it’s about being a parent either way. My opinions on this are very strong – because I am both, and my children have both. Our children, my biological, my husbands biological, my ex-husbands biological child from a different relationship and his wife’s biological from a previous marriage – do not give a care about who is who – they only care who is there for them – who cares about them – who they are safe with.

The children do not care about child support, or who used to be married to whom – or why one parent dislikes the other. They are children – they care that their parents show-up, that they be involved, that they support them in sports, academics, and in their lives. They care that when there is a Christmas recital, and they peek through the curtains – all of the people they love are there – without fighting, for the best interest of the child.

My children’s step-mom and I have talked maybe twice – she has formed her opinion based on my ex-husband and there is nothing I can do to change that – and honestly I won’t try to. Over the years, I am confident she will witness enough for that to change on her own. As a bio-mom there are only two things I would appreciate her doing for the children 1) Love and care for them as her own 2) Be there – all the time – supporting them. In my opinion that is her role, she is in there lives, and is their fathers main person in his life – together they make their home, a place that is a home to our children.

In our home, I feel it is my job to be the same for my stepson – to always look out for his best interest. He came into our home with a mother already – but not by his side during our time. My place isn’t to replace hers – but it is to fill in the void temporarily. Why should I not? Is it not my place to love him, to teach him little things here and there, to show him love, compassion and understanding? My husband is a wonderful man, but he is also a man. No disrespect to the fathers out there, because I know that some are sensitive & snuggly, but women are able to teach certain things that men can not. When my stepson came into my home for the first time, he was only one – not potty trained, cried all the time, he was a baby – and I was already a mother. It is only natural – to mother the child, it would be unnatural for me to not have.

The problem with society or the bio-mom vs step-mom or even bio-dad vs step-dad is not the role they play and who over steps who, the problem in the involvement – and who is and who isn’t. The “other” parent can only be seen as over-stepping when there is room to do so. If things were covered, the role was fulfilled completely – there would be no room, to step in or take over as many feel the other parent does. There is also the part of partial involvement – the parent who is never there for the child – but is hurt because one parent has made it so. Take for instance my children’s Bio-dad and his wife. For my daughter, they have not been involved. They missed the entire year last year of anything that was important to her, and rightfully so she was upset. Softball is something my daughter loves, and she plays in a competitive league – its nine months out of the year – and her father didn’t support her – at all, even using it against her. Her stepmother was not involved at all either, though I don’t know if it was her choice or not. Today, is try-outs and they are both there as it is their weekend. On one hand, I was impressed they stayed, because they never have. On the other hand, I’m fearful that the involvement will not be permanent. The involvement needs to be permanent.

Children need consistency and permanency of being supported for all involved. There are times when you have to work, or something important comes up, that is understandable. However, a vendetta, or personal adult problem shouldn’t interfere with a parents involvement with a child. Don’t you remember being in a game, or a recital and looking for parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles? Why are step-families – not part of that group? Because we came after, or because we are seen as second.  A step-parent is no different from a friend that comes into your child’s life and loves them, only to be called an aunt or uncle – even though not blood related. They still care for your child, they love your child, playing with them, teaching them – doing what adults are supposed to do with children.

If parents spent more time addressing the real facts – instead of labeling the nasty role of a wicked step-parent on the “other” parents forehead – they might be surprised that they have something to not only offer your child – but maybe yourself. Who cares if another woman or man loves your child, plays with your child, or builds a healthy relationship with your child – either way your child is benefiting. Did you read that? YOUR CHILD IS BENEFITING. That’s whats important – nothing else.

Do you think your child is benefiting or losing because of your situation?

See you next blog, Jess~

She can’t be that bad – Meeting the Ex-wife

 

 

Listening to my husband explain about his ex when we were dating really went in one ear and out the other. You see, I was divorced, and I knew the dad’s side of things and my side of things. Many people disliked me because of the dad’s side which was so far from the truth that it made me disregard some of what my husband was sharing. In past posts I have written the level of hatred he has for her, and while I do not share that with him – I do feel a immense dislike! However that came over time. I have always been the kind of person who gives the benefit of the doubt to the underdog.

Granted she did not like me at first, which I expected and prepared myself for. After all, I had been in her shoes, and am not afraid to admit suffered from the fear that I too could be replaced in my kids life by their step-mom. Benefit-of -the-doubt in my eyes can mend many situations – so I tried to approach her with such. At some point the relationship between my husband and his ex-wife went downhill pretty terribly and my husband said that he wanted all communication to go through me as he couldn’t manage a normal, adult, calm conversation. She was less than thrilled and adamantly refused such an obnoxious go around and so on. After listening to her from the other side of the phone – yelling and screaming – I took the phone. Very calmly I introduced myself more clearly, informed her of my age, my children, their ages and that I was not some twenty-something girl who was gonna bail in a couple of months and that she could rest assured that I want the best for their son. You could tell she did not like my stepping in, and to be honest I can’t say I had the right to do so – but I did. For a little while following that things were better.

Then one lovely sun-shining day at our normal pickup location she was mad! And, let me clarify what mad means in our world – it includes but is not limited to getting out of her car – slamming her car door, arms folded, face grimaced, body swaying from hair to feet, and on a mission pace right to your face – yes literally into your face – with the finger-pointing and screaming to accompany it. Well, this being my first altercation and both my lack of filter and anger that she was pulling this crap in front of not only her child but my other two as well – I was less than pleased. Probably again one of those moments I should have just duct taped my mouth shut – but instead I swung open my door and very sternly but politely informed her that she can say whatever she wants to him in privacy – however in-front of the kids this will not be tolerated – and that her language wasn’t appreciated – then got back into the car.  My husband joined me and we left.

In these two instances, I learned something from this woman. First, is that since my husband was/is younger he had still been in that dating phase, and had his fair share of fun – after her of course. This created a concern as it would with any mother, that her son would create a bond with someone who wouldn’t be staying long-term. This I completely understood and sympathized with. The second was, it was clear in their relationship she wasn’t an equal – because my husband getting into the car with me, and allowing my say – put her almost in shock. She didn’t know what to say or how to do it.  Again for a little while we got a long. They needed to re-do their current parenting plan for holidays and such so, she and I went back and forth with what worked and what days she wanted, then I went with her to the court-house and even helped her file it. When she didn’t have the money to help her file it, I helped her fill out the court form that waives it. She was thankful and polite. I saw a light at the end of this dangerous, curvy tunnel.

Somewhere between March and May of the next year she decided she wanted to hate us both again and somewhere during that time, I let her. I figured I gave my best shot, I tried and now I was done. My dreams of having a home where everyone could get along, where birthdays and holidays could be shared for the sake of the kids was sadly tossed out the car window one day and that was that.

When my husband and I got back from getting married, we had to pick up my new step-son the day after we got back. I do  not believe that he mentioned we were getting married – because we agreed that we would address it when we returned. Well apparently Facebook addressed it before we could 🙂 As we pull up she is waiting with little guy on her hip and one hand on her other hip, like a mom who just found you skipped school. My husband gets out of the car and she pushes by him still with kiddo on her hip, bends over and says “I guess  I owe you an apology – I didn’t think he would actually marry you”. Looking at her in that moment I realized all those stories he had shared with me was true, and all that benefit of the doubt I prepared for her was a waste of my time. She was a young, mad at the world girl and there was nothing I could do to change that. Honestly thinking back now I don’t even remember what I said in response – if anything, maybe I just looked at her with confusion and sadness for her.

I think a lot of times the mother of these children we love, isn’t the way she is because they worry we are a bad mother or good mother. In fact I don’t think it has anything to do with the kids, or us sometimes. Sometimes, it’s just them – their insecurities, inadequacies, and the reminder every time they see our husbands that they failed at making the family work. A family that we are now nurturing, raising and building together.

When you look back at the first time you met the ex – do you feel it was personal against you – or just personal for her??

Are we stepparents or are we family?

 

 

Earlier this week if you follow my Facebook page, you’ll remember my posting about some educated and experience stepmother’s in this world have very firm ideas of where the line is drawn in parenting.

In The Erin Experiment, a blog post written in 2010 she writes:

“Regardless of if the Bio-Mom is a crack head and Dad is an emotionally unavailable dork, a very important rule to remember for stepmom sanity is that you are not Mom or Dad – do your best to not act like one. “

and goes on to say in next exercise to be a more content Step-Mom that:

“As women, we’re going to trend to want to swoop in and rescue the children when life has dealt them a blow. If you’re making phone calls to the doctor’s office because Dad can’t be bothered or remember, step away from the telephone and write down what it is you’re doing and how you’re feeling. What you may start to notice is how much you’re doing for them and not for you.”

While I can appreciate her point of view and can see a validity to a certain extent – respectfully I disagree. If you are a parent to another child besides your stepchild – don’t you do these things already? Don’t you schedule appointments, make lunches, take and pickup from daycare, feed clothe and bath anyhow? Wouldn’t it seem kind of bitchy to not do for all the same?

I couldn’t imagine having my stepson come to me and need something, and for my response to be “okay sweetie, well daddy is not in at the moment, but I will write this down and when he gets home I will let him know”.  Fat chance, for three reasons. First – he is a child, and may child on our weeks, and I refuse to make him feel any less of a part of our family. Second, it’s not his fault his parents split up – he doesn’t deserve the third wheel treatment. Third, because I am an overachiever damn-it and I want to provide, support and love this little boy – who cares if I get stressed for 5 extra minutes – I’ll live!

In a home where they live by separate rules, separate families – in my opinion it does just that – Separates. Blending a family is hard enough without adding in what can and can’t be done, and by whom – its best to do your  best, love your best and treat all children the same. The kids don’t know the difference anyways – they know that in this house there is you and they know you take care of what they need and that all that matters. And, our spouses need us too – we all need help from someone at some point.

I realize life isn’t fair or easy – but when it can be – it should be.  When I took my kiddos school clothes shopping, the youngest isn’t in school yet and brother and sister were trying on shoes, he looked at me with bis big blue eyes and with his teeny squeaky little soft voice said “Mommy do I get new school shoes too”? When I said yes to him his heart damn near jumped out of his chest and he was so excited!! Now do you think that was because he got new shoes, or because he got to be involved and do what brother and sister were doing? I think it’s partly both, but more so the being involved.

How do you think he would have felt, if instead I said – “Oh honey, I’m sorry you’ll have to ask daddy when he gets home or have your mommy do it for you?”

See you next post – Jess

http://www.erinexperiment.com/2010/08/action-plan-for-being-more-content.html  blog post

http://oivindhovland.blogspot.com/2011_09_01_archive.html image used for blog.

What people think of you, is none of your business ~

Its always the quiet moments, snuggling on the couch or even helping a child get dressed, that they drop your jaw to the floor with a harmless sharing moment. “Mommy and I have special, private words” said my proud stepson to me one night. With some conversations that are held with any of my children that begin during a time when inside my head I am already co-communicating with myself about the happenings of the day, a bill that needs to be paid or coming up with that all too perfect response to someone that chapped my butt earlier, I replied with the standard “Oh ya honey, that’s great! ” You know those moments if your a parent, when in all honesty you have tuned them out, but are such a great parent that you can still mumble an interactive response during the exact key moment. Moms are stealthy- trust me. Anyhow – he kept going and somewhere in between the ” ya, we can’t tell anyone else” or “mommy-blank, really doesn’t like you” I snapped out of my mommy tune out moment and quickly retorted with “wait- what honey, say that again”. He of course obliged because he simply loves talking and can literally talk from the moment he wakes, till he falls asleep – its that exciting to him. Quickly I am privy to the secret word, without having to ask and my head is in full explosion, along with the rapid acceleration of my heartbeat that wants nothing more than to leap out of chest and clobber this woman! And not because my name in her home is changed to Bitch!

Being called a bitch is not a new thing, trust me, I have heard it  and been it and at times proudly. The part that irks the ever living crap out of me is that she does this with him, a three year old little boy who simply wants to like and love, and be liked and love. “How dare she talk like that about me to him” I think to myself, “What gives her the right to have nothing better to do with her time than to sit and create pseudo name for me with him, to make herself feel better?” Then, the other part of my brain, the part that investigates the inner workings and tries to understand what led up to this point, the brief moment of where I give her the benefit of the doubt, like what she was doing was somehow warranted, which I can ASSURE was not – kicks in.

At this point little one is in bed, and my husband is getting the earful of “You’ll never guess what I heard tonight” which is of course is received and responded with a casual ” whats that” and he takes one more spin on his cellphone hoping for BIG money on Slotomania. Filling him in, I share the fear that I think all parents, especially stepparents carry – ” Do you think he gets in trouble for talking about me, or sharing stories about me?” “What if loving him, and spending time with him, is hurting him?” then my heart shatters in a sense. Of course, my husband oblivious to the guilt I am feeling and the actions I am seriously questioning, confirms my current fear that “of course he talks about you, he loves you, your his mom”. “Oh no” I think to myself and panic sets in. I make a silent vow to myself that, that’s it, no more – I will stop loving this little boy, I will pull back and not interact with him, and I won’t snuggle with him anymore, and I most definitely will not allow him to call me mommy any more – its JESSICA – Jessica is my name from now on. Heartbreak sets in deep within the pit of my stomach, feeling as if I just lost, gave up, gave in and I’m embarrassed of the tattered and torn super step-mom cape that I theoretically just through to the ground and jumped on over and over with anger and frustration and the dirtiest, most serious, heaviest step-mom shoes to make sure my mind got the point across to myself! After all, if this is what it takes to make my stepson unaffected, and safe then – that’s that.

All this interior battling and self esteem bashing, has made for a defeated and exhausted step-mom, and soon I’m asleep.  What feels like a few short hours later, I’m awakened by a small hand caressing my voice and a LOUD whispering voice asking “Mommy, can I snuggle you?” my half-opened eyes see my favorite little man – my stepson – in front of me. Without a second thought, I swoop him up and tuck him in tightly beside me. Facing me, he is still caressing my face and with his breathy whisper he says “Mommy, I love you” and kisses my cheek. My eyes close, and with him in my arms, I respond with “Mommy loves you too, baby, so much!”  I mean, who was I kidding anyway, this momma ain’t no quitter! (and yes, figuratively speaking, I did patch up any holes my stomping created, and bravely tied back on my super step-mom cape, with confidence.)

We as parents owe it to our kids to keep them out of our adult, manifested, diarrhea of the mouth (and some brains) situations. It is our job to love, to guide, to protect, and to be adults. It is not our job to be right, or to win, or even to judge the other parent when they obviously fail miserably at the most simplest of parenting 101 – even though we do. My stepson, your stepchild – or any child for that matter at a young age is a product of their environment, they learn, share and interact with they SEE and HEAR. I remember my grandparents saying “Little ears, have big mouths” and boy were they right. At the end of the day, who cares what BM, the lady down the street, or the nosy lady in the cubicle one row over thinks about you – or says about you. It doesn’t create your self worth, or diminish it. One of the hardest quotes I ever read and had to seriously sit and let sink it – because it was gut-wrenching and accurate was this “Your opinion of me is none of my business.” –Randy Pausch, and although I don’t know Randy from Jack, Bob or Paul, he is right and that is true.

Don’t let the small-minded, get the best of you – love yours and his, or hers and yours and be happy. After all, the best revenge is happiness.

 

The “Theys” say…

You always hear people say “They say this, or They say that”, and I often wonder who this they person is and how exactly they know so dang much! Truth is, I am a they and you are too. One of the biggest things “they say” is to write what you know…which according to my husband leaves me not much to write about, but what does he know anyhow?

Truth is, my husband is actually quite supportive as of late, he was impressed seeing my blog, and the emails from step-moms all over either asking for advice or simply thanking me for starting the Facebook page. Even though I give him a lot of flack, we both know, he knows, I’m pretty smart and knowledgeable in a few things, one of which is being a mom. 

Growing up in the south, St. Mary’s Georgia to be exact, everyone knew JC James, which really was Jessie, but with the southern drawl it came out “JC”.  When I was four years old, I moved there with my grandparents because my grandfather was stationed at the local naval base in Kingsland, GA. Everyone went to the same church, the same grocery store, the same school, and so on. For as much as everyone knew about everyone, I don’t recall ever being asked by anyone, where my mother was, or even who she was for that matter. To be honest, I don’t recall if I ever questioned it either. 

Until a few years back I harbored great resentment towards her, for abandoning me, and not stepping up to the plate as a parent. Actually for years before that, I even believed that the stories I heard, the letters never received, birthdays  missed etc, were all because of some grand misunderstanding that would one day be cleared up and all would be forgotten. Then, one day this little dreamer, woke up and realized the only misunderstanding was the one I created out of hope. That’s where the resentment part came to play.

Holding my daughter when she was only a couple weeks old, and going over every tiny perfection, falling in love with every noise, every tiny wrinkle, every single detail she possessed, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why any woman would walk away from their child. In that moment, I made a vow to my daughter and myself to never be anything like the woman, who was nothing like me. That was almost ten years ago~ and I have succeeded. 

Over the years, I’ve had two conversations with the woman that gave birth to me, over the phone,  and they brought me to two conclusions. First is that the best thing to ever happen to me, the most fortunate experience of my childhood was this woman walking out and staying out of my life, because she did me a great favor – by not staying and completely ruining both of us. The other is that she never had any business being a mother – as she was battling demons that would never had allowed her the functionality or understanding of caring for another. She did of course create and give birth to me, which I am thankful for, their are other choices she could have made.

They say children born into broken homes, create broken homes, instinctively. They also say, those born into broken homes create protective homes and reverse the cycle. Personally, I like the second They’s better – much more positive in my opinion. See for me it is pretty simple, if you don’t like it, change it. No one decides who you are going to be, not the They’s or me, only you! If you ask me that’s a set of pretty great odds, a bet I would take any day. 

Am I a perfect parent? No way in gods green earth or the fiery hells below am I anywhere near it – BUT, and its a big BUT, I am a damn good note taker. My husband says I am the best mom, when he thinks I can’t hear him of course, or when he is defending my honor to our “beloved” or not-so-much Bio-mom of our son. I’m sure it tweaks her to no end to hear him say anything of the sort, but in my own defense I do have seven years more experience in failing and prevailing as a mother than her, and ten years of maturity by age alone – lets not go there now though! Maybe that’s where they say its takes a village to raise a child comes from. I was raised by a village, and now a village in a sense is raising my stepson. 

You have to figure this little man has three sides of family involved in his upbringing – the math alone on that could create a head spin! He has his mothers side, his fathers side, and my side. He gained a brother and sister, aunt, uncles, and many friends that have turned into family from me, and then the normal aunts, uncles, grandparents on both mom and dads side. That’s a lot of people! Think of it in terms of Christmas, birthdays, this little boy has it made in that department, and you know every set of family is over-compensating for the broken home created by mom and dad or circumstances of such. That’s another story for another time.

The main importance I know is that this little guy is happy, well-rounded, loved and adjusting normally – and I can assure you he is loved and cared for. But, I think we all know that well-rounded can be a struggle when being raised by so many different people, with different ideals, morals, backgrounds, beliefs – not to mention the underlying resentment of a step-mom loving another woman’s child. You do realize that to many, this is an offensive crime, punishable by tar and feathering, even hanging I am sure in some areas. In the post office of our local town, I am sure behind some random paper, there is a bounty on  my step-mom title, and step-mom head. (It would be a really high bounty I know, because I have a pretty great step-mom title and head too).

Truth is, well they say the truth is, kids are blessed to have more love, than not enough, more family then none, and more parents than one, these days. Since I like these statistics, I must agree with the theys in this matter as well. So far the theys have it!  

Being in my early (very early!) – okay early mid thirties, I’ve never have called a woman mom, or felt like I had one until marrying my husband. I never knew how it felt to come home and lay my head in a mothers lap, and have her run her fingers through my hair, like I do my daughters. I never knew how it felt to come home and cry in arms that accepted me completely, that created a safe place to simply unravel. I never knew what it felt like to have someone be proud of me, to tear up when I got an award, or was caught doing something small yet monumental. These are all moments that I have with my children, I know how it feels to be the mom, to hug, to hold, the pride and unconditional love that exists between them and myself – but I do not know how it feels to be the child. That kills me still to this day to never have felt that sense of contentment, belonging, to be unconditionally loved by anyone. And, I simply refuse to allow that pattern to continue for my children, including my step-son. 

He is a blessing to me, a gift there was no way of creating myself. His heart is genuine, pure and I will be damned if anyone treats him as anything less than he deserves. I don’t want him being thirty years old and questioning whether he ever made anyone proud, whether he was wanted, loved or important. I want this little man to grow up to teach his children that love knows no bounds, no bloodlines, no limits – and that every person deserves to be loved by another. What we teach our children now, we are also teaching our children’s, children. At least that what They Say.

This StepMom has somethings to say…stay close, read plenty and share.

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