This morning I received a letter from a fan of my Facebook page named Bobbie Ann Phillips and as I read it I knew instantly this needed to be read by all of you. This is her story and its an honest account of how it feels, of what we don’t expect, our fears and our goals. Enjoy!
” I never imagined I would have to co-parent with an ex of mine, much less an ex of my new husband. I did know I would be co-parenting with my own husband. I never imagined my husband would be someone else’s ex husband. I never thought I would have to share some of “my” weekends and “my” holidays, separate, from “my” son. I never thought I would have to long for the chance to do those same things with and for a son whose dad is dead. I also never thought my deepest fear would be that my third son may someday meet the same fate of a broken home. I never thought I would be fearing completely loosing two of my children if my marriage ever did fail. I never thought most of my scheduling would revolve so much around picking up one set of kids at 6p on Friday, meeting to drop off another kid before or after that, and then meeting back on 6p Sunday for drop off of two kids and then meeting before or after that to get another kid back. I never thought I would both look forward to, and dread those weekends at the very same time. I never imagined I would explain to two of my three biological children why daddy can not be here, or does not live here and the reasons be because of such different circumstances. Circumstances that would cause as much hurt for both of “my” boys and myself as both situations do. I never even imagined my children would have different dads. I never thought I would have “other” kids ask me why my husband, their dad, is not with their mom. I never thought I would be making beds, cleaning laundry, preparing meals, buying necessities, and supporting “other” kids. I knew “my” kids may look past all I do for them and it would hurt some. I did not know having “other” kids look past those same things would hurt as much. I never thought I would have “other” kids sometimes resent me for my role in their lives. A role they only want their mom, and their dad, to have. I never thought I would feel so much hurt for them, and for my husband, because they too come from a broken home. I never thought I would love each person in “my” blended family so much that I would wish each child could have their mom, and their dad, in one home. If I had that wish though, several of my biological children would not exist, and I would never have a chance to even meet two of my “other” children. I would have never met my husband. I never thought I would have to accept that because someone I loved died, and because a different relationship failed I would find new love and create a new family. I never thought I would agree that when one life ends another begins. I feel as though I have personally lost two lives and began a new one each time. I feel I am on my third life, and feverishly pray for it to be my last.
I never thought I would be the “other” parent that another parent would resent. I am that parent whose mere presence in a child’s life causes another adult resentment, and pain. Though “her” family ended long before “mine” began, I never imagined my place with my husband would be a stark reminder of another woman’s lost place with her husband. I never imagined That my place with my step children would be a reminder of “her” time she “has” to share, with me. I never thought my loving them could hurt her as much as it would if I did not love them. I do acknowledge that my presence does cause these things, though completely unintentional. I never imagined two children who “are not mine” would have me so wrapped around their little fingers. I did not know I could love a child I did not give birth to so much that it literally hurts. I did not know I would want to fight so fiercely for my time, my bond, and my place with two children who I feel with every bone in my body are mine. I knew I would have children that would fill my life with love, joy, hope, chaos and clutter. I knew I would do everything in my power to protect, love and cherish every moment with “my” kids. I knew I would become a mom by choice to children I gave birth to. I did not know that I would have that same desire to love, protect and cherish children not born to me. I knew there would be times my children would be angry with me. I knew I would make mistakes and cause hurt. I knew I would mend the hurt, calm the anger and explain why I do what I do to “my” kids. I knew I would both reward and punish “my kids” with no remorse because that is my job as their mom. I did not know I would feel so guilty by my own presence that I would overly reward, and seldom punish the children I did not give birth to. I never knew I would feel I don’t have the right to demand and earn respect from “other” children as much as I do from “my” children. I never thought I would always worry my actions and words would favor “my” children over the “other” children so much that I actually show more favor to “other” children over mine at times. I never thought I would say I am an ex, a wife, a mom, and a step mom, All in one. I am all of those things and I am these things at the very same time. I sometimes struggle to decide which hat I am suppose to wear at which time. All of these inner struggles are real, and part of my life. I am exactly where I want to be. I realize I am exactly where God planned me to be. I do have the husband and children I did always long for. I am thankful for all the good and bad that comes with this life and these roles. Yet I have no idea how to navigate my happiness and love without someone else being hurt, or resentful, in some way because of it. I have no idea why I even care that my presence, my role, and my place effects any person other than my husband, and our children. I just know that I do care.
I do not co-parent with my ex’s new wife or serious girlfriend, not yet anyway. I do know that the day will come when I will. At least, I pray it does. I do want “my” son to have another parent love him. I do want him to have someone else he can learn from, respect, love and cherish. I so want him to know I am okay with him loving some “other” parent. I want her to know that while her presence may cause some stinging, I’m happy to share “my” son with her. I want her to know that he’s “our” son, and that “our” will include her. I know that during my time as a step mom I have learned many things to do, and not to do both with “my” son and towards the “other” parent. I hope I will remember to respect her, and to honestly cherish her. I hope I will remember I should view any person my son loves as an extension of himself. I love “my” son, and so I will love those he loves and that love him. I hope I can remember I should love “my kids” mom because they love her and she is an extension of them. For the love of a child even the most difficult situations on all ends I am involved in will be handled with love and care, by me, for them regardless of how the opposing end on either side of these blended families are behaving. That is my goal anyway. I know I pray daily that God shows me the way to do all these things with Grace in each of the roles I am fulfilling.
~ Bobbie Ann Phillips
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.
Two things, that’s all I really hoped my kids would be blessed with – because with those two things they could conquer the world.
One thing I wanted most for my children was for them to have a mother, an involved mother, someone who made time for them, whose hugs healed any pain, and whose ears listened to every story, worry, or concern. I wanted my daughter to have a lap to lay in, and hands to play with her hair. I wanted her to have a woman she could trust, a friend she could laugh with, and someone to show her its okay to make mistakes. I wanted her to have the woman in her life that I never had in mine, a mother. The same with Gage, I wanted him to have someone who would make him dance in the kitchen when a slow song came on, someone to nurse a scrape, tell him he would do better next time or someone to blow raspberries on his tummy until he could barely stand it. A woman for him to be proud of, the one that makes the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because they are made with love. And, the one woman whose heartstrings are attached in such away that whatever affects him affects her – a mother.
The second thing I wanted was for them to understand how vital their role as brother and sister to each other was. I can’t tell you the amount of times in the past nine years I have said “be nice to each other, you can’t possibly understand how important this relationship, this friendship will be when you are older!” Now, the two of them would be lost without the other. They have been this tight little twosome from day one. They were each others first real friend, and have grown into best friends. You probably are thinking – ya all kids are close, but by close I mean Gracie is like a second mom to Gage.
One of my favorite stories of Gracie and Gage was when Gage was about three months old. He was sleeping in his crib so I ran for the shower, literally! It couldn’t have been more than ten glorious minutes before I could hear crying from the other room, and I did what every mother to a second child does – continued with my shower thinking he would go back to sleep. Well, I was wrong, he kept crying, so I rinsed off, and then all of sudden the crying stops. I think to myself “okay maybe I will stay in here just a bit longer.” Then, I thought again…and all the mommy over analyzing took over and I hurried to the room. I’ll never forget what I saw when I peaked around the corner into the room – it melts my heart even now. There in his crib was Gracie about three years old, with her baby brother in her lap, her shirt pulled up on one side, trying to breast-feed him. And that is where their story starts, they have a bond that every mother wants for their children to share.
Trust me they too have their days and moments. Gracie once while watching a commercial that was listing side effects leading to mental retardation if taken while pregnant, questioned if I took that medication while pregnant with Gage. And, for about six months she called him “big tooth” because he only had one big kid tooth up front (which was admittedly big)while waiting for the other to grow in. She even tricked him into picking up dog poop for a year by trading him a pack of gum, he didn’t realize each piece was equal to a month! He too has had his moments calling her chunky or mean and teasing her about liking boys, but you try saying one thing about the other, and see how quickly the other sticks up for them. They truly love each other, my daughter sneaks in and kisses her brothers forehead once he has fallen asleep, and at night if he is scared he will ask sissy if he can sleep with her.
In my opinion there is not a more important relationship between children other than that of their siblings. They learn trust, honesty, dependability, not to mention every bad habit we don’t want them to know, and most importantly how to love unconditionally. What about you? What is one relationship you want to encourage your child to experience?
So, today I heard our youngest son tell our middle child “Gage you are my best friend” and when I looked down I saw this and had to take a picture! This goes to show how much children love regardless. Gage is my SS most favorite person and he has to be just like him, he is his big brother – no difference just because they are steps ♥