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I never…words from a bio/step mom that hit home.

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

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.

Make them aware that they are loved.

It doesn’t matter where the love comes from, it doesn’t matter if it’s a bio-parent or a step-parent – as long as there is love being freely given. Someone who gives their time, their energy, their love without any regard for a personal gain – solely to benefit the child. We all get some portion of this in life. A little piece of completeness.

When you look at your child/stepchild – look at them and see the child – not the other parent. See what needs they have, what talents they possess and can share with the world given your love,  your time, and your extra attention. Don’t be afraid or too busy to hug them, to discipline them, or to not be their friend. Because, inside of us all we have that small place that’s missing something? Don’t you?aware

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~

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

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