Bachelorette Life

No… not that God-awful TV show…

My husband is traveling for work again this week, so I am home alone in my bachelorette-pad.

This trip has actually been much better for me than most. I’ve tried to be- you know- a social person and take advantage of my “me time.” I’ve hung out with friends, shopped, ate out way too much (okay, every meal)… I still haven’t cleaned, but that is certainly a task worth saving for the last night…

The down side is, nothing makes me feel like not-a-parent more than the fact I can’t keep the kids while my husband is away, per our newly updated custody agreement. So despite Sunday being the close of our weekend, we had to give the kids to BM before my husband left town. I didn’t get to spend the evening with them, keep them in their routine, give them baths, read to them, or tuck them in. I didn’t get to wake them up, get them ready, feed them, and take them to school Monday… just like I always do. I also won’t get them tonight or tomorrow night, like we would if my husband was in town. And since this is her weekend, I won’t even see the kids until Monday! Monday. That’s 8 days without seeing them. That’s longer than we’ve ever gone, as long as I can remember! She’s never even taken them for a vacation that long.

I feel terrible for my husband too… I know how much he misses them… but at least he can call them. I’m just in our house with all of their things, looking at their room, wallowing in self-pity. Okay, that’s a little extreme… but hopefully you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

And also- out of respect for the BMs out there- please know I do understand why BM wanted first right of refusal if my husband is out of town. I totally get it, and venture to say I’d have similar feelings if the roles were reversed… this reflection is all about the reality of what it all means in regards to my role in the kids lives… not about BM or the custody agreement.

My husband hates that sometimes my blog posts are sad but the reality is, some things are sad! This is a sad week. It’s sad I’m home without all three of them. It’s sad that I’m not trusted to keep the kids in their routine without their Dad being present. It’s sad that I don’t have any rights to them, and that I can’t even call them to speak to them.

I miss my family this week. This week is lonely. This week is a painful reminder of the worst parts of my reality.

This blog is self-reflection… BUT instead of actually wallowing in self-pity, I will keep doing what I’ve been doing. I’ll keep hanging out with friends, shopping, binge watching shows, and ignoring the weight of what this week represents. I will still miss my family, but I will pray that come Monday, this week will have felt like it flew by.

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Awkward Moments

“They are so cute!” “They’re adorable!” “I love her curly hair!

Seriously- looking for advice- how am I supposed to respond to these comments?

We had SD5’s birthday party this weekend and she had a blast! Not to mention, selfishly, I can report that there weren’t any awkward moments… I really felt like a nuclear family… like those were our full-time biological kids. I felt like a parent. I felt great.

Anyway, something I’ve always found awkward is comments about how they look… “They are so cute!” How am I supposed to respond to these comments? A biological parent would respond, “Thank you!” but I didn’t have anything to do with how cute they turned out. Now, “I love their outfit!” is a compliment I could accept… but not ones like, “She has the prettiest eyes!” [Even though SD3’s hair and eyes look like mine… she really gets that from her Daddy.]

“Thank you!” doesn’t make sense, but “Yeah, I think they’re cute too!” doesn’t feel like the right response either. “Yeah, they are!” sounds like a brag, and again, one I have no place to say, anyway.

Does anyone have any input or advice from these awkward moments? Any other awkward moments you’re willing to share? I’d love to hear from you!

Life Changes

I am a huge country music fan.

A few weeks ago, my husband surprised me with Thomas Rhett concert tickets! Which was a huge shock, not only because it was for no occasion, but also because he really doesn’t care for country music.

Anyway, we went to the concert last weekend and it was amazing. He had Walker Hayes and Dan + Shay opening, and they both were great! Especially Dan + Shay… they should be headlining their own tour, for sure!

I follow Thomas and also his wife, Lauren, on social media. They seem incredible. They are the same age as me (which btw, at the concert, he said “I was born in 1990… any other 27 year olds out there?!” and I screamed so loud I could have popped a blood vessel). Their love story is so touching. He puts her in basically every music video. Within the past year, they adopted a baby from Uganda, then found out they were expecting… so they ended up getting a 1 year old then having a new baby within a couple months of each other. Lauren works with a charity called 147 Million Orphans, a Christian ministry serving children effected by poverty in countries such as Uganda. Seriously, read this blog by Lauren about this ministry… absolutely incredible.

At the concert, Thomas sounded so personable, and so thankful for the opportunity he had to perform for us. He spoke about his kids and Lauren, even saying at one point, “My wife’s going to be so mad she’s missing this!” He changed the lyrics to Life Changes to incorporate the birth of their youngest daughter. Everything was so sweet… I had chills- and even tears– through most of the concert.

So why am I writing about a concert? Well honestly, I don’t know. I think it began with the fact that I’m still thinking about it, and still get chills. Additionally, I feel like I can relate to Thomas & Lauren. Thomas said that his life experienced more change in the last two years then he ever could have imagined… and I feel the same way! They got two kids at the same time, and so did I. They hit 27 and so did I (btw guys, we’re way closer to 30 than 20 now… just let that sink in). They faced challenges and growth at a rapid pace, and so did my husband and I.

We all could take a lesson from the Akins family. Their unapologetic displays of love for the Lord, as well as for each other. Their bravery as they share so much of their personal lives with the world, which I can only assume is in the spirit of being “real people” and role models. Their philanthropic hearts. This family is great.

What Stepmom’s want Bio-mom’s to Know.

If you’ve ever searched “Stepmom,” “Blended Family,” or any other related word or phrase, you’ve undoubtedly came across a list like this. Recently, I’ve felt drawn to write a list of my own, from my perspective.

Some things Stepmom’s want Bio-mom’s to know:

Trying to manipulate the kids in to “liking you better” or “feeling sorry for you” is going to backfire on you in the long run. When they’re older and can process things, they are going to realize that their Dad & I always encouraged their relationship with you, despite you always discouraging their relationship with us. They’re not going to care if you think their Dad & I started dating too soon after you split. They’re going to remember how each of us made them feel growing up, and they’re not going to turn against their Dad and I, since we have been a joint, stable, reliable unit in their lives since they were toddlers.

You do not need to repeatedly reference things that happened when you and my husband were together just to make me jealous. Trust me, I’m already jealous enough. While you’re still working through your feelings regarding your split, I’m still working through my feelings of resentment about all of the things you got with my husband that I will never get. All the firsts you got, the big wedding, the pregnancies… Also, the nice things you two had that him and I just haven’t got yet… the nice house, the nice top-of-the-line SUV, the new furniture, the big back yard… It’s tough. Please know I’m human too and I’m processing emotions just like you are.

You can take as long as you need to “get over” your failed marriage, but please cut out all of the petty stuff. The phone calls just to yell, “Why did you pack [SD3] three salty snacks today?!” … Directing us to buy blackout shades and put the girls to bed at 7:30pm… Criticizing everything we do with them, dress them in, etc… It’s exhausting, not to mention hypocritical since you aren’t doing any of the things you’re “telling” us to do. We have joint legal and shared, 50/50 custody. We get to parent however we want to on our time. You know they are well taken care of and safe with us… so please stop being petty.

Custody

I am not your enemy. When the girls talk about things they’ve done with you, I engage in the conversation and speak highly of you. When they say they miss you, I comfort them, and remind them it will only be 2-3 days before they see you again. On the flip side, when they cry and say they don’t want to leave our house, I tell them how much you miss them, and how excited you will be to see them. They actively talk about how they have “two mommies” and they love us both. They don’t remember the time before I was in the picture, so why bring it up? They will only have an issue with their blended living situation if we create one.

You will find someone new. I know you’ve had many failed attempts at a new relationship since your marriage ended, and I’m sure it’s devastating. You will eventually find the right person, and that person is not going to want to see you acting super high-conflict with your children’s Dad & Stepmom. Men don’t process things the same way women do. Men won’t buy into your charade the same way women will… they will see the “crazy” and run for the hills. Maybe that’s what’s happened in your past few relationships? You being a supportive co-parent will ultimately help you find the perfect man for you, and the perfect Stepdad to our children.

In the end… I just want you to know that we’re not as different as you think. We both have big emotions and a lot to process. My best advice for you is to embrace your time with the girls and be fully 100% invested in them, but then embrace your time without them and be fully 100% invested in yourself. I think a little honest, soul-searching self-care will be great for you. Things don’t have to be this stressful forever.

Birthday Girl

Today, we woke up with a FIVE YEAR OLD!

That’s right, SD4 is now SD5-Going-On-15 and she is so excited about it! Meanwhile, I cried after I tucked her in last night…

Baby Girl, If you ever stumble across this blog when you’re older, I hope you know how much you are loved. You are our world, and we cannot wait to see who you grow up to be, and what you’re destined to accomplish!

Take a minute to hug your babies today, because babies don’t keep!

Marriage Benefits

Marriage is hardor at least that’s what they say, right?

Although my husband and I hate that we only have our kids half the time, there are some huge marriage benefits to it. I used to feel guilty when I thought about it like this, but seriously… why should I feel guilty about making the most of our situation?!

For starters… we had to deal with so many hard things before we ever got married. We both moved a couple of times while we were dating… I had job transitions, one which sent me an hour away for about 10 months… he had a failed mediation, and subsequent court to create the initial custody agreement… divorce being finalized… moving in together… inevitable family drama… the list goes on. We worked through so many raw, emotional situations while dating that we learned so much about each other. We learned how each other processes intense situations. We learned how to work together to problem solve, and we developed an “us against the world” mantra. We developed an unbreakable bond through our dating years.

Additionally, now as old married folks, half of our time is spent just with each other. We have built in date nights, without even trying! We haven’t let our spark slip away. We aren’t constantly wrapped up in the kids… we have time to be wrapped up in each other. We get to reset and re-prioritize frequently.

So, although some would say the odds are against us as a blended family, I’d say the odds are in our favor. We’ve been through it all, and we have persevered. We’re lucky that “marriage is hard” isn’t true for us at this point, because we’ve been conditioned to work together in harmony. We’re prepared for when more “hard times” come around, and we will overcome whatever obstacles are thrown our way. We get to focus half of our time on family, and half of our time on each other, which I think is healthy.

In a situation where it’s easy to focus on the negative, there are many positives. It will always be important to never overlook those, or take them for granted. Life is beautiful, and it’s way better with my husband in it.

Meant to Be

Maybe God was preparing me to help raise these girls all along.

No, he definitely was. I know that I was placed in their lives for a reason. But maybe, he was preparing me in ways I haven’t considered yet.

Growing up nomadic… living at different points with my grandma, great-grandma, great-aunt and third-cousins, uncle & aunt, cousins & their spouses, even friends for some college breaks… I’m used to being with a lot of people, but feeling alone.

That’s exactly what it feels like to be a stepmom, and know you’ll never have any other kids. Surrounded by people, but still oftentimes feeling very alone.

Now don’t get me wrong… I always had a room and a bed growing up, but never had a nuclear family. The many family members I knew had no relationship with each other, but all had relationships with me. I was the in-between. I was isolated. 

And I never had my mother as my partner in crime, or my father to be daddy’s little girl. It was always just me and whoever my legal guardian was at the time.

I went to college, and almost completely lost contact with my entire family. I worked to maintain relationships with everyone, but seldom had genuine reciprocation. I built tough skin. I built a confidence that I was all I needed. I built resilience that children lucky enough to grow up in a “happy home” could not even begin to fathom.

I used to wonder, “Why me?!” “Why is this my life?” “Why couldn’t I be raised ‘normally?'”

All this to say… I now feel confident this was all in preparation to be a stepmom-only. 

On the one hand, I am fit to support the girls as they transition from home to home. I will understand if they ever feel tossed around, or if they ever feel like the “in-between” to relay information. I will sympathize with them when they inevitably overhear “family drama” and feel like they’re stuck in between a rock and a hard place.

And on the other hand, I am used to being surrounded by many, but feeling all alone. I can embrace being an outsider. I can recognize that blended families are hard to navigate, and persevere, like I’ve always done. In my moments of solidarity, I can bask in the all too familiar feeling it brings, and know that although life isn’t perfect, it’s still an amazing life to live.

You never know how your life experiences are going to impact you in the long run, but it’s a great feeling when you catch a glimpse of reason.