Evening Feels

My husband’s traveling for work, so naturally I’ve been on the computer more than usual… and I’m admittedly guilty of every millennial’s biggest technological flaw… going down the rabbit hole. 

It started catching up on one of my regular TV shows, Nashville. *Spoiler if you’re not caught up* I was watching the episode where Scarlett has a miscarriage… so I was immediately up in my feels because, you know, babies.

After (or who am I kidding… probably during) the episode, I got on Instagram and seriously my entire “suggested” or “popular” page (whatever it’s called) was full of pregnant women. Y’all, for at least 6 weeks, I’ve been marking every picture on Instagram as “See Fewer Posts Like This” but here I am… still flooded with them. Great feature, Instagram… Glad to see you’ve got that one figured out… *eyeroll*

As I was flagging all of the pictures as “See Fewer Posts Like This,” I noticed a picture from Samantha Busch. Although I do not follow her, I know of her through NASCAR as Kyle Busch’s wife. I knew that they had a baby a couple of years ago… but what I didn’t know until I saw this picture was that they conceived through IVF! WHAT.

I’ve been looking into IVF basically since the day that my then-boyfriend told me he had a vasectomy. I’ve always brushed it off as unrealistic because of the price, and also the “I don’t know anyone who’s done this” factor.

Here’s where the rabbit hole really began…

I immediately went to her blog, which I used to have bookmarked but never really followed, and BAM there it all was… she literally blogged their entire fertility and IVF journey. What a blessing! There are detailed posts, YouTube videos… the whole works. Even more inspiring, I read about how they have created the Bundle of Joy Fund, where to date, they have helped 22 couples pay for their infertility treatments. How awesome is that!

Anyway, I decided to be a #CoolWife and text my husband… while he was out having some drinks with his colleagues… and let him know all about this. I’m sure that was exactly the text he wanted to receive in that setting. Good move, Ashley. Anyway, I’m sure there will be a conversation to follow upon his return.

After that #CoolWife fail, I decided to watch the next episode of Nashville. In this one, Scarlett was still grieving her loss (obviously), but what got me in this episode was Gunnar. *Again, spoiler if you’re not caught up* Gunnar was in his hometown reminiscing about his upbringing. He lost both parents at a young age, and was raised by his Grandma beginning around age 11, who was pretty cold towards him. Gunnar was processing that everyone he ever loves abandons him, and how no one in his family ever supported him or showed them they believed in him.

Y’all… I relate to this on so many levels. This definitely will be another post for another day. But I could 100% empathize with Gunnar when he sang The End. Let’s just call a spade a spade… Gunnar and I both have abandonment issues, for real. But here he is, laying out his [fictional character] emotions for the world to see…

So here I am, heading to bed in my feels, without my husband. It’s all good… tomorrow is a new day! But lesson [possibly] learned… don’t allow yourself to go down the rabbit hole! If there’s a topic that you’re trying to avoid, the Social Media God’s will make it appear.

Redirection

Hello, old friends! It’s been awhile since I sat down and put my thoughts into writing. A lot has happened since we last met. Our 2 year old turned 3, we went on a week long beach vacation, I had a birthday, and I got a promotion at work! On deck, the latest news is that SD4 starts Kindergarten in 10 days! (Yes, we eventually decided on a school district by making a deal with BM… tit for tat, you know. That’s another story for another post…)

Another update that has shifted our family dynamic is that a few weeks ago, BM got engaged to her boyfriend of 3 months. I can’t say I consider him a part of the parenting team yet, but he is very nice and I hope that he doesn’t regret his proposal after he spends more time emerged in what is often our chaotic dynamic…

Through this summer, the [mostly] ups and the [occasional] downs (more affectionately referred to as “baby-mama-drama”)… I’ve realized that my feelings have taken a shift. Things that would have rattled me months ago now seem petty and like a non-issue. I have progressed in my feelings of “family,” and have continued developing my parenting style and abilities in this blended family.

The question that is always on my mind now is this big philosophical, and perhaps biblical one: What exactly is my role as a woman if I am never going to bear a child?

It seems silly, right?! I have two amazing stepdaughters. There are thousands of women in the world who are unable to physically bear children for one reason or another, and who are not as lucky as I am to have two beautiful girls to love on and care for. So why complain, Ashley?! Why worry about it?

Despite the obvious reasons above that my never bearing children should be a non-issue, the topic is still regularly on my mind. I’ve become more sensitive to pregnancy announcements, and have become hyper-aware to the fact that most TV shows and songs on the radio are about parenting to some degree. I feel absolutely sick seeing any post from a man about their feelings towards their wife/baby-mama in the form of “She is so strong… what a miracle… watching her carry then deliver our child…” My stomach is immediately in knots over things like this.

But why? There has got to be a way I can feel like I’m truly “a woman” without bearing children. There must be a reason God made me a part-time “second-Mommy” instead of a full-time “one-and-only.” There has to be a way that I can look back on my life when I’m old and gray, and not feel like there’s a void in my life because I never had a child.

So what is it? Where do I go from here?

I’m happy… so, so happy. I love my husband and my girls, and I love my job. We have family goals and I have professional goals, all of which are realistic and attainable. Life is good. So why is this issue always on my mind?

That’s what I’m going to explore, and process through this blog moving forward. I’d imagine that the content of my posts moving forward will remain similar to what they have been in the past, but know that I am writing from this place of personal hardship. Of grieving a loss that I ultimately chose. Of learning how I can be a woman without being able to do the very thing that makes me one.

This is my journey, and I hope you continue to follow along on this wild, beautiful, mess of a life I’m living.

Double Life

How do you cope with your kids having a totally separate life from yours?

How do you cope with the fact that when your children aren’t with you, they’re with another parent/set of parents? They’re making those people feel like a million bucks, the same way they do to you. They’re showering them with cuddles, compliments, and love, the same way they do you. They’re giving other people their little sweet kisses. Making memories, memories that you will never be a part of.

Those parents are serving as their caretakers… serving in your role. They [hopefully] are feeding them, keeping them safe, loving them, and providing for them. They are getting to pack their lunches, brush their hair, get them dressed, take them to school, cook them dinner… all the things that you look forward to. They have their own bedtime routine, which probably looks different from yours. How do you cope with having another set of parents in the picture, when they can’t communicate with you without it being a disagreement or production?

How do you cope with not knowing if your children are being taken care of at all times? Are they being bathed? Are they eating well? Are they being watched at the playground? Are they dressed weather and size appropriate? How do you cope with feeling like your home is the better home, but having shared physical custody, and no firm way to prove your home is “better enough” for primary physical custody?

When your kids aren’t with you, even you are living a different life… a “double life,” if you will. Your daily routine is completely different, and there is an unimaginable void. How do you cope?

How do you cope with your children constantly bringing up their other home? Is it a sign they trust you and want to share happy memories with you, or is a sign they miss their other home?

How do you cope with being a part-time parent, when in your heart, you’re a full-time parent? If you’re the stepparent, how do you cope with being a full-time parent in your heart, when friends and family only see you as a part-time parent? 

These are the thoughts that consume my mind. These are just a few the pressures and realities of a blended family.

Friday Thoughts

Disclaimer: I just learned that you can make playlists on YouTube two days ago. Yeah, I’m nailing this whole “millennial” thing.

First, let me start by saying that I do not feel this way about any of my ex’s…

 

… but I hope that one of them feels this way about me! LOL. Like, don’t you hope you messed up [at least] one of your ex’s like this?! #Petty

Anyway y’all… this song tugs at my heartstrings!! I know Blake didn’t write it, so allegedly it’s not directly about Miranda or anything (yeah okay, Blake…), but man. The emotion in this performance!

#TeamBlakeAndMirandaForever

I’ll tell you what song does directly apply to me, in reference to my husband…

 

For real, though.

This weekend we’re celebrating Father’s Day celebrating my husband and my father-in-law and all they do for our family. I even bought myself my husband a Father’s Day gift… we’re getting family pictures made! I am thrilled.

We’re also 9 days away from leaving for the beach! I’m not sure what I’m most looking forward to… playing in the sand with the girls, shopping, or the look on my husbands face when he realizes I really could just lay by the pool for 12 hours a day.

This will be our first family vacation, as well as the girls first big beach trip ever. So we’re pretty much as stoked as can be!

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There I am…

Happy Friday, Friends!

Walking the Tightrope

As we prepare to formally request modifications to our custody agreement, I am a little anxious. After tirelessly documenting every detail of the past 1.5 years (since the last court date), I feel a sense of calm knowing that we’re prepared, but I also wish I knew more. I feel like we’re walking a tightrope, and could fall in either direction.

Do we have the right type of documentation? Will it hold up in court?

Is what we consider to be regularly denying access to the girls, actually her regularly denying us access? Or does BM see enough gray area in the current custody agreement to skate by?

Do we have enough documented incidents of her instigating arguments and lashing out? Or will the judge consider that petty and not care about it?

How can we get the judge to care about BM’s poor standards for hygiene, if we do not have concrete proof?

Do we have enough to clearly paint the picture that BM has been manipulating the custody agreement- and the girls- this whole time, but doing so in a manner that is just under the radar as to not give us a “slam dunk” case against her?

Will the judge care that she only gets the girls to preschool about 5% of the time (if that)? Will the judge realize that our oldest is about to start Kindergarten at a school where she will have to be there an hour earlier? How will that work if she continues to have them on school nights?!

To that tune, will the judge care that she has stalled in coming to a compromise on a school district, just so that we miss the deadline for the one we live in?

Does the fact that she never returns all clothes on each exchanged- as directed in the custody agreement- even matter because they’re just clothes? Or does it matter because it’s something in the agreement she is not adhering to?

Is the track record we have documented the past 1.5 years enough, or will we need more?

We’re on the tightrope. Will we fall on the right side, or the left side? What I know for sure is that on this tightrope, I do not want to make it across in the same situation we began.

Responding to the Ex’s Ridiculous Accusations — stepmomhelp.com

REPOST from Jenna Korf. This is an excellent short video… If you are feeling like you’re constantly defending yourself and/or your family, please give this a listen!

“Be really confident in your household that you’re doing the right thing… that you’re parenting together…”

Do not engage! “Ignore! Ignore! Ignore! Block! Block! Block!”

Enjoy! 🙂 (Link below!)

Stepmoms spend a lot of time feeling controlled by the ex because they waste a lot of time responding to ridiculous accusations. Continue reading →

via Responding to the Ex’s Ridiculous Accusations — stepmomhelp.com

Protecting the Newbies

I’ve felt a strange amount of loyalty lately to an unexpected group of people… I feel this loyalty to BM’s new boyfriend and his family.

Let me explain.

Since BM got a new boyfriend about 6-weeks ago, things have seemed to progress at a rapid pace. The girls immediately met him and his whole family, and spend a lot of time with them. He lives with his parents and sister, so I’m assuming that the girls spend most, if not all, of the time they’re with BM, with him and his family as well.

The rapid progression has my husband, his parents, and myself a little concerned. Despite the fact that I think things are moving a little too quick, I am feeling a strange loyalty to this boyfriend and his family in the sense of, I don’t want us to have negative feelings about them!

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Whether or not BM settles down and marries this guy, or another guy, I know my husband is going to have a huge issue with the girls having “another Daddy.” Which I do understand… I think this is a “normal” hurdle my husband will emotionally have to face. But he has no issues with the girls having “another Mommy” in me, their Stepmom. If I can be a “second Mommy” for them, we must accept her next husband as a “second Daddy”… am I right?!

And my Mother-in-Law (MIL)… *Backstory* This weekend, my MIL noticed that the boyfriend’s mom has the girls in her Facebook default picture… just her and the girls. You read that right- this lady put her son’s girlfriend’s [of 6-weeks] daughters in her Facebook default picture. I think it’s odd too, but my MIL went off about it. Last night she said to me, “I’m going to look [SD4] in the face and tell her that she’s not her Mimi, I’m her Mimi! I’m going to tell her that she can’t love her like I can because I’m her Mimi!”

As a Stepmom, I literally just stared at her in response. When she said that, what I heard was, “You can’t love them like their Mom loves them because you’re not their Mom.”

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I understand jealousy– trust me- but come on! Over the years, I’ve gained this hyper-awareness and hypersensitivity to people who either come across hypocritical, or just rude when talking about my blended family.

And I know, my girl brain may be getting the best of me here. But we need to look at the facts… you cannot fully accept me as the girls family, and not fully accept the step-family on the other side of the fence. You cannot say I’m a great Mom, but then not give this guy a chance to be a great Dad.

And I know, this guy and this family may not last, but I really think we need to start choosing our words and our mindsets wisely now. We will be far better suited in the long run to embrace these people and continue to set a good example for the girls.

So this is my PSA for everyone who is in, or knows of, or ever meets, a blended family. Choose your words wisely. Think about the big picture before you speak. Think about what you can control versus what you cannot control, and act accordingly. Practice what you preach.

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And know that everyone makes mistakes… you can’t get this 100% right on your first attempt… but progressing your mindset is far better than remaining hypocritical, or remaining and poor role model. The sooner in “the process” of having another family added to the mix we can all get on board, the smoother the overall transition will go. Trust me, resistance is nothing but negative in the long haul.

Hang in there, Stepmama’s!