Discrediting Comments

In the past, I’ve wrote about being overly sensitive, and how thick skin is needed to be a stepmom (Let’s Meet in the Middle.) But how do you cope with the people in your inner-circle making discrediting remarks?

For context, since SD3 broke her arm, we have been keeping her out of preschool, alternating taking days off between the three of us: my husband, BM, and myself. Yesterday was my day to stay home with her, and we spent a little time with my mother-in-law, who was also off from work.

Now, to be clear, my mother-in-law loves me, and she always means well… but in our conversation, she stated, “It was nice of your work to let you off so you could help out with [SD3]!” My heart immediately felt broken, as this was a totally discrediting comment. It made me feel like a babysitter. Of course, she didn’t realize this, and I didn’t address it… the best way I know to explain this is that it felt like a stepmom micro-aggression. She would have never told my husband or BM it was “nice of their work” to “allow them to help out” with the kids… so if she’s truly supportive of my role as a co-parent, she shouldn’t have said that.

This is just one example of the many, many comments I hear all the time discrediting to my role as a stepmom. So how do you cope? How do you move forward appropriately, when comments hurt?

Here’s my super simple three-step (and should-be-common-sense) recipe for success when the people in your corner upset you like thisI hope it helps!

ONE: Stay Calm. Getting angry is not going to solve anything, nor is it going to make you feel better in the long run. You have to brush off the immediate feelings you are flooded with for the greater good. Remember, in our self-centered society, you typically do not become sensitive to a topic until it directly impacts you.

Self Worth

TWO: Educate. As with most micro-aggression’s, know that the person who made the comment likely has no idea they upset you. Conversationally, explain to them how what they just said was perceived by you. It doesn’t have to cause a rift, but just pointing the comment out will hopefully provide a new perspective this person, who truly is your ally.

THREE: Know Your Worth. Regardless of how your statements are received, believe in yourself and your role as a stepmom. Know that your worth is not defined by outside opinions. Find peace in knowing your children love you, and the perception of others- no matter their role in your life- does not define the type of parent you are.

Self Worth 2

Remember it is truly impossible to make it through life without saying something that is going to offend someone. Remember that you have been guilty of this too, and that no matter what side of the issue you are on, staying calm and informational is always a better option than lashing out. Be confident, and always stay true to yourself. Never compromise yourself for anyone.

Stay tough, Mama’s!

Advertisements

Connections in Chaos

The end of last week was a little dicey…

Shortly after 4pm on Friday, we had our first “the call” from SD3’s preschool. The call was to let us know she broke her arm, and we needed to come pick her up.

WHAT?!

I could write a play-by-play of that evening… how sick we all felt… how her little broken arm felt in my palm… how disruptive SD5 was, making a scene because her Friday night plans had to be cancelled… how brave SD3 was, barely crying all night…

But instead, I want to write about how this event brought our blended family together. How my husband and I spent all evening Friday with BM and they didn’t argue. How Saturday, she actually asked me to spend a couple of hours at her place watching the girls while she went to the store. How since Friday night, my husband, BM, and I have all been communicating so much better.

I dare to say it, but BM and I really did bond this weekend. At face value, we were friendly, we directly called and text each other, and we even spent about 45 minutes “just chatting” in-person on Saturday. SD5 even told me that she likes that me & Mommy are “friends now.” *Shudder* Is that what we are?! BM, without prompting, opened up to me about personal things, including her recently ended engagement. I’m not sure exactly why it happened, but I feel like BM really let her guard down these past 6 days. She even said to me, “I feel like we really got to bond over this [the broken arm fiasco],” and, “If we are all going to be in the girls lives forever, I think it’s important that we get along, and that the girls see us interact.”

Forever? So she actually sees me sticking around forever?? An interesting (and amazing) development.

The optimist in me is hopeful that this is a sign of good things to come. Although I know there will be continued ups and downs forever- as there are in all families- I’m optimistic this is a step in the right direction.

The realist in me knows that may not be the case. I know that I need to keep my guard up around BM, because one week of positive interactions does not erase the way she has acted the past several years. I am not naive, and know that history repeats itself, and her mood fluctuating like the tides is not going to end anytime soon. Her incessant need to control every aspect of everyone’s lives is still at her core, and will still be a weight on our shoulders forever.

Despite the realist in me, I really do feel like we are in a good place right now. It is sad that it often takes tragedy to bring people together, but I am happy I was able to see us all come together for the good of our kids… a task I never thought we would be able to accomplish.

So many “veteran stepmom’s” I follow write about how time is what it takes for blended families to figure things out… “It gets better with time!” I never thought I would have this bonding moment with my kids BM. I would read those posts, and think, “Yeah… that will never happen for us… we will always have a high-conflict situation.” Although this is just one small step in the right direction, I’m so glad we had it.

Bad Parenting

Did you all know that it’s bad parenting to send animal crackers and fruit snacks in your child’s lunchbox…? Did you know this is considered junk food?

Basically, SD3’s preschool teacher sent home a note asking us to, “please send less junk food and more nutritional food,” then stated, “Cookies (including animal crackers) and gummies are for after nap only.”

giphy

Ok first of all, are Simple Truth Organic animal crackers really that bad? Like, in the cookies category? Would they really keep my child up at nap time?

Second, we send so many items in SD3’s lunchbox, so she has options. Every day, we send between 7-9 lunchbox items, including multiple fruits, veggies, cheese stick, applesauce, etc. The items very but she always has plenty of options.

Third- and most importantly- why is everyone so judgmental?! Parenting is hard enough without a note shaming me for sending animal crackers and fruit snacks in the same lunchbox. This is a personal preference. Has the teacher sent BM a note home saying a tupperware full of black beans is an inappropriate lunch entree? Because if we’re talking about parenting preferences, I think that warrants a note.

I have a friend who is pregnant right now, and her and her husband haven’t had social media for a while, but have decided to stay off social media once the baby is born simply because of other people’s judgment. They discussed different hot topics, from breast feeding versus formula, to regular versus cloth diapers, and they don’t want the social media ridicule on their parenting decisions. I have to say, this is one of the most mature and thoughtful things I’ve heard from a friend lately. The parent-shaming on social media is real. I couldn’t even guess how many parenting debates I’ve seen on social media over the most pointless things…

The bottom line is, this note about my child’s lunchbox items has pushed me to urge you all to go easy on one another! Let’s be allies, not enemies. No one is perfect. We’re all out here just doing the best we can with the resources we have. As long as my child is happy, healthy, and safe, I couldn’t possibly feel more proud as a parent.

Energized

I’ve been feeling so energized lately.

energizer-bunny-gif.gif

Not literally… I’m actually tired all day, every day.

giphy (1)

But I’ve been feeling energized from life. I’m feeling more in love with my husband every day. I’m feeling so confident in my abilities as a parent as we approach our first wedding anniversary. I’m constantly impressed with our kids and how smart they are. The things they learn at school (even preschool!) are astounding. SD3 now knows sign language… what!

With every week that goes by, the things out of my control– such as BM’s actions- don’t impact me the same way they once did. I’m no perfect example of patience, but when I reflect on different events, I realize that I don’t get nearly as worked up as I used to just a short time ago.

I’m loving my job. I’ve been with my current employer about 1.5 years, but had my most recent promotion at the end of July… and I’m loving it. My supervisor and I mesh well, and I think my current position really fits my skill set. I foresee a lot of growth and a lot of great experience in the field in the years to come!

To those of you on a high like I am, I’d love to hear about it! For those in a lull, I’d love to talk it out with you! Life’s full of ups and downs… but when it’s up, it’s so, so sweet.

Giving Credit where Credit is Due

I feel obligated to let you all know that last Wednesday, after my last post where I referenced that I couldn’t speak to the kids while my husband was away for work, BM actually had the kids call me! WHAT. My husband had called the kids (after reading my post) and when they asked about me, he asked her (BM) if she would let them call me… and she did!

celebrate-gif-9.gif

Pretty sure that will be the first and last time it ever happens… mostly because SD3 called me “Mommy” [twice] on the phone… but I needed to give credit where credit was due.

BM’s kind Wednesday night gesture was quickly overshadowed by her Monday afternoon rage-filled call to my husband… complaining about how she was “losing a day” in October since we have them Halloween… to which my husband replied, “You realize you’re complaining about one day, after you just had 8 days with them because of my work trip…?” She met his reply with more yelling, which included a yelled, “Why can’t we just be friends?!” 

I hate to sound like a millennial… but my only reaction to that can be #LOL

giphy

Anyway… This is a good reminder to celebrate the little things. That call- although brief because I was so shocked it was happening- meant so much to me. Despite the ups and downs that will without a doubt ensue for the rest of our lives, I always need to celebrate the little things… the small victories!

So cheers to those of you staying optimistic, and giving credit where credit is due. You’re the real MVP!

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.

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!