Inadequate.

Do you ever just feel like you’re not enough? Not doing enough, not worth enough, etc…

I do, sometimes. I think it’s normal. But that doesn’t make it sting any less.

Right now, my focus is my family. I want to be the best wife and stepmama possible. But how am I doing?

Do I give enough? Do I lead by example? Am I coming across positive, or do I just look stressed out all the time? [I don’t feel stressed, but sometimes things get pretty crazy!]

Do I focus my energy on what matters, or do I get too easily wrapped up in the little things?

Am I showing enough grace?

Do I know enough about raising toddler? Should I read more any toddler parenting books? Am I screwing them up forever by letting them eat a fruit roll up at 7:30pm?

Do I show my husband how much he means to me everyday? I want him to see how much I love him every single day. Does that transpire?

Do I pull my weight around the house, or does he feel like he does it all? [Cue, self-conscious Ashley because I don’t cook often at all…]

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And then, the nonsensical hypotheticals and comparisons come into play…

Will I ever be seen by my husband’s family and friends as my husband’s wife, or will I always just be “his new wife?”

Is the picture his parents still have up in their living room from his first wedding a sign that they want me gone? Or is that just their most recent family picture? [Thank God she’s not in the picture lol] [Okay I’m probably definitely overthinking this one]

Will the girls ever love me like they love their bio-mom? Do they/will they ever really consider me a mama to them? Who’s going to take care of me when I’m old? Are they going to be there for me, or are they going to put me in a nursing home and never visit?

These questions can go on and on… Then, I stop and reflect. I think about what I know, and what I’ve learned along the way. Things I’ve read, been told, and found out the hard way…

You’re doing the best you can, and that’s enough.

The kids won’t remember every small detail, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

Your husband absolutely adores you, and constantly tells you how thankful he is for you. So why would you question how you’re doing as a wife?!

Your husband’s family loves you, and tells you so all the time.

It really doesn’t matter what friends acquaintances think of you.

You’re a newlywed. Of course you are the “new wife” right now (duh, Ashley). Only time can make that disappear.

Comparisons are completely stupid in this scenario. Obviously your husband loves everything about you or he wouldn’t have married you. So seriously, Ashley, cut that comparison shit out.

I think the female brain is wired to totally sabotage us every chance it can get. Come on, God, why’d you do that to us?! [Oh yeah… freaking Eve…]

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Life is so good. Just do the right thing, it’s simple. Be kind, be patient, be loving. Only be concerned with yourself and your family. Take things one day at a time. Take a breath. It’s all good.

So the next time you’re feeling inadequate, remember, you’re doing better than you think. You are loved. You are healthy. You are beautiful. You’ve got this!

And to those of you lucky enough to have a loving, caring, sexy-as-hell husband like mine… go home tonight, give him a little squeeze on the butt, and tell him how much you love him.

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The Good Times…

You know those times where it just feels like everything is working out… like everything is going to be okay?? That’s where I’m at in life right now. And it’s awesome.

This story isn’t going to seem that way at first but trust me, there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel.

I get so wrapped up in anxiety about the girls and our family so often. We’re on the brink of picking a school district for the oldest to start Kindergarten in… we live about 15 minutes from bio-mom, but we’re in different school districts. Joint legal and joint physical custody. So how do we choose?! Will this choice ultimately give whoever’s school district they’re in the “upper-hand” if we end up back in court down the road? If we choose bio-mom’s school district, are we ultimately giving her primary physical custody?? Are we putting the nail in our coffin?! As it is, despite having joint physical custody, we only get the girls 10 overnights a month. Bio-mom refuses to give us any more time than we already have with the girls, and says she will not agree to changing the current schedule unless she gets them EVEN MORE of the time- overnight every school night. We already don’t get them half the time… we would lose SO MUCH precious time with them. So much. And it kills me to think about. It seriously keeps me up at night. Why would she do that to us?? Why would she want to keep them from their kick-ass Dad??

Then it hits me. The calm I so desperately crave. It will all work out. The custody agreement will not change unless it is agreed upon in mediation, or fought for in court. NONE of us want ANY of that. So chill out, Ashley. *That’s what I tell myself.* No matter which school they go to, we will make it work. We will get them there and pick them up just fine. We will all have to make some changes, but they’ll be changes that work best for everyone. So what if she already thinks she has primary legal and physical custody of the kids… she doesn’t! So brush it off, Ashley. No big deal. I release these feelings when I’m in the shower. The steam comes over me and I just feel so free. Free from my thoughts, doubts, and worries. I pray for us. I pray for bio-mom. I pray that these girls will ultimately look back on their childhood and see they had 3 strong role models as parents their entire lives. (Hopefully 4 if and when bio-mom settles down again!).

This blended-family-journey is not for the weak, and I know I am strong. My husband and I are strong. Our family is strong, and whereas I could choose to spend all of my free time pondering the what-if’s, I will instead focus on what is. I will focus on time with my family, and follow my husband’s lead in knowing that everything will work out. Life is messy, but life is so, so good.

-Ashley

Our good friend the court system…

Howdy! *Quick vent for my Stepmom friends*

I see several of my stepmom followers post about their woes with the court systems… serious question- why does it take so long to get a ruling? If you go to trail and the judge needs time to “think about it” before making a decision, why can’t their assistant just give your attorney a call within 48-hours with his/her decision? Why does it need to be a big “let’s wait a month and then go back to court to hear the decision” production…?!

Maybe it’s the most frustrating because there are little ones involved, and everyone wants to spend as much time with them as possible. Maybe if this was us waiting to hear the results of a DUI we would appreciate the delay. Regardless, I do have respect for judges and understand they’re busy, but I would love to know what this delay is all about!

What other frustrations are out there in Stepmom + “Stepmom-in-Training” land? How’s your April been so far?

March…? Five Things.

Well I guess I let March slide right on by me, huh? Here’s a quick 5-Things that have happened since I last wrote…

ONE: In #SAPro world, things have really picked up! This is my 8th year in the college setting and every year, the spring semester flies by quicker and quicker. I love my job but with the ups-and-downs of my first year in this position, I have to say THANK GOD I can see the end in sight!

TWO: In Family news, all I can say is WHEW! Having to deal with a narcissist who has no ability to show empathy, no ability to self-reflect and take responsibility for her actions, and is truly a pathological liar, we’re all exhausted. There are a lot of positive things in play with my boyfriend and I, and we are certain that there is a light at the end of this hell hole of a tunnel…

THREE: Super Tuesday has come and gone (my state- VA– voted on Super Tuesday), and several other big primary days have come and gone. At this point, Donald Trump is winning the Republican primary with 458 delegates secured (1,237 needed to win the nomination), and Hillary Clinton is winning the Democratic primary with 1,221 delegates (2,383 needed to win the nomination). I don’t care who you support as long as you’re educated and truly stand behind their decisions… what I do care about is watching these hilarious liars in California… LOL!

FOUR: It’s Spring Break at my institution, which means in addition to having two professional staff days off, I also have three days of silence in my office. Genuinely considering turning my lunch breaks into yoga time…

FIVE: I write about my boyfriend’s daughters a lot, but last week I got to see my two nieces (4 & 6 years old) who I haven’t seen since Christmas… It was SO amazing to spend a little time with them, and my heart melted in to a million pieces when they begged me to spend the night. (Even though I didn’t- LOL). I love all the little ladies in my life and am so thankful to have them all.

So how have you been these past couple of weeks? Anyone else ready for this semester/month/year to be over? I’m ready for SUMMER!

Emotional Control

Do you ever want to take on someone else’s feelings- whether it’s pain, sadness, anger, grief, etc.- so they don’t have to experience it? That’s how I feel for my boyfriend anytime he’s experiencing anything other than happiness.

Now don’t get me wrong, looking at the “big picture” we’ve got a pretty great life… but there are a lot of moving pieces and we’ve faced our fair share of struggles. I’ve told you about our recent losses… that’s just a glimpse at how this year is going. Between new changes at his work, selling a house, court, lawyers, etc. it can just be overwhelming at times. He has a great support system outside of me as well, but damn, can’t we just catch a break every now and then?!

More than anything, I hate that 100% of any negative emotions he ever feels are due to one crazy person. One person who cannot take responsibility for their own actions, and who constantly places blame instead of accepting the role they plays in it all. I hate that there’s not a “de-friend and block” feature in real life like there is on Facebook (lol). I’m confident this could solve everything.

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When it gets hard, all I want to do is take it all on and let him just be at peace. Why is that too much to ask?! I know he feels the same for me when I am down. Why can’t we just help each other in this capacity?

Just a little mid-week vent. Oh, blended families…

2016 – Off to the Races!

Hey there-

You think I forgot about you?!

Let me just say, 2016 has been off to a pretty hectic start in my world! Personally, in Stepmom-in-Training world, we had a tough January with the loss of my boyfriends dog, followed by an almost two-week period I did not get to see the girls. In #SAPro world, we re-opened our residence halls, then immediately interviewed, selected, and made offers to RAs for the 2016-2017 academic year. I was also on-call for a week in there (cue, one week where I couldn’t see the girls). Add in a VA blizzard, and two weeks of following up with students who just couldn’t handle the snow, and you’ve got the perfect storm.

On to the positives… last Sunday, my boyfriend and I took the girls to the Shrine Circus and it was a blast! The girls were so well behaved, even when we got there a full hour early (thanks to my overly-punctual boyfriend… love you!) and had to entertain them that whole time. The youngest (20 months) was hilarious and made instant friends with everyone we were sitting around. It was awesome… that was totally out of character for her.

Another positive, I went out for a little after-work dinner + vent session with two of my colleague-friends the other day, which was perfect and much needed. I know that no one has a “perfect” life, but it’s still reassuring to hear straight from the horses mouth that I’m not the only one with a million things going on, both in work and in life.

I have let go of so much negative energy since letting go of a “friend” who I shouldn’t have kept around this long. That’s been the biggest relief of 2016 and one I definitely do not regret.

In regards to my dysfunctional family, I a) have been on ancestry.com and WOW it’s even more dysfunctional than I thought, and b) am doing a little self-advocacy/investigation and the results may be boring or life changing. We shall see.

Eight months of full-time employment post-graduate school and I am finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel regarding my finances… Whew the debt is real, but seeing it begin to fade away is the best feeling. (Never, ever shopping is the worst feeling but hey, compromise)

I can’t even believe it’s already February! This month will be full of more busy work weeks (including another on-call week), some sporting events including seeing the Harlem Globetrotters for the first time, and most importantly lots of family time with my man and our little ladies.

This month, I will also be launching recap posts of some of my favorite TV shows (!!!)

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Thanks for the continued support… stay tuned!

Now this is just an introduction…

Hey there, world! My name is Ashley and after several years of private journaling, I’ve decided to take my thoughts to the world & try my luck at blogging. Warning: I work best in “organized chaos” so if that doesn’t suite you, turn back now.

I was born in Richmond, VA, and raised outside of the city by a slew of relatives since my mother passed when I was 4-months old. My upbringing was just about as non-traditional as they come. I have one half-sister who comes with my brother-in-law and two perfect nieces. I was a first-generation college student, later becoming the first in my family to receive a Masters degree. I consider myself to be extremely independent, and my stubbornness in this area could be considered my biggest flaw. Family dynamics is an area I have a lot to say in… I’m sure you’ll hear all about my crazy family in the future.

I have an amazing boyfriend, who has two incredible daughters from his previous marriage. I consider myself a “Stepmom-In-Training” (which I also find hysterical). I am very lucky to have my boyfriend as my best friend and #1 fan, and he and his daughters mean everything to me. I’m one of those “fall-off-the-map-when-in-a-relationship” kind of girls, and I own it. My relationship has shown me yet another level of interesting family dynamics, and I’m sure my pre-made family will inspire a number of posts.

I am an entry-level professional in higher education- Student Affairs, working at my undergraduate alma mater in Residence Life. Working in this field, alongside people who supervised me as an undergraduate, in a very small town, living alone, has its ups and downs which I’m sure you will hear all about. I am constantly trying to decide whether career or family should take priority on any given day. I’m also in a “quarter-life-crisis” and am thinking about changing career fields to work in the K-12 sector of education. You will certainly hear about this (selfishly because I need input!).

I consider myself half-classy and half-inappropriate, with several curse words sprinkled on top. I’m just a 20-something trying to organize this messy thing we call life, one “to-do” list at a time.

Happy Reading!

-Ashley

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(Side note- If you knew the title of this was from the All That theme song, you rock.)