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.

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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.

Tidal Waves

I’ll be the first to admit that my feelings crash down on me like a tidal wave from time to time… like the other night when I wrote No Surprise Here. Typically, I do well for myself… but I appreciate you all being here to help me process and vent when the waves crash down.

Anyway, over the past couple of days, I have again been at peace. My daytime & nighttime (work + family) have both been great. I’ve found a new- unexpected- joy in helping SD4 with her Kindergarten homework each day.

You read that right- Kindergarten homework every day.

SD4 is learning how to read, and it is incredible! The progress she makes week to week is truly fascinating. I really look forward to coming home and helping  her each day. I may be biased, but I’m pretty sure she has an acceptance to Harvard in her future…

I’ve been following a blog, The Called Stepmom, for a while, but her post yesterday really jumped out at me… so much so that I re-blogged it. As a stepmom, there is always a lot of pressure surrounding what the kids call me. On the one hand, I adore the rare moments they call me “Mommy,” but on the other hand, I really don’t care that they call me by my first name. There is societal pressure that if they don’t call me a version of “Mom,” then they must not consider me a mother figure. I think that societal pressure is bogus, honestly… and why in the world should it even matter what they call me?

People are too judgmental of other peoples parenting… parenting structure, style, family… everyone just needs to lay off, okay? We’re [mostly] all out here just doing the best we can.

The Called Stepmom also brought to light a Bible verse I hadn’t seen before… “He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother.” Psalm 113:9

How beautiful is that?! God has directly made me a mother. This is further (and possibly the most important) affirmation that my job in these kids lives is important. I can make an impact and help them to develop into the best versions of themselves they can be!

Emotions are fickle… don’t let the waves crash you down.

The Road Less Traveled

The past 5 weeks since I last wrote have been up and down regarding the kids, for sure.

Early August was met with a regular custody schedule (proposed by BM, and planning to make formal in upcoming mediation), SD4’s Kindergarten orientation (where BM brought her fiance whom she had known 4-months & his mom, added them as emergency contacts… the whole 9-yards), and SD4 actually beginning Kindergarten (she loves it!). We tackled the first couple of weeks of school as decent co-parents (better than before), and both girls transitioned into their new school years without a hitch.

Late August was met with BM’s fiance leaving her, and BM subsequently telling my husband she is now wanting MORE time with the girls, not the equal-overnight, regular schedule that we had agreed upon, and that is working so well for the girls. Late August included insulting and hypocritical emails from BM, and meltdowns from SD4 feeling guilty for leaving BM “home alone.” Late August reminded us that when BM is single, SD4 is inappropriately used as her emotional support system.

Early September has left me feeling pretty discouraged. It has reminded me how much is out of my control. It has consistently had me in the mindset of “this would be so different if these were really my kids.” It has reminded me over and over again of my husbands decision to get a vasectomy before we met, and how that has impacted our future. It has ingrained in my brain that no matter how much I feel these kids are “mine,” they’re not.

My thoughts and feelings are also coming to a crossroads, as I can either choose the negative, grudge-holding route to move forward in, or I can choose the optimistic, potentially life-changing high-road ahead. The negative, grudge-holding route would be the easiest for me to slip into by focusing on the “what if’s” and the “what could have been’s.” The high-road is the most challenging but I think over time, would be the most rewarding.

I need to stay steadfast in remembering that these girls need me. I was placed into their lives for a reason. Having a biological child would only take away the time and energy I have now to focus on these girls. These girls need a strong female role model. They need a woman with sound reasoning abilities to look up to. They need to see a female dominate in her career, while also keeping her family as a priority. They need a mother-figure who spends her their time engaging with them, playing games, teaching them, helping them with homework, singing songs with them, helping them find their hobbies and ultimately their passions. They need a mother figure who shows up and steps up 110% of the time… not just when it’s convenient.

I’ve spent the last several years building the foundation to be that woman for these girls. So why stop now? Why let this momentum drop off just to ultimately hurt the girls? Why take the negative, grudge-holding route when I can take the high-road? What is easiest for me now, is not what’s best for the girls forever. I can’t give up now. I will persevere! My husband and I will overcome, and everything will work out in the long run.

I may not be their mother, and they may always call me by my first name, but I will always work towards making self-improvements for their benefit. They deserve it.

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!