The Man That Stays.

Thank you.

The biggest disadvantage in my life has been loving temporary people, permanently. I’ve done this my entire life with not just loved ones but also romantic relationships and friendships. Friends excite me. There is this enjoyment I experience in meeting new people, hearing their stories and the connection that follows. You know that feeling when you really click with someone and you just want to experience everything with this new friend?! That is me. And, I come on way too strong. Every time. It’s like I stick a fork in a light socket – its explosive, bright and exciting – until all power is lost and I’m left alone sitting in the dark.

So, when I decided to try yet again with not just love, but marriage –  the majority of people thought (maybe still think) I was crazy. But as we continue our adventure in this life, our 7th year together, I’m pretty sure God provided me with a blessing of a man who carried a couple extra buckets.

The love of a lifetime is worth at least a million tries. I still believe this. Now, let me preface this with saying, no, I don’t think he loved me enough for the both of us or that I think someone has the capability of loving us back to normal. But what I am saying is that while I was learning what real love was and commitment meant, what it entailed, and the seriousness of my vows made to him – I also saw the person in myself that he was choosing to love each day.

This is a letter to my husband –

Broken women, run. We do, and often without notice or even our own knowledge. It is second nature to leave before being left. The thought of being valued, appreciated and wanted is unimaginable. And, the desire to find a man to love you when you are still learning to love yourself runs deep. We just want to be loved and accepted.

That is a whole heck-of a lot of baggage for one man. Yet you picked up each of my bags and built a home with me. You helped me unpack, sort and discard the items that I no longer needed to travel with – because my traveling days were over unless they included you. When my stubborn streaks and independence was full of “I don’t need you” and “I can do it all on my own” – you stepped back and let me do just that. And, patiently waited for me to come to terms with the beauty of wanting a partner and wanting the help – not needing it.

When my days crumble and go to crap and nothing makes sense, you let me collapse into your lap, sink my face into the side of your neck and cry, piss and moan or pout. When my hormones are out of whack and I am throwing a tantrum that makes a two-year-old jealous – you don’t engage. When my actions are full of quit and you see that I am preparing for you to do the same, you don’t. When my words and actions make zero sense or I am just flat out being a pain in the butt, you have no problem telling me to, “cut the crap!” And, then try kissing me. It is super weird, you are super weird  – but I love that.

If we argue – it’s quick. Mostly because my memory is shot – but still. If we disagree – we talk it out and then agree that I was right – okay, okay – mostly right. You laugh at my corny jokes and love that I get mushy over hallmark movies. You make goofy snap chat videos with me, and will retake pictures until my double chin doesn’t show. You watch the Real Housewives, and This is Us with me too – and possibly when I am not in the room. You let my daughter, now your daughter, paint your toes that one time, remember? Oh, and do you remember that time you dressed up as Olaf for Halloween? Yep, you are that man, that husband – that makes his wife happy. That matters you know, more than you realize.

You tell me I am beautiful without even looking at me – which at first bothered me because I thought beauty was visually pleasing. Until the day I was un-showered, hair thrown up in a messy bun, zero makeup – probably looking all kinds of unkempt – and you looked me in the eyes, pulled me close and told me, “I’m so in love with you and you are so beautiful.” It was then that it clicked, you see me differently. You see me with love.

You stepped in as a father, a coach, a friend and a support for my children. You’ve been reminded you are not their father, and then loved as being one. You’ve gifted me another son and afforded my heart the ability to stretch even bigger than I imagined it could. You showed me the beauty of understanding and meaning my vows. Love doesn’t always make sense. But it always makes a choice. It chooses to give the benefit of the doubt. It chooses to trust. It chooses to listen, care and hope. Most of all, love chooses to STAY. Sometimes, to be honest, I wonder if you were dropped on your head as a child, because that is the only explainable reason you could possibly love me as much as you do. Remind me to thank your parents next time I see them for possibly being inattentive.

You are the man that chose the remaining pieces let over. The scraps, if you will. It’s incredible the sustenance and substance you can find in what someone else discarded. I’ve learned commitment from you. I’ve learned unconditional love from you. I’ve learned what a real, godly and faith driven marriage is from you. And, I love you endlessly and want to say thank you for loving and choosing me everyday.

Quote with a sunset behind a view

A fresh (step)parent perspective.

Have you ever felt like blending your family isn’t possible? Or, that being a stepparent is too much work for you to take on alone? That failing is your new favorite pastime and honestly you are unsure what or who you are even fighting for? Do you question if you have what it takes to be a stepparent? If your answer to any of these are yes, then know there is hope. Being a stepparent has days, months and even years where you are and will be tested and pushed. But, when you’re able to see past the step, and only see the parent, those rough days become more and more manageable.

When my husband and I blended our family seven years ago, it was rough. We’d both been divorced more than once before. We both had children and very different parenting styles. (We still have different parenting styles) There were days I was angry, days I cried, days I wanted to give up and say “no this is not my problem or my job” and truthfully a good reason behind dating for so long, well that and our failed marriages.

Did I feel like a jerk and a failure on the days when I couldn’t hang with the super stepmoms? Sure. But you can’t base your days or family dynamics on other blended families or stepparents. It’s okay to not have it figured out, it’s the quitting that’s bad. You have to ask yourself why God has put you where you are and how you can be used for good. There is a purpose to his plan, and you are more than capable.

When Cole first came into the mix he was struggling in school, and as harsh as it sounds it was a huge cause of friction in our home. When you blend children who’s parents have different expectations or even the lack of, it can rock even the most sturdiest of ships. Gracie and Gage were expected to come home right after school, homework was done first, playing was second. Cole had his own idea of how it should be done, which was not at all. And, to be honest there were days, weeks and months that felt like the only person in the entire universe who cared about his education, was me, and it was exhausting. My husband and I fought, the school and I fought and Cole and I fought. It was awful.

School nights consisted of tears, frustration, too many erasers and both of us going to bed defeated. Cole did not have confidence in his work or himself. Sports were his priority, and schooling was mine. It didn’t take long before I saw things differently. One of the great blessings of being a stepparent is you see things from a different perspective from your spouse who is more intimately connected to situations with their child. You are a fresh view, and that’s a blessing. I could see Cole was capable of much more than he was letting on, I could see he knew more but something was holding him back AND, I could also see how at times he was working both the school and my husband.

Admitting that you need help or that your child needs help, is no easy feat for some. With that in mind, imagine how it felt for me trying to persuade my husband into understanding (his son), our son needed help. Ours, was not a word he heard, he only heard, his, help, and failing. It was as if I was telling him Cole was damaged and it was his fault. He was against it all. Cole’s hesitance at least made sense because kids can be awful to anyone who learns differently, and he knew that. But, after my incessant pleas, we eventually approached the school about getting him into an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Coming from a place where I wasn’t directly or personally connected to a false sense of ownership, I could see this was a need not a fault, and it was in his best interest and would help him. And, luckily the school agreed.

The days of missing assignments, lies about homework, bad report cards, all the times Cole would say “I don’t know”, “I’m confused” or “I’m just dumb” were enough for all three of us to want to give up and run in separate directions. There were days I would go to work and cry because I was so frustrated, and felt like it would never change or get better. But, it did change. IT GOT BETTER. SO MUCH BETTER. The school has been incredibly instrumental and supportive along the way.

Cole was now not only getting the help he needed, but it fed his confidence and made him see he was capable of more, he did know more and understood more. He just needed to be expected to try by us, and then taught how to do things in a new way at school until eventually it all clicked. He will be a freshman next year and has all A’s and B’s this year so far. He had all D’s and F’s…even in PE. That’s how I knew this little turkey was capable of much more!

My point to this is, it may not be school you’re struggling with, and it may not be homework that your crying at work about. But whatever it is, if it’s going to benefit your child/stepchild, don’t quit advocating for it, even if it is with your spouse. The day you committed to your spouse, you committed to being a parent who looks out for and fights for the best interest of your children as a whole. You may start off as a fresh stepparent with no idea of how to parent differently than you did before blending your families. But, being new and fresh is a hidden gift in itself. You are a fresh set of eyes, ears and a fresh heart even, which is necessary when your new family may come with broken or bruised ones.

When I talked to Cole’s teacher the morning of our annual meeting she said somethings to me I will never forget, “He had such great things to say about you. He talks about you a lot and even shared you’re writing a book, he’s very proud of you, so you should know you’re doing great!” Yes, my little kiddo who used to battle me on everything was PROUD OF ME! It did feel great to know that as he’s making me proud, I’m making him proud too! And, I’m (just) his (Step)mom “technically”… So don’t think that restricts you from wanting and being more or doing better for your kiddos.

Keep fighting and love until it’s natural, you’ll be glad you did!

– Jess

In this post we are talking about stepparents being called mom and loving children as your own

No, you already have a mom.

I still the remember the first time my stepson asked to call me mom, and I very curtly said no. The verbal playback from how I heard my response come out, the tone, the very evident feeling of repugnance behind it, and the visual of his reaction when he received my response – is a moment that I wish I could erase, for us both.

In the beginning we both felt like we were fighting for a place in his fathers life and neither of us were giving in. Imagine having your child ask if their friend can stay the night, then another night and another night – then moving in. Forever. During a single night sleepover, kids are endearing, quirky and fun even. If they misbehave or river-dance on your last nerve, you can breathe through it knowing they go home soon. But, when they never go home, because their home is now your home – that’s rough.

Listen, I know as you’re reading this you’re thinking I sound like an evil stepmom and let me tell you, I felt like an evil stepmom too! Additionally, I felt like I was being bullied, being a bully, being tested and testing, and failing miserably. Did I mention he was my son’s best friend? That I met my husband because they were best friends? I fell head over heels in love with a man, and gained a son – that I wasn’t head over heels in love with. At first.

If I am being honest with myself, I knew when he asked to call me mom, my answer was not coming from a kind and loving place. I knew I was coming from a “you already have a mom, and you are her responsibility, not mine” type of place. And, a place of “you are too much “work” for me.” Which translates to a child that they are not important enough to love. Because, would we not put in all the effort, every tireless hour, every bit of heart aching pain to help our biological children? Over and over again? So… essentially our own biological children deserve our unconditional love, but not a child who was not born from us? That’s awful. And, that was how I felt. At first.

One of the biggest misconceptions about being in a blended family is that you blend well. Think of an actual blender, the settings are: Blend/Stir, Shred/Beat, Grind/Puree, Mash/Chop, Liquefy/Whip, and Frappe/Mix. Those are some serious options just to blend something smoothly. I mean shoot, if I am making a margarita, I throw all the stuff in and press all the buttons praying they do the trick — and I’m quite certain that is exactly what I did in the beginning as a stepmom. And, with the lid off at least 50% of the time, because some days I wanted to make a mess, this uprooting in my life was a daily grind where I was being beat, shredded and liquefied to a point of tears. At first.

Babies and toddlers, they are one thing. They’re pliable, naive, and still young enough to create that sweet bond with. But at seven, their mannerisms and personality traits are primarily already set in place, and none are from you. You didn’t spend the past seven years teaching them how to walk, talk, count to 10, sing the alphabet, how to write their names and how to say I love you mommy. You weren’t able to share the values, morals, and lessons that you taught your own children either. Instead you inherited someone else’s values, morals and lessons all wrapped in a cute kiddo who you have to simply just accept because if you don’t you’re a horrible person. At first.

There was a day early on that made me very aware of the manipulation that could exist in the world of “I don’t want my dad to date you” (which was a super fun place to live, not at all). We were in the drive through at Carl’s Jr when my stepson saw an attractive girl taking our money at the window, and he says “my daddy calls her beautiful every time he talks to her “hi beautiful, thanks beautiful” every time” and he flashes this look and laughs. And, I laugh too (as I’m texting his dad asking who the girl at CJ is) through the moment and play it off. He just wanted me to leave, and he was too young to understand that by hurting me, he would hurt his father. But in that moment, none of get that – were all just fighting for scraps at the dinner table. He would flip flip though very rapidly, one minute he would try to break us apart, and the next he would want a hug and ask me if he could call me mom. Things I can now look back on and see very clearly. But then, I’ll be honest again, I didn’t have the type of heart that reminds itself this is a child, they do not mean it, it is their backstory causing this – in the moment. In the moment, I was mad, I was affected and I was annoyed. To me this kid was a disrespectful and needed discipline, at first.

A few months later, he asked to call me mom again, and this time we were not alone, it was in the car with his dad and both my children. Before I could respond, they both said “No she isn’t your mom.”, And, while his dad looked at me with that look of what do we say, when he heard how quickly my kids blew his son off – he was hurt too! It was a no win situation, and things were still choppy – but this time was little different, and I felt stuck. When a child asks to do something that another child in the same household does, it’s because they want to be the same, to be included, and to feel like part of the family. I was told once that if a child asks to call you mom or just does it on their own, and you have other children in the home, you are setting yourself up for failure by saying no – because you are then ostracizing your stepchild. Great! So basically I’ve been ostracizing him since the beginning, and now if I cave – my kids will be mad. Who do I please? Who is more important? Honest people will say their bio kids come first, goodhearted kind people will say it should be equal and so will your spouses. But that doesn’t always happen at first.

Just a side note about this, everything I’ve experienced as a stepmom, my husband has experienced as a stepdad too (my daughter who is 16 calls him dad now too actually). My two had their father involved at first – and he hated my husband for sheer fun. For me, it was a little easier in that my stepsons mom was really not in the picture. At that time her involvement and communication was minimal at best and she lived in another state. Basically, I was his mom, whether we liked it or not. His physicians, teachers and coaches all knew me as mom because none had ever met his “real” mom. So, as I am saying no, you can’t call me mom, they are telling him talk to your mom, and this poor kid is confused.

It was very clear my stepson was nothing like me, but there were definitely things about him that I started to love. He was and still is so great with little kids, he gets down on their level and is patient and kind with them. He loves to be with adults, and would prefer to hang with them then go outside and play. And, I learned very quickly (thank goodness) that he just craved love. He needed and wanted so much love – and here I was being an ass and saying no. Saying I have no room, no extra love to give, sorry not sorry. I couldn’t stop focusing on how much re-work I was having to do with him. Simple things like brushing his teeth, taking a shower, doing his homework, not lying (oh my goodness the lying!!!) his constant need to be glued to his dad at every moment – it was almost too much, almost every day. He was on an IEP in school because he needed help in most areas and my children were none of those things. They were good kids, easy kids. Because they were my kids. Looking back now I can see that while I did have really great kiddos, we let a lot slide because we don’t notice it the way you do with someone else’s child. And, that is what they are, someone else’s child – at first.

Around his first birthday with us as a family, I had a feeling he was going to again ask to call me mom. I knew this because his mom hadn’t called him in almost a year at this point. My husband asked me one thing when we first started dating, and that was to never contact her, that she had made her bed and to just let it go. Well, if you know the me from 7 years ago, letting anything go was a joke. So, one day after watching my stepson sit by the phone waiting for it to ring, I lost it and I broke that request. My insides were literally burning with fury, and the inability to understand and I wanted to know why she didn’t love him enough to call??? And, then I wanted to know why I care all of a sudden? Was it because I needed her to step up and be his mom so I didn’t have to, or was it because she was missing out on a phenomenal kid who just wanted her to love him? The real answer was a good mixture of both I suppose, at first.

I remember writing his mom, and I pissed her off (maybe you read the blog If I could have a word with you , which is all about that and technically my first love letter to my new son in a sense) and rightfully so because who was I coming in acting like I knew it all. But, after that talk, I took my children aside and had a talk with them. I asked them why they were so against him calling me mom, and I explained to them why I felt like the next time he asked, I wanted to not only say yes, but have them okay with it too. It was a great talk for all of us, and we walked away from that knowing that if he asked again, I would say yes, and things might be different, but nothing would change my being their mom.

I tell this story because not every stepparent/stepchild relationship is easy. There are times where both are wrong, both are hurt, both are guarded and both are selfish. Aside from writing about stepparent related stories and situations I don’t use the word step to describe him, he is just my son. His is not a stepbrother, he is just a brother – and even though his mom moved back here two years ago, I’m not his step mom, I’m just his mom. He hasn’t stopped calling me mom since, and I’ve worked my butt off to earn that title, and he has my love unconditionally and equally always. We still have our moments, he will be 14 in a week and I will tell you that back then, I never thought we’d make it here but there is something really special about resilient love – and God knew we both needed the other. We just didn’t realize it at first.  

Walk all over me, please.

Sometimes I’m genuinely intrigued by people who perceive me as defenseless or even a pushover. It makes me want to say “excuse me,” as I tap on their shoulder, “what is it exactly in my overall appearance ( pointing at myself in a circular motion) or personality that screams “walk all over me” and gives you the idea that I will actually fold and lay flat like a board? Is it my hair? My customer service voice? Ooh ooh, I know… I used to be married to someone you know, huh, and now were enemies for funsies cause your loyal, right?” Truly, I could go on for days as to why people pre-determine my personality traits and worth, but their opinion of me, is none of my business. It all boils down to the simple fact of – you don’t know me! For those that do, know that once I am told I can no longer do something, I’ll do it again for spite.

Some may say it’s a lack in maturity, or what I say, just a blunt reminder that I will do as I please, whether you like it or not. The reason being is that this life is my own, the heart that loves/fights for whatever necessary reason in any moment I choose, is my own. The mind that races at night with worry, concern, memories and plans, again, is my own. As are my actions and any repercussions that follow.

You have a choice to exit my life, at any given moment the door is always open for you to do so. Rarely will I hold for you as you exit, or lock it behind you, but I will most assuredly not prevent you from walking out of it. Your life, if you choose to have me in it, will get easier once you understand I am not going to change. I love the person I am, I love what I fight for, I love what I believe in, and who I believe in. Your absence will never be a loss for me, because there is only more to gain by no longer being surrounded by negativity and people who are bothered by my refusal to be silenced.

My mistakes are just that, mine. If I make mistakes ten times a day, every day, for the rest of my life, they are no more your business from the first mistake to the last. It is my path, and I will travel it by whatever means necessary, regardless of where the hand on the clock lies, and you can’t bet your sweet nosy tush, I will learn something new along the way each and every time. My journey is personal and specific to my growth into the woman I become more of each day. Some days our paths will appear similar, and some days we will take a different course only to arrive at the same destination. The difference in course is how we will come to enjoy the same destination together.

My beliefs are no less important than yours, nor are my priorities, except that to us individually they are significant and critical in the forefront of our lives. They are what propel us forward, the motivation and dedication that burns in our souls. We will not always see eye to eye and I care not to, purposely. My opinions are loud, but they are never one-sided or judgmental – they come from a personal experience of either gain or loss. You decide if my opinion matters to you, and vice versa – individually the person chooses to validate or reject it. The power belongs to the beholder, just as does beauty.

Any relationship I choose to nurture with someone is important and on it’s own merit. If you betray or bring about pain to myself or someone I love and care for, I will not sit in silence, hang my head nor be fearful of speaking up. I will most likely refer you to the second paragraph – and gladly hold the door.

I’m at the point in my life, where the quality of the person, reflects my effort. My children are my main priority, I choose every day to love, trust and believe in GOD, and to live my life without regret. I know my heart, and the goodness it contains, it is not my intent nor desire to persuade you in or out of loving me. I love myself enough for the both of us, and my value will never decrease because we’re in disagreement over my worth.

You are raising a human being — Remember that.

remember

In the shower (where it seems my clearest thoughts prevail) I was thinking about how many people lose out when they simply don’t allow, encourage or welcome a relationship with their step-children. Many times I overhear that they don’t accept them due to manners, dislike for the other parents, their behaviors etc. When your family includes either your own children and a new spouse, or the children between you only, that is not a family and you are not only hurting the children you are hurting yourself.

I have a friend that I adore, she and her husband were granted full custody of a boy about 10 or so, due to a mother that just left him one day. My friend was less than pleased, this boy dressed scroungy, he had different manners, picked on her kids, and she felt he was more of a hassle than a blessing. Her husband worked nights, and she would complain and feel that she was raising “his” child, and it wasn’t her responsibility.

She would come to me and ask how come it was so easy for me, with my prior stepson, and how did I do it without getting upset – her biggest question was “How can you love him?” My answer to her was that for me, it was easy to love him – but that doesn’t mean we don’t have hard times. We all come around to things differently. Now in my current relationship, I went from raising a one year old to a nine year old. HUGE difference, difference in parenting, difference in attitudes, lifestyle and to be honest he isn’t used to have a mother type figure – let alone a steady one. We have our days of where it is real work, and there are days I am sure he doesn’t like me. But, tomorrow is a new day and I am not giving in. One day, one step at a time.

While being able to understand her frustration, I never could see how she could dislike this boy, because she had such a wonderful heart. After awhile I noticed she complained about him less, and he appeared in more photos, and the stories she shared were about him and the great things he was doing.

Fast forward a couple of years, and she and her spouse are now divorcing. Something that needed to happen a few years back, but when I say she has a great heart, I meant an extremely forgiving heart. Of course, I asked about her stepson and her response warmed my heart ” He goes with me of course, he is my son — it is written in our agreement that when the kids are with me, they are ALL with me.”

She took on a situation that wasn’t hers, she often did it alone, however the resentment wasn’t put on the child, the discipline, the nurturing, the love and care that she at times wanted to withhold – she never did. In the end, this boy grew into a young man who gained a mother and a sense of worth because someone who he fully expected to let him down, instead lifted him up.

My point here I guess is not just to share how easy it was for me, or how difficult it can be these days in a new relationship or how she was able to come around. But, more in that you all stand to lose when you choose to divide your family, solely due to the differences in hygiene, clothing, manners, attitude, or because they are simply not your responsibility. The truth is, that any child inside your home is your responsibility – whether it be a friend of your child’s, or niece or nephew, or a stepchild. And, the real question is why would you choose to shut out a child in any manner any how? Simply because you don’t like him or her – a child is a product of their environment – show them a positive environment – and watch that child make positive changes.

If not, you and your spouse or significant other will have an endless battle on your hands, there will be underlying resentment around every corner, and hidden under every argument, every family discussion – because you are not truly a family. Being a family doesn’t mean that you will agree, or that everyone ends up happy – it means that all are considered an important viable interest in your choices.

If you get to the point where you don’t like her/his kids, and they never say thank you, they will never be as good as your kids, and your spouse will never be as good a parent as you are – Is it time to ask yourself a different question like what am I doing with this person, is this the relationship for me? Seriously sit back, and ask who it is that you are hurting, because no one wants to be with someone like that. If your complaint is constantly their kids, that is a problem that needs fixing instead of complaining.

Do you want to fix your relationship with a stepchild or maybe build one? If so, here are some great ways to do so:

Sit and talk – even observe – see what they have to offer, a talent they possess and get involved.

Listen – put yourself in their shoes, remember they are a child.

Go on a date together – you, your spouse and them. Just you – not your kids at first.

Then go on a date with them all together.

Then go on  a date just you and them.

Eat dinner together as a family – sharing your day or something that happened that made it great.

At the end of the day – your family gains the world by simply trying. Have you given your all?

Out of broken homes, steps bloom into parents.

Life blows us in directions that we never see coming – or that we see the possibility of coming, but believe that they will never get that bad. Finding out you are wrong, and that it doesn’t just hurt yourself but others – is a hard pill to swallow. My children have survived, managed, whatever word you feel best describes living through our divorce. There really hasn’t been a hard time, or adjustment period – there has been hard times – but mentally and emotionally they have remained intact. Until now…

daughter and dad.

Lately I find myself questioning if it is my fault that my daughter dislikes her father so much? Is it because I divorced him? Is it because I married my now husband, and he is more fun than her father? Should I have not remarried and stayed single until she was in college? If you find yourself asking these questions, the answer is no. Children need to see a happy, fulfilling relationship that works, that is stable and creates a safe haven for them. As for my daughter, she is simply an old soul – she is intelligent and very forthcoming, inquisitive and mature for her age. When she asks questions, I answer them – whatever they may be – and I tell her the truth, even if it makes me look bad. Personally, I think this is best way to be a parent, but it’s not for everyone.

If you saw my daughter three years ago, you would be confused by the difference. Her daddy was her world, he could do no wrong and if I said anything to contrary she was first to defend. This was 4 years after our divorce, she has always been a daddy’s girl. Now, she wants nothing to do with him – Odd don’t you think? How is that even possible? Not only does she want to exclude him from her life, she wants her stepdad to be her dad. Placing me right in the middle of CRAP no matter which way I turn. A wrong move, hurts both my daughter and husband, or my ex-husband – whom although contrary to his delusions of hatred I have for him – bothers me.

Sitting here, I put myself in her fathers shoes. What if she lived with him full-time, and she decided she wanted nothing to do with me anymore, who he support her in that? Would he go to court to modify visitation to ensure she didn’t have to follow the court order? What if she wanted her StepMom to be her mom, and they had the relationship we should be having – how would I feel, what would I do? Then it hits me… “What if’s don’t usually happen” and I know this wouldn’t happen to us. Is it because I am a perfect mother? Not even close. Is it because I am a better person than her father, No. Is it because I wouldn’t allow myself to be in the background and take a backseat to her life, whether I was the custodial parent or not? YES!!!

See, that’s just it. If in court that day, I lost custody of my children – and they went to their dad instead, I wouldn’t have let them go completely. My heart would hurt, I’m sure I would harbor resentment towards my ex, and even be depressed not having them as I had before. BUT, I wouldn’t allow that to come between us more. I wouldn’t miss a sporting event, a school event, a conference, I wouldn’t miss anything that I was allowed to attend. I would ask for more time, not less. I wouldn’t let my children down. When they look around a crowded room, or ball field to see if I was there, they would find me every time. If they were sick at school, and needed to be picked up, I would pick them up, no second thoughts about it. When my children tell the truth about illegal things, I would never accuse them of lying to cover my own secrets. My children would know I loved them, want them, miss them, everything, as often as I could tell and show them.

He didn’t do this. As soon as he lost custody, he checked out of his position of a parent, a confidant, a role model, even as a friend. Little by little, his lack of involvement, his distance and constant avoidance of activities and important events for the children caused both kids to lose respect, question actions and pull away from their dad. What happens in a home, where you are remarried, and the ex removes himself from the kids lives – and you have a husband who loves your children? Naturally, they fill in – they STEP up, and do those things that a father should be. Is that really so wrong? Should we stop a natural progression of a parent role being filled in the best interest of a child? NO!

For approximately a year, I emailed, texted, called, reminded, re-reminded my ex of every detail, every event, and tried my best to stop what I saw unraveling before me. Was it because I didn’t want my husband stepping in? No, it was because I felt like my ex owed his children more than stepping out. When I think of my stepson, I know I could never replace his mom – it’s just impossible. But, when I look at my daughter – I see that it is very possible for her to replace her dad, and that makes me sad. Not because he deserves my sadness, or because he just got a bad rap – but because I know my daughter lost something inside her – she lost her father.

I lost a father, it hurts really bad – it’s a deep inside pain, it’s a core shattering, confusing, left always wanting and never feeling good enough kind of pain. The thought of her feeling this – tops that pain. A father is supposed to love his little girl no matter what, to be the one man a daughter can always count on, a little girls first love, and the rock that pulls her through. I never had that, and now I see that she doesn’t have that with her dad. However, God must have seen it coming – because he sent in a replacement.

Replacement, may sound hard – Second string, alternative, Stepparent – whichever means that it wasn’t the first option – but it is now the permanent. My husband loves my daughter more than I could express. He puts his blood, sweat and tears into her for everything. He doesn’t let her down, he doesn’t try to be her friend, he doesn’t miss an event that he can’t avoid – he doesn’t break her heart, he simply does his best everyday to be a parent to her. He disciplines, he reprimands, he teaches, he practices, he listens, he snuggles, he shows, he provides, he protects, and for all those reasons and more – she respects him. She loves him, and she considers him her dad. As much as it pains me to admit it, I am thankful she has him. She doesn’t lose out, she doesn’t go without, she gets that role model, that picture of what a husband she be, a father should be – and I can’t pretend that I don’t appreciate him for that.

Who are we to decide who is socially accepted to be a parent? Just because my husband isn’t biologically her parent, doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t make him love any less, it doesn’t make him unfit, or inexperienced or less than any other father. It makes him better, bigger, more, it makes him a father to a daughter that loves him. Which is priceless if you asked me.

Does it make our situation magically improved and we can all ride off in the sunset together, unfortunately not. Life is far more complicated than that. I still don’t know how to react, or defend her in her choice to choose her stepdad. The law prevents me from many choices, and my conscience does as well. However, when I sit back and question the why’s and what if’s, I know the answer. GOD, he is why – he knows, and he knew she would need a father, and he provided that for her, for our family. The blessing of my husband didn’t just include the gift of my wonderful, loving, sweet stepson, it blessed my children with another dad. What could be a better blessing than that?