Top Step-Parent Blog!

Top-10-Step-Parenting-Blogs-200We were, or I guess…I was nominated by someone, somewhere for my blog. It was entered into a Step-parenting contest with fifty…yes 50! other stepparents who share the same passion as I do. And…we ranked in at #5! How fantastic is that? And, how do you thank someone that you have no idea who they are? My best guess would be to continue doing what I have been for the past few years – and one day when my first book is published it can include this anonymous person who believed in me – because it has made a monumental difference.

Its hard to share the love of what you do with people who register writing and blogging as rather insignificant. “What is blogging? Who cares about that? Big deal! I have better things to do with my time” are all things I have heard people say – and while I let it affect me way down somewhere – those comments don’t matter to me today. You, the readers and followers, the stepparents, parents, friends and family are who matters. If we all went off of what the naysayers say – we would never follow our dreams. Besides, the fuel in my life has always been “those people” who didn’t think I could do it, because I love the moments like this…where I do.

So, for today I am going to relish in this small step towards the life impacting writing I hope to do in the many years to come – and to thank you for your continued involvement and support in my blogging.

Read the article here on all of the Top Ten:

http://voiceboks.com/top-10-step-parenting-blogs-of-2014/

Blog post

Being a Mom

Being a mom means more than having given birth to a child. Its loving and knowing a soul before you even see it. It’s carrying, and caring for a life completely depending on you for survival. It’s giving air to the lungs that grew with-in you, and sight to the eyes that will never see you as anything but mommy. Its sleepless nights, its nursing scratches and scrapes, its being stern and protective. It’s teaching them to talk, to walk and to eventually run. It’s learning to hand your child to a stranger to let them teach what you cannot at times. It’s bracing them for a fall, and dusting them off after they do. It’s seeing them cry, and not knowing how to fix it, so you sit on the floor and hold them and cry right along beside them.  It’s teaching them, that they are smart, capable, funny and giving them the security to do great things. Its building their self-esteem, supporting their dreams and loving them unconditionally. Its letting them go, letting them fail, and teaching them how to get back up. It’s going without, so that they don’t have to, and being okay with it.

awesome

Being a Mother, is a gift that is unimaginable to any woman who does not have a child in their life. It’s a connection that is unmatched and insurmountable in any form or other relationship.  It’s a love that grows continually, a love that always wants more and better. It’s being terrified that you can’t prevent pain, injustice, heartbreak, and at times even death.  It’s laughing at jokes that aren’t even funny, but the way they say it,makes its hilarious. Its listening to stories, that go on and on without a point. It’s always being available for the “mommy watch ME’s” and “mommy I need you”.  It’s drowning out the word MOM repeated over and over, in attempts to get your attention. Its songs sang out of tune, and settling squabbles with siblings. It’s being mean, and teaching hard lessons, that hurt you inside so deep you want to cry, but you must stand strong with resolve. It’s being strong for them, when you are weak. It’s smiling when you want to cry, and crying when you’re smiling with pride.

It’s looking through photographs and feeling your heart swell with love and happiness when you see the beauty, the happiness and life in your child’s smile and eyes.  Its confusion, mistakes, uncharted territory and blind folded guessing. It’s snuggling on the couch watching a movie, braiding hair till your fingers hurt, it’s being woken up early on Saturday morning because they want to crawl in bed and be close to your heart. It’s having the worst day, and having them hug you and tell you ”mommy I love you”, and needing nothing more.

It’s a blessing, a gift, a relationship that never ends, and a love that never dies. It’s the best thing I have ever become, the greatest love I have ever felt and the best part about being me.

Tough moms blend with the lid off!

blenderOkay, so it is hard… it really is. And, honestly if you haven’t thought to yourself “What the hell am I doing here, or dealing with this for?” at least once, you aren’t doing it right. Stepping into, or welcoming someone into a blended family – is much more than just another pound of ground beef for taco night. They do not call it blended for lack of a better term. Yes some days it can be blissfully blended, and some days the switch is left on puree/chop and you find yourself hiding in your room, scarfing down reese’s peanut butter cups like they are going out of style!

I’ve been told a number of times by step moms that being a stepparent is the hardest job – and I agree…but why is that?

Too much credit, not enough effort
Broken homes, broken children
All the responsibility, none of the say
You’re an extra – sometimes you take a backseat
Struggle with finding your place

While all those are true, and validated I feel like it can go a little deeper. Stepparents carry along a stigma, and with any statistic, any stereotype and biased opinion – strong individuals like myself feel the need to stand up for, rally against, and prove the nay-sayers wrong. Some stepparents walk around as if the world owes them a favor, for taking on the role. However, those people are who create the stereotype, not negate it. If you are a good stepparent, it is because you are a good person. Because you have strong work ethics, strong resolve and most likely a good sense of self. We don’t get a badge of honor because we stepped into a role, we earn that honor, from the relationship and time taken to honor your spouse, by loving and caring for their child.

Think of it like this: take all your experience about parenting, life, and your opinions about religion and so on and throw it in a bag, every trick you have used to raise your children, and toss it all in there. Then add in every emotion, confusion, frustration, love, doubt, etc. that you have felt as a parent or human being – and shake that bag with all your might. Now take out all the experience, and opinions – and leave the feelings…that is being a stepparent. You have a bag of all these tools, ideas, and ways that worked for your children, or the desire of something to try, but ultimately you can’t always parent the way you want or see fit, because your role isn’t always to implement; sometimes it is solely to support.

#1 Dad

Now if you are like me, you are an implementer, we always know the best way – the RIGHT way. Therefore, when we see struggle, you want to rush in and save the day –  but you can’t. Can’t isn’t addressing your ability, it is addressing your position.  And, that sucks…nothing is harder than having a motherly urge to fix a situation, and then realizing that it is not yours to fix. Trust me, I am fixer…I can fix an-y-thing! However, this is where being Dad’s #1 support comes in.  Behind closed doors, discuss with him some options, opinions, etc that he can implement as he see’s fit. Then stand behind him and support him. There is of course, a sticky downside, you can’t get upset when he doesn’t agree or want to implement what you see as fit. And, although you may be muttering a smart ass remark under your breath – you will learn to smile, breath and try again tomorrow 😉

Will you love your stepchild right away, or will they love you? NO! In fact, I liked my boyfriends son more at first, before I started dating him, when he was purely my son’s friend. Then we started dating, and his son and I just butted heads at times. We still do, there are times where I am the frustrated, wicked step mom, and there are times when he loves me. It is expected that both you and your step child will have hard times, a child is a wonderful blessing yes, but as with your biological children, you will get frustrated, irritated and disappointed. The difference is the bond being built at birth, verses being built following the break of another. I’m sure you have heard the saying “It takes a strong man to step up to the plate another man left at the table” but what about the child whose plate was served by one person, and cleaned up by another? That is a monumental life change. Its an act of getting to know each other, likes, dislikes, building a foundation. I am sure there are times where I am seen as the evil step mom, and there are times where I just don’t get him; but at the end of the day – we keep trying. And eventually, it will make more sense, it will be less effort and more natural.

Ahh Blended…lives, homes, beliefs, families, parenting, rituals, traditions etc… that is a whole hell of a lot to blend; does that even all fit into a blender? No wonder, the top blows off and you have an explosion in your kitchen at some points. But, we learn to enjoy the mess it makes, when the lid  is off.

Dads are kind-of Awesome!

Dad verses mom appears to be an easy win for Moms, right? You’d think it would be a slam dunk because we are natural multi-taskers, nurturers, nurses, teachers, homemakers, maids, etc. I mean, come on, we literally do it all! Or, do we? We can tease them and share random facts which are absolutely true and humorous like these things…

Dads never sleep, they are simply resting their eyes. Even if they are snoring – they are resting their eyes damn it!

Dads can’t change diapers, they will throw up! It is a scientific fact – proven by the obnoxious, melodramatic gagging met my our mere thought of even asking for help.

Dads can’t go grocery shopping. Cheap, coupons, budget and list are not words that exist in his vocabulary.

Dads have a whole different time frame. In a minute – can literally be in a minute or the minute they see you actually doing what you asked.

Dads clean house without being asked for three reasons. 1. Sex 2. They want something 3. They did something already.

However, the truth is dads are kind-of AWESOME!   Yes, there are single parents who fulfill the role of both parents, and this isn’t meant to negate that in any way… but there are some things I think dads just do better than moms. 

First, dads know sports. They are the first to teach competition, the desire and drive to win, to be #1, the absolute best at anything and everything. They teach dedication, practice makes perfect and its okay to fall down as long as you get back up again. And, it’s a bonus for Moms because there is nothing more sexier than seeing your spouse out playing sports with the kids!

Second, dads understand that “mom doesn’t understand”. I mean, who better to understand being misunderstood than dad, right? You can tell him everything, and he can completely sympathize.

Third, dads are a sons best friend. They know everything boys. Video games, sports, fishing, ball games, hunting, you name it they can do it together!  They also know all about those “changes”, why your son is still in the shower, why mom may not want to clean up those dirty socks on the floor, or lift up the mattress at a certain age. Needless to say anything further.

Fourth, dads are natural conquerors. Whatever you need, they have an idea of what they can construct to do it! They can also get anything down from the ceiling, the roof, the top shelf etc. They know just how to fix, or repair whatever a child needs especially if it creates a project! (Extra kudos if said project supersedes mom’s honey do list) Same with lessons on cars, car repairs, etc. They are great at teaching with their hands, those are their best tools.

Fifth, dads are a daughters first love. A simple bat of the eyes, and daddy you are my favorite teaches little girls and grown women how to get exactly what they want! They are natural protectors and create that first sense of safety for a little girl. Daddy’s are everything to a little girl. They don’t care that she doesn’t wear a skirt, or that she has dirt on her face, they love that she can bait a hook, and loves to play with worms – they love little girls who can be boys when the time calls for it. (Now, boys that want to be girls…that’s a whole different ballgame)

Sixth, dads are calm. They diffuse situations and make sense out things, they are a natural peacemaker between mom and her children. You can call dad and even if he is pissed, disappointed or hurt, he will remedy what he can. He will also let you fall on your face, if it proposes to teach a good lesson.

The final thing I think dads do best, is teaching their children how to be a good husband, father, wife and mother. They watch the relationship between mom and dad, they see the way dads are supposed to be, how dad treats mom, and it sets forth an example and expectations for both sons and daughters. It is best said in this quote “The best thing a father can do for his children, is love their mother” and it is quite true.

read more at totallyjessifiable.wordpress.com

fathers

Make them aware that they are loved.

It doesn’t matter where the love comes from, it doesn’t matter if it’s a bio-parent or a step-parent – as long as there is love being freely given. Someone who gives their time, their energy, their love without any regard for a personal gain – solely to benefit the child. We all get some portion of this in life. A little piece of completeness.

When you look at your child/stepchild – look at them and see the child – not the other parent. See what needs they have, what talents they possess and can share with the world given your love,  your time, and your extra attention. Don’t be afraid or too busy to hug them, to discipline them, or to not be their friend. Because, inside of us all we have that small place that’s missing something? Don’t you?aware

Am I a product of Reverse Psychology?

Is it possible I get nothing from my family but reverse psychology? Is it possible that every lesson I have learned in how to be who I am — was solely by watching them be who they should not have been?

confused

Do you ever feel as if you do not have a place, a place of origin, a true place to call home, an explanation to the whys and who’s of what made the person you have become? That is me.

At my son’s baseball try-outs he was incredible, he is naturally athletic – and I thought to myself, I wonder where he gets that? My last name is James, but I know nothing of my origin. How can that be possible, for a name, a history – the ins and outs of who I am – to mean nothing? I guess that is something I am still figuring out.

My kids, they know where they come from – who they get certain things from, or who they learn it from. My son is built just as I was as a child. My daughter is built like her father, she is beautiful – not just the beautiful that every mother says, but the truly takes your breath away beautiful. My son gets his sensitivity from me, and my daughter gets her attitude from me. They both are direct results of the people around them.

There are some key aspects I give credit to my grandparents for teaching me – the old school values like, Sundays are family days, Church, family dinner at the table every night, praying before every meal, never invite yourself, or eat in front of someone, don’t call a house during dinner time — all things our fast paced society could care less about anymore. However, who I am, whose nose I have, or laugh I have, I couldn’t tell you.

What I know about myself is how I feel about things, what makes me who I am, my reactions, my instincts, my abilities and strengths — those are mine, built by me, and God. Do I know where my insecurities come from? Absolutely! But, could I tell you where I get my writing abilities from, or my love for Literature? No. Do I know why I love my children more than life itself, and I will make sure they know they can do anything they want, and they are important, intelligent, and loved? Yes — But, do I know who I get that from? No.

What I learned from my parents was that for my mother, drugs, alcohol and random men – were more important than me. And, from my Father, was that the wind blowing through my hair on the way to bus stop was not okay and made me appear beautiful – therefore it was chopped off like my brothers. My father said I talked too much, so sent me to school with an entire roll of duck tape on my mouth. Apparently, I get nothing from him, because I would NEVER do that to my children.

Do you see what I have to work with here? My father has since passed and I find myself internally giving him some slack due to some medical issues and what-not, however I just don’t think I can ever bring myself to ever like that man – or see that I am anything like him.

What perplexes me is that I believe God gives us our parents for a reason, and so far I am missing what good it has done for me to have such shitty parents. It has done wonders for my children, which I guess is for me, I don’t know. Don’t get  me wrong, God has blessed me in many ways, and if the only blessings I have from here on out are my children I am perfectly content with that. But, I would sure love to know, for it to all make sense, as to why I have no place to call home — before the home I built with my children.

Blended Families are BLENDED with Discipline, Parenting, Finding your place & your voice.

“Lately, I have been struggling with others views about my life – marriage – family etc. How far do we let peoples opinions, advice, etc in to our homes and how do we do that, and still find a place within our little family and our spouses families at the same time. Below you will find many scenarios of things I struggle with, and some ways to help that. “

My husband teases me that I need an invite before I will just stop by someone’s home. He often times goes to his mom’s house unannounced, will help himself to food in the fridge and take the most comfy chair. Not only does this make me uncomfortable, but its something I would never do. Seriously, I am an adult – and I wouldn’t want someone just stopping by – what if they are having sex or enjoying time alone – or naked walking around the house? That happens at our house, so it is possible.

Call it being sensitive, which I know I am, or you can call it being a worry-wort which I have been since I was a child – either way I don’t want to intrude. Is it possible they want me there, sure – but it’s also possible that even though the like me, they may not feel like having to entertain company. Some will argue that family is not company, I will argue they are both. Putting this into account with other things – I sometimes feel as if I don’t know my place, I don’t always feel welcome and can grow uncomfortable easily. Not because they did, or said anything – because of me.

There are times when I don’t feel included – and when I choose to let it bother me. There were two months that grandma was in the hospital. My mother and father in law – spent the majority of the time there alone – working full-time and spending nights there. Just showing up there – isn’t something I would do, yet I couldn’t understand  why when they needed help no one called us. Getting my feelings hurt, it was explained that we have kids – and that all the other people who were too busy or unavailable to help out – didn’t. I never thought about that – I just figured they didn’t want us there. The same with the service, I simply showed up. There was no helping with setting up, or getting pictures, or anything. When it was time to leave – it was my husband’s brother and sister that helped his mom carry things out, and I stood there – not knowing my place. Everyone is different – and in a blended family – this couldn’t be more true.

Take for example my husbands Grandmother that recently passed. Her hospital room welcomed visitors that were immediate family, I had never met. People that were so important to her, that she loved, and then there is me. Having been in the family for a hot minute – I worried I was taking up room for someone else, or maybe they felt it wasn’t my place to be there. Yes, I wanted to be there, both for myself and my husband. But, I would be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with it.

Today, at the Celebration of Life – the church was full of people I did not know, and very well may never see again. It is also the same church that is led by husbands ex-wife’s family. Her Uncle is the Pastor, and her Grandfather plays guitar in the band. The pastor and I have met, and they are fantastic about staying out of anything about them. The pastor even helps my husband and I as we have problems like every other blended family does. They love my husband, and for that I am thankful. But, did I feel a sense of belonging there? No, it was uncomfortable – however this day wasn’t about me, so I sucked it up.  Once seated with my food after the service, I sat next to Grandpa and I never moved. Many people came to speak to him, none of which I knew – but I made my job refilling his coffee cup and that gave me a purpose.  Outside of that, I didn’t speak with too many people, and when my husband would leave and visit with others, I stayed put. I didn’t want to follow him around, and literally waited for him to come get me, when he was ready to leave.

Since we had our kids there with us, that meant that my stepson would see his great-grandfather, and as they were talking and he asked him if the kids with him were his brother and sister – I knew he knew, I was the Step-Mom. Had he heard of me? Had he believed what he heard – did he think I was all the things his granddaughter said I was – or was he a genuine christian man – that appreciated the fact I loved his great-grandson? I’m not sure, but I definitely felt on edge, fearful I would say or do the wrong thing – be too friendly or not friendly enough. Should I just leave my stepson with him, and walk away, or do I wait until they are finished and continue on my way as a family, as we had started? Have you caught that I am an over-analyzer yet? Cause I am.

Although my childhood, wasn’t horrible – I do lack the general understanding and feelings of being part of a bigger picture – of being wanted. Being a daughter is foreign to me, being able to go “home” help myself to food, or a comfy seat without notice is something I never had or did. Being a mom, that I know – how I want my children to feel – that I understand but not how to receive it myself. Leaving the church, I don’t even think I said goodbye to my mother in law – I think I just wanted to be home – in my comfort zone. Allowing things to get to me, is something I struggle with. There was an attendee at the service, that always makes a point to make a big deal out of seeing my stepson – but not my two kids. It bothered me. First, he barely knows who she is, and it’s not as if she is actively involved in his life. Yet, the reason it bothers me – is inside me – which I know once I am honest with myself.

Whether it is admitted or not, there is always favoritism in some manner. Whether it be that the bio family is more important, or your spouse’s family feels that your spouse can do no wrong – or maybe even one of the step-kids is liked more. It can go every which way possible. And my favorite – it will all change tomorrow. I have had my brother-in-law and husband both say in the heat of the moment, that I am their mom’s “new” favorite – and there have been times where I swear she doesn’t like me for some reason. There are times when, following arguments – I will feel like we are not family anymore – because that is how my family worked. However, their family doesn’t work like that – they forgive and move forward. This is more than foreign to me, because I am still mad – when they are over it… I simply take things more serious – more final – and have a hard time building that bridge to get over stuff.

There are moments when I feel like no one see’s my point – and no matter how many different ways you try to explain to explain it – it will not help. If you are like me you may get emotional, or feel judged because they seem one-sided. Sometime’s they are one-sided – sometimes they are right. The good thing is that either way, its is your life and you have the right to feel how you feel – even if they don’t agree. In our home, bringing up softball – will always be a lost case for me. If I complain that hubby is playing ball 3 days in a row all day long – I am the bad guy because he played ball so much more when we first got together. Therefore, I have no right to feel as though that’s excessive. To me, if you have chores, or anything that needs attention that comes first. If you are playing in a tournament that is two days and your wife says that she doesn’t want you playing a third day that is unrelated – that you shouldn’t – especially when she is at home with both his kids and hers. When does a mother get 3 days of being able to not have to be a mom? She doesn’t but because it’s a hobby that has been cut back on – we should get over it.  I still think I have every right to have been upset – others disagree. The world did not end – therefore life goes on.

It’s not any different from how you parent your children. Chances are there is a good chance you parent differently than your spouse. One major difference in our home is that my husband eats anything – I am a picky eater. When my stepson eats – he eats anything – he will eat it all and whether he likes it or not. My son is picky, he doesn’t like new things and I simply refuse to force him to sit there and choke it all down. I was asked once by a family member on my husband’s side ” So, because when you were raised you were forced to eat things you didn’t like, and your dad was mean to you, you refuse to do that to your kids?” the answer I gave was yes…  My answer wasn’t well received – did it bother me? yes, but they are my kids and my kids don’t have to just like my husbands. People can and will disagree with how you parent – but while advice is great – their opinion really doesn’t make a difference unless you want it to.

Discipline is the same way. My husband is far stricter and competitive than I am when it comes to the kids. He has a better follow through rate than I do – yet I remind him that I have pretty great kids – so whatever I am doing must have been working before him. He believes instilling a “general fear” the kind of fear that when you are speeding and see a cop – will make the kids behave better. He also makes it known at times that his son will be better at things, than my children – because of it. My comment is always – I guess we will see. Fear is not something I want my children to every feel when it comes to me, I would rather them worry to disappoint me, let me down or themselves down. I had a home where I couldn’t be honest and talk to a parent about what was going on with me, and when I needed help – I had no one to turn to. I refuse to let that happen to my children –  Truth is, we are both good parents – although we don’t always see eye to eye. It doesn’t always mean on of us is wrong and the other is right – it’s just different.

Blended families are hard, when trying to find your place – and trying to assert your independence while showcasing what you have to offer to your spouse and your stepchildren. Many of these people have seen your spouse with the ex, many know that the children are not both of yours – and while at a grocery store or restaurant you can continue in the world of “were a family” – during family events your secret is out. How then, do you manage to be yourself and be comfortable?

First, don’t do the things I did above. Ditch the over-analyzing, don’t be sensitive, and don’t feel watched. Is it possible you are being watched, of course. However, by acting on this, you will most definitely make a mistake.

Second, be kind – initiate a conversation and allow that person to make their own decision on what they think of you. I can’t tell you how many times, I have walked away from a conversation with someone I didn’t think I liked, only to find out that I actually rather enjoyed that person.

Third, Smile, and breath. First because not breathing would lead to passing out and that would only make it worse. 🙂 There is that saying “Smile, because you never know who is falling in love with it.” Its true. Plus, smiling makes you more approachable.

Fourth, identify why you feel the way you do. Is it your head  playing into it, or was there really an issue with someone who has caused this?  If so, make a plan to talk with the person later, away from the event if it is someone important enough to clear the air with. If its someone who talking to, would make no difference – don’t waste your time or energy.

Fifth, Don’t take it to heart. How many times has someone said to you: “What’s wrong?” for you to say “Nothing, why do you ask?”, finding out that you had a look on your face that looked mad or sad – without even realizing it. Or better yet, how many times have you said or done something that later you realized was probably not the best way to go about it, or maybe was taken the wrong way? We all say things that we may have not meant in that manner, or that we didn’t realize we said. Give the benefit of the doubt.

These work even if you are in a home that doesn’t exactly accept you. The term “Kill them with Kindness” really works – as well as “Fake it until you make it”. Neither of which I am good at.  Talking with your spouse or significant other before arriving, can provide you the opportunity to have them be more supportive, and to inform them that you may need a little helping hand here and there.

All in all, you were picked to be in this family – by a key person in the family – your spouse. Find some value in that alone, and realize you have something to add, because there is no one like you. Today, as I was standing outside, my  husband was helping his grandfather to and in his truck. I had hugged him goodbye already. Then, I hear my name being called, and my husband was motioning that Grandpa wanted me to come to the truck, he told me he just wanted me to know he appreciated all I had done and that he loved me very much. At that moment, nothing else mattered – I had served a purpose and he appreciated it. He will never know – how much that meant to me either.