I never…words from a bio/step mom that hit home.

This morning I received a letter from a fan of my Facebook page named Bobbie Ann Phillips and as I read it I knew instantly this needed to be read by all of you. This is her story and its an honest account of how it feels, of what we don’t expect, our fears and our goals. Enjoy!

” I never imagined I would have to co-parent with an ex of mine, much less an ex of my new husband. I did know I would be co-parenting with my own husband. I never imagined my husband would be someone else’s ex husband. I never thought I would have to share some of “my” weekends and “my” holidays, separate, from “my” son. I never thought I would have to long for the chance to do those same things with and for a son whose dad is dead. I also never thought my deepest fear would be that my third son may someday meet the same fate of a broken home. I never thought I would be fearing completely loosing two of my children if my marriage ever did fail. I never thought most of my scheduling would revolve so much around picking up one set of kids at 6p on Friday, meeting to drop off another kid before or after that, and then meeting back on 6p Sunday for drop off of two kids and then meeting before or after that to get another kid back. I never thought I would both look forward to, and dread those weekends at the very same time. I never imagined I would explain to two of my three biological children why daddy can not be here, or does not live here and the reasons be because of such different circumstances. Circumstances that would cause as much hurt for both of “my” boys and myself as both situations do. I never even imagined my children would have different dads. I never thought I would have “other” kids ask me why my husband, their dad, is not with their mom. I never thought I would be making beds, cleaning laundry, preparing meals, buying necessities, and supporting “other” kids. I knew “my” kids may look past all I do for them and it would hurt some. I did not know having “other” kids look past those same things would hurt as much. I never thought I would have “other” kids sometimes resent me for my role in their lives. A role they only want their mom, and their dad, to have. I never thought I would feel so much hurt for them, and for my husband, because they too come from a broken home. I never thought I would love each person in “my” blended family so much that I would wish each child could have their mom, and their dad, in one home. If I had that wish though, several of my biological children would not exist, and I would never have a chance to even meet two of my “other” children. I would have never met my husband. I never thought I would have to accept that because someone I loved died, and because a different relationship failed I would find new love and create a new family. I never thought I would agree that when one life ends another begins. I feel as though I have personally lost two lives and began a new one each time. I feel I am on my third life, and feverishly pray for it to be my last.

I never thought I would be the “other” parent that another parent would resent. I am that parent whose mere presence in a child’s life causes another adult resentment, and pain. Though “her” family ended long before “mine” began, I never imagined my place with my husband would be a stark reminder of another woman’s lost place with her husband. I never imagined That my place with my step children would be a reminder of “her” time she “has” to share, with me. I never thought my loving them could hurt her as much as it would if I did not love them. I do acknowledge that my presence does cause these things, though completely unintentional. I never imagined two children who “are not mine” would have me so wrapped around their little fingers. I did not know I could love a child I did not give birth to so much that it literally hurts. I did not know I would want to fight so fiercely for my time, my bond, and my place with two children who I feel with every bone in my body are mine. I knew I would have children that would fill my life with love, joy, hope, chaos and clutter. I knew I would do everything in my power to protect, love and cherish every moment with “my” kids. I knew I would become a mom by choice to children I gave birth to. I did not know that I would have that same desire to love, protect and cherish children not born to me. I knew there would be times my children would be angry with me. I knew I would make mistakes and cause hurt. I knew I would mend the hurt, calm the anger and explain why I do what I do to “my” kids. I knew I would both reward and punish “my kids” with no remorse because that is my job as their mom. I did not know I would feel so guilty by my own presence that I would overly reward, and seldom punish the children I did not give birth to. I never knew I would feel I don’t have the right to demand and earn respect from “other” children as much as I do from “my” children. I never thought I would always worry my actions and words would favor “my” children over the “other” children so much that I actually show more favor to “other” children over mine at times. I never thought I would say I am an ex, a wife, a mom, and a step mom, All in one. I am all of those things and I am these things at the very same time. I sometimes struggle to decide which hat I am suppose to wear at which time. All of these inner struggles are real, and part of my life. I am exactly where I want to be. I realize I am exactly where God planned me to be. I do have the husband and children I did always long for. I am thankful for all the good and bad that comes with this life and these roles. Yet I have no idea how to navigate my happiness and love without someone else being hurt, or resentful, in some way because of it. I have no idea why I even care that my presence, my role, and my place effects any person other than my husband, and our children. I just know that I do care.

I do not co-parent with my ex’s new wife or serious girlfriend, not yet anyway. I do know that the day will come when I will. At least, I pray it does. I do want “my” son to have another parent love him. I do want him to have someone else he can learn from, respect, love and cherish. I so want him to know I am okay with him loving some “other” parent. I want her to know that while her presence may cause some stinging, I’m happy to share “my” son with her. I want her to know that he’s “our” son, and that “our” will include her. I know that during my time as a step mom I have learned many things to do, and not to do both with “my” son and towards the “other” parent. I hope I will remember to respect her, and to honestly cherish her. I hope I will remember I should view any person my son loves as an extension of himself. I love “my” son, and so I will love those he loves and that love him. I hope I can remember I should love “my kids” mom because they love her and she is an extension of them. For the love of a child even the most difficult situations on all ends I am involved in will be handled with love and care, by me, for them regardless of how the opposing end on either side of these blended families are behaving. That is my goal anyway. I know I pray daily that God shows me the way to do all these things with Grace in each of the roles I am fulfilling.

~ Bobbie Ann Phillips

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.

Two by two, what I wanted for you.

Two things, that’s all I really hoped my kids would be blessed with – because with those two things they could conquer the world.

One thing I wanted most for my children was for them to have a mother, an involved mother, someone who made time for them, whose hugs healed any pain, and whose ears listened to every story, worry, or concern. I wanted my daughter to have a lap to lay in, and hands to play with her hair. I wanted her to have a woman she could trust, a friend she could laugh with, and someone to show her its okay to make mistakes. I wanted her to have the woman in her life that I never had in mine, a mother. The same with Gage, I wanted him to have someone who would make him dance in the kitchen when a slow song came on, someone to nurse a scrape, tell him he would do better next time or someone to blow raspberries on his tummy until he could barely stand it. A woman for him to be proud of, the one that makes the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because they are made with love. And, the one woman whose heartstrings are attached in such away that whatever affects him affects her – a mother.

The second thing I wanted was for them to understand how vital their role as brother and sister to each other was. I can’t tell you the amount of times in the past nine years I have said “be nice to each other, you can’t possibly understand how important this relationship, this friendship will be when you are older!” Now, the two of them would be lost without the other. They have been this tight little twosome from day one. They were each others first real friend, and have grown into best friends. You probably are thinking – ya all kids are close, but by close I mean Gracie is like a second mom to Gage.

kids2

One of my favorite stories of Gracie and Gage was when Gage was about three months old. He was sleeping in his crib so I ran for the shower, literally! It couldn’t have been more than ten glorious minutes before I could hear crying from the other room, and I did what every mother to a second child does – continued with my shower thinking he would go back to sleep. Well, I was wrong, he kept crying, so I rinsed off, and then all of sudden the crying stops. I think to myself “okay maybe I will stay in here just a bit longer.” Then, I thought again…and all the mommy over analyzing took over and I hurried to the room. I’ll never forget what I saw when I peaked around the corner into the room – it melts my heart even now. There in his crib was Gracie about three years old, with her baby brother in her lap, her shirt pulled up on one side, trying to breast-feed him. And that is where their story starts, they have a bond that every mother wants for their children to share.

kids

Trust me they too have their days and moments. Gracie once while watching a commercial that was listing side effects leading to mental retardation if taken while pregnant, questioned if I took that medication while pregnant with Gage. And, for about six months she called him “big tooth” because he only had one big kid tooth up front (which was admittedly big)while waiting for the other to grow in. She even tricked him into picking up dog poop for a year by trading him a pack of gum, he didn’t realize each piece was equal to a month! He too has had his moments calling her chunky or mean and teasing her about liking boys, but you try saying one thing about the other, and see how quickly the other sticks up for them. They truly love each other, my daughter sneaks in and kisses her brothers forehead once he has fallen asleep, and at night if he is scared he will ask sissy if he can sleep with her.

In my opinion there is not a more important relationship between children other than that of their siblings. They learn trust, honesty, dependability, not to mention every bad habit we don’t want them to know, and most importantly how to love unconditionally. What about you? What is one relationship you want to encourage your child to experience?

And I created that..well half anyhow.

Laying in our overstuffed chair with my now almost eight year old son, and ten year old daughter – my mind wanders. How did they grow so tall, their legs so long, their fingers and hands so big. It seems like just yesterday, there were still protected within my belly – and now their live, loud, funny and smart people. When you hear people say “don’t blink – they’ll be grown before you know” I should have listened.

Pregnancy for me was incredible. The feeling of them moving inside of me, or getting hiccups – every little kick, drag or roll, excited me to no end. Hearing their heartbeats, planning their names, their lives – imagining who and what they would be, consumed my every waking breath. Worrying clouded by dreams at night as well. What if they are missing a finger, or are born with an incurable illness, what if they are ugly?? Yes, I worried about that – you are not normal if you never worried that your kid might be the ugly kid. Yes, we would love them anyhow, and tell they were perfect and beautiful either way – but I still worried.

Truth is, my children are beautiful, so beautiful that if I hadn’t know for a fact, and attended their own birth witnessing them come out of me – I might wonder who they came from. Their eyes are green with specs in them that I believe are awesome sprinkles. Their skin tone is one many purchase in a tanning salon – or spend countless hours baking in the sun to attempt achieving. My daughter has long golden, soft, blonde hair that drops past the middle of her back – effortlessly. My son, carries a smile that aids in avoiding or lessening punishments when he rarely misbehaves.

brosis2

If you are like me, you may not have planned your pregnancy to one or possibly all your children. My daughter was planned, and my son was a blessing. With Gracie – I soaked in everything, especially once I found out she was a girl! It was all over then! Everything was PINK, girly, sparkly and frilly! She was born gorgeous, truly perfect and pink. Never in my life, have I ever felt the love you feel as you hold your child for the first time – the bond, and promise to never lose sight of what is most important.

momandgrace

My son, he was a different story – I found out I was pregnant with him during a hard time in my life. My husband and I were divorcing and I was in a constant state of disbelief, hurt and anger. Many times I secretly hated that I was pregnant, and questioned how I would be able to do this alone? What would people think – Who would ever love me? When I found it he was a boy, I cried and was angry more – all I knew was girls..what am I going to do with a boy? They are loud, dirty, obnoxious and unruly – what in the hell was God thinking giving me a boy to raise on my own? My delivery with him was difficult, and he had a small pallet so when he cried, he snorted – something now I wish I would have enjoyed a little more. He had a small face, and a protruding chin – he was a boy. He also became my world.

gageandmom

It feels almost impossible to express a mothers love for her children. With Gracie, I never thought I could love anyone as much – until Gage came to me. God was smart, knowing exactly what was given to me – one of the greatest blessings a mom could hope for… a Son. My daughter is witty, spunky, too smart for her own good, beautiful beyond measure and can make me laugh when I need it most. BUT, my son, Gage – he has the heart of an angel, his eyes can tell me he loves me, misses me, needs me, is hurting, anything without him uttering one word. His hugs don’t just wrap around me, they envelope my soul. His smile – makes me regret every day I questioned why he was being gifted to me – and makes me wish I had enjoyed him longer when we were still one.

Still, I spend moments of where I just gaze at them both and thank God they are mine. It’s hard to verbalize the pride I feel when I watch them succeed at something, or do something kind for another – or at times just how they breath. Questioning myself under my breath..I made this? Me – the most imperfect person, who has made mistake after mistake – how do I deserve such miraculously perfect children to call me mom – everyday? It’s enough to bring tears to my eyes now as I write this, and on many occasions past, present and future.

The point of this blog is for those mothers pregnant – maybe scared, worried, alone. Soak this all in, every Dr’s appt, every heartbeat, every uncomfortable elbow in your side, braxton hicks or even the fiftieth trip to the bathroom. If you lay in bed alone – remember you aren’t alone – you are becoming a mother, you are the beginning of the most important person you will ever be. Nothing will ever surpass being a mom – no love will ever touch it, and no person will ever love you back they way a child does.

Life is hard, and things don’t go as planned – and when you think you have it all figured out; you’ll find out that’s not always the case. However, one thing is planned and perfectly meant for you – and that is the child your carrying both in your belly and in your heart. Enjoy them, enjoy this moment – because you never have this again.  You will wake up one day with a boy who is eight and a girl who is ten on your lap – and although they won’t be tiny – you will realize you still have the whole world at your fingertips and close to your heart.

broandsis

Know…

Inspired by the movie: Lifted

When all feels wrong

and the road to happiness too far gone

When the load feels to heavy to bear

Know there is someone always there

When you feel alone, like no one can ever understand

and then you reach out to find, there is no helping hand

When you feel you failed at yet another of life’s tests

Know you have someone out there better than all the rest

When struggles seem to often, with no repreive in sight

and every need requires some out of reach exhausting fight

When second guessing & worrying becomes the norm

Know you have someone shielding you from the storm

When you look around and see nothing, yet feel your not alone

and you are missing someone, and reach for the phone

When you catch a glimpse of someone out of the corner of your eye

Know there’s someone near you,  who never truly says goodbye

See you next blog – Jess

What I want him to know…

One day without much notice this little blonde hair baby came totting into my home. Barely able to walk on your own, you were holding your daddy’s hand.  My life changed in that moment, almost the same as when you hear the words “you’re pregnant”. Except in my case, I didn’t have nine months to prepare. Didn’t spend countless hours searching for the perfect name, or daydreaming about whether you’d look like your father or me.  My body never carried you; I never felt your first kick or heard your first heartbeat. The love that created you, wasn’t mine, and the air you breath and the life you were given were not from me.  My heartbeat wasn’t the one you fell asleep to at night, and my voice wasn’t the one that would make you turn you head.                                                 

“There are a lot of things that I wasn’t – But listen to this instead”

Nine months of preparation was never needed with you, because you were someone I had prayed for all along. Countless hours are spent saying your name, sharing every funny little story, every sweet moment with whoever will listen to me share. Being just like your father, and having his smile and personality is all I could have ever hoped for.  The first time you laid your head on my chest, and fell asleep in my arms our heartbeats were one in the same. You were not someone else’s child; you in that moment became a part of me.  Your love was a gift to me, your innocence brought me youth, and your father showed me a completely new life.

You became a brother, and gained a big sister and brother.  Quickly you became best friends with your brother, and your sister couldn’t go anywhere without you.  They protected you, cared for you and loved you instantly, not because you were different, or special, or “extra” – instead it was because you are their brother.

Somewhere along the line, those nine months I lacked of worry and concern over how you would be or who you would be – I’ve made up tenfold.  Because when your heart hurts, mine does too. That’s why I want to say these things to you

My love for you is a bond that took time to create,

It’s not one that can be easily erased;

There will be times when you may have to choose,

My promise to you is to understand if I lose.

*****

My job as your stepmom is to understand,

I’ll always lend a helping hand;

Although my place may not be first,

I’ll be beside you through the worst.

*****

Your mother and I do have one thing we share,

Well two I guess to be honest & fair;

We of course share you, an adorable little man,

And we share moments of being your biggest fan.