~Welcome to my personal story as a first time wife and stepmom. I use this space to share real life happenings in a blended family, funny stories, my personal frustrations, failures, and occasional victories as I journey through this life with two beautiful and challenging stepdaughters. Thanks for reading, and I hope you find something to help you have a better day!~
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
A fellow blogger was asking, "What is 'Mother'?" Here was my response: As a girl, "Mother" was always there, available to listen even when I wouldn't talk, a constant source of instruction, a motivation to do better, an example of selfLESSness, hard-working, forgiving of all manner of injustices and hurts, a tough-love, no-nonsense authoritarian, and a sacrificial, loving friend. As a step-mom now, I strive to be a great "Mother" also. However, it is without the reciprocated feelings from the children, without the attachment, the security of forever love, the acknowledgment, respect, or gratitude. Stripping a mother of these attributes feels somewhat like being a family planner, housekeeper, cook, and nanny all in one. There are rewards with stepchildren nonetheless--found in moments--however fleeting they may be. A moment when you feel you made a "connection"; a moment when they need you; a moment when they actually accept your help; a moment when they repeat something you said several weeks ago, and you realize they actually listen to you...sometimes. Moments like these make the step-mom position worth it. As a wife observing the mother of my husband's kids, the meaning of "Mother" completely changes for me. It takes on an ugly side of selfishness, manipulation, laziness, and neglect that breaks my heart.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
This article was being passed around on FB this week, and I really think we should all take a few minutes to read it: What Really Happens When We Give Kids Everything They Want I think there is even greater danger in blended families of the problems mentioned in this article because in addition to the kids being pressured by their peers, we parents are pressured by the other set of parents. "Well, if her mom buys her $80 Sperry's, then I better go get her a pair too so she won't like her mom more than me." This kind of insecure reasoning and bending over backwards to make sure we get our kids everything they want, and do a better job than their other parents is very destructive to building character in the kids' lives. I was reminded of that this Christmas, when Jane came over wearing a new present from her mom--a hoodie from Victoria's Secret Pink. Sure, it was innocent enough with just the word "Pink" and a picture of the dog, but J and I have a major problem with it. We don't want our 11 year old daughter wearing a brand of clothes that is all about sex. We don't want men or boys looking at her and thinking "Victoria's Secret" at 11. How do we tell her? I got two words out of my mouth, and she immediately went to defense mode--"Isabella and Becca and Casey all wear it." It's tough, but we have to stick to boundaries even if it makes us the "mean" ones, or if it worries us that they will resent us, and want to be around the parent that lets them do whatever they want. That's where I get discouraged and want to give up so many times. I put so much energy into teaching, teaching, teaching, but then for 50% of their lives, the lessons are either opposite, or just not reinforced at all. So I ask myself time and time again, "What is the point?" Why do all this teaching and character-building, risking their dislike, when it's not going anywhere because of lack of reinforcement? Amy I wasting my time? Should I just be fun and let whatever chaos of the day rule the home, since that is what happens at their mom's? No, I don't think so. If one or both of them ends up being a better person because of my influence, then it is worth it, and I can go to sleep each night knowing I am doing and have done everything within my power to affect these girls toward as much good as I possibly can. Whether anyone ever realizes it or thanks me doesn't matter.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
What a whirlwind the holidays are! Finally had 2 quiet days to myself to get all the clutter put away and try to get back to some form of normalcy. It seems strange after having a full house for 9 straight days. I was determined this year not to get caught up in the "who has the girls when" drama. I let my husband handle it, as it should be, and did not over-react to anything he told me about the decisions. It actually went surprisingly smoothly, for the first Christmas in 5 years. There was no drama on either side, and everyone followed the pre-arranged calendar. Too good to be true? Yes. The drama came this year the first day back at school (yesterday). The bio mom started blowing up my husband's phone wanting the girls for MLK day (which is ours) and other odd random requests because she "misses them". Okay, sounds innocent enough, but here's the background: On her 8-day allotment of Christmas vacation with them, she never took 1 day off work, except to leave with her friends on a trip. The girls stayed with her in-laws the whole time. And now, she wants our time.... C'mon lady! Why didn't you use the 8 days you were given? Geeeezzzzz! I will never understand. Enough about her. Let's talk about me! I had two goals for the New Year: 1. Don't let my husband's needs take second place to the girls. In other words, give him my best attention and love, and give the girls what is left over, not the other way around. He is my number one priority at the end of the day. 2. Stop talking at the girls and talk to them. Don't get frustrated and irritated so easily that I am constantly correcting or getting onto them 24/7. Let them make mistakes. Let them be kids. Let them learn on their own sometimes. Relax and stop expecting perfection from imperfect people. Good ones, right? Well, let me tell you how that went. Day 2: Fail/Fail, to the extend of locking myself in the room and crying because I couldn't stop failing, especially on number 2! The girls were with me at home, and after so much time around each other, all they did was fight! They can't play together for 2 seconds without arguing over something, insulting each other, or being bullies. I could not keep myself from being frustrated. I had to be right with them constantly playing "referee" to maintain any kind of peace. Yeah, I like spending time with them, but not just to solve arguments. They are old enough to entertain themselves without a babysitter. So maybe my goal should be changed to "Go 10 minutes without yelling at them." At least that one is a little more achievable. I'm hoping with school back in, they will be a little nicer and easier to handle since they are separated all day! On a side note, does anyone have a suggestion for a good book on sibling rivalry, especially relating to sisters? I may look into one that the three of us can read all together.