The Step Parent

My library card gives me the ability to check out e-books in lieu of going to the library. Which is convenient since I live 1500 miles from my home branch. So every week I check out a new book and give it a whirl.

I saw a book about how to be a better stepmom. Sold! Sign me up! I follow several blogs and social media accounts that are supportive of step-parents, so I figured a book would be pretty awesome. I’m not a mom by biology, I’m a mom by choice. I didn’t get 9 months to start a relationship with my kids before they got here. I didn’t have the ability to figure things out before they came into this world. I fell in love with a man that already had children and just have to figure it all out as I go. Thankfully I do an amazing job, (mostly because I lived with what NOT to do growing up,) and reading how to blend families and how to navigate this role is always helpful.

Except that book.

I mean sure, maybe it’s helpful to some folks, but holy negativity, Batman! I was reading about problems where men weren’t considering the feelings of their current wives. Issues where expectations were never clear, and the unit didn’t actually work together. Disagreements about parenting. Not standing up for their beliefs, not setting or respecting boundaries. A whole slew of problems that I couldn’t wrap my head around. If you’re not on the same page, why get married? I can understand friction if say 5 years in someone decides against having kids, but you went into the marriage understanding you were eventually going to have children together. But this book sorta focused on fairly new marriages and problems incurred as a step parent in said newer marriage.

I do think it’s unfair to tell a step parent that they shouldn’t complain because they knew what they were signing up for. Yes, I fell in love with a man with kids. Yes, I knew I’d have to be a step mom. Yes, I knew there would be times that we would struggle. I knew my life would have constraints of custody orders and parenting time schedules. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have room to complain when something is happening that isn’t in the best interest of the kids, something is unexpected, or something unfair. Life isn’t always lemonade and sunshine ya know?

Anywho, before you marry someone, before you make the choice to be a step parent, before you make life long commitments, do your homework. Have discussions about serious topics and hypothetical situations. Maybe even consider going to couples counseling beforehand. Find means to communicate together, understand your struggles and strengths. Learn how to be each other’s rock. Your relationship with your spouse that has children isn’t just about you.

I think I’ll skip this book and move forward to my selection about bullet journaling….

Tis the Season!

And I don’t mean the jolly kind.

Once upon a time, I used to pick on a friend of mine a little bit, encouraging her to try to lighten up. She’s a germophobe. With a household of four kids, I could understand some of her concerns. I used to think she was a little over the top, though. Now? Pass the can of Lysol, I’m on board!

My three stepkids have been sick. They’ve had snotty noses, been sneezing, and have crud in their chests. In addition to this, they’re been getting over a stomach virus. Before they came back to our house, we thought the stomach virus was over at least. Noooooope. I dodged the snots, but that stomach bug… It hit me, and it hit me hard. And of course, as soon as I start feeling a little less like death warmed over, the youngest starts shrieking from his bed. It’s round 2 for him. Odd though, he screamed through a bath, had a cup of Pedialyte, and a little bit of snuggles and he was smiling and giggling again. I wish I could have been the same.

And my poor husband to be. We are a week away from our wedding. He’s certainly proven the whole”in sickness and in health” thing, that’s for sure. He tackled household management like a champ, AND took care of me in the process without a single complaint. Bless his heart. I’d be lost without him.

Stay safe out there guys! Lots of vitamin c and hand washing!!

Knitting In The New Year

Over the summer when my fiance and I visited my home town, I inherited a boat load of knitting needles and crochet hooks. My granny has always been a crafter; unfortunately I was the only one that took after her. After sorting through the ones that were worn down, rusted, or had just seen better days, I found myself still with a rather substantial set of needles that would bring any knitter a slight pang of jealousy. It’s sad, really, because I only know maybe 2 stitches. This year that will change.

It’s starting with an afghan that’s more than rows of knit stitches in super bulky weight yarn. (Like the other two blankets I’ve knitted.) It can get a little chilly in our home at night. My oldest stepson asked for an extra blanket or something to go under his duvet. Of course, kid. Of course.

Yarn is expensive. Even here. Walmart had some giant skeins of yarn on sale, though, so I picked some up. Blue for him, purple for my step daughter. (The younger stepson already has a blanket that I made a while back.)

I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces as their blankets come to life right before their eyes. They get the biggest kick out of seeing things being put together, seeing work being put into them. And I can’t wait to learn how to do more than just a few stitches.

Here’s to cliche New Year’s beginnings and whatnot!!

Holiday Wrap-up

Here’s to almost no sleep for a week.

Here’s to early morning hockey game drives.

Here’s to restlessness and excitement.

Here’s to seeing new friends, exchanging gifts with them, and having play dates with each others’ kids.

Here’s to an amazing meal with the family, and baking cookies for Santa.

Here’s to stockings of PJs and opening a present from 1500 miles away.

Here’s to Jenga and laughter and smiles til bedtime.

Here’s to being puked on at midnight when Santa was supposed to arrive, scrubbing the bathroom, whilst getting your kid into the shower.

Here’s to staying up til 2am washing puke clothes and towels.

Here’s to being Santa at 2am after the puke clothes were clean.

Here’s to wrapping up last minute online notions for friends.

Here’s to being woken up with immense excitement to see that Santa came.

Here’s to spending time together and appreciating one another.

Here’s to unwinding and getting some rest.

Here’s to doing it all again through the new year.

Here’s to a love filled home.

Stepmomming

I came across this post today and felt that it was so good that I had to briefly break my blogging hiatus to share it.

My stepmom has been an amazing part of my life. I don’t know how life would have turned out without her. And I know she had a plethora of struggles in dealing with such a change in her life. And even still, she guides me through these waters and helps me be the best support system I can be for my step children.

Okay listen up. Here’s what the stepmoms want you to know…
We aren’t evil
We aren’t trying to replace our stepchildren’s mom
We don’t resent our stepkids being around
We aren’t trying to overstep, or take over, or cause conflict….
We aren’t home wreckers
We simply fell in love with a man with kids, and are doing the best we can navigating this role…
We just want the best for our family and it’s not an easy task..
(and yes they’re our family too)

We’re expected to be involved but not too involved …
Parent them like they’re our own while not acting like they’re our own (that would be over stepping)….
We’re good enough for the appointments, the homework, the running around but better step aside for those milestone moments, because it’s just not our place
all while living a life dictated by custody schedules, separation agreements, and co-parenting arrangements and the “I don’t have to listen to you because you’re not my mom” mentality of our Society
I’m not complaining. I love being a stepmom… my stepkids happen to be three of the best people I know…

But either way, when you’re a stepmom you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t

The message? Loose the stereotype. Screw the stigma. Forget about what Cinderella told you….

Give the stepmoms the benefit of the doubt, and look at it this way. There more people who can work together to raise these kids up into kind, successful, happy, well-adjusted adults… the better! You can never have too many people love you. IT’S NOT A COMPETITION.

via http://www.instagram.com/jamiescrimgeour

Christmas Conundrums

Parts of this past weekend were rough. At some points I wished that I could bring myself to participate in the idea of Nacho Parenting. I just can’t.

With kids, you have to take a lot of things at face value and sometimes get more information before forming an opinion or jumping the gun. My step childrens’ biological mother misunderstood part of their Christmas activities in our home and got upset about it before asking for clarification. And after clarification is still being pretty immature. It’s sad. It breaks my heart for them.

With being on one income + a budgeted savings, we are being frugal with Christmas this year. My fiance and I got each other a pre-discussed gift each, then purchased a modest, but meaningful, set of gifts for the kids. For friends and family, however, the kids have been making home made gifts. My step daughter has been “helping” me crochet mug cozies and stockings for weeks. All of the kids helped make a home made cocoa mix and filled Mason jars with it, along with pouches of marshmallows and crushed candy canes. After, they got to taste test their hard work. We’ve also made gift tags for them to color to pin to the cozies. It’s not much, but each was hand made with love, and the cozies + jars can be reused. The kids had a great time assembling them and it helps teach them that sometimes work goes into giving, that not everything has to come from a store. It also teaches the importance of spending time on something.

Anywho, even after some clarification, there was conflict. The kids wanted to make one for their mother as well. Even though I don’t particularly like the woman, I’m not going to stop them from making her a gift. He didn’t have to do this…. Her parents are taking the kids out to buy her a gift… She doesn’t have the money to get my fiance a gift…. She didn’t want one. It boils down to the kids get excited because we actually do things with them instead of just planting them in front of a screen. As they talk about those activities, she probably realizes that I spearhead a lot of them. Given that she hates me and wishes to have absolutely nothing to do with me whatsoever, not even a cordial hello for the sake of the kids…. Yeah. I can’t fathom not ever wanting a hand made gift from my children, no matter who helped make it.

Pair this Christmas Conundrum with hypocritical arguments about nutrition in addition to a fight about car seat safety, I’m just exhausted from standing up for what’s best for the kids and producing accurate and factual information to clear up misconstrued advice or misinformation. And I don’t even have to communicate with their mother.

Maturity is a thing. Maybe I’m being immature by venting on a public blog, however it’s my means of processing my disbelief and sorting my thoughts, but whatever. I can’t control or change other people, I can only control and change myself and how I react to things. I should do a better job at just letting the nonsense roll off of my back, but that’s SO hard to do when your stepkids sometimes mention things that have been done or said outside of your home that have really hurt their feelings. And while I want them to grow up being well rounded and cognizant that life sometimes isn’t fair and sometimes people can be hurtful, I want to put them in a warm bubble of protection and rip off anyone’s face that tries to hurt them.

I hope we can get through the rest of the Christmas season without any conflicts.

/sigh

Step Parenting

A while back, my step cousin added me to The Unapologetic Stepmom group on Facebook. I’m not a huge fan of social media and whatnot, but she thought it would be beneficial for me to have a support group to lean on just in case.

I’ve never made a post in the group. Every now and again, I pop into the group and skim over the posts. Usually it’s when my significant other’s ex has her head lodged up her rectum, leaving me frustrated because I’m trying to advocate what’s best for the children and getting nowhere. Going through the group posts give me a moment of “We may be struggling with our situation, but at least we’re not dealing with that.” It reminds me to breathe on occasion. Today, I stumbled across a term that I’d never heard before, googled it, and had a major wtf moment. Nacho Parenting Theory.

The Nacho Parenting Theory basically boils down to “not your kids, not your problem.” It encourages a step-parent to approach being in a child’s life by means of friendship or a “cool aunt” sort of way in lieu of as an additional parental figure. It forces the bio parents to talk to each other in lieu of the step parent having any part of the communication process. The step parent has responsibility similar to that of a babysitter.

What?

Now the communication thing I get. One of my closest friends has to do all of the communicating for her partner. It gets ugly with his ex and stresses her out to no end sometimes. I feel that a step parent has no place in the communication cycle between bio parents whom have a lot of conflict. A group text to stay in-the-know perhaps, assuming step parents and bio parents can get along and can coparent. Otherwise that’s bio parents’ realm. My step kids’ bio mother loathes the ground I walk on and the air I breathe, so I’ll never have to worry about communication with her anyway. But to take a backseat to everything else?? Nu uh. What’s the point in even marrying a person then? When you marry someone, you marry into their situation. You marry into their family. You marry into their whole life, not just part of it. “But I was stressed out because my spouse wouldn’t take up for me against his ex. My spouse let’s his ex treat me like crap. My step kids hate me. My step kids don’t do blah blah blah.” Okay you know what? Your problems with your spouse shouldn’t have a reflection on how you treat your step kids. It’s not their fault they got dealt a crap sandwich in the parental pairing department. Your step kids hate you? Guess what, it happens to every biological, adoptive, and step parent alike. It’ll pass. They don’t listen to you? That’s a parenting problem, not a problem with your step kids.

I feel like if you’re not going to take an active part in the (step) parenting roles and responsibilities of a child’s life, then you have no room or right to rejoice or participate in the good moments. Babysitters don’t do that. You can’t eat your cake and have it too. And it’s tough. Finding a balance between being supportive and defending versus not overstepping certain boundaries is hard. Step parenting is just like biological parenting, but with none of the credit and all of the blame.

“A step parent is so much more than just a parent. They made a choice to love when they didn’t have to.”