The Comfort of Snow

Growing up, snow made me uneasy. The great snow of 1989 in North Carolina was particularly unsettling. I was incredibly young. My dad made me a slushy from the snow and a Coca-Cola. In the evening, he and my mother got into a nasty fight. My life changed for the worse during that snow storm. The next time I saw snow was Autumn of my 16th time around the sun. I’d just moved to Kentucky because my father and I had an explosive fight where we nearly killed each other. Literally. When I arrived, the first couple of days were bright and sunny. But then, overnight, there was a few inches of snow on the ground. I woke up thinking my mother was playing a sick prank on me. While walking home from my first day at my new school in that snow, my older step sister was waiting outside for me letting me know that the house was mostly empty, that her dad decided to leave my mother, and that she wanted to make sure it had nothing to do with me or coming to KY. She made sure to remind me that I was loved and that she was sorry. I got blamed for it anyway. The only enjoyable memory I really have involving snow (prior to moving to Canada) was the time I had the opportunity to be with my godson during his first snow experience. It was amazing. But he’s a boy I’ll likely never see again, so that in itself makes it sad. Most of my car problems throughout my driving history have been in the snow. Snow was always just kinda messy for me.

But it seems that since I’ve moved, my views on snow has changed. Canadian Snow is different. I got engaged while snow still covered the ground. It snowed on my wedding day. I’ve had snowball fights with my step children. I’ve kissed in the snow, laughed in the snow, danced in the snow. So many good memories are being made to replace the bad ones.

The past couple of weeks have been stressful. My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer then died a few days later. It temporarily put me on an emotional roller coaster that I promptly found a way off of. I “broke up” with someone that was once my best friend. I grew tired of only being important when it was convenient for people, and she was one of them. Friends have seen her make snide remarks about it in various tagged posts on Facebook. It’s stupid and petty. For a couple of days, work was abnormally rough, but thankfully rebounded. I feel like garbage from my flu shot. My back is killing me from contortionist positions I had to get into for our family photo shoots, reminding me that I’m not as young or as flexible as I used to be. Then both of our vehicles decided to crap out at the same time, thankfully one of them being an easy fix, but the other will be costly. My stepchildren have been jerks all weekend. And to put the icing on the cake I got a snarky “That’s right, come to your mama” along with a smug glare when passing off my youngest stepson to his mother. It was really just shit I didn’t need added to my plate.

Just when I thought I couldn’t deal with any more crap, I looked out of the window and saw it snowing outside. Not much – a light dusting – but it’s cold enough for the snow to stay for a few days. I found it oddly comforting. As I watched the snow create a thin blanket over the ground, I felt my frustrations fall away with it. None of the above things matter. I deserve better than how people have and do treat me in life. (And I’m thankful to those who put as much back into me as I put into them.) The snow falling made the things that I can’t control just fall away. Had you asked me years ago if I’d ever like snow, I’d have laughed. But now? I find it rather relaxing. Here’s to snow, the blanket of comfort and solitude.

Relief

A week ago, the woman who brought me into this world died. We’d be estranged for nearly 8 years. People came out of the woodworks to find me. I didn’t know how to feel aside from bitter and enraged.

My feelings errupted at the end of last week. I was briefly consumed by the feelings that I let go of years ago. But somewhere in the depths, I was able to let go of the anger that I held about what happened to me and set focus back to my brother.

My brother was left out of the obituary. He is 10 years my junior, has special needs from cerebral palsy, marfans syndrome, and fragile x syndrome. His father has done an amazing job being a loving and supporting parent. My brother is set to graduate highschool soon, works a few hours per week, and is slated to start college next year. Not bad for a kid who was abandoned by his mother and has had considerable bumps down the road.

Leaving him out of the obituary enfuriated me. I couldn’t understand why I, someone who voluntarily left and cut my mother out of my life, was included, but an innocent boy was not. I tried to contact her husband to voice my concerns, but my attempts were ignored. I didn’t feel right about it. It wasn’t fair. At first, I had no idea what to do.

I contacted the funeral home. I explained who I was and offered to provide proper documentation to prove my identity if necessary. I gave my mother’s name and explained that her step children and myself were listed, but that her biological son was not, and that in light of our estrangement, I would like to be removed from the posting if he wasn’t to be included. I never received a reply, but my name was removed.

Relief.

After, I contemplated attending the funeral. I still get that nagging “But it’s your mother” from people who don’t understand the history. After talking to my ex step father, he explained that my brother doesn’t know much about her and that he hasn’t told him anything. He didn’t plan on attending. That also gave me relief. I decided to not attend either.

Relief.

Something about her death gives me closure. I’ll never know or understand why she did the things that she did. Part of me doesn’t want to. Part of me doesn’t care either. And that’s okay.

Happy Canadaversary

Exactly one year ago, my dog and I came to Canada. Mold in my home displaced me, so I ended up moving to be with my husband before we anticipated. How have I been the past year?

Well let’s see. I married my best friend, became a stepmother, and now have an awesome family. I got my permanent residency. Per my last post, I’ve found that I don’t mean as much to some people as I thought. It’s a lot colder here. I’ve been treated like absolute shit by my stepchildren’s mother. I’ve been treated incredibly by everyone else. I had a horrible job, then got a really great one. I’m a lot less stressed. I’m healthy and happy. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown as a person.

Canada looks good on me. I’m thankful that I had the ability to pack it all up to be able to be with my husband so that we could have a new life together. Happy Camadaversary. It’ll be nice growing old here.

At Peace

As I lay here next to my husband, listening to him breathe as he sleeps, I’m finally at peace. The last couple of months have been exhausting.

Back in April, I started a new job that I ended up hating. Well, it wasn’t the job itself, but was the culture in the office. I was surrounded by constant negativity and it was draining. The only good thing that came out of that place was meeting a woman who quickly became a very close friend. I ended up quitting with no notice, per the suggestions of a confidant. That made way for dialogues to open up about the culture and to hopefully make some lasting changes there. Thankfully, I start training at a new job tomorrow that I could see myself retiring from. I can’t wait!! The pay won’t be as good, but at least I’ll enjoy the position and the company.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I travelled a couple hours north. Why? Because I landed as a permanent resident of Canada! Everything went by fairly quick and was relatively painless. This past week I received my PR card in the mail, which will make travels easier. Though I had no concerns about our applications, I feel relieved. After almost 2 years of a long distance relationship, it’s comforting that I don’t have to ever be apart from my husband unless we are traveling by choice. Everything feels finalized and in order, like the puzzle pieces have fit together.

And finally, we had my stepchildren for almost two weeks straight for part of their summer break. It, for the most part, was amazing. But any time they saw or talked to their mother, the chaos reset and the kids spent that day (and sometimes part of the next) fighting with each other. I have no idea why it causes it, but I wish it wouldn’t happen or cause so much disruption. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to travel like we originally planned, but I feel like it was a blessing in disguise. The kids have otherwise been shuffled around from camp to camp, traveled, and have been extremely busy. They hadn’t really had time to just wind down and relax. So that’s exactly what we did outside of local family trips to the park and lake. We planned lots of fun things at home like board games, painting sessions, and did things as a family. We even did a theater night at home that they absolutely loved! My oldest stepson did not want to leave, which broke my heart. Every time he has to go, he grows more and more bitter about it. So many things with him remind me of myself when I was his age, navigating my own parent’s divorce. I don’t want that for him. It’ll lead to resentment when he’s older, and I truly don’t want that for his mother either. He’s a smart kid and even though he’s a few months shy of 8, he’s already figured so many things out about the dynamics of what’s going on. And I have no idea how to protect him from being bitter. I just try to do what my step mom did and just be loving and supportive. I listen. I think that’s the biggest thing… I listen.

I look forward to having the time to blog again. And I’m thankful for being able to feel like I can breathe again.

Stepmother’s Day

I am a childless mom and motherless. That sentence is incredibly hard to share. My own mother was a pillar of physical and mental abuse when I was a child. My step mom meant the world to me even though I didn’t get to see her as often as I’d have liked as a child. And after a multitude of miscarriages, full time motherhood was not the in cards for me. My husband did, however, share three beautiful children with me. Though I did not bring them into this world, I would do almost anything to make them happy and safe. My love for them did not begin from the womb. My love for them began by choice from the heart. It doesn’t make me any less than a mom.

My oldest step son made me a card for mother’s day, but I don’t think he knew how to get it here to his dad’s house. I can’t fault him for it and I desperately wish things could be a little more civil. I wish he felt he could be more open with the relationship he has with me instead of feeling like he has to hide. But it is what it is. It breaks my heart that he curls up in our arms in tears every time he has to go back to his mom’s, begging to be able to stay a little longer. I just tell him that I know how he feels, that daddy and I love him, and that daddy works hard to try to be able to spend as much time with him as he can. I won’t lie, sometimes it’s hard not to tell him it’s because his mother won’t work with us on scheduling and that almost every request for extra time with the kids he has made has been denied. But we can’t. We must never place blame or speak poorly, no matter how true it may be.

Despite not being able to see the kids for mother’s day (which is fine,) they made a point to make sure that I knew I was loved and appreciated. They asked their dad if they could pick out a present and card for me. They picked everything out themselves and it was beautiful. I cried. A lot. It’s amazing how tiny little hands can cradle your entire world.

And I made sure to send my step mom a card and called her as well. Because she deserved it.

So to all the stepmom’s out there, I see you. I feel you. I understand you. And your kids may not understand right now the lengths you go to be the duct tape that keeps the family wheel moving smoothly, but I know. I feel that deep in my soul. Hang in there. It gets easier. ❤️

Happy stepmother’s day

The Second Wife

I follow a few different stepmom support sites/Instagrams/groups in order to better myself so that I can be the best stepmom to the kids. I’m normally all for empowering other women, supporting their ideas and feelings, and advocating for special types of support. But sometimes, I can’t help but to wonder what in the world is wrong with some people.

I came across a post Saturday night that went on about how some women have insecurities about being a man’s second wife. While some of the insecurities I could see being valid, some of the topics brought up were complete garbage. So here I am, ranting, calling out those insecurities, and providing a different point of view. Because after all, life is about how you deal with it.

“I’m not his first….” You shouldn’t be insecure for being a man’s second (or seventh) wife on general principle. No, you’re not his first wife, possibly not his first partner in home buying, car buying, career change, college adventures, nor his first love, first kiss, first anything. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine. Stop letting the stigma of divorce cloud your here and now. I’m glad I’m not my husband’s first wife. I’m glad I didn’t marry him at 21. I’m glad we’re not young and dumb. I’m glad he figured out what went wrong the first time around, and therefore knows exactly what he wants, how to get it, and what to do to get there. And if your husband or fiance hasn’t figured all that out, you shouldn’t be marrying him in the first place.

“My mother in law / step kids / family by marriage treat me differently and still have a high regard for her.” So? Why are you letting somebody else’s opinion sway you? And what does somebody else’s opinion about somebody else have anything to do with you?? What somebody else thinks about you is none of your damn business. You keep putting one foot in front or the other and worry about your roof, not theirs. Kids are going to have a loyalty to their mom. Mother in laws are supposed to have a reputation for being a pain in the a…. except mine. She’s actually pretty amazing. Everyone else can take their opinions and shove it. You focus on you.

“He still loves his ex.” And I’m referring to this in terms of a man who has kids and he is trying to maintain a functional relationship with his ex in order to co-parent his kids. Because yes, apparently this is an insecurity. My thoughts? Well. Duh. He’s supposed to, to a certain degree, still care. She is the mother of his children. He needs to have a certain degree of care for that woman if he wants to be able to properly care for and about his children. And you need to get over that. While yeah I think the whole “stepmother needing to know her place” thing is a crock of crap, a stepmother DOES need to extend the same degree of tolerance for a mother that she wishes a mother would have for her. Period. Get your head out of your rectum and stop being self absorbed. Even if she does treat you like garbage.

“He had kids with her, but won’t with me.” “He won’t reverse his vasectomy for me.” “[insert choice he made before his remarriage] to/for/with me.” With me. With me. With me. Blah blah blah. You know what. If your husband had a vasectomy before he married you, and you’re not okay with that, that’s on you. You shouldn’t expect him to reverse it. It’s a painful process with a possibility of it not working anyways. And if you truly feel that he’s supposed to, then I hope that you never gripe or attempt to advocate for women’s rights. A man’s choice for a vasectomy or to not have more kids or whatever is no different than a woman making a choice to go on birth control, have her tubes tied, have implants, whatever. Their choice. It doesn’t have a damn thing to do with you, and you should respect that. And if you really wanted to have kids and he didn’t, then maybe you shouldn’t have married him in the first place. Stop being selfish. Not everything is about you. Stop railing on men for choices they made before marrying you.

Stop giving a crap if people look at you differently for not being the first wife. Over 40% of marriages in North America aren’t first marriages anyway, so stop with the stigma. Am I an advocate for divorce? Not entirely. I feel that folks need to put the work into something if they truly want to keep it long term. And if they don’t they don’t have any business making the commitment to begin with. But I feel like people highly underestimate what actually needs to go into a marriage, into a relationship, into the maintenance of compatibility in order to truly have their “happily ever after.”

So top letting stupid crap eat at you and have some confidence in yourself and your relationships.

Nutritional Consistency in Children

A year or two after I received a diagnosis of diabetes and had glucose stability issues, nutrition became a huge part of my life. At the start of my nutrition journey, I went into hardcore keto mode (I’m talking true keto, not just super low carb. I mean perfect macros, a ton of vitamina/supplements, fasting, baking soda in my water, full on anti inflammation insanity.) Why? Because it gave my pancreas time to rest. After some time, the ole girl did some significant healing and I’m much more stable than I was before. Now? Definitely not hardcore keto, but I definitely watch what I eat. I do stick to the lower end of the carbohydrate spectrum, try to eat as few processed foods as possible, and try to choke down a cup of hot tea when I remember to. I feel that just like when working in the medical field, no dietary idea is right for the same two people. Everyone is different. I feel that everyone could benefit from a gluten free, no added sugar, and minimally processed foods diet. Some folks need to follow a keto diet. Some folks need to follow Paleo. Some folks are blessed with amazing metabolism and genetics and don’t have to worry about what they put in their face holes.

But what about kids?
Specifically what about kids who bounce back and forth between more than one home? What of their diets, consistencies, and gut health?

When it comes to co-parenting, my husband had to set some boundaries due to conflicts in communication. We feel the need to live by a strict notion of “what happens in the opposing house is none of your business” (for both parties concerned.) Obviously within reason — for instance when our 7yo kid came home with a huge wound on his chin and said it was because he pulled something out of the oven and got burned, obviously some clarification will be sought out. Most other things like discipline, expectations, routine, diet, etc? None of our business, none of their mother’s business.

Despite it being none of my business, as I’m getting the kids’ room tidied up and the bathroom stocked with extra TP that they usually need, I can’t help but to wonder about the effect of the divorce on the kids’ gut health and how the dietary differences between their homes may have influence their health and well-being. If you ask my step kids about added sugars, they will tell you that at Dad’s house they only have it on special occasions and holidays. My oldest stepson constantly asks if different foods have sugar in them. I asked him why he wonders about it so much. His reply was “I want to make sure it won’t make you sick.” Be still, my beating heart. ❤️ But when the kids say that their desserts at Mom’s is usually ice cream every night, I take that with a grain of salt and chalk it up to trying to get more ice cream. (In which, HA-HAH! Joke’s on them. My husband got me an ice cream maker for Christmas so I can make my own healthy ice cream!) However when they state that a lot of their meals are from McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s, I tend to believe it since old fast food bags can be seen piled up and/or falling out when the kids get out of their mother’s SUV. Or when we are cooking together and they make comments about how they like learning how to make things and helping, that a lot of the things we make, Mom makes them from a box. It makes me cringe, but I take a deep breath and remind myself that it’s none of my business. Or is it?

At what point are dietary consistencies in children after a divorce concerning? The oldest has some attention issues, the middle child has constant UTIs and a chromosome condition in which her weight really needs to be watched. The youngest has eczema issues. And all three of my step kids have digestive issues when they come home here, starting with constipation, and ending with them being cleaned out by Saturday night. All of which could be remedied by dietary changes and consistencies. What does one do?? Do we keep introducing them to different types of whole foods and just deal with the blow outs from the fiber? Feed them probiotics? Because goodness, I don’t think I could bring myself to feed them an unhealthy diet. I’m not saying there’s not a bag of cereal in the closet just for them. Sometimes cereal is just more convenient at 6am when you’ve got to leave in 45 minutes in order to get to a hockey game nearly 3 hours away. But a diet overloaded with convenience foods?? I just can’t do it. I pride myself in meal creativity and food prep. Regardless, I just can’t seem to find much information on how kids fair with dietary inconsistencies or how to deal with them.

Time to stock up on more TP!