Agnostic Acceptance

I’ve been out for a bit! I took some time to recover from my first experience with the Canadian health care system. In addition to recovering, I also started a new job and am learning the ropes.

Anywho! Last weekend, I got a text from a dear friend asking if I’d like to bring my step daughter over for a small religious ceremony. I was so honored. I don’t hide that some days I’m an agnostic and some days I’m an athiest, all depending on how I feel. Despite not having any beliefs of my own, I feel that it’s an honor to be thought of by others. Spirituality is a very intimate thing. Or well… It’s supposed to be. Merry Christmas? Happy Hanukkah? Happy Kwanza? Happy whatever? Great! Thanks for being thoughtful! I don’t understand why people get so irritated and intolerable.

So I wasn’t entirely sure of the holiday or significance. My friend said she just had some prayers honoring children, and she gives out gifts. It was her son, her friend and granddaughter, then my step daughter and I. We joined in her prayer room, was fed a bite, had red thread tied around our wrists, and the kids received some gifts. After, we had lunch, which consisted of Indian bread, chick peas, something that reminded me of cream of wheat, and tea. It was a lovely time. Turns out that the red thread is a tradition of Hindu to ward off bad things. I’d always wondered! The prayers themselves were beautiful. I have no idea what my friend was saying, but she said her prayers with compassion and conviction. You could feel the energy and warmth flowing throughout the room. Plus the prayer room was ornate and full of vibrant reds and yellows. It was truly a pleasure!

I don’t understand why people get in such a tizzy about religions that aren’t theirs. So long as someone isn’t harming others, why is it any of my business what you believe in? So long as I encourage those around me to be wholesome and good, why does it matter that I don’t believe in anything?

I wish people had more tolerance for other beliefs.

Marriage First

After my post about being the second wife, I feel the need to go a step further, step on more toes, and say even more. Apparently my thoughts are taboo and controversial to many folks. Good.

Here’s another controversy for you… Brace yourselves: You kids shouldn’t always come first. DUN DUN DUN!!! Now before you go on a witch hunt and throw me to the wolves, hear me out.

First and foremost, I’d like to let it be known that if you were to ever attempt to harm my step children, I will spend the rest of my life in prison, no questions asked. My husband and I would make it work. They mean that much to me. However, they are not always #1 in our lives – we are. Does that mean we neglect them in any way, shape, or form? Absolutely not. What does that mean then?

It means we have no problem asking them to color or have some quiet time so that we can unwind a little and have a moment to ourselves. It means that we don’t hide our affections. We hold hands in front of them. We dance in the living room together in front of them. We occasionally kiss in front of them. We make date plans with each other that don’t include them in front of them. We work together as a team in front of them. Why? Because they need a strong example of a good relationship, an example of a good marriage. They need to see that it takes work, love, appreciation, and communication to make relationships work. Furthermore, they’re collateral damage of divorce….they need to see something other than the negativity and strain that they’ve experienced and seen between their biological parents. They need to have hope.

So date your spouses. Put your marriages first. Because in order to be a great parent, you need to have a great foundation. (And if you’re a single parent…. Take care of yourself. Put yourself first time to time. Burnout is a thing and kids need to be introduced to self care too!)

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!

Happiness

It’s half past midnight. I’m restless.

I’m laying in bed next to my husband, who is fast asleep. He’s not quite snoring, but I can hear by how he’s breathing that he’s deep in La La Land.

I hear the bubbling of our humidifier across the room. The scent of the sweet orange extract that I added to the water fills the air. It’s soothing and nice. Aside from my husband and humidifier, there’s silence. Oh wait. I think the dog is snoring too. I find myself quite relaxed.

My mind can’t help but to wander a little bit. The last 1/4 of a year, life has been a roller coaster. I was nearly hospitalized from mold in the walls of my home. I drove 1500 miles to stay with my now husband in Canada until it was sorted out, and ended up staying. I left a job of 10 years as a biproduct. Holidays were welcomed, but crazy, as I started navigating a special part of my step childrens’ lives. My grandfather passed away, which started a family fues. Then there was the wedding planning and the actual wedding. And throughout the whole process, turning around and going a completely different direction with becoming a legal permanent resident of Canada.

It was a lot.

Despite everything that’s gone on, I can’t help but to stop and be in complete awe. For the first time in a very long time (or if ever?) I am genuinely happy. Oddly, that’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes. It’s nice.

Which gets me thinking further. I have lived a hard life in my 30something years of being on this Earth. Happiness has never been on the front burner for me. Most of my life was spent in survival mode. I didn’t truly learn or feel that I was genuinely worthy of being loved or deserving of happiness until the relationship with my husband. It was something that I felt was very passive in my life. Now, I embrace and welcome it. I wake each morning with a smile. I love myself and allow myself to be happy. It sounds so simple, but it was a struggle for so many years.

So my readers, if you’re struggling, hang in there. Look within yourself. Find peace in the little things around you. And try to allow yourself to be happy. And then do it again. And again.

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….

Mr. & Mrs.

We made it! I finally got to marry my best friend last week. (Hence the small hiatus.)

Ever want an adventure? Let your young step kids help plan your wedding. No, that’s not sarcasm. We let the kids have a huge say.

Why on Earth would I be do that? Well, back in October, my oldest stepson says to me, “Did you know you’ll be my stepmom soon?” It was something that he (and his younger sister) have put thought into, along with thoughts about their relationship with me. We wanted them to feel included and to let them feel like they have a voice. Like they had some control over something in their blended lives. This was a perfect opportunity to let them know that they are heard.

We knew we wanted a small private ceremony. I found a suitable wedding commissioner, private venue, and photographer. From there, we let the kids toss around their ideas. In lieu of a big reception, we wanted to take our guests out for supper. The kids’ first choice was Red Lobster. The thought of shrimp and cheddar biscuits was enticing to them. Dad and I wanted to keep things within a lower budget than Red Lobster, so we opted to give them a choice from a few different restaurants that would be more budget friendly for a party, but also had gluten free options for our family with sensitivities and Celiac’s. After great debate, the kids excitedly chose for everyone to get pizza after! The restaurant was kind enough to allow us to bring in our own cake and cupcakes as well.
The attire was easy. My husband opted for green as our accent color; the kids happily obliged. We showed them what Dad and I would be wearing, and let them take their pick of clothing options. The oldest step son wanted to look like Dad, choosing black pants, a white button up shirt, black sweater vest, and green bowtie. It went well with Dad’s black suit, white shirt, and green tie + pocket square. My step daughter didn’t have too much choice in dress, but did have a say in her hair and tights. When she saw my dress then saw hers, she was the most excited I’ve ever seen her. “WE’RE THE SAME!!!” she’d exclaim over and over. For the youngest, we chose a green shirt and matching black pants.

On the day of, you could see their joy. Small details, such as the ring box they helped paint, made them feel appreciated and acknowledged. During the ceremony, the commissioner included them as well, allowing me to make vows to them, not just to my husband.

I’m so thankful to have been accepted by them and can’t wait to be a part of their future ❤️