A note to stepmoms everywhere

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New Stuff Kinda Freakin Me Out



I haven’t blogged in a little while, and a lot has happened. Seems like everything has changed, or is just about to. We went on our entire family anniversary to the water park, and everyone had a good time. I had a little bit of tummy troubles, but recovered and hung out in the lazy river with the kids. I expected that since they are older, they might want to do their own thing, go off on their own, flirt with boys (middle child). But for at least 2 hours, the oldest hung out with me in a double inner tube, just floating around and talking about everything from the world history and politics, to her siblings and her recovery on her eating disorder. We also talked a lot about life at her mom’s house and problems that she has with her mom’s boyfriend. Namely his shouting, swearing, drinking and punching holes in walls. A healthy “normal” household, according to the adults in charge. Sure.

I was surprised that she would want to spend so much time with me. I keep hearing that she will be growing out of that soon. I haven’t seen it yet. The other two were just as excited to stay close to me and my husband.

The next day we all went to the mall and we had a really good time. And then we went home totally exhausted.

The week before, the oldest had told me in church that she was thinking about telling her mom that she wanted to stay with us. She wasn’t sure the details yet, and if she wanted to stay full time or part time, but she was thinking about it. This was coming on the heels of an argument where the mom’s boyfriend was throwing things (like towels or socks or something stupid like that) and punching holes in walls. The oldest tried to grab her little brother from him during all this, and he wouldn’t let go. So she told him he was acting like a b****. Yep. She said it. Ugh. I told her that she really needed to think and pray about it, and she should take her time making that decision.

The argument happened right at the begging of us having them for 2 weeks in a row. They got a little break and time to adjust themselves. Then, one day at dinner, the oldest looked at us and said “I want to tell mom that I want to stay over here”. It was like someone threw a brick into the middle of the table. There were some tears, but they all agreed that it was a lot less stressful at our house than at their mom’s. The middle child was upset because she wanted to do the same thing, but was very close with their little brother (who is like 5). The youngest was mad, because the oldest takes care of her, stops all the fights she starts and cleans up all of her messes at her mom’s house. She’s not held accountable for a whole lot over there.

She had the talk with her mom, and after some other little complications and tiffs, she stayed at our house this week while the other two were with their mom. She still went over there, just not till Thursday night. My husband was out of town, so the two of us hung out and talked a lot. It was pretty quiet.

During this, I had a lightbulb moment at work. I have a “new” job. It’s a really good job, the people are nice, it’s got great benefits, it’s not stressful or complicated, but I don’t like it. I couldn’t figure out what my problem was, I just didn’t like it. Then one day I was walking past the desk of a girl who works in marketing while she was cleaning up some product pictures to put on our website. I thought “aww, I wish I could be doing that right now”. Then I realized, maybe I should go to school for that.

So during the week my husband was out of town, I’m trying to look at schools and figure out how to afford it, and where I should go by myself. I also have had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that the oldest’s actions have voted for me to be her mom figure. I know I was acting the part, but now someone has said “well, you’re it”. I’m kinda freaked out.

So, some big crazy changes, I hope I handle all of it ok. We’ll see what happens with this so called “school” stuff.

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Havin Fun and Flippin Out!



I’ve been having a lot of fun with the kids lately. I thought about it yesterday, and I realized how much we laugh in my house. We’re always joking, cracking up, making faces at each other at the dinner table, making fun of each other and ourselves. We laugh a lot. I feel kind of bad for my husband because he’s the only guy here and a lot of times it’s like a sleepover.

The middle child had a banquet for cheerleading the other day. I sat in the audience, and while she was up on stage we waved at each other and made faces at each other. I sat next to the oldest, and we watched all the cheerleaders and football players get their names called to go up and get a little award. We narrated the thoughts of the little kids as they walked across the stage “Yeah, that’s my name. I got this. Too cool to high five you.” And we giggled in our seats. Then I pointed to some of the little football players and told the oldest “that’s how old you were when I moved in.”

“No! I wasn’t that small! Was I? Was I really that little?”

It’s been a long road, people. But I think all of those years of what felt like me beating my head against a wall paid off. It seems like they are at an age where no one is really sure how to treat them, or how they should feel about them, and I can sit down and have a normal conversation with them about all sorts of uncomfortable things.

Like boys.

The older 2 both like boys. When you don’t know anything about “liking” someone, and you’re drowning in hormones, it’s an anxious time. They may not pay attention to you for one day and it’s the longest day ever. It seems like they don’t care about you anymore and just won’t tell you why!!  Why won’t they say anything!! AAAHHHH!!!

So, since I understand that, it’s nice that I can talk to them and say “maybe he had a bad day. Maybe there was something else he was thinking about. Why don’t you wait till tomorrow, and then just say ‘hey, what’s up’ like it’s no big deal, and see how he acts.” I’m hoping to prevent crazy girlfriend syndrome, and also promote the idea that their whole life isn’t hung up on one guy. They are more than just what some guy thinks about them, they are an entire person in themselves.

Dating is scary, and they are young. It’s easy to want to just tell them they can’t date, but they go to public school. It’s hard to let them be part of the experience and not let them be part of the experience. But I’ve already decided they can ONLY be in public places with these boys. I don’t have a time limit on that, that’s the rule. They can’t go anywhere that they will not be seen by adults in some way. No bedrooms, no houses without adults, nothing like that. Always in public or in front of parents.

Maybe that’s mean. But I know about boys.


Working It Out



I haven’t been posting very regularly lately. Things are a little off kilter and I’m trying to find a balance. Sometimes life starts going really fast and you just go with it. You don’t think, you don’t analyze, you just go. That’s apparently not always the right thing to do.
So after a few months of just going along and doing some emergency adjustments as I go (similar to smacking the brakes when you notice the driver in front of you is slowing down way too much) I finally took a little personal inventory.
What I found was promising, it was a neat little moment.
I used to be like the Cinderella stepmom. I cleaned and cooked and did the standard care. I made sure everyone had their material needs met and the house was tidy and meals were healthy and home made. I strived for perfect, I mean like Martha Stewart perfect.
I didn’t know any better, I thought that’s what you did.
Over time, things evolved. My relationship with my family changed, so I adjusted. Over the summer, the kids needed something different. They needed personal support, they needed me to be emotionally available, so I made that change. Then we hit a rough patch and I took a second job to smooth things over.
I couldn’t figure out where my time was going. Why am I so tired and the house is always so dirty! What is wrong with me!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we’re living in squalor, it’s just below my standards.
I realized I spend a LOT of time talking to the girls. If my husband isn’t home, it’s like a girl talk sleepover party. They talk to me about everything. So I stop whatever I’m doing and I make sure they know they have my attention. I respond to them, I never react negatively, I offer gentle advice, I make jokes and get them to laugh.
So during that time, I’m not cleaning the house. All I’m doing is being there for them. I might need a nap, I might need to vacuum. I might be so tired I can barely see, but they talk and I put all that aside.
Now that is very nice, and incredibly important, and I have no plans to stop that anytime soon. However I am not taking care of myself.
And if I don’t take care of myself, I will soon be useless to them. I’ve got bags under my eyes and I’m still tired after having slept for like 14 hours. I’ve done a terrible job of taking care of me.
I feel good that if I had to sacrifice my time, it was for them, they needed it. But now I’ve got to find the balance.
Time to hit the gym!!


Gettin My “Mom” On! It was a little uncomfortable.

courtesy This was so my day yesterday. Chauffering, working, cooking and saving kids from the pitfalls of growing up.

Yesterday was a good time. You know, like mildly insane kind of good time. Work was one big horrible blur of upset people, unanswered questions, ringing phones and an entire day of printing.

So I leave that and put on my mommy hat. Go do my usual child chauffeuring, get everyone home. I’m cooking dinner, and then the oldest brings our first pile of high-school-mess into the kitchen. I was hoping it would be a little longer till we had these conversations, but what are you gonna do? It’s high school and she’s a good kid. There’s going to be a lot more where this came from.

So the topic of the day was drugs. Something she is completely unfamiliar with. So she asks “the kids at the lunch table were talking about acid. What is that?”

Luckily for me (in a way) I was a hot mess from the ages of 12-26. I have plenty of true nightmare stories about all kinds of things. So we talk. I tell her about what it does, how it works, how it affects people, and horrible stories I have of people freaking out on it.

Her mouth hangs open in horror. “Who would want to do that?!?”

Mission accomplished.

We talked a lot about the kinds of people there are in high school, the kinds of trouble they can get you into, and the horrible situations you can end up in. Like the scariest car ride of your life. If you’ve had that ride, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t know, congratulations.

So, I hope she knows what to look out for, what to stay away from, and when to call us to pick her up. She can have open conversation with us, and still (even though she’s a freshman) feels comfortable talking to us about anything she’s not sure of. It’s only the first year for the first kid, but so far we are handling the scary things.

I went to bed just wrung out, and totally feeling like a mom. And wondering how that happened. It’s odd to feel such mommyness when you don’t have your own kids.

It’s weird to have such a big part of handing the directions through the ugliest parts of life off to another person. But I guess since I’ve been down most of those roads, I definitely know where not to go. And they are not scared to ask for a map.

What else can you really ask for?