Stepmemo

A note to stepmoms everywhere


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Why This Is

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The girls when i met them, and only one liked me.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this a few times over the course of my blogging, but maybe I haven’t. Or maybe you’re new here. But about a year ago, I had been talking with a fellow stepmom in my family, and she was having a hard time. Among second wives I’ve spoken to, the common sentiment is that it’s rough going.
I kept trying to put positive little things on Facebook to encourage these women, but I found I had more to say than a little post would allow. So I looked into blogging.
All I wanted to do was tell people that family life is hard, and it’s hard for all of us. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. I want you to be encouraged that this isn’t forever.
Yes, they will be your spouses children forever, but they won’t try to come between you forever. They won’t drag remnants of a former life into your home forever. The drama isn’t forever.
The hard part is standing on the sidelines, being the cleanup crew and support staff in the meantime. There were a lot of nights I went to bed hurt and frustrated, feeling like the maid. There were times I had angry outbursts and times I cried alone. But none of that was forever, even though at the time it sure felt like it.
The kids got older and they saw how I toughed it out. They saw I tried hard and made sacrifices. They saw how much I love their dad, and how much I put them first and really appreciate them. I cherish their hands made things, I have shoeboxes full of old homework, drawings and school pictures. I have kept every Christmas ornament they have made, and take time to talk about each one all over again every year.
But most of all, I listen to them. When they talk I listen to them. I sit down and look at them and respond just as I would any other human being. I answer all of their big ugly questions, I support the positive things they do and I listen to them without judgment.
That alone has made the biggest impact in my relationship with my family. I have seriously cut down on my cleaning time because I’m just talking to the kids all the time. I saw a need and I fulfilled it.
That’s all being a stepmom really is, filling the gaps. There’s not much else to do, and it’s not easy.


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Unicorns In Training

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Courtesy giphy.com

Yeah I fell off for a bit. Sorry, I just kind of quit life for a little while. I noticed a few things, gave everything I had to the kids and a side project or two, and tried to relax.
I’ve felt a lot better after my husband forced me to go shopping and get some nice new things for me. When I was a kid, my mom would get dressed up and go out. She didn’t have a lot, but she had nicer things than me. She also would take naps a lot (she was a single mom working full time, taking care of 2 kids and a mentally ill mother). I understood, naps were kind of a big deal. Both of my parents took them and we (the children) respected that.
Lots of women don’t give themselves time or nice things. They keep putting the kids first and making sure they have new clothes and new shoes so they aren’t singled out in school, and that teaches them a few bad lessons. First, it shows them they are more important in the world than you. They trump you. Some children will see and appreciate your sacrifice, but most of them won’t. They don’t understand the big picture, they just see you, giving them all and taking none for you.
Second, you are showing them how to parent, and that you take no time for yourself when you take care of little people. If this was healthy, this wouldn’t be the number one complaint among mothers.
Take some time, take some money. Not much, but do the basic stuff. Take care of you.
The kids were all very impressed that I bought new clothes, and they keep eyeballing my new boots. I have to guard them with my life!
The kids are proud of me when I finally give in and do stuff for me, but that’s not normal. At their mom’s house, she comes first, sometimes at the cost of everyone else. So the kids have a comparison. This isn’t a view most kids have. I try to show them a different way, that they can still be loving and take care of their families without sacrificing time and health, but I don’t do so well. When I have them by myself, I don’t even take the 20 minutes that I take when my husband is home. I give all to them because I’m taking the place of 2 people. I want to show them a balance, but that’s hard to remember when you have 3 young people all super excited to tell you about their day, and ask big ugly life questions, like “how did the holocaust happen?”. Yeah.
How could you turn that down?
But now that they are older, they see. They know I love them and would do anything for them, like switch jobs and work a second job. Shop at a second hand store and stop having date nights.
But I have to teach them how to be self respecting women who doesn’t need a man’s approval. And that is why I need to start doing a better job of keeping up with myself. I need to be am example of a woman proud to be in her own skin.
Seems easy enough, right? ;P


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Single Mom Time. What Could Go Wrong?

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My husband has left me to do the single mom dance with the kids again. It seems like they see me more than anyone else. It’s only for a few days this week, and I can’t have it action packed like my last single mom gig. I’m already tired.
This weekend was great, but I crammed too much in there and now I’m done. I finally got to go buy new clothes!! I went to a department store and bought new things! Everything was on clearance, but it’s all new. I get nice stuff from Goodwill, but it’s nice to get things that fit right and haven’t been stretched out by anyone else.
So after an epic battle with clothes, I was wiped. Yesterday I had to drag myself through the grocery store. I had to come home and sit down for 20 minutes before actually putting the food away.
Yes, I have to rest in the middle of mundane tasks. It is what it is.
My husband was playing The Doors last night, I’m not sure but I think he was trying to torture the children. Anyway, the youngest was standing next to him as he sang, and he got to the line “the men don’t know, but the little girls understand”. The youngest looks at him, like he knows a secret, and says ” I’m a little girl “. My husband made a face somewhere between disgust and disappointment and told her to go sit down.
If you live with kids, you surely have had a double entendre misunderstanding at some point. Or kids not realizing what they are saying. They might loudly talk about camel toe in public, they might excitedly insist that you spank them (without the birthday spankings context) there’s all sorts of things that can happen. They attend public school and aren’t always hip to the context of their comments.
I kind of feel like as long as they don’t really get it, I don’t make a big deal out of it. When they know what they are talking about, that’s when there’s a problem.


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Friday Ride On The Crazy Train

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From the youngest, the caption says it all...

This week has just vaporized, I swear. It’s fine so fast, I’m still not sure it’s Friday. We haven’t had the kids, so I’ve been trying to get caught up on things I didn’t do when they were here.
I guess the trip to the mall was a big hit with the kids. The oldest is still talking about her “exciting weekend” with me. I guess she was just tickled to hang with my mom and uncle. Super weird, a teenager that wants to hang out with adults all the time. But I won’t complain.
She had told me that she had to quit talking to some friends because she found out they were doing drugs and they were racist. She’s half Mexican, so that whole racist thing doesn’t fly, and she’s not a fan of drugs either. She felt like they were the only friends she had, so we had a talk about that.
I suppose high school isn’t the place for a girl with a big heart.
The middle child has secretly pierced a second hole in her ear, by herself. I’m just glad it didn’t happen at our house.
The youngest had her conferences last night. She had drawn a portrait (the pic at the top, supposed to be a self portrait but she’s blond) and her caption says. I swear, that girl makes me Facepalm twice a day.
But I never tell her to change. Only to be herself and not be afraid of it. Can’t stop a crazy train like that.


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Nice Jessies Finish Last

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Courtesy giphy.com

This week was very busy, in spite of the fact that there was no children or husband for most of it. I had somewhere to be every day, and a few of this things got rescheduled to new days. So it was crazy, and a little unpleasant.
For the past few weeks my office has been being remodeled, and I’ve been shoved, with a few other renovation victims, into the conference room. It’s freaking cold in there. It’s right next to the receiving door, so each time it opens, a chill breeze flows through the ceiling tiles.
I’ve been freezing my butt off. I come home from having my very frozen to the office floor and just want a shower to warm up.
This week, since there were no children, I tried a new approach; I stole their shoes. They have some really cute boots that just sit around for the whole week they aren’t here, and hey, I paid for them. So I wore them, and it was great.
Then I had that sad little moment where I realized that they have nicer things than me. I’m always pushing to give them what they need and not spoil them, and here they are with warm boots and new clothes, while Jessie is suffering mild frostbite and is a resident at goodwill.
I need to do better. It’s not a good example I’m setting of “neglect yourself for your family”. I’ve known a lot of women, and not one of them have done this without ruining their family in the end. At some point they will need to put themselves first, and if they wait too long to do it, they may be so traumatized that they never find the balance. They never pick the family back up.
I don’t want to be that girl, and I’ve been avoiding becoming her long before I ever thought I would get married.
I’m going to set a budget and make a calendar of days I can go shopping for what things, and then I will be able to decide how much I can spend. I need to get back to having a normal influx of new things.
I take care of these people, sometimes to my detriment. I deserve nice things too.
Darn it.


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Just Chillin. Delicious Chillin.

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Courtesy chriskallmyer.com

I haven’t been blogging a lot lately. Actually, I haven’t been doing a lot of things lately. I had a week where I didn’t have a whole lot to do, and I kind of felt like I was being lazy and being a turd. Then I had a thought; all the times that things are busy and I have lots to do and places to be, I always wish I had a break. So, I took a break. We didn’t have the kids and my husband was out of town, so I didn’t do much.
I still felt a little guilty, but not guilty enough to like get up and actually do something. After weeks of scrambling at my old job to get them ready for me to leave, fighting off being sick for like 3 weeks, and trying to squeeze in a little “me” time between “kids” time, I needed to just sit still and listen to the blood rushing in my ears.
I do need to get back into the swing of things; I have some things to work on for the one cause I’m still working for, need to try much harder to get to the gym and figure out a few things in general, but no rush. I can enjoy my weekend.
I started my new job on Monday, and it’s been very nice so far. All the people are easy to get along with, and there’s lots about the company that I like. I hope it stays that way. But no one is ranting or stressed out, people aren’t yelling at each other, everyone gets along pretty well, and I can drive 5 minutes to go have lunch with q friend. So, nice perks in general so far.
Next week is the real test, then I will have my new job and have to drive kids around.
Today I went on a little date with my husband, it was very nice. I’m enjoying my weekend and making it a point to not do too much. I’ve done a lot the last few weeks, I believe I’ve earned the right to chill.
Besides, that right gets revoked on Monday anyway. Yay weekend!!


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Made Enough Progress To Take A Break. For 20 Minutes.

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This has been a super productive week, and I hope this is a sign off hour the rest of my year will be. I’ve painted my nails for the first time in over a year, I’ve been doing my hair and have been on some dates with my husband. I even signed up for yoga classes! I feel like a real grown up! I have a life and things to do!
That’s really important because I’m about to lose some of my favorite things, since I won’t be working at the church anymore. The were a couple of things I did there I had to step down from, and that was depressing. Which is good, because quitting a job you like is never depressing enough. Yay.
The kids had a day off of school today, and they were actually pretty mellow when I got home. Not like they sat in the living room and tried to strangle each other all day or anything. In still chalking that up to that whole “no cable” thing. The oldest had finally decided to dye her hair red after talking about it for like 3 years. She was freaked out, but trusted my judgment ( I’ve been dying my hair red for like 15 years) and today when I came home she was very excited to show me how it worked out. She looks very cute, but I’m biased.
When we were at the store buying the dye yesterday, I was spending my “allowance” on stuff for my hair and nails. I saw something I wanted, but it was over my budget, so the middle child and I pretended to cry and guy each other in the middle of the aisle for a minute, then walked away like nothing happened. The oldest says that’s why the neighbors thing we’re weird.
It’s possible.
But I feel a lot better. I feel like a whole person. Sometimes, I just go sit in my room for a few minutes. Maybe I read a little, maybe I just wash my face and put on some pj’s, maybe I do my nails. But there is time in the day that I set aside for me, and I hadn’t done that for a while. I gave all my time to the kids.
They need me, and I give them lots of time, but I just slow myself down for a minute and think of what I want to do for like 30 minutes. That’s it, it doesn’t take much. And, since I have the yoga class to look forward to, that’s more stuff for “me”.
I always thought this was being selfish, but after having an entire year of thinking that spending my time like this is wrong, I can finally see that spending just a little time like this is maintenance. And when you take care if something, you just appreciate it that much more.
I should know that because if how much I love my people. I forgot that I’m one of my people too.


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Someone’s Cooking, and It Ain’t Me

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Courtesy forum.lineage2c1.com

Getting closer to the end of the week, and I can’t wait. I have a few things I’m pretty amped for this weekend, and this week has been like an obstacle course at work. At home I’m just trying to keep it together, keep the house from exploding into a horrible mess and get ready for this party stuff. But work has been like dodgeball.
Everything has been last second with a few surprises thrown in. I’ve barely been keeping up, and by the end of the day my brain just says “aww, no. This ain’t happenin” and stops working.
Yesterday was the ham dinner for the youngest child’s birthday. It was really good. Her grandparents came over with their puppy and we all hung out and had a good time. The food was good, and my husband went out and bought a cake and we sang happy birthday. It was cute, it always is.
I didn’t think anything of it, but man, making a ham after working all day then driving around to pick up kids is a little more serious than I thought. I’m kinda wiped out today. Which is bad for everyone because my fuse shortens quite a bit when I’m worn out. I think that’s true for almost every human, but in the land of mommydom, you’re supposed to get past those things and be super mom (or stepmom).
I decided I felt like garbage and didn’t want to cook today after my culinary masterpiece yesterday. My husband got his bonus and I had visions of a nice dinner at a sit down restaurant with the kids. It sounded so relaxing, until I tried to figure out where I wanted to go. My stomach has been sketchy at best for days now, so nothing sounded good. Then there was a tussle over what restaurant to go to, and it ended up on me somehow, the person who wasn’t even sure if they wanted food.
This happens almost every time we try to go out. Everyone argues and gets all irritated. They start listing off random places, from McDonald’s to the most expensive place in town, then my husband announces that it’s up to me where we go, and then it’s like no matter what, I’m the jerk.
I’m a total foodie and fat kid extraordinaire. I love food, and I always an craving something. If I don’t know what I want to eat, then I probably just don’t want to eat. Pretty simple to me. But it starts a fight every time and then everyone is frustrated and no one wants to go anywhere. Rad.
So my husband took the kids without me. Thank God. I’m gonna have a long shower and some toast for dinner.
Anyway, food fights aside, tomorrow we are going to a jazz Christmas concert and it’s going to be awesome. I had planned on it being a date night, but the kid want to go. We will have to have a date next week. Oh well.
Then Saturday is the much anticipated birthday event. I had a little girl call to RSVP and it was the cutest thing ever.
My stomach has been jacked, and my husband is getting sick, but I think this weekend is gonna work out. And I only have a half day at work tomorrow.
Maybe I can finally tweeze my eyebrows. ( tmi)


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It’s So Quiet.

I love unsupervised construction.

I love unsupervised construction.

This week, my husband has been (and will continue to be) half a world away. There are no kids, there is no husband, we have no dog. Just me. In the house. Yup.

No cable, the Wii remote is dead, so I can’t watch Netflix and can’t seem to remember to stop and buy batteries. There’s a lot of the sound of blood rushing through my ears. A lot of me talking to myself. It’s not all bad, I’m getting some things done. I actually re-caulked our shower all by myself! Pretty impressive.

Ladies, don’t let anyone tell you that you need a man to do things around the house. I’m known to do some pretty intense home projects when my husband is out of town. The picture here is from a bathroom project I started when he was gone around this time last year. That is not the color of my hair, and I’m a little pastier than normal because I’m covered in a combination of sawdust and joint compound (spackle, mud, whatever you call it) dust. You can see the white patches on the walls in the background. That’s my handiwork.

I’m kind of impressed with what I’m getting done. It’s weird, when I have lots of time like this, I never do the things I want to. I never paint or draw or go for walks, or even read books (which I really need to, but I can’t bring myself to do it). I seem driven to only clean and improve the house. Do all the things that bother me, but I don’t have the time to do them. Like shampoo the couch, reorganize the linen cabinet, or do a disgusting amount of laundry.

I’m eating all the things I don’t eat when everyone is here, like asparagus, I had some chile lime swai (fish) and tomato soup with an epic grilled cheese. But even with the healthy or rarely eaten soul food, and household accomplishments, it’s boring. And I miss my husband. I like that guy for some reason.


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I Took a Day Off to Catch Up On Work.

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This year, I have been taken out of the holiday hosting circuit. Now I don’t know that there will be Christmas at my house, but Thanksgiving is off my plate. Ha, pun.

The youngest child’s birthday is in the beginning of December, smack between the two holidays. Normally, I’m just getting a little frayed around the edges at this time. I always want to do something more than dinner and cake with family for her, but just can’t pull it off.

Plus, birthdays are kind of a foreign concept for me, so I have a hard time remembering the importance of it to someone else. I know, it sounds mean. I’m sorry, I just don’t get it.

So we are planning a rock climbing wall party for her this year. I’ve been asking her all week to come up with a list of people she would like to invite. For most people, a list of friends comes easily, right of the top of their head. It has taken her all week to come up with a list of people. I’m pretty sure it will change several times before we get to the actual party. There’s almost nothing she likes more than two days in a row. But that’s not my problem. I just have to get the rest of it together.

It’s been an amusing week. The middle child and I are irritating the crap out of the youngest by only speaking to each other by yelling. The other day, those two were fighting over couch space, so I made them sit up so we all could fit. They sat there pouting, so I said “life sucks when Jessie’s here”. Then the oldest shouts “no! without you I wouldn’t have food!”

Not much of a compliment. Whatever.

Today I took a day off of work. I spent my whole day running errands and cleaning. I did get some sweaters and a pair of shoes out of the deal, and my house looks pretty great. Nice accomplishment. Now the youngest is asking when the invitations to her party will go out.

That’s an excellent question. J