You Can’t Hurry Love

you-cant-hurry-love Day two of 31 Things I’ve Learned About Being a Stepmom….

Love is a funny thing.  And over this past year, I’ve continued to fall in love with my children.  All of them.  Celebrating their wins and standing beside them with their losses.  With three teenagers and a tween in the house, it’s difficult some days to distinguish emotions.  I always love them… but some days?  I just don’t like them.  At. All.  Whether I birthed them or not.

Last year, about this time, I had the privilege of spending the weekend with a group of stepmoms.  Before turning in for the night, I called home to check in on the troops. Thing 4 (then age 9) had spent the night with a new friend. Thing 3 (then age 12) was away at a Bible quiz, his first of the season. Thing 1 (then age 17) had a big paper to write and Thing 2 (then age 15) has just gone golfing with her Papaw who drove in from Tennessee.

And, of course, I needed to know if the hubs was hiding in the bathroom or if the house was still standing. 😉 (You’ve seen Mom’s Night Out, right?)

When Thing 3 told me how well he had done on his quiz, I could tell he was beaming from ear to ear. He’s worked so hard memorizing verses and studying and it was evident in his performance that day. I could feel tears well up in my eyes as I paced back and forth in front of the retreat center in Asheville because I was so stinkin’ proud of him.

It was the same reaction I had while watching Thing 2 serve during a volleyball game and it finally go over the net. Her first year playing and the one facet of the game she just hadn’t quite figured out finally all came together.

I compare the two because Thing 3 is my stepson and Thing 2 is my biological child yet my emotions showed no discrimination.

I wish I could say that was always the case or that it’s the norm for all stepmoms.

Unfortunately, it’s not.

I love children, and the hubs’ children were great kids. They were six and three when I met them – young enough to still have love for any adult who loved them back, but old enough to realize that my presence meant mom and dad were no longer together.

I can’t remember ever not loving my step kids. But I remember a time that I loved them differently than I did my own kids. And I remember a time when, to them, I was just “Dad’s new wife.”

Over time, and through the grace of God, I came to love Thing 3 and Thing 4 in the same way I love Thing 1 and Thing 2 and I believe that love is reciprocated. (Either that or I have future Oscar winners living in our home!)

I learned it was normal to love my biological kids differently than my step kids and more importantly, that’s it normal. This didn’t make me the “evil” stepmom; it didn’t make me a horrible person; it just meant I was normal. This opened my eyes to the relationships others have with my step children. Just because I now love my step kids in the same way I love my own, doesn’t mean that my parents, my brother, my friends, etc. have to. (I’m so grateful that most people in my life don’t treat them differently because I didn’t birth them!)

But, I also learned it takes time.

The Supremes said it best with:

You can’t hurry love
No, you just have to wait
She said love don’t come easy
It’s a game of give and take

If you aren’t there yet, it’s okay.

If you never get there, it’s okay.

But don’t give up.

“The Smart Stepmom recognizes that she will love her biological children differently that step kids. She knows that God can and will give her a supernatural love for her husband’s children if she sincerely asks.” – Laura Petherbridge, co-author of The Smart Stepmom

Love them the best way you know how. They will love you for it.

(Maybe not today, but one day…cling tight to that.)

 

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It’s Complicated…

itscomplicated I’ll admit I’m one of those people who roll their eyes and release a guffaw when I see someone change their relationship status to “it’s complicated” on Facebook.

Because really?

If your relationship is that complicated, Facebook probably isn’t the place to announce that, and you should probably just select “single.”

But, as a stepmother, dealing with the relationships within our realms, there is no other way to describe it:

It’s complicated.

There are days that you are loved and there are days that you aren’t.  There are moments when you wish you could stop time and relish in the feeling forever and then there are the days that you are sitting in the driveway of your own home, afraid to go inside.

Now, I realize that most biological mothers can say the same thing, but when you add the complexity of the relationships with those that don’t reside within the four walls of you home…

That’s when it gets crazy.

And while I know it’s crazy because I live it every day, I didn’t realize the level of crazy it really was until I saw it played out in this video by Ron Deal and Family Life Blended.

(Take three minutes and watch this…seriously… especially if you don’t come from a blended family.. it provides so much insight)

You see, the complications come from simple math (I’ve always disliked math!)

It’s a home divided, then multiplied, and sometimes divided again wreaking havoc on anyone involved in the situation.

Yes.  It’s complicated.

And it’s a blessing AND a curse when someone tells me I make it look so easy.

Because it’s not easy.  And I struggle.  And I fail.

I fail my husband.  I fail my children. I fail my stepchildren.  I fail their biological mother.  I fail myself.

It would be very easy to live in the pit of my failures and allow them to define me.

But I have learned that it is in the time that I chose NOT to live in the “it’s complicated” realm that I find myself with the most joy.  It’s in the time that I embrace the chaos of our family and the complexity that I feel most at peace with our situation.

“A smart stepmom is prepared.  She isn’t naive or ambushed by complex stepfamily issues and is flexible to cope with matters that she didn’t see coming.” – Laura Petherbridge, co-author of The Smart Stepmom

Yes, it’s complicated.

But complicated doesn’t have to have a negative connotation.  In our case, with the complication, also come many blessings.

So if I were have to select a status for our family for all the world to see, I would select “in a relationship” – because I have chosen this relationship – the ups and the downs.  I have chosen to pursue a relationship with my husband, his children, and ultimately?  His ex-wife. (Oh, and I’ll dive a little deeper into that realization later.)

And even though it’s complicated?

I’m all in.

 

Today’s Resource:  Family Life Blended

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31 Things I’ve Learned About Being a StepMom

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I’ve been at this for awhile now and while I think I know a few things, I am not an expert.  But life experience has a way of setting you up as one for some.  I don’t pretend to know it all, but when it comes to this stepmom gig, I’ve been around the block a time or two and have several t-shirts.

And while I’ve figured a few things out, there are still many things that are just now popping up for the first time.

And this step parenting thing?  It’s hard, y’all.

So, for the next 31 days, I’m going to be talking about 31 things I’ve learned as a step mom in the hopes that I’m able to provide encouragement for just one other stepmother out there.  While the topics are similar to the ones I wrote last year, I’m going to be adding new content based on how things have changed for me, or how I think about things…

Because a year can make a big difference!

But this isn’t just for stepmoms.  Know why?  Because I bet, even if you’re not a stepmom, you know one – she’s a co-worker, a woman within your church, or even a member of your family.  Perhaps she’s shared a few things and you’ve stifled the urge to look at her like she has four heads. (It’s okay to admit that, I’ve seen the look more times than I can count.)

Yes.  Many of these things we couldn’t make up if we tried.  They are true.  They are very real struggles that unless you’ve lived them, you probably don’t understand them.  And these posts might not make you fully understand what it’s like to be a stepmom, but they will give you a glimpse into the life of a stepmom.

You won’t find mudslinging, drama or any personal vents here.  You’ll hear parts of my story and only my story, because mine is the only one I need to share.

I welcome comments, but ask that you respect others when commenting.  I don’t want to delete, but I know how heated conversations can get when dealing with these conversations.  I believe we can all get along here, m’kay?

Good.

And please feel free to share.  There are more stepmoms out there than you think and you don’t know who might need the encouragement!

Here’s to the next 31 Days!

Day 1:  It’s Complicated

Day 2: You Can’t Hurry Love

Day 3:  This Might Be My Circus…But They Are Not My Monkeys

Day 4: The Grass Isn’t Always Greener…

Day 5: Establish Some Ground Rules

Day 6: I’m Right Where God Wants Me to Be

Day 7:  You Must Look at Life Through the Eyes of Your Stepkids

Day 8: It’s Nothing Personal

Day 9: Not Everyone Gets It

Day 10: Everybody Wants to Know “When Are You Having an ‘Ours’ Baby?”

Day 11:  It’s Not Always a Blended Family Issue

Day 12: Sometimes Life Gives You a Second Chance

Day 13:  Never Assume Anything

Day 14: Support Systems Are a Must

Day 15: Sometimes You Just Need a Break

Day 16: Sometimes We Just Have to Let Things Go

Day 17: “Family” is Redefined

Day 18: Stepparenting on Pinterest

Day 19: Spend Time Together…and one-on-one

Day 20: Remember…You Chose to Travel This Road

Day 21: Fear is the Absence of Faith

Day 22: We Have No Business Casting Stones

Day 23: Even With a Lifetime of Practice, I Will Never Be Perfect

Day 24: More Kids = More Work

Day 25: Sometimes You Just Gotta Laugh

Day 26: TBA

Day 27: Don’t Lose Focus on What’s Truly Important

Day 28: This is their story

Day 29: We must be careful not to divide our kids in half

Day 30:  Be the kind of stepmom you’d want your own kids to have

Day 31:  I’ve Lucked Out With These Kids

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I Lucked Out With These Kids {31 Things I’ve Learned About Being a Stepmom}

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Last night something amazing happened.  In fact, it happened so fast I couldn’t believe it was actually happening and then as it continued, I prayed that I would have this opportunity again and again and again.

But I’m also okay with it being a one time thing.  Because it was beautiful.

My whole family knew I was writing this series.  We didn’t talk about it much but on a few occasions, Thing 3 would ask me what I wrote about.  He’s my questioner.  He’s the kid that asks me no less than three times how my day was…every day.

Last night I found myself with just Thing 3 and 4… we were waiting for their mother to come, my kids had already left for the evening with their dad and my husband was fixing one of the cars.  Thing 3 asked me about this series and things I was writing about and I just asked him, “So, if you were able to give a new stepmother one piece of advice, what would it be.”

He thought for a minute and answered me and what happened next was a thirty minute conversation, all about life as a step kid and all that it entails.  It was almost like I had my own little research panel right in my living room.  As we continued talking, I asked if I could write their answers down to the questions and I made them promise me that they had to be honest in everything they said, EVEN IF they knew it would hurt my feelings.

I told them I was a big girl; I could handle it.

And we talked.

And talked.  A few tears were shed, good ones, but tears never the less.

It was beautiful.

And so with their permission, I’m sharing the view points of two of the best step kids in the world.  Thing 3 is a 12 year old boy and Thing 4 is a ten year old girl…

Me:  What’s the best part about having a stepmom?

Thing 3:  There are two different people looking out for you and you have two different view points.

Thing 4:  If you aren’t able to be with your real mom you have another mom to be with and to love you.

Me:  So, Thing 3, are you indicating that you respect my opinion as much as your mother’s?

Thing 3:  Absolutely.

Me:  What’s the worst part about having a stepmom?

Thing 3:  The two view points thing can be bad.  When you both have different opinions, I don’t know who to listen to and so I feel like I’m stuck in the middle.  I respect both of you, but I don’t always know who is right.

Me:  You know that we might both be right, right?  Or we might both be wrong, too.  Do you understand that?

Thing 3:  Yes, I know.  But I can still feel like I’m in the middle.

Thing 4:  For me, there is no worst part.  It’s another person to love and take care of me.

Me:  What’s the hardest part about having two households?

Thing 3:  Transitioning between the two.  Remembering what to bring so that I don’t leave something at the other house.  Different rules.  And I don’t know why, but I have trouble waking up on Mondays at mom’s house.

Me:  When you say different rules are they more strict, less strict….?

Thing 3 & 4:  Both.

Thing 3:  Yes.  Somethings mom is more strict about than you are and some things you’re more strict about.

Thing 4:  The hardest part for me is remembering what rules go with what house.

Me:  What was the hardest part about Dad and I getting married?

Thing 3:  At first, I thought you were trying to take Mom’s place.  But then I realized you weren’t and you were a second mom for us.

Thing 4:  I really just had a problem with you shoving cake in each other’s faces.  You were so pretty and Daddy just ruined it when he put it in your hair. (Side note:  She truly did melt down over this at the wedding.  It was a colossal meltdown.)

Me:  So, on the flip side of that, what’s the best part about Daddy getting remarried?

Thing 3:  There was someone else to help dad out and someone else to love us.  Plus, you showed us how to have some fun.

Thing 4:  Same as he said.

Me:  What’s the best thing about a blended family?

Thing 3:  You get to experience more.  Like siblings.  And grandparents.  There are a lot of things I don’t think I would’ve been able to do if I wasn’t part of this larger family.

Thing 4:  more siblings.  I love Thing 1 and Thing 2!

Me:  What’s the hardest thing about a blended family?

Thing 3:  siblings.  It’s a blessing and a curse.

Thing 4:  siblings.

Me:  So, if you could give a new stepmom one piece advice from a step kid’s point of view, what would it be?

Thing 3:  Love the kids as you would your own.  We’ll appreciate it.

Thing 4:  It’s possible to love your real mom and your stepmom the same.  Because I do.

So there you have it.

I’ve learned that I am so insanely blessed with these step kids.

(Last night when I was tucking Thing 4 into bed she told me she didn’t like the word “step”. In her mind, it’s her mom, her other mom, her sister, her brother, her other brother and her dad.  We don’t need the word step.)

I won’t lie, I’m glad to see October come to an end… but I can’t think of a better post to finish it off.

 

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Be the Stepmom You’d Want Your Kids to Have {31 Things I’ve Learned About Being a Stepmom}

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The golden rule goes something like this…”Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.”

I’m in a position where I’m both a stepmom AND a mom.  Thing 1 and 2 had a stepmom and their dad is engaged to be married, meaning they’ll have a new stepmom at some point in time.

I’ve heard horror stories about biological mothers and how they treat their children’s stepmothers and I don’t want to be that woman. (Although I fear I might have been in the beginning!)

I’ve learned that I want to be the stepmom to my step kids that I want my own biological children to have.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I have to agree with everything she does, but I want her to treat my kids the same way that I treat my step kids.

Jennifer was my kids’ stepmom for eight years or so.  We weren’t BFFs or anything, but we got along very well.  It took some time, but we got to the point where holiday dinners and double dating were not unusual things for us.  My kids loved her.  She was into makeup (she sold Mary Kay) and so she helped Thing 2 in that arena because I have no clue.

But the biggest thing she did was go above and beyond for my kids and do things she didn’t have to.

I recognized it and I appreciated it.

I even blogged about it.

I’d be lying if I said we didn’t miss Jennifer, because we do, but we still keep in touch with her.  She was a huge part of my kids’ lives.

And she was a huge influence on the type of stepmom I am to Thing 3 and 4 because she was the first one to ever show me what a good stepmom looked like.

And for that, I am grateful.

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