Thursday, October 24, 2013

On Becoming The Stepmom...

When I became single for the first time ever in my adult life- I made a list. I was taking a crack at the whole concept of 'asking and therefore you shall receive'... so I made a list of about 175 things I am looking for in the perfect man. (That's what The Secret said I should do!) Envision it in great detail as if it already exists and the universe will conspire to manifest it for you. I'm good at details...

#2. No kids

You may be thinking... But SHE has kids? Isn't that a bit unfair?

At the time I made this list I had every intention of keeping my love life separate from my children. (Which was stupid to even think was possible since my kids were never separate from me.) My kids dealt with some rough times with my separating from their dad, therefore, I wasn't going to drag them through any more grief. I was already preparing myself to kick the guy who dared say something negative about my children to the curb and swear off relationships all together until my babies moved out. After all, my kids had a dad and they're very much aware of who he is. I wasn't looking for someone to step in and play the role. 

It was only fair that since I didn't want anyone involved with my kids... I didn't want to have to deal with another persons kids either.This was my second chance and I refused to find myself gritting my teeth through baby momma drama, kids with bad attitudes and being put on the back burner to the "first" family.

There was just no way in hell.

Turns out... God had his own list written for me. And trusting He is even better at the details... The man I fell in love with has:

#1. THREE kids

It's been almost five years since I made these babes a permanent fixture in my life and I wouldn't change that decision for anything in the world. His now almost 7 year old reminded me not too long ago that we've known each other since she was 2. (As long as she can remember.) As for my list? ::chucks notebook out the window::

Step parenting has by far been one of the most challenging experiences like... EVER. Yet, possibly the most rewarding... aside from being a mom to my own, of course. It's not like your own kids who sorta just love us for letting them lease the space in our womb for 9+ months and keeping them alive to the best of our ability for the years after that. They better love us after 16 hrs of labor and letting them chew our nipples raw. Not to mention my belly and feet...

They will NEVER be the same again!!! ::dramatically dives onto bed sobbing::

Ehem... Anyway. 

During a seriously challenging time during which I found myself being full-time mom to all six of our kids... I searched for support. I wanted to know how other mothers managed. How do you speak to these kids? Is it really appropriate to treat them like you would your own? That can't seem right. How do you handle discipline? Should we discipline them? Baby momma drama? There was a whole lot of that not only in our home, but apparently in every other blended families home.

I was shocked and amazed at what I found in these "support" forums. Stepmothers beating down the thoughts, feelings and opinions of other stepmothers for expressing themselves about how they felt about their struggles as a stepparent. Stepmothers who pack up their kids and leave their home when the step kids come to visit because they want no involvement with them. Women holding resentment towards children over the behaviors of their mother or simply because the children are an "extension" of their mother. Women who chose to be stepmothers and hate their lives with their partners and live in constant regret and advising against taking on the challenge of step parenting because "you'll never win"... or "you'll always be the second family" and "no matter what, they always hate you." The only women that seemed OK with their role as a step parent either 1. Didn't have a child of their own and felt blessed to have a child in their life. 2. Accepted that in order for her to keep her family together she had to 'suck it up' and take the abuse from the kids/kids mother/husband and hope it gets better some day or 3. The other parent is completely absent from the picture and they have free reign with the kids. (Which I don't.)

So after reading all of this and lying awake wallowing in the depression caused by these so-called "support" forums... I decided... I have all the support I need from the man upstairs. (No, not my father in law... the other Man Upstairs.) And that same mommy sense that people tell you to trust with your own kids... it sort of applies to the bonus kids as well. Except in this case, you have a boundary to be aware of and chances are, you'll know when you're crossing it.

After a "series of unfortunate events"... ehem... (and one hell of a come back after one parents three year disappearing act...) We have the full crew every other weekend. I could write a series of novels on how we ended up with this visitation schedule but I've found Jesus since then so I'll save the rant. I also promised one of my girls I'd do my best to bring her the peace they all deserve no matter how hard it is. And trust me... she makes it so damn hard sometimes.

Every chance I get to spend with our kids is a learning experience. Especially now that they're all reaching delicate stages and ages and their needs are changing. Some days I feel nothing but overwhelming joy that our lives are so full. Other days are just overwhelming, period. That's usually when one of his kids will say or do something so sweet and meaningful and it turns my world right again and reminds me of why I took on the challenge in the first place. In my case, I'd say more of a blessing than a challenge. I also understand and respect those women who dove in to the task with the best intentions only to find that step parenting may not have been the right choice for them.

So as I stumble my way through the semi newness of helping parent children who didn't pop out of my uterus... I'll be sharing my stories, insight, advice and any other lessons I've picked up along the way. I'll begin posting my very own Step Parenting Rules in the near future. In the meantime, please feel free to share your own experiences & advice. Lawd knows with four "Type A" girls and two smooth talking boys, we're gonna need all the advice we can get!

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