The Gift of StepMom


Today’s post comes from Meghan. Her words will move you. Her heart will inspire you. And her journey will give you insight on the blended family journey. I am honored to share Meghan and the beautiful beginnings of her blended family.

The Beginning of My Blended Family by Meghan

My blended family story doesn’t start the day I married my husband. My story starts when I was a young child, adopted into a wonderful family. I grew up feeling nothing but love from my parents and siblings, but always felt I was missing a piece of my puzzle. When I was a teen, my biological mother came back into my life, causing much chaos. She herself was not stable, and even though she completed my puzzle, it was a puzzle full of hurt and confusion. Part of this confusion was caused because of my loyalty to both of my mothers. I felt drawn to my biological mother, and felt confused by the pain my relationship with my biological mother caused to the mother who had raised me. Even when my biological mother caused me pain, there was still this part of me that desperately wanted a relationship with her. This situation has given me a lot of insight into what being a step-child must feel like.

When I married my husband I was thrilled to gain his three children, two girls and one boy who were at the time 13, 12, and 9. He shares custody with their mother who remarried one month after our wedding. Even when the kids’ mother speaks badly of us, or tries to cause problems in our relationship with the children, I remind myself of the pain I saw in my adoptive mother, and try to be compassionate . I have a wonderful relationship with my step-kids and I know that must be hard for her. I go out of my way to not make the kids “choose” a side. Always encouraging them to love their mom, even when she has done hurtful things to me. I want the kids to have the best relationship possible with their mother. I personally know how hard it is to be in the middle, and it is my goal that the kids will be able to look back and see that I did my best to let them love all of us without guilt.

Being a stepmom has taught me more than I could ever imagine. I am learning to love a difficult person, who goes out of her way to make my life hard, but also gave my husband the incredible gift of his children. I am learning that kids change your life, and there is nothing in the world better than a hug from my step-kids, who are now 15, 14, and 11. Most importantly, I am learning that even though being a stepmom can be hard, at times lonely, and many days a battle, it is also very rewarding. I would not trade my blended family for anything.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. - Proverbs 4:23

Meghan joined the stepmom community in her mid-twenties when she married Fred in 2011. She was blessed with three stepchildren, two girls who are now 15 and 14, and one boy who is 11. Fred and Meghan share custody of the children with Fred’s ex-wife. They live in Maumelle, Arkansas. They are all very involved in church and school activities and enjoy anything that involves spending time as a family. You can connect with Meghan on Twitter at @lrning2BSmom

 ~~~~~~

Meghan’s insights are profound? Do you find yourself taking the high road with your husband’s ex for the kids’ sake? Loyalty issues can run deep in a child. Share the gift Meghan’s words have brought to you. Thanks.

This is the first post in the third edition of The Gift of StepMom collection. I started this series in 2011 to celebrate stepmothers at Mother’s Day and the response has been overwhelming. I’m excited to share a new post each day leading up to Mother’s Day! Our first story comes from Louise. She and I first connected via social media. I knew from our initial contact that this woman loved and valued her family while being honest about the struggles that come with being a stepmom. Her heart is for her family and her words illustrate the gifts of her blended family as well as her insight into “instant motherhood.” I’m honored to share with you her story:

A Stepmother’s Heart: The Gift of Children to Love by Louise

I never thought in a million years that my first foray into parenting would be with a man with a child let alone three but it’s been the most fulfilling risk I’ve ever taken. I’m of the opinion that it takes a certain type of person to take that leap of faith, that’s not to say I’m any different then people who don’t go down this route. However, it’s not for everyone & I question everyday why me, why put me in this position. What do I have to give or learn from being a StepMom? Three years on I’ve still found no answer that makes sense to me, other than the plain realisation that I’ve been given a gift of children to love, teach and inspire.

As a StepMom to two boys 12 & 10 and an 8 year old girl, I walked in to a potential minefield when we first met. Luckily for me, they first accepted me as a StepMom-in-Training & then as a StepMom when their Dad & I got married. They have the most beautiful, precious & loving souls I could have met. Hugs & kisses are frequent, cuddles on the couch are treasured & their bubbly personalities shine through. Our relationship has been plain sailing in comparison to how it could have gone, it is absolutely attributed to my husband & the full parenting role I’m able to engage in.

It’s been the biggest gift that they have supported their father & the choices he has made. They have allowed me to fully participate in their lives, to love them & care for them as much as I believe a parent should. It’s an important lesson to learn early on, as a StepMom I can’t force the children to love me or respect me. I can only be open to them, show them how I want to treat them & hope they trust me enough to allow me in to their lives. If they chose not to there isn’t much I can do, you have to respect the loyalties & boundaries they have to their Mom, irrespective of your own personal opinions. It’s about the children.

It is impossible for those who aren’t StepParents to understand how I think & feel for my StepChildren or truly understand how much parenting I’m involved in but they aren’t supposed to. The culture I live in isn’t as open to the notion of StepParents being an effective part of the family dynamic, so there are very few supports for us. Playing an active role is frowned upon by most & embraced by few. The idea of them ‘not being your children’ is floated around a lot. As I’ve grown in my role I’ve learned to come back with ‘while I may not have given birth, I parent & love them as much as they allow me to.’

Children will be children, act out & misbehave but it’s not directed towards me. It’s because they are children & nobody, child or adult, is perfect. I’ve been blessed with a husband who has let me discipline the children, set boundaries & play an effective parent. This has allowed the children to respect me as an equal voice in our home. My husband doesn’t dote on the children so I don’t have to play bad cop when necessary to keep the peace. Rewards are earned in our home & no one parent shoulders sole responsibility.

We have a similar style of parenting & we don’t clash on issues of discipline, chores and upbringing. One of things my husband always told me, even when we dated, was how our values & morals were the same. I believe this is essential to be able to parent as a unit & function in a drama free household. We are stronger because of that. We deal with issues relating to the children as one, he confides in me & wants me to be a part of their lives. It’s a choice he didn’t have to make. We could have been a separate unit but it wouldn’t be a fair example to the children he brought in to this world. They deserve someone who is as committed to them as she is to their father. They are not disposable items, you can’t end your relationship with children as easily ending a partnership/marriage.

Being a StepMom has made me challenge my thinking & my beliefs. I’ve had to learn to let go of the notion that I can fix everything & everyone. Unfortunately there are areas that StepMoms can’t influence, no matter how much logic or sense we try to impart. It takes a while to get to the point where you can actively accept that this is the reality. I’m luck enough that my Husband gives me support, let’s me vent and understands that I have the children’s & his best interests at heart.

I know I will never be the children’s mother, nor will I ever replace her in their eyes & hearts. I don’t want to and I don’t need to. However, I am their StepMom and I’m proud to be their StepMom. I’ve been given the opportunity to parent three amazing children for the last three years. My husband has given me the gift of children. Those children are part of him and have shaped him to be the man that I fell in love with. It would, in my eyes, be unfair to give them any less love and support than they deserve. All I desire to be is a parent, a support & an inspiration to them.

Being a StepMom has thought me more about myself and about society then I could have ever dreamed of. It’s made me realise who I am, what’s important in life and what is ultimately worth letting go of. It’s a gift that I love more everyday and fight harder to keep everyday. I try to better myself to be the best Wife and StepMom I can. It was an instafamily, but one I would never give up, I respect my family more everyday and I prioritize them to the highest.

Being a StepMom is a wonderful gift, it is a non-returnable gift, there are no exchanges or refunds. It’s made me a stronger person, it’s made me value the rights of a child and fight for what’s right for them every day. My husband was good enough to share with me this gift of motherhood and trust that I would use it wisely. For that, I am forever grateful.

~~~~~~

Louise, 28 is from Ireland and calls it home. She is a StepMom to 3 and soon to be a first time BioMom. She met her husband in January 2010 and they married in Nov 2011.

Grateful for Louise and her sharing from the heart. Did her story resonate with you? What gifts have you received from becoming a stepmom? Were you given the gift of “instant” motherhood when you became a stepmom?

Mother’s Day. A time to celebrate moms and the contributions they bring to their family. All moms, bio, adoptive, foster and step – should be celebrated on Mother’s Day yet sadly not all “moms” are recognized for the gifts they bring.

Two years ago, after seeing all the Mother’s Day displays in stores and having a wonderful lunch with two amazing stepmoms, I was Mother's Day, celebrating stepmoms, stepmother's dayinspired to create “The Gift of Stepmom,” a series where stepmoms share the blessings they bring to their families and I’m bringing it back this year!

The series was created to share stories from real stepmoms about the real gifts they bring to their stepfamilies.

For many stepmoms, Mother’s Day can be an emotionally difficult time. Often stepmoms pour themselves into their families yet see little appreciation. And even when stepmoms and their stepkids have a great relationship, kids typically spend Mother’s Day with their mom. And while most stepmoms support and understand kids want to be with their mom, not having their stepkids on Mother’s Day is another reminder of the complexities of stepfamily living.

I’ve said it once and I’ll keep saying it…. the word step may be placed before mother to define a woman’s physical connection to the children she loves but it does not define the heart she has for them or the love she pours into their lives.

Over the past two years, stepmoms have shared stories that have made us all laugh, cry and feel less alone. These stories give hope and that is one thing we all need to cling to especially during the difficult times. Two stories shared were written by grown adult stepchildren who are not stepmoms themselves but shared the gift of their stepparent growing up. A heartfelt story by a bio mom who shared the gift of her daughter’s stepmom touched many, many hearts.

All the stories shared have had a profound and ripple effect on so many lives. As Mother’s Day draws near, I am calling for submissions for 2013 The Gift of Stepmom.  YOU are a gift to your family and I want to hear from you.  Would you please consider sharing the blessing you bring to your husband? The blessing you bring to your stepkids? Perhaps, you want to share the blessings that your stepkids bring to your life? Whatever your story, I guarentee it will touch another woman’s heart and make a profound impact.

I also want to hear from children who grew up with a stepmom and from any husband whose wife has really blessed him and his children. If you are interested in submitting your story, please email me at heather@cafesmom.com. I want to connect you so I’m happy to post your story, links, and photos. Together we grow, share, learn, encourage, inspire and support.

Starting May 1st, I’ll be running the stories that have been shared with me to inspire, encourage and support fellow stepmoms. We are a positive influence in the lives of our stepchildren, our husband, our kids and to those around us. It’s time we take a moment to celebrate the heart we bring to our family and the difference we make! (Here’s the archived series if you want to check it out)

One of my goals here at CafeSmom is for every stepmom to feel connected on her journey. These stories help connect stepmoms and celebrate the gift that we are to our families. Please consider sharing the Gift that you are to your family. Your story will touch and inspire many. Thank you!

~~~~~~

Your thoughts…. Is Mother’s Day a challenge for you? Do you celebrate the gift that you are to your family? Will you submit your story?

 It is my heart that this project is a gift to you. 

~~~~~~

Mark your calendar for The StepMom Retreat. Join the sisterhood of stepmoms in Dallas Texas September 27th – 29th for help, healing and hope. A full weekend to connect with other stepmoms, learn tips on how to thrive and feel connected. You’ll leave feeling refreshed. To register, click here The Stepmom Retreat.

I connected with Tia, the author of today’s piece, via Twitter. She is a mom (not a stepmom) and her daughter has a stepmom. She is sharing her heart and the gift she sees in her daughter’s “bonus” mom. It wasn’t this way at first and Tia shares who and what has inspired her to embrace her daughter’s “bonus” mom. Her journey will touch you and you will be moved by the blessings that pour onto her daughter because of it. Tia is amazing! I can’t express in words what this piece means to stepmothers. I am grateful for Tia and her story and hope every mother whose child has a stepmom will read and be inspired by her story.

 ~~~~~

Before I begin, I know at least one person reading this is thinking, “…but you don’t know what I’ve been through.” You are right! None of us knows someone else’s journey, unless we’re walking down the same path and wearing your shoes. I don’t believe that ever happens, but if it could, just know I wear a size 5 ½ shoe and prefer peep-toes or flip-flops.

Author and her daughter

I am a mother and not a step-mother. I have one daughter who was a mere 14 months old when her father and I separated. Naturally, I felt she needed me around the clock but I also knew how important it was for her to build a strong bond with her daddy; so I requested we share joint-custody. It was a very difficult situation to be away from my daughter overnight. It was even more difficult that my daughter had a step-mom within 5 months following the divorce.

Let’s be honest. I knew there would be a new woman in my daughter’s life one day, but I wasn’t prepared for it to happen so quickly. My daughter will be 5 years old this month and the first three years following the separation was not an easy road to travel. During the past year, I’ve recognized and now value the Gift of a Stepmom. I’d like to take you through how I got to this place but first, I’m replacing “Step” with “Bonus”.

I refer to my daughter’s family through marriage as “Bonus”. Where did I get this from? LeAnn Rimes. This was a turning point in recognizing the value of my daughter’s bonus mom. For reference, LeAnn Rimes referred to herself as a “Bonus” Mom to the 2 children from her husband, Eddie Cibrian, previous marriage to Brandi Glanville. Some people were aghast by LeAnn Rimes’ use of the term and I must admit that was my first reaction, too! Then, I took some time to process it. I asked 3rd parties familiar with co-parenting what the term “Bonus” meant. (By the way, I also found out that it’s interchangeable with, “Blended” and “Bonded”.) I applied this new found information to my situation and liked the change.

Next, I removed the emotions from our situation and looked at it objectively. Surprisingly, my first observation came from looking at my own family. I recognized the gift that my older sister is to her daughters in a blended family with 2 biological daughters and 2 daughters through marriage. If you ask her, she has 4 daughters. If you ask me, I have 4 nieces. I feel the same amount of love for all 4 girls. This got me thinking…

While I don’t believe any person walks the same road in the same shoes, as another person, I think there is something to be learned from the parallel paths we journey down through life. So, I applied what I saw in my sister’s blended family to my daughter’s blended family. A light-bulb went off! What I realized is that if my daughter’s bonus mom felt the same way about about my daughter as she did for her 3 biological children; then I needed to be more accepting and recognize the important role she has in my daughter’s life.

Recently, my daughter became a big sister to a half-brother by her dad and bonus mom. She is now one of five! Leading up to the birth of her brother, I began to pray for her bonus mom’s good-health and the health of her unborn child. Why? Through this process, I needed to find a common ground on which I could relate to my daughter’s bonus mom. So, I started with the most obvious – motherhood. Motherhood is like a brotherhood. There is an unspoken bond, whether we like to admit it or not. Once I began including her in my daily prayers, over time I noticed a change in my heart towards her and I began to value her for whom she was as a person. When I realized this, it was like having a weight lifted off of me.

Author and her daughter

Then, there comes a defining moment that will change the dynamic of the relationship between the two mothers. Both people know it, when it happens! In our situation, it was at my daughter’s soccer game, while my daughter was sitting on the bench with me. With a quizzing look on her face, she asked me if her bonus mom was her momma, too. I affirmed that was correct. Still, with her wheels turning, my daughter cautiously stated that she had two mommas. With a smile, I hugged my daughter and responded, “Yes. You have two mommas who love you very much.” My daughter was satisfied. She smiled big and was ready to go back in the game. After the game, my daughter’s bonus mom stopped me. She had overheard our conversation. Appearing very amiable, she thanked me for what I had said to our daughter during that conversation on the bench. Yes, I said “Our Daughter”. My daughter has two mothers and a father who love her very much. Ultimately, this was a humbling experience that probably helped to break down some of the barriers between us.

Being a mother or a parent isn’t easy. A child doesn’t come with a parenting manual at birth. If they did, most of us would probably throw it out the window on the first sleepless night when nothing works! Am I right? With social calendars, careers, school, activities and daily routines, a parent has to either be organized and have great time-management skills or be extremely flexible. If you have a child; you understand the time demands that go into caring for an infant and toddler. During the early years, parents learn to function on auto-pilot or adrenaline; maybe caffeine, too! My daughter’s bonus mom is a professional in the workforce, involved within the community and a now a mother to 5 children, including an infant. I need a break just thinking about how she manages it all!  While my daughter’s father is a good dad, I would be naïve to think her bonus mom wasn’t hands on in caring for our daughter from an early age at the time of our separation. I am appreciative for the time she invests in our daughter; down to the smallest things, such as fixing our daughter’s hair before daycare or putting a dress on her before a church program.

All relationships need a solid foundation by which to grow. Currently, when it comes to day-to-day interaction, I find it much easier to work with my daughter’s bonus mom as opposed to her father. Is our relationship perfect or ideal? Not even close. However, there have been significant strides made between the two of us, as I’ve tried to describe here. While all of us are part of the co-parenting dynamic, my ex-husband and I have also made noticeable improvements in our relationship. It takes two or in this case three; so I can’t take all the credit. For my part, I hope the changes that have evolved within me being able to accept my daughter’s bonus mom and family as a gift in her life have contributed to where we are today. While I’ve been overjoyed and on an occasion brought to happy tears with our progress, I consider this a building block for the future. Remember, this is a journey I’m making in my size 5 ½ shoes and without a parenting manual. Sometimes it’s two steps back to move three steps forward.

Ultimately, I believe family is what you make it. So, how do I know my daughter’s bonus mom is a gift? I talk to my daughter every night she is with her daddy and it’s clear her bonus mom makes time to spend with our daughter; doing activities together such as baking a pie or planting flowers and spreading mulch. It may seem mundane to an adult, but to a child, it means the world! I smile at the thought because that’s what a mother does. In the case of my older sister, it is my bonus niece who is reciprocating the Gift of a Step-Mom. She happens to be pregnant with her first child, a girl, and is naming the baby…after my sister! One thing I’ve learned is that a child can refer to two people as “momma”, as my daughter does. That doesn’t make one person more or less important than the other. They are both special to the child in their own way.

~~~~~

Bio: My name is Tia and I am the mother to one beautiful little girl who is almost 5 years old. She has taught me unconditional love, which I never knew before becoming a mom. My ex-husband and I share joint-custody of our daughter. The last 4 years have been challenging as we learn to co-parent, but they have humbled me. I wouldn’t be the person I am today, without facing some of the obstacles I’ve encountered on this journey. My daughter has a stepmom and 4 wonderful siblings, who my daughter loves very much. While our relationship is evolving, it’s so much better today than two to four years ago. It has taken work to get to this place of acceptance and peace. I can honestly say that I value my daughter’s stepmom and her family. My daughter is blessed to have so many people in her life who love her and want nothing but the best for her future. One thing I’d like to share that I appreciate about my daughter’s stepmom is that my daughter has picked up some of her strengths, which might be my weaknesses. It makes my daughter well-rounded.  For example: I am so glad my daughter is not timid or shy, which she gets from her stepmom. Not only do I appreciate this in my daughter, but also in her stepmom.
Others can connect with me on Twitter @tial99 or email me at: tiaelliott99@yahoo.com.
~~~~~~
Wow! What a world if all moms saw their children’s stepmother in this light… in the light of the love they give. So grateful for Tia for sharing her heart with us. Would you leave her some comment love?

This is one amazing woman with one amazing heart. One of the greatest joys of being a stepmom is connecting with wonderful women like Adrienne. She shares how hard Mother’s Day has been for her and what she has learned through it. Her words will touch you in a way that will leave you wiser and feeling comforted that you are not alone. Grab the Kleenex and get ready to be touched by Adrienne’s story.

~~~~~

When asked the question, “Is Mother’s Day a challenge for stepmoms?” I would say yes, Mother’s Day has been a huge challenge for me from time to time.  In the 16 years that I have been married to my husband, I have more often than not focused on what I didn’t have instead of what I did have – causing my own unnecessary grief and anguish. Before I explore that premise more, allow me to share a little background.

I was the custodial stepmother to (3) girls, ages 6, 10 and 14. The girls are now age’s 22, 26 and 30 – adult stepchildren. Their mother was not in the picture in any significant way (i.e. no weekly visits, special outings, financial or emotional support). My husband worked evenings and weekends which left the lion’s share of the parenting to me, which I gladly accepted because nurturing and loving and edifying is my God-given nature.  

Well, fast-forward after providing this care for many years, I grew to “expect” (gigantic mistake) that I earned the privilege of being reciprocated and honored for my service on Mother’s Day. After all, I did all of the heavy lifting during their formative years; so I was willing to share this honor with their biological mother – fair is fair right? Wrong!

My “expectation” of being honored on Mother’s Day by the (2) oldest girls after they left the home began something like this:

  • One year, they sent a card with my youngest stepdaughter to give to me at 10pm at night. I was so offended that I wanted to hurl that thing out of the window. Of course I didn’t and instead graciously said thank you to save face.
  • Another year, when my youngest stepdaughter became a teenager she received a call from the oldest stepdaughter (who is a young adult by now) outlining the full day of events that she had planned for their mother and that she expected my youngest stepdaughter to attend – from beginning to end. Celebrating their mother is not a problem, but disregarding the fact that I exist, that the “family” traditionally honors me on Mother’s Day and not attempting to ascertain the timing of our festivities was a total slap in my face.
  • Yet another year, after being reminded that I am celebrated on Mother’s Day as well, so some accommodations need to be made; and then agreeing to have my youngest stepdaughter back in time for our festivities and then reneging on their agreement which requires us to change our plans (once again) to factor in time to pick up the youngest stepdaughter so that she can celebrate with us. I was not a happy camper that day…and I was supposed to be celebrating at my favorite seafood establishment!
  • Finally, I remember just leaving my home and driving around crying my eyes out on one Mother’s Day because…I don’t remember why…I just remember the overwhelming feelings of rejection.

Well, silly me, I didn’t have to endure all of this pain, offense and anger. I was too focused on the circumstances and not the root of the problem. I was too focused on my emotions and let them get the best of me. I’ve heard it said this way: “You can have emotions, just don’t let your emotions have you!” Mine had me right where they wanted me feeling less than, feeling unappreciated, feeling as if something was wrong with me because I just couldn’t get these girls to love me!

I now have a new perspective on Mother’s Day, past and present. The girl’s were unable to acknowledge my many positive contributions to our stepfamily because they were in a severe loyalty bind and needed it to be very clear to everyone that their Mom was, is, and will always be numero uno. I was unable to see the forest for the trees because I didn’t and hadn’t realized that they were grieving the loss of their family of origin. Every time they saw my husband (their dad) with our son (their little brother) and my daughter (their little sister) they saw a family unit that they weren’t included in and the grieving starts all over again. I wish I knew 16 years ago what I know now about stepfamily dynamics. It still would have been complicated but I am convinced that it would not have hurt so much.

Now when I think of Mother’s Day, I have my expectations aligned in reality and at a different gauge for each person in my family:

  • No expectation at all for my (2) older stepdaughters, so any acknowledgement I receive is a wonderful surprise.
  • I expect to receive a lovely poem/card from my daughter sharing her appreciation and fond memories of our life together…always special.
  • I expect to be loved, honored and cherished by my husband and my son because I am the only wife and mother either of them have and they both like to spoil me on special occasions.
  • I expect to make the day joyful and loving and fun by focusing on all the wonderful gifts that the Lord has given me:
    • Stepchildren that don’t hate me and actually like me most of the time.
    • A son that loves me.
    • A husband that adores me.
    • My annual trip to Seattle to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mom, grandma, sisters and nieces.

If only I had known and accepted the simple truths of stepfamily dynamics years ago. I wouldn’t have wasted so many years sad and frustrated on Mother’s Day when I had so much to be thankful for in my life. One of the many foundational beliefs’s that I live my life by these days is this:

“The manner in which one endures what must be endured is more important than the thing that must be endured.”

For me and my family and stepfamily, that means simply to “lay some grace on the friction in your relationships and watch those rough edges smooth out”.

Make it a Happy Mother’s Day!

~~~~~

Adrienne Wilson is a

  • Committed Christian;
  • Wife to my loving husband as we seek to strengthen our Stepcouple;
  • Mother of 1 son;
  • Smom of 1 daughter;
  • Stepmother of 2 stepdaughters;
  • Step-grandmother to 2 step-grandchildren (ages 9 and 6months)

Adrienne shares that she finally has her priorities straight for this season of her life and is learning to thrive in this jumbled world by keeping it simple and grounded in her faith.

She plans to join the forces of stepmoms helping stepmoms in some form or fashion. She knows that just hearing someone else’s story has made her feel validated and successful when before she often thought that she was simply wicked and quite the failure. You can connect with Adrienne on Facebook or on Twitter.

Get the Kleenex out. Marissa shares her heart, her struggles and her joys as a wife and stepmom. Many will relate and be uplifted by her honest words and heart for her family. StepMoms truly make a positive difference. Meet Marissa:

~~~~

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me.” -Erma Bombeck

When I was 24, I became a wife and a stepmom in the space of an “I do.” Coming from being a college student still living at home with parents, this was an enormous change for me, and it was difficult. Stepmoms as a whole get told “you knew what you were getting into” a lot. I’m not sure I did. I’m not sure anyone really knows. You can’t really appreciate the depth of the situation until you are in it, and no one really tells you exactly how difficult it is. That said, I wouldn’t have chosen any differently even if I had known at the time how hard it would be for me to adjust to this new life, to find my place in this new family, and to find peace with it all.

The beginning was rough. My husband and I had only known each other for ten months before we were married. I had known my stepson even less time and his mother I’d met only a few times, and I’d stayed in the background – generally in the car – while we picked him up or dropped him off. So, I didn’t really have a firm relationship foundation with either my stepson or his mother. I entered the world of step-motherhood completely inexperienced and without a clue as to where I stood in the grand scheme of things. At the same time I was learning how to be a wife, which no one ever teaches you how to do either. All together, I was completely overwhelmed.

But I wanted to make a difference. Being my husband’s first wife, I wanted to be the best. Being my stepson’s “second mom”, I wanted to be accepted. I took an active role in everything I possibly could. I went to karate practices, baseball games, etc. whenever my work/school schedule allowed. I literally stepped into the roles of wife and stepmom and began looking for work to do.

The problem was, things had been functioning a certain way without me for over six years, and the way things had been functioning was not the way I felt they needed to function. So, in my eagerness to fill my new roles, I began trying to modify those things wherever I saw a “better” way to do something. This was easy at home, where as my husband’s wife I had complete domain over rearranging furniture, picking out new curtains, and planning meals. It was not so easy outside the walls of our home, where as stepmom I had no say over the days and times we got to spend with my stepson. I had no say over most decisions regarding him. In the very beginning, I was lucky to even be informed of schedule changes, since at the time my husband managed those with his ex and he was not used to having to inform anyone else of those decisions.

As you can imagine, I struggled. I felt helpless and excluded when I wanted to feel important and included. And I hated that. I got upset easily, whenever the schedule changed, or whenever I wasn’t informed of some new decision. I stormed around the house, venting frustrations that I’m sure neighbors three houses down could hear. I admit I was a very unpleasant person to be around at times, and I am thankful for my husband who patiently listened and stuck by me through those times.

At some point, I mentally and emotionally broke. I became tired of fighting everything all the time. I gave up trying to muscle my way through and change everything. I refocused my energies inward instead of outward and looked to myself for change instead of everyone around me. I didn’t want to be the person who brought dysfunction into the home. I didn’t like the person I was becoming- angry, bitter, and frustrated.

I asked myself what was important. What was I most concerned with?

Mostly, I just wanted it to be fair. My husband is a wonderful father. Although the relationship between my stepson’s mother and my husband did not work out, he stayed by his son. I have to admit, it was a quality I admired in him when we first began dating. Rather than being scared off by the fact that he had a child, I adored him for being a responsible parent and being present in his child’s life. I still adore him for that. When I look back, I realize I was trying to find my role yes, but I was also fighting for fairness. I wanted my husband to have the time with his son I thought he deserved.  

I began keeping track of the schedule on paper. I wrote down every day we had Ethan in my school planner. I asked instead of waiting to be told. It took some time, but my husband started volunteering the information without me asking. Eventually that morphed into a calendar we could both see online.

During all of this, my relationship with my stepson’s mother grew as well. I lowered my guards a bit. I relaxed and didn’t take everything so personally. I lived each day trying to turn the other cheek, catch bees with honey, or whatever cliché you think of when you make a concerted effort to be nice to someone, even when they may not be nice back. The great thing is, she responded to my efforts in a way I didn’t expect – by being nice back. The transformation that took place in my life was palpable.

Eventually, scheduling became my “thing” and I took over the responsibility for my husband. I communicated with his ex to arrange the schedule for the summer – seeking my husband’s approval as well obviously – and then began to keep a yearly calendar and plan for months in advance. For example, since we are fairly flexible with parenting time, we routinely switch weekends around special events that each family may have….like Mother’s Day. We make sure our son is with his mother the entire weekend, regardless of whose weekend it is “supposed” to be or what the parenting time guidelines say. Keeping a calendar months in advance allows me to see and plan for the best way to work the schedule to make that happen and keep the parenting time fair.

Through all of this, I began to see that the parenting time is fair, which allowed me to relax even more knowing that my husband is getting a fair amount of time with his son. It also gave me a job within my role as stepmom, something I was so desperately looking for when we first got married.

I don’t know that I would say that keeping the schedule is the greatest thing I bring to the table as a stepmom. I hope that I bring so much more than that. I hope that I bring love, togetherness, unity, and completeness as well. I just think that finding my niche in the family helped me get to a place where I could begin to provide those things too, and at the end of each day, I know I gave it my all. And as Erma Bombeck said, “when I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me.”

I picture the role of stepmom as the last piece of a puzzle – we may not have been there first, but we are the piece that makes the picture whole.

~~~~

Marissa describes herself as an incredibly blessed wife to the love of her life, stepmom to a 9 year old boy, and student studying medical laboratory technology. Between all the chaos that entails, she loves to blog and craft, and is very involved in her church as a singer, Sunday school teacher, and Volunteer Coordinator. She runs a craft circle out of her home every month and she co-writes “Revolutionary Moms: a co-parenting blog” with her stepson’s mom. She is still learning new things everyday on her journey through wifedom and stepmotherhood, and hopes to be able to share what she has learned with others who may begin their journey after her.

You can read her blog at www.RevolutionaryMoms
Follow on Twitter at @RevolutionaryMoms
Like on Facebook at RevolutionaryMoms

The love that Tiffany has for her husband, two stepsons and son will melt your heart. She beautifully articulates the love that a stepmother brings to her home and into the hearts of her stepchildren. She has lovingly filled a void in their lives. Read her beautiful story:

~~~~

When becoming a stepmom we volunteer to take the responsibility to be a mother of someone. The role of motherhood alone is a very rewarding yet scary task to take on. Then you add ‘step’ in front of that. Stepmothers exercise the act of giving beautifully. We give out of our hearts. Like most biological mothers, we give with the same motivations considering the children’s best interest.

For me, I took on the full-time stepmother role when my two stepsons were almost 2 and 4 years old. Their dad did an amazing job raising them as a single parent from when his youngest son was just 5 months old. The boys were so kind hearted and so well behaved for what they had been through at such a young age. 

My stepson’s biological mother choose a path in life that led her far away from her young innocent children. When meeting my stepsons they latched on and quickly created a motherly bond with me. They didn’t truly understand at that age what the word ‘Mom’ meant due to her absence. To show them unconditional love has been a gift. It has not been easy dealing with the hurt she has caused and continues to cause but it’s all worth putting up with for my stepchildren. Their biological mother is in their life limited to what the court allows.

My main goal in becoming a stepmom was not to replace their biological mother but to give the innocent children a stable family environment and deep motherly love. I feel that’s mainly what children need. They need to feel important, wanted and loved. I was given the blessings of potty training the youngest, bottle breaking, going thru teething, enrolling in preK, kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, taking them to school and all doctor visits, etc. The list can go on and on.

The love and trust I receive in return from them is the most rewarding feeling. My stepchildren know they can always count on me. I have had them full-time for years other than her visitation of three weekends a month. They can see I choose to be there for them out of care and not just there because it’s on a court order. Each Mother’s Day I have received the same amount of sincere attention from them.

To add to our happiness, my husband and I gave my stepsons a little brother in March 2010. My stepsons adore their little brother and call him ‘their baby’. Having him has added strength to our blended family environment. I feel honored to be raising three sons. Regardless if ‘step’ or ‘biological’ I have the same amount of love for each son. I hope everyone can have respect for all that has a motherly role because it is not easy work. Like the saying goes ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ I couldn’t agree more.

We all need to lean on one another! To all the stepmothers out there, your hard work does not go unnoticed! Every day is Mother’s/Smother’s Day!

~~~~

My name is Tiffany Helkenberg and I live in Southern California. I’m a wife to a loving and hard working husband. Helping others and being a caregiver is my passion. I spent years working in the medical field prior to becoming a stay at home mother. I spend all my time devoted to raising my step sons Mason age 7, Konner age 5 and my biological son Logan age 2. You can connect with me via Twitter at @Smom4Life

Meet Kristen. You will be moved by her amazing insight and her journey into and through stepmotherhood. She believes that Warmheartedness, Love & Compassion are the answers regardless of the question.  You’ll want to take a few notes, she has an amazing story to share.

~~~~~

I have always wanted to be a Mom.  When I thought about my future I always saw children in the picture.  I was looking forward to driving carpools, attending sporting events and recitals, helping with homework, making lunches for school, and chaperoning field trips.  However, life had other plans for me.  An early marriage in my mid 20s ended in divorce after two short years and no kids.   I spent the next decade wondering if I would ever meet the right man and have the family that I dreamed about.

And then I fell hard for my husband Nick in my mid 30s – a single father with a 9 year old daughter and a 4 year old son from his first marriage.  I was hesitant to meet the kids until I knew that Nick and I were going to make it as a couple. I’d learned the hard way that I can easily get attached to a man’s children and end up confused about whether the relationship is really working or if I just can’t bear to leave the kids.  Just hearing of them from their Dad’s stories, I loved Sadie & James long before I even met them.   

I remember meeting them for the first time.  Sadie was almost 11 years old, James 5 1/2.   We met for breakfast at the IHOP.  I was nervous and afraid they wouldn’t like me. Nick had never introduced them to a ‘friend’ before and they knew something was up. They were kind yet clearly a bit wary of me.  Driving away from the restaurant that morning it dawned on me what I was actually getting into with this relationship.  If all went according to the plans that Nick and I had made, I would become these kids’ Stepmother.   I’ve read all of the stories and I knew that I needed this version to be different than the faerie tales.

I had no doubt in my mind or heart that I could love these children as my own.  But knowing kids as I do, I also knew that they had a choice in whether they loved me.   And in a way, whether they loved me back or not could have absolutely nothing to do with me.   Nobody wants a new Stepmother.  Most kids of divorce want their parents to get back together and for things to go back to they way they were when they had one house where everybody lived together and they had all of their stuff in one place.

I had one game plan to try and make this work – Love & Compassion and low expectations.  While Nick and I were still dating I made a point to think of things from the kids’ point of view.  I was infringing on their time with their Dad when I’d tag along to soccer games and cookouts in the back yard.  They only saw him every other weekend and they cherished that time with him.  I never stayed for the whole day and I left before they went to bed.   And here is the thing that they’ve told me made a big difference… I always thanked them for including me in their fun and told them I looked forward to seeing them the next time.  I fondly look back on this period as when I was dating them all.

After Nick & I got engaged, we built a house 10 minutes from the kids’ Mom with hopes of increasing our time with the kids from every other weekend to something closer to 50%.  The kids helped us pick the floor plan, including which rooms would be theirs.  James, now 7 years old, was curious which one of the rooms was going to be mine since Dad was getting the big room with the big bathroom.  This comment, while cute and funny, was an indication of just how far we still had to go to become a family.

Once we moved into the house, I again went with the only plan I had – Love, Compassion and low expectations.  I am a firm believer that few humans can resist an unrelenting campaign of unconditional love. I would show them how much I loved them with my actions rather than say it. I’d been waiting for this job my whole life! I made breakfast, lunches and dinners. I helped with homework and drove the car pools.  On weekends they were with us, Nick & I focused our attention on them.  We had plenty of time for couple things on the days they were with their Mom.  These kids were not losing their Dad, they were gaining a Faery Stepmother that looked after them and made it possible for them to live with their father 50% of the time.

The best thing I did in the first year living with the kids is I paid attention and I listened.  I treated them both, particularly my thirteen year old Sadie, as if they were the main characters in my favorite TV show.  Each time I saw them, particularly after a few days away, I would get caught up on everything I missed since my last update.  I would ask about things that I knew had occurred while they were at Mom’s – a sleepover, a dance class, a math test – and about each of their friends so I could keep up with who was in and who was on the outs and why.

I can still remember the first time each of the kids told that me they loved me.  James was a little bit ahead of his sister but I heard it from them both during the first year in the new house.  Truth is I knew they both did long before they said it.  And as different as they are from each other the conversation was exactly the same.  Them:  “I love you, Pokey”.  Me, with tears in my eyes I don’t even try to hide: ‘I love you too’.  Them: ‘I know….’

~~~~~

Kristin has been happily married to her husband, Nick, for just over 3 years and she is the ridiculously proud Stepmother to Sadie (16) and James (11).  They make their happy home in Castle Rock, Colorado.   Kristin has a day job as a Software Engineer and moonlights as an artist for @KMRArtandDesign (http://www.etsy.com/shop/KMRArtandDesign).   She won the Blended Family lottery with the kids’ Mom (aka BM) and considers her to be one of her dearest friends and her SisterMom. You can connect with Kristin on Twitter at (aka @FaeryStepmother)

Are you ready to read another inspiring story about the love of a stepmother? Then meet Kaycee. She articulates the highs and lows of loving a man with a child and speaks to the complexities and insecurities that come with it. You can feel her heart for her family as you read her words. May you be encouraged by the relationship she now has with her stepson and his mother. Read on….

~~~~~

I began dating Jeff in June of 2009. When he told me he had a 3 year old son from a previous relationship, I didn’t really give it a second thought.  I had plenty of experience with kids from teaching preschool and being a private nanny.  I guess you could say I have a love and passion for children, which really helped me create a good relationship from the start with Jaxson.

We quickly connected and became good friends.  I tried to be more of a buddy to Jaxson than a mother figure in the beginning, considering this was my first time dating anyone with a child; I was unsure how to navigate the situation, but I felt like I was doing the best that I could.

I was the first woman Jeff dated since splitting up with Jaxson’s biological mother. I didn’t know too much about his biological mom in the beginning of our relationship, I just knew her and Jeff had a nasty break up a little over a year before he and I met.  There were always insecurities in my mind when it came to her; she was Jaxson’s REAL mother.  She and Jeff had a history together, that in itself was a tad bit intimidating, but throw a child into the mix, and WOW.  I struggled with my place A LOT.  Especially when Jeff didn’t feel comfortable allowing me to go to hockey practices when she would be there or go with him to do the Sunday evening drop off’s at the end of “dad’s weekend”.

It was hard trying to figure out what I was even doing trying to make an effort to be a friend or role model to this little guy, when I couldn’t even be present when his mom was around.  I felt like I was being kept secret or something.  The first year of our relationship was NOT an easy one. There was a brief break up for about a month about 5 months into it, but it made our relationship a million times stronger.  I will never forget seeing Jaxson again for the first time after our break up was over.  I was getting out of the car and he just ran as fast as he could to me and yelled “KAYCEE!!!” and gave me the tightest hug.  It was in that moment that I knew I had made an impact in Jaxson’s life.  I can’t even describe how good that hug made me feel….

Fast forward 10 months, and the custody battle began.  Over those 10 months, I discovered a lot about Jaxson’s mom.   Let’s just say she was kind of a lost soul for a while and that had an impact on Jaxson.  Jeff decided to take her to court to try and get joint custody.  I remember getting some paperwork from Jeff’s lawyer in the mail, stating that Jaxson’s mom was trying to modify their arrangement and let Jeff have him every other weekend ONLY. We had the joy of having him 2 nights a week AND every other weekend per the terms of their custody arrangement at that time.  Thinking about only seeing Jaxson 4 days a month broke my heart.  How could she think that only allowing Jaxson to see his dad 4 days a month would somehow be beneficial to him?  (Jaxson is a total daddy’s boy by the way…) Thankfully, we ended up settling out of court and now we have Jaxson every other week!  I will be forever grateful to his mom for realizing what was best for him and agreeing to joint custody.

Standing by Jeff’s side during that whole ordeal, the arguments, the court depositions, etc. was just one of many bumps I know we will have to face in our lives together, but the bumps are what strengthen you in life.

After the custody issue was resolved, things quieted down and everything was smooth sailing.  Jaxson’s mom and I were on better terms, which helped things tremendously.  I coached Jaxson’s first soccer team, which was such a fun experience.  Soccer was my favorite sport growing up; I played until I was in high school, so it was really awesome sharing my love of the sport with him by being his coach the first season he played.  Jaxson also started kindergarten shortly after that.  I am very involved in his school work, his teachers know me well, we all go to parent teacher conferences together, I am the one that gets him up and ready each morning during our weeks with him. It’s nice to have more involvement in his life now that he gets to spend more time with his dad and I.

This past December, Jeff and I had our own child together, another son, we named him James (Jimmy for short).  I was worried about how Jaxson would react to having to share his dad with his little brother, but silly me for worrying in the first place.  Jaxson has embraced the big brother role so well.  He’s such a huge help and loves making Jimmy laugh.  I couldn’t have picked a better big brother for my own first child.  Seeing them interact and bond is by far one of the most rewarding things in my life.

Bottom line, being in a relationship with a man that has a child is no easy task.  I never would have dreamed before Jeff that I would be a stepmom to another man’s child.  It has been a blessing in disguise that these two came into my life. There have been a lot of highs and lows in the past 3 years we have been together, but the biggest high of them all will be our wedding taking place this June on the beach!  I will officially have the stepmom title in less than 8 weeks, even though I’ve been playing the role for 3 years now.

I am head over heels in love with my future husband, I cannot wait to be his wife and continue growing together in our relationship and in our family. I use my love for Jeff to be the best step mom I can be to Jaxson.  Jaxson is a part of his father, and when I made the decision to be with Jeff, that meant accepting and loving everything about him, Jaxson included.  Jaxson may not be “mine”, but I will always love and care for him like he is. Our family situation hasn’t always been easy, but to me, it will always be worth it.

 ~~~~

Kaycee and Jeff have been together since June 2009.  They were engaged last summer and will be tying the knot in a beach wedding this June. Jeff has a son, Jaxson (Kaycee’s step son) who is 6 years old, getting ready to finish up his kindergarten year in school.  They also recently had a son of their own in December of 2011, named James (aka Jimmy).   Jaxson is involved in Hockey, T-ball, soccer and dirt bike riding.  We enjoy bike riding as a family, going to the park, anything outdoors really. Kaycee and her family live in Indianapolis, IN. You can connect with Kaycee on Twitter.

Grab a cup of coffee and get cozy. You are about to read a heartwarming story by Rebecca Suhy about the love she feels for her stepdaughters and the reality checks she has as their “bonus” mom. I know many will relate and be inspired by her heartfelt words. The love for her family truly shines through and there is nothing wicked about that. Enjoy!

~~~~

I’m not sure anyone ever wishes for, or asks, to be a Stepmom.

I was 26 years old when I met my husband. For years I had been looking for Mr. Right, and I had my checklist of who he was—a tall, handsome man who made me laugh and was driven by his career. I had been in serious relationships before, but I was unsettled by the men I had previously encountered and although I enjoyed the thrill of the hunt, I was ready to finally be settled. So, on that fateful night in November 2003, I began talking to the man that would become my husband. He was tall (check), handsome (check), funny (check) and a fireman (BONUS!). What I didn’t know at that time, but what I eventually found out, was that he was divorced and had two daughters. So NOT on my checklist.

Just like it was a surprise to learn about the “other” women in his life, meeting my future stepdaughters for the first time was also unexpected. It was a year into our relationship, and we were parking at his parents’ house in order to attend a community event. It was Halloween 2004, and all I remember is a three year-old Wonder Woman being held by her grandmother, and a four year-old princess running after her. I stopped dead in my tracks. “Do I introduce myself, will he introduce me?” It was a very quick interaction, but I knew the “first” meeting, albeit informal, was over.

Over the next few years, my interaction with the girls was effortless. Because of the custody agreement, we share, and continue to share, responsibility for the girls. Therefore, we have our own family dynamic. What began as a casual situation, quickly and easily, turned into a family. They were so excited when my husband proposed, I was so excited for them to share in our wedding day as flower girls, and they are the BEST big sisters to our 3 year-old son Ryan, who is now as old as one of his big sisters was when I first met her.  

What I find hardest about being a Stepmom is experiencing those “reality check” moments when I realize I’m not their mom. When they’re with us, we’re a traditional family—doing homework, eating dinner together, playing, disciplining, etc… But, what I sometimes forget is that they do the same thing at their mother’s house. They essentially have two lives and we’re not a part of their other one. The girls and I do our “ladies-only” shopping sprees, movie dates, manicures, etc… like any mother-daughter/s would. But, I don’t get the privilege of being the first female they call if they’re sick or listed as an emergency contact, etc… I’m extremely grateful for the relationship I have with my two stepdaughters. They embraced me like another mother, they recognize me on Mother’s Day and they’ve naturally learned to share their love. No one can tell the heart that they’re not my own, because I love them like they’re my own.

In June 2011, my oldest stepdaughter underwent corrective surgery for her scoliosis. When I learned she would have to get this done, I cried, like any mother would, despite knowing this would be the best thing that ever happened to her. I struggled with my place in the waiting room at the hospital with both their mother and father, and remained strong in my decision that if I love her like my own and I care for her like one of my own, then I will be alongside her biological parents, because it is where I belong. I made it through that day with a lot of emotion, but just like any mother would.  And her amazing recovery and only made me appreciate both my girls and my important role as a stepmom.

I find it a roller coaster ride and a bit of a struggle to go from mom to stepmom based on activity, or day, but I’m learning and I’m getting good at it. No one wishes for, or asks, to be a Stepmom, but if you’re as lucky as I am, you may want to consider it.

~~~~

Rebecca (Becca) Suhy is a Cleveland based mom of a three-year old boy, Ryan, and stepmom to two girls, Allison, 12 and Jenna, 10. Married since 2006 to her husband Michael, Becca navigates the joys (and headaches) of stepmotherhood on a daily basis. Sharing part-time maternal responsibilities for her two girls is challenging, but she feels extremely fortunate they have such an amazing relationship. Becca looks forward to connecting with fellow stepmoms who find their role to be even crazier than motherhood. Becca serves as principal of Rebecca Suhy Communications in Cleveland where she specializes in public relations, social media and marketing communications strategy. She is 1999 graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Follow Becca on Twitter @beccasuhy.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

« Previous PageNext Page »