Entries tagged with “love”.


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!

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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.

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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.

Whether you’ve been a stepmom for a week or one for twenty years, this piece by Margaret Barney will touch your heart and inspire you on your journey.  Margaret articulates with wisdom and humor the complexities of being a stepmom. Her journey proves that the “one day” every stepmom dreams of can happen. Margaret stayed the course and her stepson saw her heart despite how his mom felt about her. Her journey as a stepmom is real. Her heart is genuine. Her relationship with her stepson will move you. Enjoy this second story in The Gift of StepMom Series:

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It never occurred to me when I was younger that I could ever possibly marry a man who already had children.  It wasn’t that I had an opinion one way or another;  I just never gave any thought to it. My parents didn’t divorce until I was in my twenties, so I didn’t have personal experience with step-parenting.  Obsessive watching of the Brady Bunch reruns as a child notwithstanding, I really didn’t know jack about so-called “blended families”.  

I tried to educate myself.  I looked back in my child psych books, on-line, anywhere I could think of to gather as much information as I could find—if I was going to be a stepmom, I was going to do it right.  So before I ever met the kids, I had immersed myself in information about children living with divorce.  I was sure that armed with knowledge, I could successfully navigate this terrifying path.  It might be rocky to start, but in a few years, things would settle down. Of that I was sure.

Little did I know how little I knew.

I did all that research into being a stepmom, but I didn’t do enough research about what being a second wife might mean:  I didn’t expect to have every little step I made in developing a relationship with my husband’s kids be questioned, belittled, admonished, and at times deliberately un-done by another adult.  You don’t have to listen to Margaret…she’s not your mom.    I bit my tongue.  I wouldn’t return tit-for-tat when it came to negativity.  I would rise above it.  She’s a bad lady.  She’s a mean lady.  She’s why daddy will never come home ever again. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t true—it didn’t matter that I came along afterwards.  My stepkids were only three and five when their parents split up.

Now, they are 17 and 19.  These days, when I see my stepson, he always seems to have gotten even bigger.  Older.  More mature.  Recently up for a visit, he strode into the kitchen smiling, taller now than I am, and gave me a strong hug.  I used to believe such hugs would never be meant for me. There were too many complications that came along with spending time with me.

It meant conflict– it meant upsetting his mom.    I saw you hug Margaret when you went into Dad’s apartment.  That really hurt Mommy’s feelings.  You don’t love her, do you?  You still love me best, right?  Two years after we first dated, my husband and I got married.  We scheduled the wedding for a weekend the kids would be with us, so there would be no visitation changes.  Well, you can go to Daddy and Margaret’s wedding…but I’ll be down in Florida that week with your grandparents.  Which would you rather do?  Go to a boring old wedding or go on vacation to Disney World?   So much for including the kids in our wedding…no six or eight year old in their right mind could turn down Disney.

I kept reminding myself that given time, this stuff was sure to settle down.  Once Margaret has her baby, your Dad isn’t going to have any more time for you.  My daughter was born in 2001, and two years later, along came my son.  The conflict continued.  To protect myself, to protect my heart…I stepped back.  Way back.

We moved about 60 miles from where we had been living when my stepkids entered 5th and 7th grades. Daddy lied to the Judge…and now I have to make you go to his and Margaret’s house.  There wasn’t going to be any kind of happy little Brady Bunch.  I was lucky if my stepkids said hello to me on the telephone.

One thing got me through some of the darkest days of being a Stepmom—something I truly clung to in the lowest of times—was having faith that one day, my husband’s kids would grow up.  Literally—one day, they would become adults and see the situation for what it was—and how much their father and I love all of our children.

They would see how we worked to have a communicative and honest relationship that would model for them what a strong, healthy, adult relationship looked like.  And though I don’t yet know how much of that my stepdaughter sees, I do know what my stepson sees.  After never having spent more than a week at a time with us, the summer before last he lived with us for the bulk of his break.

He was 16, and every bit of it…I couldn’t have been more nervous.   The fact was, the boy needed to spend time with his dad, and I was thrilled to have my younger ones be able to spend time with their big brother.  We didn’t have much of a relationship, he and I, but we got along fairly well as a general rule.  I wondered what this would mean for my summer.  My husband would be working and I would be home with the kids.  One more than I was used to.

Turns out, I needn’t have worried.  That summer, he and I really got to know each other.  And amazingly, we connected in a way that external negativity won’t ever again diminish.  I got to know an incredible young man who was struggling to come to terms with who was…working to define his own sense of self.  I marveled at the fact that this teenager was wise beyond his years in so many ways, and yet, still very much a boy.  I wished fervently that he would begin to see his own inner strength—a strength that was so apparent to me.

I wept after he left to return to his mom’s that Autumn.  I missed him more than I could imagine I ever could have.  I had spent so many years walling my heart off—protecting myself from the hurt that came with being such a polarizing figure in two children’s lives— that I was unprepared for the depth of my emotions..and how glad I was that I tore that wall down and was able to build a relationship with my stepson.

I have a feeling I’ll be a wreck when he leaves for boot camp in a few months…

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Margaret Barney is a non-custodial stepmom living in New Hampshire with her husband and their two children.  She has been on the step-scene for over fourteen years and wants new stepmoms to know that no matter how crazy things may seem at first, they do get better.  She blogs at Just Margaret, and you can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Can you relate to Margaret? What touched your heart? Leave her some comment love below. Thanks

This is the first post in the second edition of The Gift of StepMom Collection. I started this series last year and the response was amazing. Reading stories from other stepmoms encouraged and inspired many. This year, I have had so many wonderful stories submitted that I’ll be sharing a different one each day leading up to Mother’s Day!

It is so true, stepmoms are the heart of their blended family and it’s important that we celebrate our role and the gifts we bring to those we love. I am honored to share this heartfelt piece by Kim Hartsock. I am grateful and blessed to have connected with Kim via Twitter. Please enjoy her Gift of Stepmom:

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I never thought I would end up divorced, a single mother, remarried and now a stepmom. I know the Bible says that God declared ‘I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’. That tells me that no matter our choices in life, ultimately God’s plan comes through.

I believe that some of us choose shorter or longer paths to those plans but in the end, we live out God’s plan for our life. I believe that God’s plan for me is to be a wife to the love of my life, Steven, and to be a mom to Caroline, Benjamin and Sullivan. I strive everyday to be the wife and mother that they all deserve. It isn’t always easy but it is the most rewarding job I have. 

The definition of ‘mother’ is a woman who has raised a child, given birth to a child or supplied the ovum that united with a sperm that grew into a child. When I think about Mother’s Day, I think how grateful I am for my mother, her mother and for all of the amazing women in my life who have in some way influenced my life. That is a very long list! I also think about how grateful I am for the 3 beautiful children God has blessed me with. I only gave birth to one of those but that doesn’t change the fact that they are my children.

My son has a stepmom and I am grateful for her. She loves him and plays a very active role in raising him. I do not feel threatened by her and I definitely do not wish she was not in his life. My son did not ask for his father and I to get a divorce. This was the life we chose for him. My acceptance of his stepmom is in a way, my way of helping to make his broken home complete. And equally am I thankful for our other kids’ mother.

When I married their father, I was not replacing their mother but rather agreeing to become a part of their already formed family. Steven and I chose each other, part of us was our children. Our wedding wasn’t just between the two of us, it was between the five of us. That is a big reason why all five of us stood at the alter with the minister and made our vows to each other and to God.

I believe we are a family. Granted our children have larger families than most. I don’t think it’s better or worse, just different from some other families. Each family has its own dynamics. Ours includes stepmoms and stepdads.

I believe that love makes a family. Our family is full of love. Our children are loved. They are growing up seeing two people live out their vows on a daily basis. So when I celebrate Mother’s Day, I celebrate the love my mother showed me and the love my children’s mothers show them. I don’t think it matters whether or not that title has the word ‘step’ in it or not.

So when you set out to celebrate the mothers in your life, think about the sacrifices these ladies make each and every day for the children they are raising and celebrate the love it takes to commit to that responsibility.

Here’s to all of the amazing women out there that God has chosen to be mothers!

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Kim Hartsock (@kimsock) is a CPA in Atlanta, GA. She and her husband, Steven, have three beautiful children (aka the Lil Socks). Kim is passionate about blended families and encouraging women, especially stepmoms. She also serves as Treasurer and board member of the Susan G Komen for the Cure Greater Atlanta.

 

Mother’s Day is one month away and it can be an emotionally difficult time for many stepmoms who often don’t get recognition for all they are and all they contribute to their family.

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.

stepmom, stepfamily, mother's day

All moms – bio, adoptive, foster and step – should be celebrated on Mother’s Day yet sadly not all “moms” are recognized on this day.

Just walk into any book store this time of year and you’ll see displays of keepsake books paying homage to mothers and rightfully so but what about recognizing the job that stepmothers do daily?

We know that as stepmoms we love, protect, nurture, and care for our stepchildren. We care for our husband and work alongside him to raise the children. We know that a stepmother does not seek to replace a mother but be a positive role model in the lives of her stepkids (hello – a blessing). And in the case of a custodial stepmom of which I am, we don’t seek to replace the mother but we do take on the complete role of mothering our stepchildren 24/7.

While the world may not pay homage to stepmoms on Mother’s Day, we certainly can celebrate each other. And in hopes of recognizing and supporting stepmoms, I created the series “The Gift of StepMom” last year to celebrate the many blessings that a stepmother brings to her stepfamily. And I’m bringing it back this year by popular demand.

Last year, women shared stories of the gift that their role has brought to their family. We also read stories from women who grew up in a stepfamily and the blessings that their stepmom (and in one case – stepdad) brought into their lives. The response was amazing! So many women were touched by reading the stories of other stepmoms. (Here’s the archived series if you want to check it out)

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!

YOU are a gift to your family and I want to hear from you. I also want to hear from children who grew up with a stepmom and from husbands whose wife has really blessed him and his children. If you are interested in submitting your story, please email me at heather@cafesmom.com for submission details. I want to connect you so I’m happy to post your story, links, and photos.

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!

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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?

Day 11: 30 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches

 In honor of 11-11-11, I would like to share with you 11 things I love about being a StepMom:

1. Love the extended family I was blessed with when I said I do to my husband.

Our Extended Family on our Wedding Day!

2. I am blessed with the opportunity to show my children that love knows no boundaries. A heart can grow to include more people to love. My love for my children has never been diminished with the addition of my stepchildren.

3. I am never bored.

4. I always have a great story to share.

5. I have learned how to laugh at myself and not take life so seriously.

6. My faith in God and my reliance on Him has never been stronger.

7. I have a second chance at love.

8. I have met the most amazing women both in person and by way of social media. Stepmothers are like no other. We are a strong and compassionate group of women who are others focused. Love the company I keep.

9. I have the opportunity to model a loving and healthy marriage to all of our children. It is a responsibility that I take seriously.

10. The power and blessing of forgiveness. Forgiving others, being forgiven and forgiving myself.

11. My husband. I am a stepmom because I chose to marry a man with children. I love my husband beyond words and he blesses me in ways I never dreamed possible. Whenever the job of Smom gets tough, I think about our love and smile.

Me and my love

Life in the StepMom Trenches: We always have something to be thankful for. Focusing on the good makes the tough stuff not seem so bad. Remember another’s words or actions can never rob you of the joy you feel in your family unless you give them permission to do so. Enjoy the many blessings of stepmotherhood!

Challenge: make a list of the things you are grateful for in your life. Keep it in your purse and read it when you are having a tough day.

Would love for you to share what you love about being a Smom!

 

Day 2: 30 Days in the StepMom Trenches

As a wife, ex-wife, mom and stepmom, I get tired and run down wearing all these different hats. Balancing all these roles are a blessing but also takes a lot of work. Sometimes by the end of the day,  I am wiped out and don’t have much left to give my husband. I recognize that is not fair to him. I love my husband beyond words and I made a promise when we married that I would intentionally nurture our relationship. 

But life happens and the job of stepmomhood can wear even the toughest woman down on days. With six kids and a busy schedule, I had to be honest with myself that I wasn’t doing the best job at “intentionally” communicating my love to my husband. As my husband’s birthday was approaching last month, I was thinking of ways to “spice things up” and ensure that I was keeping the romance alive.

Both my husband and I are romantics at heart and I’ve always put little love notes in his lunch and packed them for him on business trips but I wanted to go beyond that. I wanted to do something to surprise him!

I decided to go out of my “comfort zone” and pack some “sweat treats” in his lunch one day. I had picked up some “fun” coupons that had a scratch off center to reveal a sweet and romantic treat for my husband. Honestly, I had bought them a while ago but this was the first time I was going to use them. I had no idea what was under each scratch off, I just knew that it would give my husband something to think about at lunch besides work and give us both something to look forward to at the end of the day.

I was excited and nervous to pack it in his lunch the first day. I’m pretty conservative and these scratch off cards made me feel a bit naughty. I had written on the back with sharpie “redeem tonight for some fun!” and was carrying it down the steps in the AM to slip into his lunch that I was getting ready to pack.

As I walked into the kitchen that morning, I walked into the typical chaos of the morning. It was the morning fire drill of six kids getting ready for school. Three of the kids asked me to finish packing their lunches so they could try to find some things they needed for school. Deciding I would rather slap together a few pbj sandwiches and assemble some bags of pretzels over looking for matching socks (the bain of my existence) and gym uniforms, I gladly accepted. I put the coupon down.

The next 10 minutes were a blur and as I walked back into the kitchen from the bus stop I went to pack my husband’s lunch and put the coupon in it. But the coupon was not on the counter. Where was the coupon? I had put it down and set a stack of napkins on top so they wouldn’t see it. “Did I accidentally pack it in my kids lunch with the napkins? “Oh No,” I thought. “What if they find it in their lunch and scratch it off? Why do they all have to be such good readers?”

I scurried around lifting up piles of paper on the counters looking for it. No show. Different thoughts were running through my mind. “if one of the kids is going to get it, which one should I hope for? Do I go to the schools and ask to see each lunch box? How do I explain to the school secretaries that I need to examine my kids’ lunches?”

“Would I have to work through the guidance counselor?” He is a great guy but he’s also the same person who once referred to us as that “mixed up, I mean, mixed family.” “Oh, I have PTA tonight, if this story gets out I’ll be the talk of the meeting. I already get the stares…”  these are the thoughts that were racy through my mind.

Just then my husband wheels into the kitchen for his lunch and notices I’m a bit skittish. He can read me like a book and I fess up my surprise to him. He is a little shocked yet happy with what I was going to include. He then starts laughing and is thankful that I’m stressed out over losing the coupon and not over something one of his kids did. Only in a stepfamily.

We look together and I decide to put a new “coupon” in his lunch even though he knows about it.

He leaves for work and I continue to clean the kitchen and scour the house for that long lost love coupon. The phone rings and my thoughts race to the school but it is my husband. He asks “did you ever find the other coupon?” “No,” I reply. “Well, I couldn’t stand the suspense so I scratched off the one you gave me. Do you want to know what it says?” he asked.

“Do I?” I replied

“Lets just say it involves movies and role playing. Where did you buy these?” he asked.

“OMG. Well, hopefully if the kids get it they’ll think they can film made up commercials on my flip-cam. They love putting on silly plays and shows,” I thought to myself.

Needless to say that after I hung up with my husband, I did find the coupon. Thankfully, it did not go to school. Somehow I stuck it under our large calculator. Truly don’t remember doing that.

Lesson from this stepmom trench: It’s important to intentionally love your spouse. As stepmoms we need to nurture the flame in our marriage and do fun things for and with our husband. The key is to make sure you plan and don’t have any open lunch boxes and love notes in the same vicinity.

My challenge to you: Do something today that screams “I love you” to your spouse!

Enjoy!

This is the second post in The Gift of StepMom Collection that I am presenting these weeks leading up to Mother’s Day. Stepmoms are the heart of their blended family and it’s important that we celebrate our role and the gifts we bring to our families. I am honored and thrilled to share this heartfelt piece by Judith Love Fout. I am blessed to have connected with Judith. She has been a stepmom since 1997 and her heart for her family shines through. I love how Judith views the gift of her stepdaughters’ love for her. Please enjoy.

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When I met my future stepchildren in May, 1996, they were 11 months, 3 years, and 6 years old. Four months later in September, their mother wasn’t able to continue to care for the children and their father was awarded full custody. It would be several months before they would see their mother again. In April of 1997, their father and I were married and along with Seth, my 2 year old son from a previous marriage, we became a blended family. In November, 2001, we completed our family when we welcomed another daughter, Jada Love. As with any blended family consisting of step-parents, step-siblings, and half-siblings, we had many challenges to overcome. It hasn’t always been easy. But, with God as the foundation of our home, a great deal of patience and understanding and most of all, a huge size portion of love, we continue to overcome those challenges together.

Many have often told me through the years that I was an angel, or a gift, sent to these girls and that they are very blessed to have me in their lives. I was a 25 year old single mom of a son and was taking on the task of marrying a man who had full custody of three young daughters. I didn’t see it that way.

The way I see it, I was given a wonderful blessing from God to be a part of the lives of three amazing girls. These girls gave me the most beautiful gift I could receive from them – their love. It didn’t necessarily begin that way but after some time, their love towards me slowly began to develop into something beautiful and in my opinion, very rare in cases of stepfamilies. Because there were many years that they would only see their mother one or two times, they depended on me for everything that a biological mother would provide to her biological children. Out of respect for their mother, I refer to them as my stepchildren but in my heart, they are daughters to me.

We have had many issues that we had to work through but we taught our children at an early age to be honest with us about their feelings. To talk things out instead of keeping things bottled up inside. Of course, when they were younger, we dealt with things in a little bit different way according to their ages but always in love. As they grew older, and we grew closer, I became even more thankful for their love for me. I do my very best as a mother to teach our children about right and wrong, to guide them to make proper decisions, to encourage them to give their best at whatever they attempt to do, to be honest and trustworthy at all times and most importantly, to love God and serve Him with all their hearts. I’m sure they have learned a lot about life, education and relationships from what their father and I have tried to teach them. But I have also learned a great deal from them.

I have learned that unconditional love is just that – unconditional. Forgiveness is a necessary part of life – carrying pain with you only increases hate and bitterness in your heart. Perseverance – no matter what the circumstance in your life, never giving up is of the utmost importance. Acceptance – accept things or people for what they are. Trying to change someone who doesn’t want to be changed or change a situation that can’t be changed will only cause heartache. Smile – when all else fails, give yourself or someone else a smile.

For all these reasons, plus many more, I am very thankful to God for blessing me with a loving husband and five wonderful children. I am thankful to my husband for loving me and believing in me as a mother and stepmother to our children. I am thankful to their biological mother – although our relationship has not always been a great one – for allowing me to be a part of their lives and being a mother to them. And, I am thankful for my stepdaughters and the most beautiful gift of their love.

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Judith and her husband have been married since April, 1997. She is the mother of a 16 year old son from a previous marriage, a 9-year old daughter, and three step-daughters, ages 21, 18 and 15.  Judith and her family love the beach, playing games, and one of her favorite things to do is watch their children and support them in their various sporting activities. Their kids are involved in soccer, basketball, football, baseball, and tumbling. The children are also very involved in church activities and have performed at several local churches as well as Fine Arts festivals in Denver, CO and Orlando, FL. Judith and her family live in West Virginia with their three dogs and two cats. You can follow Judith at @JuJuLove71 on Twitter

I have a dream…..

that one day (soon), mothers and fathers, stepmothers and stepfathers will focus on the one thing they all have in common….the kids.

I have a dream that every adult involved with a stepfamily realizes that every word they speak regarding a parent and/or stepparent and every action they take impacts the children. The impact will either be positive or negative.

Kids are wired to love their mother and their father. Period. The end. When a child is made to choose between homes, between rules, between a parent or a stepparent, between anything dividing their parents -  they never win.

When a parent remarries, their new spouse is an extention of that parent. Therefore, a child needs the blessing of both their parents to accept and respect their new stepparent. Unless the stepparent is physically or verbally abusive (or engaged in an type of illegal or illicit behavior), both parents need to convey their support of this new stepfamily to the children.

Note, I did not say the children should be told they have to love their new stepparent. But the children need to know that they need to respect their new stepparent. A child will always love and be loyal to their mom and dad. Therefore, if they feel that their mom does not want them to like their new stepmom, the child will be torn between being loyal to their mom and being accepting and respectful of their father’s new wife. That choice can tear a child apart inside regardless of their age.

Children are wonderful beings. They will always love mom and dad beyond all but they have the capacity to care for others around them and should be given the permission to do so. Caring for a stepparent never lessens the love they feel for their own parents.

Children should never be forced to choose. For when they are, they will always loose.

I believe in my heart that this dream isn’t just a dream but a reality that can come true for every family/stepfamily when all parents leave their egos at the door and join together to put the emotional well-being of the children at the forefront.

__________

Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his infamous “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial onWashington, DC, on August 28, 1963. In high school, I studied King and was in awe of his ability to mobilize a movement in a peaceful and non-violent way. King has been one of my inspirations in my passion to serve others. My heart is to help the stepmom find peace within herself and define a positive path on her stepfamily journey. My heart is also, and always will be, with the children of divorce and remarriage.

As a little girl, I loved to pretend and play dress up. I had a vivid imagination and could always be found fully engaged in some made up game or putting on a play with the neighborhood kids. While I didn’t have any sisters to dress up with me, I did have two younger brothers who didn’t know any better til they got older and were often willing partners in my make believe plans.

When I was a little girl, I dreamt of becoming so many things when I grew up.

I dreamt of being an author and wrote my own picture books.

I dreamt of being a journalist and wrote articles for the school newspaper.

I dreamt of being a cosmetologist and did anyone’s hair and makeup that would let me.

I dreamt of being a teacher and loved playing school with my brothers.

I loved spending weekends and summers with my grandma and she introduced me to Lucille Ball, The Sound of Music and the beauty of black and white movies. I dreamt of being an actress, a singer, a dancer.

The professions always changed and  the make believe games were always evolving. Yet, even though the professions that I dreamt of seemed to change with my favorite movie or book, my dream to one day be a mom was always there and always a part of my pretend world. I was blessed with a loving mother and knew that God’s design for me, even at a young age, was to be a mom.

I had a wonderful great grandmother, two loving grandmothers, and one mother to model what it means to be a loyal wife and caring and compassionate mom. They collectively taught me how to nurture and love not by long sermons but by living a life full of those characteristics and more.

I realized the dream of becoming a mother when I was 29 years old.  I loved being a mom. Truly, I did. Loved it so much that I gave birth to twin sons 20 months later and had my youngest daughter three years after that.

Fast forward a few years and I went from being a married mom to a single mom. Fast forward a few more years and now I’m a remarried mom and stepmom. Whew!

But wait! I never pretended to be a stepmom. As a little girl, being a stepmom was never a part of my make believe world. I never had a positive role model for being a stepmother. The only role models I remember are Lady Tremaine (Cinderella’s stepmother) and The Queen (Snow White’s stepmom). By the way, I was raised on Disney movies and Cinderella was my favorite. Therefore, my vision of a stepmom was the one falsely created by Mr. Disney.

But let’s face it. What girl grows up dreaming of meeting Prince Charming AND his kids? No young girl grows up wanting to be a stepmom. Is it because every woman wants to build her family from scratch? Probably, but it also doesn’t make it an appealing role when there are very few positive role models in our society to look up to.

We can change that. Honestly, I don’t ever expect a young girl to dream of becoming a stepmom but I would like it to be a role that she doesn’t run from or despise if she happens to fall in love with a man who has children.  I believe it is possible and important to portray stepmoms in a healthy and positive way.

As stepmoms, we can strive to be a positive role model for both the job of mom and the job of smom in our home. The reality is that someday one of our daughters and/or stepdaughters may find themselves marrying a man with children. If that happens, it would be a blessing if they could  draw on the example we have set in our home rather then the negative ones so often perpetuated in our culture.

Once in a while when I sit and watch my youngest daughter (age 6) and my youngest stepdaughter (age 9) play dolls, I’ll overhear some interesting conversation. They’ll have all their dolls out and they assign them “roles.” She’ll be the mom, she’ll be the stepmom, she’ll be the daughter, she’ll be the stepdaughter, she’ll be the half-sister, etc…..

When I first witnessed this play, I thought to myself “what are they doing? That’s not how you play dolls.” But then I realized, they are role playing what they see in their lives. The reality is they live in a stepfamily and my stepdaughters have half-sisters they may never meet. My girls are playing make believe and pretend and they are playing positively. No one is assigned a “mean” role. That’s good stuff.

While our girls may not be playing stepmom now, they are watching and learning from us and we can make a difference. It’s my dream that when all of our children have grown up that they will have the tools necessary to make the “fine” adjustments that everyone must make to the dreams set for their lives.

It’s all about not taking things personally and choosing to look at the positive side when you are a stepmom. We all know that. So hard to do yet so vital for our emotional well-being.

I wanted to share with you an exchange I had with my stepdaughter last night. It could’ve gone either way. I could have been upset at what she said but I choose to look at it positively. Yeah, I’m looking at this conversation as progress.

Last night I had finished praying and tucking in my youngest stepdaughter, who is 9 years old, and walked towards the door when she sat up in bed and said “ I don’t want you to die!”

I thought wow, that’s an unusual thing for her to say to me. I turned around and walked back to her bedside and reassured her that I was healthy and didn’t plan on exiting this world any time soon.

She proceeded to say “I used to sometimes wish you would die when I was really angry with you. But now I don’t want you to die. So I hope you don’t.”

Well, I could have gotten upset with her latter comment but I actually appreciated her honesty. I’m looking at this as progress. She used to wish I were gone (because she misses her mom… I know that) but now she’s good with me being here with her (well, at least for today).

That’s progress. I’ll take it.

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