Entries tagged with “mom”.


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.

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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.

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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.
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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?

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.

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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.

Had to borrow that famous one liner. Sorry couldn’t help myself. Also had to write a post in response to the sassysinglemama’s piece. Her comments caused quite a stir and prompted many stepmoms to weigh in. Many diverse opinions were shared. Love the honesty and variety of our community. Makes us so interesting….

One lesson that jumped out while reading her guest blog and all the comments is this:

there is no one way to be a stepmom and there is no one way to define a mom and stepmom relationship.

What works for the sassysinglemamma doesn’t work for others. And that is OK! We can determine that what might work for her might not work for us. However, judging another person or their motivation isn’t our place. We are all in this together and we need to encourage and support one another but we don’t have to agree. The latter is actually impossible!

The important thing is having a relationship with your stepkids and their mom that works for you and your family.

I know that many smoms took issue with #12 which spoke to the stepmom’s husband helping his ex-wife.  This one is a tricky one. One thing this magnifies is that we, as stepmoms, are protective of our husbands and rightfully so. We are his wife. We love him and his first priority is with us.  That is all so true.

I try to never use the ex-wife label. Personally, I prefer to refer to her as my stepchild’s mom or by her first name. Every time we say ex-wife, we are verbally connecting our husband with this woman. They are no longer a couple. Period. However, they are the mother of our husband’s children and sometimes on occasion it may make sense for him to help his kids out (which on the surface may appear that he is helping their mom out).

Let me share a personal situation that I had in this regard.  One night I was driving home with all six kids in tow at 8:30pm and my husband was out of town on business. I was at an intersection and my van just died. We happened to be on a corner with businesses and a nice guy helped me push my car into the parking lot.  It was getting late and all my kids were young and tired. I called my husband and told him what happened. He actually suggested calling my ex to see if he would come and jump my van so I could drive the short distance home. He said it would take to long for AAA to come and he didn’t want me and the kids sitting there alone. He even said, “his kids are in the van. I hope he will come and help you out.”

In my situation, my ex did come and help. But he was helping out for the kids, not for me and I had discussed it first with my  husband. We’ve had other things come up where my ex has helped out for the kids sake but I always ask my husband first out of respect for him and for our marriage.

I think if our husband consults with us first before doing something that might be helping out his kids’ mom is vital and also gives us more power and say in the situation. And let’s face it as stepmoms, we often feel that we yield little control over things. At least that’s how I feel a lot of the time.

What is important to remember is that our stepkids’ mom and our husband will always have their children as common ground. There is no denying it. Nor should there be any denying it.

But that commonality or connection, if you will, is a working relationship not a romantic one. A positive working relationship between two parents whether they are married, divorced, or never married benefits the kids.  When I work with my kids’ dad it is not because I want to or because I enjoy it but rather because it’s important and vital for our kids to see us get along.

Kids never ask for divorce yet they bear the brunt of the impact of divorce. They shouldn’t have to carry the burden of two parents who don’t work together.

Whatever type of relationship you have with your stepkids’ mom, I hope it is one that brings you peace and not pain. I hope that it is one that is beneficial for your family and all your kids.

In the end, I will always support open, healthy and honest dialogue. It is my hope that by feeling comfortable to share our true feelings as stepmoms, we can connect with one another and feel the support of our wonderful stepmom community. We each come from different places, different life experiences, different backgrounds yet we have one common thread – to love our husbands and nurture and care for his children. Love that we are all so diverse yet all so committed to our husbands and our families. Let’s disagree on issues but not on the character of someone. I never want someone afraid to share their true heart out of fear of being judged.

We are all compassionate women and moms/smoms and I am so proud to be a part of this community.

Now, what say you???? I really want to know what’s on your mind:)

Recently, I spoke with a woman who holds a role very similiar to many of us. She is both a mom and a stepmom. She embraces her role as both and seeks a good relationship with her children’s stepmom. However, her kid’s stepmom recently did something that has this mom very upset – the stepmom had her stepkids’ (this woman’s children) names tattoed next to her own children’s names. The stepkids names were added to the tattoo she already had of her own kids.

Understandably, this mom/stepmom is upset. It hurts and angers her that her children’s names are tattoed on another woman’s body. She believes this woman crossed the line and is torn between whether to confront her or not and if she confronts her – what should she say.

It is hard for me to offer solid advice not knowing all the dynamics of this mom and stepmom’s relationship. What was the motivation behind the stepmom getting the tattoo? Did she do it to validate her role as stepmom? Was she feeling insecure as a wife and stepmom? Did she do it to spite the mom of her stepkids? The motivation is unknown.

If she did it to spite the mom or to make her role as their stepmom more real then confronting her will probably leave this mom more upset and frustrated. If this stepmom had the tattoo for selfish/negative reasons than she may expect an angry response from the mom and might possibly be happy that she is upset. If she’s the type that is expecting a response, the best response you can give her is to not respond.

It’s my understanding that this mom is considering confronting the stepmom to tell her she has crossed the line because she doesn’t want her to do something like this again. This mom asking the question would like clear boundaries set on the role of mom and stepmom. But in confronting the stepmom of her kids, I believe this mom may run the risk of her kids’ stepmom doing more things like this in the future if it is her intention to upset the mom and/or if she doesn’t care about the mom and her feelings.

A line that I read once when I was going through my divorce was this; “He who angers you controls you” anonymous.  I love the quote and I remind myself of it daily as I do not want to give anyone that type of power over me.

I would encourage this mom/stepmom to work through her anger. She has a right to be hurt, she has a right to be angry. I know I would be if I were in her situation. But what we do with the anger is key. I don’t know what confronting the stepmom will accomplish. I don’t know if she will listen and be remorseful and agree to not do something similar in the future. One big possible outcome of confronting is to be left feeling more upset especially if this mom has an expectation of what type of response she wants from the stepmom. Unfortunately, that tattoo is there and is for all purposes – unremoveable.

Depending on this mom’s relationship with her ex-husband it may make the most sense to speak with him directly about how she feels. This way she can express her feelings without running the risk of getting into an arguement w/ the stepmom that could leave her feeling more frustrated and angry.

Here are some truths as I see them that can never be changed regardless of whether her kids’ names are tattoed on another woman:

You ARE the mother of your children

Your kids WILL ALWAYS be loyal TO YOU regardless of what the stepmom’s tattoo reads

Your kids WILL ALWAYS love you

As stepmoms, we know first hand that regardless of how much we love and take care of our stepkids they are most loyal to their mom and dad first. This is often very frustrating for stepmoms but should bring comfort to moms and communicate to moms that they don’t have to compete with stepmoms. Most of us truly want what is best for our marriage and for all of our kids (biological, adopted and step).

The above is my humble opinion on this matter. I wanted to open this up for other stepmoms to respond and encourage this woman and share any experiences that might be similiar.

Our stepmom community is strong and we all know how important it is to help one another out. Please leave your feedback for our friend below. Thanks.

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