Entries tagged with “NaBloPoMo”.


Day 30: 30 Days in the StepMom Trenches

 I did it!  

It’s officially 30 days and I’ve blogged every one of them. My gratitude to those of you who endured my ramblings for 30 days in a row. Appreciate your kind words and support.  When I first signed up for NaBloPoMo I thought this will be great as I love to write and share my heart with others. Then during the first few days when life was happening and kids were getting sick and homework was heavier at the start of a new quarter, I thought “how am I ever going to do this for 30 days?” There were many nights when I was hitting the “publish” button near the midnight hour.

I knew I would complete the challenge because I committed to it and I always keep my promises. I also knew I couldn’t dwell on the task or I would get stressed out. A little lesson I learned from being a stepmom.

You see those same feelings were very familiar for me. When I fell in love with my husband, a custodial dad, I was so excited to be welcoming two more children into my life. I thought “how hard can this be? I love my husband and I love being a mom and his girls are crazy about me.”  Then a few months into our remarriage, my stepdaughters starting transferring the anger they felt towards their mother onto me – the mom in the house. And it hurt.

When I dwelled on what was going on, I felt helpless like the situation would never change. But when I grieved the pain and focused on each day as each day was not hard, I felt better. I knew even during the toughest times that I was supposed to be exactly where I was. No matter what happened, I wasn’t going anywhere. I focused on the love that my husband and I have and the pain that all of the kids have been through.  The truth is that stepfamilies are built on loss. While they are a second chance at love for the two adults, it is a reminder for the children that their parents will never be together again.

When I came down with pneumonia mid November, some of my friends told me to abandon the NaBloPoMo writing project saying it was to much on my plate. When I was being verbally abused by my stepdaughters early in the marriage, I had non stepmom friends tell me they wouldn’t blame me if I left.  But that’s not how I operate. You can’t be short sighted. You have to look at the big picture and then break it down to small tangible goals and tasks.

I feel so good that I completed NaBloPoMo. I blogged 30 days in a row through a lot of stuff going on at home. I am grateful that I did it. I am also thankful that I “stuck it out” during the first few years that were challenging as a stepmom. I still have my challenges but I also have a clear view of looking at my life and while my days are not always easy, I know that nothing in life worth having ever is.  God didn’t promise me blue skies and happy days. His promise is to carry me through the storms and give me strength in my weakness.

Life in the StepMom Trenches:  How often have you been up against a “stepmom challenge” and thought this is so hard? When we focus on the burdens we are carrying, it seems like crossing the finish line will be impossible. Always keep faith and hope that the journey is doable. We are all works in progress and so are our lives.

Challenge: when you are feeling like you can’t win, remember that you can. When you are trying and working on something you are winning. Remember that it is wisdom and not weakness to seek help. In regards to struggles in the stepmom arena, rely on your positive thinking stepmom community. We understand and we are here to support one another. Never, ever forget the blessing that you are to all of those around you!

Day 29: 30 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches

Life happens. Lice happens. We can choose to laugh at our life or we can choose to become bitter. While laughter is the best medicine, often we can’t laugh at things in the moment. The humor of the situation doesn’t surface until the moment has passed and we have time to reflect. That time of reflection is also a time when we can see the blessings in our circumstances and over look the burdens.

This has never been truer than when our family came down with lice! Or more like when lice rained down on our family. This is the story of how our family became a Close Nit Family! 

It was like any other Friday afternoon, the kids all blew in from the bus and tossed their stacks of papers at me. While we were chatting about the day, I was loosely flipping through six kids’ worth of weekly papers. Spelling tests, math quizzes, an art project and the very common medical alert forms. One was for strep throat and the other was for lice. Our school sends a note home whenever there is a communicable disease in the class. Just like the lice notes before, I thought this will never happen to us. I had the untrue assumption that lice only happened in dirty hair. Oh on the contrary, those pesky lice bugs love clean hair. Making my children shower daily was coming back to bite me. Literally. Lice bites.

Saturday rolled around and one of the kids was complaining of an itchy scalp. I gave her Head & Shoulders shampoo. Sunday, another child said her head felt itchy and my original “itcher” said the shampoo didn’t work.  That’s when I remembered the note. I went to it. Then I went to the computer and googled lice. There I saw those little buggers and read how easy it is to spread, how much they love clean hair and what you have to put your home through when it invades.

I called one of the kids into the kitchen and looked closely at her hair without her “noticing.” That’s when I saw one and that’s when I ran outside telling my husband we have lice and I have to run to Drug Mart. I hopped in my car and seventy dollars later I had every lice shampoo, spray and comb they sold. My usual fear of buying “embarrassing” products vanished next to the thoughts of my children and home invaded.

I came home and checked one of my daughters. She had lice. My husband and I decided to check all the kids. One by one they each had it. Six kids with a head full of lice. The lice was so matted in one of our kid’s hair at the nape of their neck that I had to cut some hair off. I promised through tears that I would take them for a hair cut on Monday. Needless to say, I was having a “bad mom” moment but with all that was going on I didn’t have much time to blame myself.

Then my husband checked my hair and yes those damn bugs hadn’t gotten the memo. They had got me too! I was horrified. My loving husband sat for an hour with me, combing my long hair and helping me shampoo and treat. That’s true love.

We spent the entire night, combing through hair, shampooing, treating each child. I donated my beloved chopsticks to science as they worked wonders sectioning off the hair and looking strand by strand. We bagged up all the bedding. We sprayed all the mattresses. We laid clean blankets on the floor and made pillows out of towels. As my one son put “mom, you are making us live like hobos.”

The next morning, I was home with six kids with lice and my husband ran out to get me lots and lots of quarters. We trekked up to the local laundromat and spent over four hours washing every blanket, sheet, pillowcase, comforter, clothes in the house. We could never have done the volume of wash at home in  a reasonable amount of time. We also had to wash all the stuffed animals. With four girls in our home, you can only guess how many stuffies went through the wash and how many came out not looking so great. More tears.

After everything was washed and dried, we bagged it all up and put it in the trunk and drove off to get haircuts. That’s when I learned that hairdressers cannot cut hair with lice. “But you promised mom that you would get my hair cut fixed,” said my daughter.  I truly don’t’ know how it happened but the woman agreed to cut my teary eyed daughter’s hair after I told her how many times I treated her hair.

I was thankful.

Day after day, we would comb through the hair, shampoo, treat and day after day we would still find the lice. When I thought they were clean I would take them to school the next day and before they could go in they had to be checked by the nurse. The boys were good after one day and homemade buzz cuts but the girls were rejected over and over. It took four days for two of the girls to be clear and one week for the other two.

I was physically and emotionally exhausted from de-licing my kids and my home.

But something beautiful came out of the experience. We became a closer-knit family because of the nits. Kids worked together to change bedding every night. They pitched in willingly with household chores as my husband and I spent hours each night on the kids’ hair. They shared their experience and had empathy and compassion for each other. My husband and I worked side by side helping the kids. It didn’t matter whether it was one of our biological kids or our stepchild, we cared for them and treated their lice problem. The kids saw us work together. They witnessed the love and compassion we gave to each child, regardless of their birth parents. Our family saw no “steps” that week. We were each a blessing to all the kids and all the kids were a blessing to us. That is something all parents involved can be thankful for.

Lice is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It is awful. It is invasive. It turns your home upside down.And while I never want it again. Ever. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the gift it brought to our family. Yes, I can say this now that it’s over. And No, I wouldn’t have been able to utter those words two years ago while we were in the midst of it.

Lessons from the StepMom Trenches: something good can come out of something hard and challenging. It is difficult to see it in the moment but if you look, it is there.

Challenge: think to a challenging time in your life where you were able to see the blessings after the burden had past. What lessons did you learn? Would you trade the experience? Do you believe you are a stronger person because of what you went through?  Keep this situation tucked in your heart and the next time you face challenges, remember the blessings that can come out of burdens.

May I also suggest picking up a bottle of Lice Shampoo just in case. I pray you never, ever have to use it!

Day 28:  30 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches

Today is my Birthday! I chose to have a great day. I use the word “chose” because as I have matured in age I have come to some new understandings in life. One of those being that while we have no control over how others treat us we can control our response to it. I have also learned to have expectations with a plan. Setting high expectations without working towards them only leaves me feeling frustrated and disappointed. 

I embraced today for today and I embrace life in my forties. There is something about living in your forties where you care less about what others think of you and it’s an amazing feeling. I often wish I had this sense in my twenties but then again, all my experiences have made me who I am today and I am very content with ME.

Today, my husband took time out of his day to meet me for lunch. It was a sweet treat to spend time with him mid-day.

My oldest daughter made me a clay sculpture. 

My oldest stepdaughter knitted me two scarves and a coffee cozie. My youngest stepdaughter made me a sweet card. My youngest daughter made me three books. My two sons gave me “the love in their hearts.”

I treasure the time spent with my family. When you live in a co-parenting situation you don’t have your kids 24/7 so I have learned to truly value the time when we are all together. I know I took that for granted when I was married to my kids’ dad and the kids were always with me. I always loved my time with them but never truly knew how blessed I was to have my kids every day.

Today, as I reflect on the blessings in my life I am grateful for this wonderful stepmom community. As I was searching for some positive quotes today, I came across this and I wanted to share with you. Thanks for all of your love and support. May this be my gift to you today:

 Only You

You’re unique, amazing
Like no one else
You have the exclusive
On being yourself.

No one on Earth
Exists quite like you
And no one is able
To do what you do

The person you are
The talents you bear
Gifts that only
You can share

Only you have learned
From the things you’ve done
Gaining perspective
From the battles you’ve won

Times when you’ve lost
Have been priceless too
The lessons contribute
To what makes you you

The rest of the world
Can’t see through your eyes
Which is why your insight
May be such a prize

Because you are you
There are lives you affect
Much more than you
Would ever expect

The things you do
The things you say
Send ripples throughout
The Milky Way

You’re unique, amazing
Like no one else
You have the exclusive
On being yourself.

- Dan Coppersmith

Excerpted from The Elusive Here & Now

Lessons from the StepMom Trenches: everyday we are given gifts. One of those gifts is the power of choice. We can choose how we will respond to the day and all that it brings. This doesn’t mean that responding is easy but it does mean that we do hold power in our choice.

Challenge: think about something that is challenging in your role as stepmom. Now think about how you respond to that challenge. Is there something you could do differently that might change how that negative person and/or situation impacts you? Why not focus on choosing how you respond to situations rather than on the situation itself. I know it won’t be easy but see if it makes a difference in how you feel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 27:     30 Days in the StepMom Trenches

 “Because I said so!”

 “The best gift you can give me on my Birthday is to get along with each other!”

Two phrases my mother used with my brothers and I when we were growing up. Two phrases I didn’t like hearing as a kid. Two phrases I used today!  

It’s Sunday in late fall and that means Church, attending my son’s basketball game, and weekend chores. This holiday weekend, it also meant putting up Christmas trees in each of the kids’ rooms and trying to squeeze in some fun family time as four of our six were not with us the whole weekend.

Needless to say, it was a busy day. Church was wonderful and we heard a great message. Reggie Hodges, a player for the Cleveland Browns and member of our Church, spoke briefly this morning about the importance of being bold in your faith. He spoke with such conviction and meaning. One of our Pastor’s spoke about apprenticeship and how many of the moral lessons he learned in life were taught in his home by watching his parents and grandparents and by listening to their words and following their example. His message really reinforced how what we say and how we live our life has such a profound impact on our children and stepchildren. It was good stuff.

My son’s team played well and won. It was great to watch him play. And then the fun started as we arrived home.

When I was a single mom, I decided to put small trees in each of my kids’ bedrooms. When I got remarried, we brought our tradition with us and my stepdaughters loved the idea of having a Christmas tree in their room. We have fun decorating the trees. We put on Christmas music, make hot chocolate and talk about when we got certain ornaments. It’s a fun time.

This year was a bit more hectic. Over the summer we added two bedrooms to our home so that each of our four girls have their own bedroom. Two new rooms meant finding two new trees and it was quite the feat trying to find trees that were similar to the ones we already had…. just to make things fair.

As Murphy’s Law would have it, the lights didn’t work from last year. Ornaments got broken in storage. Trees were tipping over. Just seemed like everyone had an issue and everyone needed “mom.” Even though my husband was available and offering to help, it was one of those days when only “mom” would do.

I had to bring out the “because I told you,” a few times when I asked people to do something and was challenged on it.  There are just times when I want the kids to do simple things without the complexity of being challenged.

I reminded myself repeatedly while I was getting requests from every room in the house and finding myself getting frustrated because I couldn’t help everyone when they were asking for help that just 48 hours earlier I was very sad missing my four kids and wishing we were all together. We were all together today and I needed to appreciate the chaos that it brought.

It was just one of those days where it seemed the kids were just at each other. Not in a mean spirited way….. just a sibling we’ve spent to much time doing family stuff kinda way.  So at the end of the night when I was tucking my two sons in and they asked “mom, what do you want for your birthday tomorrow?” I replied, “I just want you to get along. That would be the best gift of all!” And as I spoke those words I smiled, remembering how on nearly every holiday my mom would make that request and I would always think “give me something easier please.”

I guess it’s inevitable that we use the phrases that our parents used on us. We were raised by them. And regardless of what type of family you live in, you are going to have challenging days. You are going to have kids who challenge you whether you are the parent or the stepparent.

While the day was non-stop fire drills I paused to take solace in the fact that my seven year old daughter was adamant about making sure I had two new Christmas trees to put in the new bedrooms so that everyone had a tree. She sees all her siblings as siblings…. no step involved and that is a blessing if I say so myself.

Lessons from the StepMom Trenches: some days are chaotic and other days are really chaotic. Whether you are in a traditional family or stepfamily, siblings can get on each others’ nerves and it’s the parents/stepparents who often have to play referee.

Challenge: are there any phrases that your parents used that you find yourself using? How do you feel when you use these phrases? Do you smile thinking back to your parent’s using the same phrases or do you think “I can’t believe I just said that?”

Day 26: 30 Days in the StepMom Trenches

Today, my four children returned from their time with their dad and our family of eight traveled to my parents’ home to celebrate Thanksgiving. My brother, his wife and their three children were there. It was wonderful to all be together. We didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving on the day the calendar tells us to but rather on a day when we could all get together.  The blessing of family and friends is the true celebration of Thanksgiving.   

It was such a blessing to see everyone and hear the kids laughing and talking about Christmas and making plans to see each other in the next few weeks. The weather was wonderful so the kids played hide and go seek and basketball and we just had a very relaxing and peace filled day.

At dinner, my brother read a Thanksgiving prayer. The words spoken really touched my heart and I wanted to share it with all of you:

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Oh, God, when I have food,

help me to remember the hungry;

When I have work, help me

to remember the jobless;

When I have a warm home,

help me to remember the homeless;

When I am without pain,

help me to remember those who suffer;

And remembering, help me

to destroy my complacency

and bestir my compassion.

Make me concerned enough

to help, by word and deed,

those who cry out

for what we take for granted.

~ Samuel F. Pugh

 

Lesson from the StepMom Trenches: Often it can feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders and many times it may be. It is important to be thankful in all we do during both the good and challenging times. Choosing to focus on the positive doesn’t mean you aren’t going through a hard time. It means that you are choosing to focus on the good things in your life. By focusing on the blessings, our burdens seem more bearable.

Challenge: Find a poem, quote, or other inspirational piece that really speaks to your heart. Read the piece daily during times of blessings and times of challenge. Very often an inspirational piece that speaks to your heart can help turn negative thoughts into positive ones and in turn help you maintain a grateful heart and positive mood.

Day 25: 30 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches

The day after Thanksgiving was spent hanging out and fixing things around the house. My husband had the day off and we were down four kids so he wanted to take the time to complete some projects around the house. One of the things on my husband’s “to-do” list was unclogging the bathroom sinks.  

The sinks weren’t completely clogged up but my husband noticed that they were draining slower and slower and he thought he’d take the time to clean out the drains before the clogs got to bad and completely backed up.

As I was helping him with this “fun” task, we were both commenting on how gross the junk was that was stuck in the drains. I would have never guessed how much junk and build up was in the base of the drains seeing how the water was still going down the sink. It was amazing the GUNK we didn’t even know was there but was causing our sinks to drain slower and slower.

My husband made the analogy that just like bathroom sinks, our emotions can get slowly clogged up with people and events that frustrate us and before we know it – we can have emotional blockage. I completely agree. The blockage we experience from letting things fester within us and not dealing with things can take the form of putting a wall up against someone we love and/or it can also be when we just explode because we’ve been keeping junk stuffed down for so long.

It makes sense that every so often we should clean out our emotional drains so that we don’t become drained by them. If we let things go in the moment but don’t truly release them but rather stuff them down then we can cause a slow clogging of our emotions. It is important to examine the things that are causing us stress, deal with them, forgive and then let them go. Cleaning this out frees us to allow all the good stuff to flow freely through us. When we have blocks, it prohibits the joy and love that we do have in our lives from fully penetrating.

Lesson from the StepMom Trenches: you don’t realize how the emotional clog is building up until something completely backs up and becomes a complete mess. Important to do routine checks and make sure that you aren’t just stuffing stuff down but dealing with it so it’s not building up. Ask yourself what, if any, bitterness or resentment is building up and if you find some then decide how to deal with it.

Challenge: take a look inward and see if you have any emotional blockages that are preventing you from truly enjoying life and embracing each day for what it is. If you find something, decide how you will deal with it to let it go and let the love flow freely through you.

Day 24: 30 Days in the StepMom Trenches

Happy Thanksgiving friends. Today, I am reminded of the many things I am truly thankful for in my life.

I am thankful for……   

  • God who gives me love, mercy, compassion, grace, wisdom and forgiveness each day and gives me His word to extend those gifts to others.
  • my wonderful husband who covers me in unconditional love.
  • my children who have shown me that I am so much stronger than I ever thought I was or could be.
  • my stepchildren who have expanded my heart and my capacity to love and be patient.
  • to all of my family and friends who love me for me.
  • to the wonderful stepmom community who has been a blessing beyond any words I can ever express.

and so much more…..

I strive to live with a grateful heart each and every day. Thanksgiving is a wonderful day to reflect on the blessings in our life. It is my intention to carry the love and spirit of Thanksgiving in my heart each and every day.

Who is with me?

Day 23:   30 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches

In honor of Wordless Wednesday, here are some photos from our annual Turkey Bowl today. Each year, we all go bowling on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Every other year my four children go to their father’s for Thanksgiving and so this tradition is one that our whole family can enjoy year after year.  Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

Day 21: 30 Days in the StepMom Trenches

Something you should never say to a stepmom is “you knew what you were getting yourself into!”

That quite possibly could be the understatement of the century.  I don’t think there is a stepmom out there who could have predicted her family life before she actually became a stepmother. Reality of stepmom life says there are many, many people whom impact our life, schedule and wallet yet we have little to no control over them. Speaking from my own personal life experience, I was completely blindsided by many of the feelings I experienced as a new stepmom. 

Often after the “I dos” are exchanged, emotions can change in the ex-wife and in the stepkids and typically it is the stepmom who can become the target of the emotional whirlwind.

While my husband and I read every book we could get our hands on before getting remarried and talked with veteran stepcouples in our church, I still was not prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions I would ride once I said “I do.”

I never expected…. I was pleasantly surprised ….
  • to feel so alone at times
  • to connect with so many amazing stepmoms
  • that my stepdaughters would push me away
  • that my stepdaughters would love and thank me for being “mom”
  • that my stomach would do flips everytime I hear the word “court”
  • that my heart would do flips everytime I look into my husband’s baby blues
  •  I would rely on my faith so much
  • to live by faith
  • it could hurt so bad to love
  • it could feel so good to love
  • a man I love with all my heart could drive me so crazy
  • I could love a man so much
  • I could feel like an outsider in my own home
  • I could feel so complete when our whole family is together
  • that I could feel so bad
  • that I could feel so good
  • to hurt so bad when my stepkids hurt
  • to be so happy when my stepkids accomplish something great
  • defend my role as stepmom
  • share my heart as a stepmom
  • to be the one to have all the “girl” talks with my stepdaughters
  • that I would come to know my stepdaughters so well that I could see hurts and pains in my stepkids that even their own father doesn’t see
  • my children to often be jealous of having to share their “mom” 24/7 with their stepsiblings
  • that all six of our kids would gel so well that there is no step used among them. It’s all about just being brothers & sisters.

 

Lessons for the StepMom Trenches: I don’t think any woman can accurately understand what life as a stepmom is like until she chooses to love a man with children. You feel it when you are in it and sometimes the feelings change seasonly, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly and sometimes by the minute.  Know that every feeling you have is real, normal and okay. It’s what we do with our feelings that matter.

Challenge: Next time you feel an emotion related to your role as stepmom, know that you are not alone. We all have joys and challenges as a stepmom and whatever you are feeling there are likely a million other Smoms feeling the same way. There is strength in community. Get connected to other positive minded stepmoms!

 

Day 19:    30 Days in the StepMom Trenches

When all else fails I put on my ipod! Yes, when the kids are going at it and my words don’t seem to mean much and I feel myself getting stressed, I put on my ipod and dance around and do some chores. Tuning out the blessed chaos around me and tuning in some great songs helps the stress melt away. 

I have a very eclectic mix on my ipod. Depending on my mood, I love to rock it out to Bon Jovi, Rob Thomas and Aerosmith. Also love me some Casting Crowns and Nicole Nordeman. Phil Vassar and Brad Paisley get my feet moving and I love the soundtrack to Grease and anything Barry Manilow – yes I said it. Can’t smile without you is one of my favs and I blame it on all the time I spent with my granny growing up. Can’t listen to Barry without smiling and thinking of my sweet grams. Miss her.

And this time of year, I love rockin out to the Christmas tunes!

When I listen to the music playing, I hear sweet sounds and the the noise around me seems right out of a Peanuts Cartoon. I see my kids lips moving but hear muted wha, wha, wha, wha sounds. I’m smiling to the music and the kids tend to work it out. Good stuff.

Lesson from the StepMom Trenches: some days are a bit crazy. Even when you do your best, sometimes chaos ensues. When those times take hold, take time to relax and unwind whatever that means to you. Try ipod therapy. It works.

Challenge: think about the times when you need a stress break. Are there things you can do that will refresh you? Going for a walk, putting on the radio or trying some ipod therapy may do the trick. Tuning in some music and tuning out the blessed chaos can do miracles for a stepmom!

 Stay tuned. Sharing the ultimate stepmom playlist in the coming days…..

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