My Story

Friday, December 4, 2015

5 Pieces of Bad Stepmom Advice You Should Ignore

If I hear those words one more time, I'm going to vomit on the supportive person telling me that.  To me, that's equal to telling someone in the middle of a freakin' tsunami to avoid getting wet. Okay, I know how that sounds.  In all fairness, I know that the well meaning person I'm rattling off all my recent SM tragedies to has no clue what to say other than, "Stay strong." 
I jump on a lot of stepmom boards and there's so much advice flying around that I just don't agree with.  I think it's terrible actually.  I've been doing this step thing for a while now so I can see through these but what about the new stepmom trying to find her way?  It's just not fair.
Here are the top 5 that make this stepmomma's skin crawl:
1.  Stay positive.
No thanks, I don't want to.  I choose to be realistic.  This means that if my life sucks at the moment and I want to wallow in that feeling, I will. I am allowed to take a break to vent and bitch about everything without feeling guilty about that.  Period.  
2. That's still your stepchild's mother.  
This is just rude.  Again, we know.  We deal with this "mother" more than we care to.  Forget everything the stepmom does for this child, sometimes even more than this "mother".  You can't compete with the fact that you did not give birth.  But please, continue to state the obvious anyway.
3.  Just be supportive because they are from a broken home.
Are you kidding me?!??  A broken home shouldn't give a child a hall pass to act out or be disrespectful.  SMs suffer, DH feels guilty and poor SK gets to be a little shit. Yes, it's difficult for a child to have to go back and forth to different homes but it's happening.  There are children that have endured far worse that have risen above. Man up, kiddo.
4.  Never wish bad on their mother.
HA!  Whatever.  My DH and I have always taken the high road, treating that gross beast with respect she surely didn't deserve from us.  We have always lifted the BM up in front of the kids, she doesn't think twice about tearing us down.  No one will ever convince me that my own private thoughts aren't valid. 
5.   Step back and let their father and their mom work it out.  
In my home, I am the mother, my husband is the father and together, we make decisions about the children in our home.  That's it.  To relinquish this control, to step back, means I become a resentful outsider in my home.  Talk. About. Poison. Good luck coming back from that one.  
I know a lot of what I'm saying isn't the popular opinion but it is the real stuff.  I wear the weathered human face of this stepmom life.  Not every thing about being a stepmom is hard and I've experienced some of those rewards.  Ignorance is bliss everywhere but in stepmom land.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Gift Giving Tips: Don't expect a Thank you

Ok, when did the holidays get here?  I've been so consumed in the unfolding tragedies happening within my own stepfamily this year that I feel like I missed it all.  Others didn't miss a beat though.  Driving around my neighborhood yesterday, there are Christmas lights and decorations going up everywhere.  
If you've been living in your stepmomma world for awhile like me, I won't have to tell you how daunting it can be.  If you're a new SM, hang on to your tinsel, it's going to be a bumpy ride. 
Below, are some of the top lessons I've learned the hard way on gift giving.
1.  Give without Expecting Anything in Return
I'm guessing that old pesky saying was first coined by a stepmom.  That's right ladies, don't expect a thank you or any kind of acknowledgment...from anyone.  
Let me take you through a few personal experiences.  BM is absent for most of the year except for birthdays and holidays, when the Super Mom personality likes to take over the host body.  This is her time to be in front of her parents and family and show off what a great mother she is.  The other boring days of the year are when my hubby and I do the heavy lifting.  Go figure.
This is where I used to have to remind myself that it's not about me, it's about the kids. The hubs and I never wanted to send the kids empty handed without a present for the BM and half-siblings so we'd add them all to our shopping list.  Excited as my SKs were to see their mother, they were always nervous about these visits which just added to the stress of finding that perfect gift.  I can remember one particular Christmas season, walking through Kohl's with my SD (who was probably 10yrs old at the time) trying to find the joy as we shopped for her mother.  *rollingeyes*  That year, we settled on a red hat, matching scarf and some slippers large enough to fit an NBA player.  Ugly and big feet!  I heard they fit perfectly.  HA!
Another gift giving memory for me was the time when my SKs were preparing to attend their half-brother's birthday party.  I remember sitting on my living room floor early one morning making gift baskets for them to take.  I had handpicked each toy, every item and packaged everything perfectly.  My SKs just grabbed them and off my baskets went.   When we picked them up from the party, I asked them how their brothers liked their gifts or if their mom said anything about them.  Crickets.  Nothing.
As if those times didn't teach me enough, I decided to step it up and get even craftier with some DIY coasters for both the BM and my bio son's new SM for a Mother's Day.  Yeah, I did. Crazy right?  Believe me, I wish I could take it all back.  I  jumped on Facebook and copied just the right pics of their kids as well as the children we shared together.  The next day, my son's SM posted a picture of those coasters and tagged him with 'The coasters my oldest son made for me!'  Ugh.  The BM's family also posted a Facebook pic expressing a similar sentiment.  Double ugh.  Mother of the Year...yeah right.  Never again.
Looking back, I was secretly hoping for some recognition from my SKs, my son and dare I say it?  The BM and the new SM.  Just a small pat on the back that someone somewhere was noticing how far out of my way I was going.  
2.  Always refer to #1.   
Giving should be its own reward.  I'd laugh but I'm totally choking on that one.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

To BioMom from the Lady who Raised your Kids

To say I dislike the psycho BioMom (BM) in my life would be an understatement. Dislike was over years ago.   Over the last decade, I have learned which one of us is really the wicked one.
The other evening, I was reading through all the emails (a/k/a  "documentation")  we have exchanged back and forth over the years.
So. Many. Emails.  Of course, most of them are from me sending schedules, pictures and Xmas lists to the ever absent BM in hopes that she would care long enough to take the moment's interest.  
I've decided to share our last and most recent email exchange with you all.  I omitted a few words in order  to protect my family's privacy, but there's still plenty enough juicy meat on the bone.  Also, excuse her typos...she's been accused of being a lot of things, but the sharpest tool in the shed is definitely not one of them! 
Earlier this year, my SS18 honored me with his request for a legal adoption. After BM found out about this, I received this email...
I know now that this has always been a losing battle...and you win.
You have hurt the core of my soul.
Just know that not once have you thought "what if someone did this to me."
At least I feel that way.
What I feel does not matter.
I know understand evil and I will still look to God and not human actions.
In your dying bed you will finally realize so much that not even you can escape God's Judgement.
This event in our family was so meaningful and such an honor to us all.  How dare she just crap all over it?  Pissed I was.  So much so, I had to take a full day to clear my thoughts enough to respond...
I apologize for my delayed response.  
You are right.  Not once have I ever thought about what if someone did "this" to me.  The reason I have never given this a thought is because I have been an active participant in my children's daily lives from the time they were born.  I married DH and stepped into a full time active parenting role for SS and SD as well...Not ever trying to take your place, just investing everything into them the same way I do for my own.
I have always been respectful to you, even though there were many, many occasions over the years when it wasn't warranted.  I have gone above and beyond in order to support your role as a mother and make you a part of the kids' lives when they were growing up...Everything from emailing you pictures of them (one time you even asked me to email your sister phots of the kids too...Really?  You couldn't forward them to her??...but I did that too) to sending you sports schedules inviting you to every school function and even helping you set up a Facebook account so you could step up and take an active role and open those lines of communication with them.  DH and I were the exact definition of insanity for the levels of support up and to paying the money to keep you from going to prison, where you would still be, had we not stepped in to help you.
I understand your need to blame someone and that your level of comfort lies with being the 'woe is me sacrificing victim' in all of this.  I have observed firsthand that you have no limits and make up incredible lies and stories in order to support whatever truths you've conjured up in that crazy mind of yours.  It's shocking and frankly, quite sad.  It's always easier to blame someone else instead of owning up to the part we played in a situation.
Yes, BM, this battle is over.  Your power trip over us having to do for you is a thing of the past.  There is no need for me to remain silent and play nice for the sake of the kids.  The relationship you chose to have with them is all you.  As much as you want to put that on me...that's on you.  You want to believe I did something to you?  Okay.  The best quote that I absolutely love and will share with you is "Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.  With that said...
Still I wish you well.

I remember reading my message about one hundred times that day.  It was everything I ever wanted to say but couldn't.  I finally get to say my piece without any repercussions, backlash or consequence.  Kids are just about grown up and we are free of her wicked ways.  Still, that ugly bitter woman never ceases to amaze me. Her one line response, "How much money was paid to the lawyer so that I can pay it back?"  Needless to say, I didn't reply.

Moral of the story:

You can't fix stupid.  Some people just never get it.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Shangri-La vs Reality

After a tumultuous week with the family followed by a houseful of weekend guests, I couldn't wait to get away escape for a few days to The Big Apple.  I have many happy places here at home but New York City is a place that can always make me forget the realities of home.   So many people living such different lives and for a stepmom moment, I was able to pretend I was one of them.  One morning, I parked myself on the St. Patrick's Cathedral steps with a Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice in hand and just watched the street traffic.  I walked thru Central Park, paid tribute to Lady Liberty and all the heroes of 9/11. I took advantage of a foot rub in Chinatown and dined in Little Italy.  It was wonderful and so refreshing. 

I'm baaaack!  

This was the text message I sent to my youngest son when I returned home last night.  I met my husband for a quick dinner to reconnect from our dumb fight before I left escaped and to rattle all of my adventures and of course, to hear how he did holding down the fort here at home.  Let's just say I had a better time than he did.  HA!  I can't say I don't love to see him sweat and hearing him acknowledge how much I really do, wasn't bad either.  

I have to put the disclaimer that I love my husband more than anything out there before I say the following....he's a softie, doesn't want to have to be the bad guy and our kids use this to their fullest advantage.  The kids, down to the dog, don't respect him because he's a marshmallow. This is just one of the many, many, many parenting style differences that we have been forced to work thru over the last decade.   My hubby is a great father with the best intentions but he never wants to be the bad guy. Don't worry sweetie, the enforcer is home again.  

I spoke to my 17 yo SD last week before I left to let her know that she need not try to take advantage of her father while I was away.  She had kitchen duty this week and since no one was here to tell her to do it and she knows her father wasn't going to say anything about it, she didn't do it.  Since she ran away last year and just returned to us a few months ago, things haven't been the same and we are struggling as she works to regain the trust that was lost.  To me, it's not about the kitchen chore but more so, the fact that she knew she was to do this each night but since she saw away around it, she took advantage of it.  The entire reason she ran away before was because we were enforcing rules with her.  I have to constantly battle myself to continue enforcing the rules with her exactly the same way I would do with my other children.  This battle awaits...

Welcome home!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why It's All about Choice in a Stepfamily

When I first decided to start this blog, I needed an online journal as some sort of outlet.  I have never been one to keep a journal but nowadays, it may be what's saving me.  Where do you go when you need to vent?  Normally I would speak to my best friend, my partner, my husband but these days, we are both just trying to keep our heads above water that we each need to ensure our own survival without the added stress of a drowning partner as well. 

One of the most difficult lessons that I continue to learn over and over again, is that stepfamilies are all built on CHOICE.  Two people fall in love by choice.  Another decision to blend these two families into one is again, by choice.  I made the choice to be the best stepmother to my SKs, even on those days when I wanted to run LOL!  My husband made a choice to love my children.  Our extended families made a choice to welcome our new family.  Everything is a choice.

As I'm writing this, I am unsure of how much to share of my own stepfamily life but what the goes.  A couple of years ago, our 14 yr old SD made the choice to buy a bus ticket and run away from home to escape the consequences of breaking rules.  Three days later, the BM who has never been an active participant in her life, swooped in like a hero to take her precious daughter in.  Anywho, that worked out so well because my SD is back home (ugh, can you sense my sarcasm?)  At 14 years old, my SD made the choice to leave the only family she's ever really known to explore freedom from rules and a fantasy of a mother that quickly became her reality.  As her true mother, I am happy to have her safe and back home but I am so hurt and angry by her choice to leave us all in the first place.  Imagine, someone ripped your arm off, made jokes for a year about that arm being gone, then decides it wants to be a part of that body again.  This body has learned to live without its arm for a year and now that arm looks familiar but is having a hard time trusting it will work the same way again.  That's our family right now. 

As if that wasn't enough of a challenge for our family, my 18 yo bio son made his choice recently to turn away from us, the parents that have raised him, to chase a new girlfriend and live with his biodad and family.  Yes, we were nagging him daily to get his life plan together by going to school, the military, getting a job...something other than sleeping during the day and going out at night on our dollar.  The bum life and being taken care of seems to be his choice.  I'm hoping he will man up and at least own his decision to leave, instead of manipulating everyone with the 'they kicked me out' but I'm a dreamer.

Like I said before, I am learning that biological or step, it doesn't matter in the end.  Whether or not, you made the choice to take the high road with the bios the way we did, it just won't matter.  I don't feel better because I was more honorable, I feel like a fool.  When my husband and I first established this family, we didn't even know that loyalty would eventually be a choice for our children to make.  As they grow into adulthood, we are realizing (as heartbreaking as it is) that our stepfamily only exists by choice.  These children will come and go, so for it all to be worth it, I just want to be married and like my hubby when this is all over.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Stepmoms should have to know their place

We are all one big SM family united by the same struggles, pains and frustrating situations.  Wrong. That's like saying all apples are the same and forgetting how many varieties that are out there.
Similarly, we can all be grouped into one or several of possibilities:  a new SM, a seasoned SM, the childless SM, the Full time SM or a SM with adult Stepkids (SK). Like I mentioned before, this list can go on for days and days I'm sure.
For me, I suppose I am a hybrid of most of these roles.  I have been a new SM.  After 10+ years as a Full-time SM, I would consider myself now a seasoned SM also.  I,  too, juggle my own demons as a BioMom (BM) with my adult son's SM.  
I'm taking a timeout to vent a few of my recent frustrations and allow my devilishly cute side to take over for a SM moment.
I believe I am higher up the "step" ladder than my son's SM of 4 years and she should learn to recognize her place.  Boom!  There ya have it.  I said it.
As eager as we all are as new SMs to build relationships with our SKs, everything tells us to respect boundaries and not move too quickly. Heed this warning!  For over a decade, I've watched my hubby pour all himself into my son.  How to ride a bike, how to throw a ball, how to drive, how to shave.   He was DAD everyday, even when it was the most inconvenient.  This new SM entered the picture four years ago when my son was 14 years old and she will purposefully tag him so we can all see her Facebook posts with her "oldest son".   I can count on my fingers the few times she has joined her husband on weekly visits with him.  This woman has kids of her own and in my mind, she has to know that the full-time parenting she does for them is NOT the same time and effort she puts into our son.  Both my husband and this woman are serving as a stepparent to this same child; however, one is working much harder for his title.  So ridiculous to even compare the two but it is what it is.
Earlier in the year, I  witnessed another new SM situation unfold in my extended family while a niece was getting married.  This new SM was upset because she was not invited to purchase the wedding dress.  BioMom gets this honor.  In this case, my BM self says rightfully so.  This new SM entered the picture after her SD was grown and out of the house.  She did not have a hand in raising her thus in my opinion, her expectations were way off and completely unrealistic.  
I am a hard working, full-time SM that happens to be a full-time BioMom too.  Same thing on the opposite end can be said for my husband.  We are the ones that have stepped up daily for years.  I am grateful that my son has another someone in his corner that wants to know him.  To this woman, I would say that there is a place for you here but I've earned my pretty seat.  Back off a bit and go earn yours.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Second Wife, Second Mom, Second Best?

Is there really something to the Second Wives Club?  Until I became one, I couldn't have been convinced. 

We have all experienced the nightmares of marrying a man who has already been married before. Perhaps you are currently experiencing the *joys* of a bitter ex-wife (rolling my eyes) or found yourself married to a widower. Well as SMs, shouldn't we get to toot our own horns just a tad bit more since we pull double duty with the crap of being part of this club and DUN-DUN-DUUUN...the Stepmom Club too? I'm so thrilled to hear you feel me on this one.

The other night, my family and I attended my niece's birthday party fashionably late as usual. What we missed was the showing of an old Xmas video from several years ago that my mother-in-law (MIL) was just dying for us to watch when we arrived. Out of respect for the second wives, my happily married forever bro-in-law suggested we watch it another time since the Ghost of someone's Christmas Past makes an appearance.

To my surprise, my MIL kept insisting that we all knew the first wife existed and who cared. She even went so far as to say her name out loud! GASP! At that particular moment, the word 'TRAITOR' came to mind.  On most days, my MIL is the most agreeable woman in the room yet on this particular evening, she was ready to tussle. After three rounds or so, she finally shut up.   I remember being so irritated that my MIL could have had such a disrespectful attitude not only towards us, the second wives, but also to her sons. If I think I'm going to a 12 yr old's party only to be bombarded with videos of the ex, my husband will be the one hearing about it on the drive home. My MIL is married to her high school sweetheart of 45 yrs and kept her nuclear family in tact. Of course, she wouldn't get it.

Anywho, we ended up watching the video later after everyone else went home. Luckily for me, it wasn't my husband's ex in the video so I could stomach it a little more. I watched my SKs as their cute tiny selves, dressed to the nines, giggle, dance and eagerly chat away about Santa's arrival. My hubby looked sad and quiet unlike now, where he is the life of every party. Even my SKs noticed this and I happily fired back with, he was sad because he hadn't met me yet.  Score! 

My 12 yr old bio son, who only knows my husband as DAD (my hubby adopted him when he was 5 yrs old), stood with me and watched too.  I could tell he was somewhat uncomfortable seeing the family he's always known as his own and yet none of us were there.  He has no recollection of what these two broken families looked like before it was HIS brother, his sister, his Dad, his grandma, his uncle, his cousin.

Still, these aren't our memories. My bio children and I aren't there. The family we have built over the last decade wasn't represented in that home movie. We are a family of 6.  Cherish the memories of what was?  No thanks.

Of course, this is only something a SM would understand.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Why you can't afford to ignore the importance of a daily mantra

It is what it is. 

These are such simple words apart but when strung along together, they pack quite the punch.  Aha!  Quite comparable to a stepfamily, huh?  All different and unique members brought together by chance and when they fit together, man, that's really kind of nice. 

Is that why these words resonate with me?  Nah, not even close.  Friends, lately, I'm just trying to survive each day.  If I can find a smile, that's even better.  I used to think the first year of blending our families was the hardest time in our 10 years of stepping... Boy, was I wrong!  Our teens, bio and step, have all seemed to ban together to challenge that ruling over the last year.  They can be just plain stupid.  Rumor has it, they will mature someday.

Well I'm here to SHOUT that today is not that day.  I can tell you that on this SM journey we are all on, there will be more days than not when you feel defeated.  We all know when it rains, it pours.  In SM language, that means there are torrential downpours more often than not.  Perhaps, you find yourself struggling today to stay in line with your hubby's views on parenting yours, mine and ours (there goes my night); handling a crazy BioMomster (Grrr!) or working your a$$ off only to be dismissed with, "You're just the stepmom." (Oh nice, thanks).

Been there and still there. I'm confident that I've just described a day, month or year in your life too.  All these and many more are unfortunately, normal encounters and ongoing problems in the Day of a SM.  Sometimes there are just no answers or any immediate solutions.  Tonight, let's take a SM moment by calmly raising that extra glass of vino and remind our frustrated selves, "It is what it is."

What is your favorite mantra today?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

And So It Begins...

A full-time divorced mother of two sons finds true love with full-time divorced father of a daughter and son.  Just like that, the lucky in love couple marries and a new blended family was created, along with a stepmom (SM),  stepfather, the Bio exes, step-siblings, step-grandparents, and even a step-dog.   If you're reading this, you're probably starting to relate right about now.   After all, isn't this the way all new stepfamilies' stories begin? 

Now as any eager and undoubtedly delusional new stepmom would do, I began to look for answers anywhere I could.  I have been a part of a Stepfamily group, sat through many Stepfamily retreat weekends,  joined Facebook groups, anything Stepmom, I'm there.  I have spent many afternoons wandering the aisles of bookstores in search of any self-help literature out there that can assist me in being a supportive SM.  I have found several GREAT tools out there to help us when our SM worlds go wrong; however, I just need a little more than what I'm getting.

Folks, I'm a realist.  If my life is in shambles, I don't want to read about how it will be better if I pray about it.  Now, before I lose you, I am in no way discounting prayer or saying that leaning on your faith when things get rough is somehow wrong.  In fact, just the opposite.  However, when I'm caught in the eye of my family drama, that's just not what I want to do.  If my stepdaughter is lying and being manipulative, I don't want to pray for her just yet, instead I want to rip her hair out.  If my husband is being played and blind to what is happening, I want to poke his eyes out too.  If the BioMom is unleashing her terror, I want to be her worst nightmare.  Of course, this is all my in my head.  Never would any of this really ever take place because my husband and I have always allowed ourselves to be jerked around for the "sake of the kids".  You know what I'm talking about ladies.  We're classier than the BioMom, so we certainly can't rip into her the way we would normally like to if our marriages, families and children weren't at stake?  Consider this blog a safe haven to vent your frustrations and voice your dirty thoughts.  No judgment here. 

I am happy to report that I have been bravely steppin' for 10 years now but there are many occasions when this good girl gets tired of being the better person.  For once, I'd like to be the witch (with a capital B) that they claim I am!

So come on fellow SMs and meet me here for a little SM timeout.  I look forward to getting our halos dirty together because Sometimes a Stepmom just needs a Moment... or two...or three!