All in Life as a Step-Mom
Let’s talk sending your kid or step kid off to College this Fall!
You've probably been inundated with lists out there of what to send with your College bound kid. Having sent three kids off recently, I found three key things missing from any of the dozens of lists. Three things, that I consider an absolute MUST for parent sanity when sending our youngins' off to forage on their own.
I assumed that by the time I was entering into my 15th year of blended family bliss that our issues would be behind us - we would surely be fully blended by then. Boy was I wrong! THE BLENDER NEVER STOPS BLENDING! No matter how long you've been together! No matter how many storms you've weathered landing on the other side safely - there's always a new challenge waiting around the corner.
Some expected - some unexpected - some a complete blindside.
THE BLENDER NEVER STOPS
Our family life has faced major changes over the past two years. Two kids off to College - EXPECTED. Figuring out who I am AGAIN as an almost empty nester - UNEXPECTED. My lack of a relationship with my youngest Step Daughter - BLINDSIDE.
Twenty years ago I became a Mother for the first time. It was nine months in the making. Nine months with an up close and personal relationship with my shiny white toilet bowl. Many nights I wondered as I hugged the toilet bowl for dear life - what genius had coined the term morning sickness anyway? How dare they give an expectant mother a false sense of hope that it would magically stop when the clock struck noon. Try the stroke of Midnight with an emotionally spent expectant mother sobbing on the bathroom floor in complete darkness.
When I was a kid, I always assumed when I grew up bullies wouldn't exist. The Internet shattered that fantasy with an all-new low for bullying; hate, intimidation, threats lobbed at victims from the safety of a cartoon character avatar and fake name. For a long time I chose to look the other way. It was "their" war not mine.
Then I became a StepMom and like so many women before me became a Disposable Woman in the eyes of the Cyber Bullies.
Every New Years Day I make a resolution; THIS is THE YEAR I'm going to lose my extra 10 pounds! Only to find myself every New Years Eve still holding out hope that those ten pounds will magically disappear at the stroke of midnight! Then there's my 7 resolutions I make as a Wife, Mom and StepMom that bears repeating year after year. Following them religiously makes my life as a Blended Wife and Mama a much happier one.
1. Give your StepKids a break when they screw up from time to time.
When we started our Blended Family, the kid's therapist recommended we do a baseline IQ test of our three youngest. The reasoning? Many times over the years she had witnessed teachers and administrators easily label kids if their square peg learning style didn't fit into a school's round whole approach. Little to do with a kids intelligence level, more of a way to make a kid the problem when their teaching style wasn't working.
My third Mother's Day, my Ex Husband Dick was living with his girlfriend(now former wife) who he had bestowed upon her the title of MOM to our daughter. I had unceremoniously been demoted to the Lisa (The Pesky Bio Mom he tolerated thanks to the legal system). That particular Mother Day's fell on my Ex Husband's weekend. Which made me all the more adamant that I would get MY time with My daughter on that one Sunday in May if it killed me.
I've-been-lucky-to-be-apart-of-raising-three-kids. One Bio - Two Step. Hers-His-And-Ours.
I was laser focused on proving to myself - to my Ex Husband - to his Wife and anyone that would listen really that I was in fact THE MOM. What better way to do that than on the one day designed specifically for Mom's - Mother's Day! Showcase my Momness while the world is watching.
If ONLY Mom and Dad had stayed married........My life would have been PERFECT! Those words rolled off the lips of my step son Chris with such ease during his five year stay in our home. His parents had divorced when he was six years old and his Mother had firmly planted in his mind that a life of perfection had been snatched from him thanks to the divorce. And you remember who wanted the divorce? Right?
Hers, His and Ours. Perfection - Finding-Beauty-In-The-Cracks-And-Broken-Pieces
It's a fantasy that we all at some point entertain even if we don't say it out loud - wouldn't life be better, easier if the Ex just wasn't around? No more back and forth, constant negotiation, different house rules, splitting life smack dab down the middle...... It's not that we wish for harm to fall upon the Ex - we just wish for simple, easy. But life is never simple or easy - Ex or no Ex in your life.
If we didn't have the complications of a Blended Family to contend with - there inevitably would be something equally as challenging right there to take its place. My friends with families minus the Blended seem to have just as many issues as we do - just different issues - the key word being issues. Every family has issues.
Its been years since I've been to the "What If" scenario. So when the phone rang with news that Greta, Mom to Jax and Little Hart, had suffered a heart attack - I felt guilty for ever having entertained the thought.
Whether I'm 5 or 46 there's just sometimes when I need to hear THE VOICE OF MOM on the other end of the line. It could be that I have some fantastic news to share - devastating news or no news at all! Mostly I take comfort in the fact that day or night I can call my Mom if I want and she'll answer! It's the same relationship I have with my daughter Elle. Five years ago - not so much!
THE VOICE OF MOM
Immediately when I heard about the bombings in Boston - I felt a personal connection with my daughter living back East. I immediately called and texted Elle to "check in" - when she didn't pick up my heart started racing.
Today is the Wednesday before Valentines Day. Like clockwork, my Valentine's Day Boycotting Hubby sends me a incredibly large, beautiful bouquet the DAY BEFORE V Day! In 14 years a flower delivery has been sent, but never and I mean NEVER arriving on Valentines Day! The card always says "I Love You" and his follow up is "Happy Whatever Day Of The Week" it happens to be - just not Happy Valentines Day.
So while I should have expected my "unexpected" flower delivery today I wasn't really thinking about it. The door bell rang - I saw a man in black and my immediate thought was - damn it's the Cops again! I thought my 12 day standoff had finally ended last night and yet here they were on my doorstep again. Ugh!!!
When I became a mother, I planned on being the Cool Mom - you know the MOM my kids told me everything! They of course don't find me very cool, let alone share everything! So I've settled on trying to create an atmosphere where they can share anything even though it isn't everything.