Titles, Names, Co Parenting, Mom v First Name

I keep seeing this topic over and over and over. Do you let your stepkids call you Mom? Were you flattered when they asked, etc?

Every blended family is different so my opinion is that only. My own opinion from the view of our own blended family.

Hubs’ youngest child asked me if he could call me Mom when he was in first grade. My response was “you would need to ask your mom if that’s ok with her because that might hurt her feelings. You already have a Mom”. He asked her over the phone. She said no. He cried and cried and was so upset. Then he was fine the next day and got over it completely.

My personal belief is that maybe he was a little jealous of my bio kids at the time. They called me mom. Half of their friends called me mom. I think he felt excluded. But once we talked about it, he did understand WHY I didn’t let him call me mom and that helped.

When I was growing up, I called my stepdad Dad. But I lived with him full time starting at the age of 2 or 3 and I rarely if ever saw my bio Dad. In my mind, my stepdad was my Dad and I really did not know otherwise until I was in school and discovered that I was the only person in my house with a different last name. Oops.

In our situation, my last name is the same as my husband and my stepkids so it’s really my bio kids that feel a bit out of place on occasion (not anymore but when they were young). I had the last name initial of Hubs and I on a wreath on our front door but my bio kids didn’t have that last name initial. That doesn’t make them any less my kids or any less a member of our home. It’s just a name.

Titles are only titles y’all. They do NOT define you. It’s ok to just be you. You don’t HAVE to be called mom. And frankly it shouldn’t hurt your feelings if they don’t. We are individuals. Not the roles (stepparent, wife, employee) that we play.

Also, I don’t see many men struggle with this. I don’t think my husband has ever lost a nights sleep because my kids have always called him by his first name rather than call him Dad. Women tend to be more sensitive, and more easily hurt, but it kills me to see so many women’s feelings hurt over something so minor.

So, have your coffee, go for your workout, enjoy your life and don’t worry about the titles kids assign you. It’s all going to be ok.

Iced coffee cheers your way ☕️

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The Unapologetic Stepmom Mantra

I created a stepparent blog and Stepmom small group about 2 years ago after getting so much positive feedback about my stepmom blogs from 5-6 years ago. Firmly believing that I needed to stay a student and be a part of bigger groups, I joined fellow Texan, Emili Wadkins group, The Unapologetic Stepmom. A few months ago she shared her “Unapologetic Mantra” and I shared it with my small group. Y’all, it had feedback for days. So many women found it so helpful and so freeing. So, I’m going to share it here and save it for future reference as needed. Emili said:

“When I started this group, I chose the name for very specific reasons and often get asked about it. I have learned in the last year that where I stand as a stepmom is either met with very strong aversion or very strong agreement. I think I often say what so many stepmoms feel but dare not mutter out loud because of ridiculous societal expectations.

*I unapologetically do not let my family revolve around my stepkids. My husband and I make decisions based on what is best for our whole family.

*I unapologetically do not stop my girls’ lives simply because my stepkids are at their other home. We go on about life as usual and do fun things with or without them. I do not plan 100% of my girls’ lives for 50% of the time.

*I unapologetically do not love my stepkids like I love my daughters and they are my first priority. God gave them to me to be their mother and I take that very seriously.

*I unapologetically do not force my family to have a personal relationship with my stepkids. I do not adhere to the philosophy of “You take them all or take none.” I chose to marry a man with children, my family did not. I would never tolerate rudeness or disrespect, but I do not expect my family to do for my stepkids what they do for my girls.

*I unapologetically do not put myself on the back burner. I am not a stepmom martyr.

*I unapologetically disengage when I need to. I will not sacrifice my sanity trying to fix anything I didn’t break.

This is mine and my daughters’ journey and story just as much as it’s my stepkids, and I unapologetically don’t let anyone tell me what my role should be within my family or how my family should operate. Every stepfamily and their situation is unique and there is hardly ever a one size fits all rule.”

I love this y’all. As did my small group. And I hope it will give you the same peace and comfort that it has given so many others who have read it.

Hugs and support your way ☕️

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General Reflections – Scheduling Edition #BFHOE

Have you ever heard the story about the man who used to complain about having no shoes until he met the man who had no feet? I try to remember this when I go to vent or complain. But this summer has really helped me live it.

Watching Hubs and his ex navigate their kids’ schedules (well, fail to navigate their kids schedules – unless it’s during his time it doesn’t get handled) has made me so unbelievably thankful and grateful that I never once had any scheduling conflicts with my bio kids after my divorce ever. Not once. Our kids were so very active and very busy. The oldest and youngest children had youth group events, marching band and part time jobs. The middle child was over the top busy and had competitive dance, competitive cheer, high school cheer and a part time job. I think she was only free maybe 1 day a week, if that. Competition season would take up the whole weekend. Yet, my bio kids never had to miss anything and both my ex and I tagged teamed the kids activities to be sure that every child was able to participate in their own events. If two kids had an event on the same day, we would divide and concur. He would usually transport the boy to band and I would transport the girl to cheer. I just thought that was normal. I mean, if we were still married we would have to work together to raise the kids and get them where they needed to be, right?

I’m in a very large social media group and apparently MANY MANY MANY people have these scheduling problems during the other parent’s visitation time. Who knew? I mean, I guess I could see that when the parents live out of state but not when the parents are only 15-20 miles from each other.

So, this is my little note to self and reminder about how thankful I am for the way my ex and I were able to co-parent and manage our bio kids following divorce. It does NOT have to be difficult. It does NOT have to be drama. It CAN work when you both make it a point to put the kids and their lives first.

Iced coffee cheers your way peeps 🙂

 

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Summer Vacations. What Do You Think?

macro photography of black sunglasses on sand

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

I’m in 2-3 Blended Family and Stepparent groups on social media and SO MANY PEOPLE are posting about summer vacations and questions relating to them. Such as, do you prefer to travel alone with your spouse? Travel with ALL of the blended family kids? Travel only with some of the kids one year and then the others the next year? Travel based on age?

The feedback has been fun to watch. Especially since there is no “one size fits all” model for any blended family.

For us personally, we really prefer to divide our “staycations” and day outings based on age. We have found that we are far more engaged personally with each kid when they are in smaller groups than when we have all of the kids at the same time like we do over Christmas or Thanksgiving break. And maybe that’s just because of the kids’ current ages. My bio kids’ grandparents like to take a large family trip over the holidays (such as at a ski resort) rather than buying each adult child and grandchild individual gifts. That’s definitely something we would like to consider one day, but our kids won’t really be old enough for those types of trips for another 10 years (hopefully haha).

So, how do you handle your blended family vacation planning?

Iced tea cheers your way 🙂

 

 

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Yes!!! This is Good! #BFHOE

When Hubs and I first married (back in dream land world where your pretend future is happily ever after), we so desperately wanted to treat our kids equally and try to be sure there wasn’t jealousy between my bio kids and his bio kids. But in practical reality, I only knew the traditional mother role and he only knew the traditional father role.

If I tried to mother my stepkids, it created jealousy with my bio kids and if Hubs tried to father my bio kids it created animosity and conflict like “you’re not my dad”.

There were just “too many chefs in the kitchen” as the leader of the Stepmom group stated. So Hubs and I decided to change tactics. We agreed to simply be adult role models to each other’s kids. Like a teacher or youth group leader or any other adult in their life would. And it’s worked!! Of course there’s still a million different dynamics with unforeseen turns BUT as far as our individual relationships go with our stepkids, it’s been fantastic! Yes, it is ok to embrace being a stepparent. An adult role model. A friend. A listening ear. Some days it’s even more fun that way 🙂

Iced coffee cheers your way and keep rocking the stepparent life ☕️

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Life Lessons – Police Edition #BFHOE

Yesterday, my stepsons ages 12 and 15 were attending a local Police Dept training event. They were “stage hands” so to speak for active shooter training. SWAT was on sight leading the training when they got called out for an actual emergency which ended the training early. When the boys got back home they were both all pumped up about wanting to go into the police academy after high school and their long term goals in law enforcement. As an adult figure in their life, I wanted to seize the moment to give them a little more perspective. At least they can’t say that no one warned them.

city group people police

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Are you sure that’s something you want to get involved in? Do you realize that you are going to be HATED simply for the role that you take? Whether someone gets to know you or not, you will be HATED. It may not even be personal. Some people will just hate you because they would hate anyone that does that job. And you can’t expect gratitude either. If you do everything right day in and day out for years, you likely will not receive a praise or a thank you. If you dare make one mistake – and you will because that’s human nature – you will be attacked, ridiculed, slandered, and hated even more. Now they will feel their hatred of you is somehow justified. Are you sure you want to do that? And they both said yes.

On second thought, welcome to life as a Stepmom 🙂 Where all of those same principals apply and you don’t even get paid for it. Bahahaha.

Iced coffee cheers your way. And thank you Police, LEO’s and stepmom’s everywhere for what you do day in and day out.

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Blended Family Life, Visitation Edition #BFHEO

There is trouble in paradise again. Today’s topic. Summer Visitation. Well, that and visitation in general. Hubs’ kids are teenagers now. One of them has a summer job and is working to save money for a car and is learning how to prepare for adulthood since he will be an adult in only 2 years. Wow. So hard to believe. The younger one has one year left and then he starts high school, summer marching band lessons and traveling to varsity football games every weekend with the band. Their lives are busy. However, the non-custodial parent has said she will NOT agree to take them back and forth to events that occur during her visitation periods because of work. So far, she has also said she will not allow them to stay with their Dad so they can attend their events either. Basically, they are going to be forced to go to her house and stay home alone day in and day out to accommodate the parent rather than assist the child. So, what do you do? Do you take a stand? Or would you just let it go?

An acquaintance of mine recently took her ex husband back to court for a similar issue. Her daughter is involved in select softball and has tournaments several weekends per month and they practice year round or darn near year round. Her ex wasn’t paying full child support, wasn’t paying his part of the kids medical bills, and wasn’t willing to work around her daughter’s schedule. So, they went back to Court. She felt she had no other choice than to let the Judge decide what was best since her ex wouldn’t work with her at all. Guess what happened? She won her hearing on all accounts. Child support was raised. He was ordered to reimburse medical bills. And their new court order now says that Dad can have one weekend per month with the kids that does not interfere with the kids’ activities. This mom was an advocate for her kids, the Judge saw that, and she got every single thing she asked for at her hearing.

I HATE family law drama y’all. Working for attorneys for 20 years and watching people waste time, energy, emotion, and money all for a Judge to make decisions for them that they should have been able to make themselves drove me crazy. In fact, it’s why I made sure to work with my ex to reach an uncontested agreement at the time of our divorce. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Hubs. Poor Hubs. I wish with all of my might that he and his ex could reach agreements without the requirement for lawyers and judges and court hearings but they just can’t. For whatever reason that I do not and will not ever understand, their Mom simply will not budge.

In my devotional today the first question was “how do you respond to worst case scenario conflict? Through fight or flight?” When it comes to your kids, isn’t there a natural “papa bear” tendency to put up a fight even if otherwise that’s not your nature or typical response? If anything in your life is worth fighting for, isn’t it making sure that your kids have an advocate to fight for what’s best for them? Their needs. Their schedule. Their lives. Isn’t it supposed to be about and for the kids?

8 years down. Only 5 to go. We’ve got this!

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