The best part of this blog, and the work that I do, are the KICK-ASS women that I get to connect with on a regular. Lucky for you, each month I introduce you to one of them, in hopes that they will inspire you, just as much as they have inspired me.
This month, I'm thrilled to introduce you to Jen of The Velvet Hive and the most recently, the Instragam account No Halves About it. From our strong belief that our stepchildren and own children are very much "whole" siblings (hence the "No Halves About It" initiative), to our passion for blogging, all the way to our love for a good glass of wine, Jen and I have connected on so many levels! In fact, our social media comments often include "I wish you lived closer".
Here's what Jen had to say to my interview questions. Her positive vibe is truly contagious.
Tell me about your family
Our family is made up of myself, my husband Brian, his daughter (my step-daughter) Hannah, who is 13 years old and our daughter together, Ivy, who is 3 years old. I first met Hannah right after she turned four, so I’ve been in her life for as long as she can remember (for the most part)! I feel very lucky that I have been part of her life from such an early age
How long have you been with your husband?
We have been together for a little over 9 years and married for 7.
What is your access schedule like?
Originally, we had Hannah a few times a week and every weekend. Now that she is a teenager with a packed schedule, every week is up in the air; however, we usually have her a few nights a week and then a day and night on the weekend.
How is your relationship with your husband’s ex wife?
I have an unusually good relationship with Hannah’s mom. We have gotten along well since the beginning, which I know is not necessarily the norm. Luckily, Brian and Hannah’s mom agreed early on to make the transition as amicable as possible and that carried through to both of their new spouses. We get along so well that I went to her bridal shower and she is also one of the few people I trust to babysit Ivy!
What is the most difficult thing about being a Stepmom?
There are many difficult things, but I think the hardest for me has been to not take things so personally. As a step-parent, you do not necessarily get that unconditional love that children reserve for their parents. As a step-parent you sacrifice a lot and much of it goes unnoticed or unappreciated by the child(ren). I have reminded myself many times that she is the child and it’s not her job to make me feel loved - it’s my job to make her feel loved.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a Stepmom?
Being a step-parent is a huge responsibility. I take that very seriously and I think the reward comes in watching her grow as a good little human and knowing I do have a part in that - be it big or small. I also love watching Hannah and Ivy together. We have all worked so hard to make sure they do not feel any less than “whole” sisters and there is a great reward in knowing how close they are.
What’s one of the biggest mistakes you have made as a Stepmom?
I think I’ve made a hundred mistakes. It’s hard to narrow down one significant one. This is definitely a learn-as-you-go gig. I’m smart enough now to know there will be at least a hundred more. :)
If your best friend told you she was about to start dating a man with kids, what would you tell her?
I would tell her that, should she get seriously involved, this will be one of the toughest roles she will have in life - and that she also needs to be ready to make huge sacrifices. I was (and am) so in love with my husband that I felt that love overrode any sacrifices I would have to make. I still think that is true - but I did not adequately prepare myself for the reality of it all. Also, any future children will also have to sacrifice. That is one thing, in particular, that I never, ever thought about - and didn’t realize until after I had Ivy. But again, our strong love for each other - and as a family - outweighs all of the downsides. And everyone involved is doing some sort of sacrificing here.
What do you wish you would have known before you became a Stepmom?
I wish I would have known how complicated it all can get. Even little things you’d never think of become complicated. You are also dealing with a lot of hands in the pot and a lot of feelings. You absolutely have to know when to pick and choose battles - and when to step away and just let your husband and the child(ren)’s mom deal with it.
How do you think Stepmoms are viewed in Society?
Not great. I mean, have you seen Cinderella? Snow White? And I’ll be honest, my parents are still married - so when I was younger, I’d have friends with step-moms, and I always assumed they were mean or disliked or kind of an outsider. There is this perception of step-moms - as if “INTRUDER! INTRUDER!” alarms go off the minute they enter the scene. But I’ve also had really positive interactions, so you never know.
What’s one thing you couldn’t survive without?
My husband and the way he handles situations. He is the fairest person on earth and I don’t think I could do this if he wasn’t. Oh, and wine. LOTS of wine.
Tell us about your most awkward Stepmom moment.
I’ve actually written about this. One of the first times I was at one of Hannah’s events (a school concert, I think?), the recital ended and she came up to where we were all sitting. I was seated next to her mom. Hannah had a bit of stage-fright back then and she was pretty little. This was the first time she wasn’t afraid up there in front of all those people, so it was a huge accomplishment! When she came to the aisle we were all sitting in, I outstretched my arms to give her a big hug and congratulate her. She smiled and walked right past me and into the arms of her mom! In my excitement, I had forgotten her mom was even there. I was so embarrassed and felt like such an idiot. What was I thinking?! Hannah’s mom ended up whispering something to Hannah and Hannah turned and gave me a big hug. I have never forgotten how kind that was of Hannah’s mom.
Tell me about your blog, The Velvet Hive!
I have written blogs for years - since their invention, I think - and well before I became a step-mom. I’ve always been a writer. My site is a little different in that I write to write - so it’s not always about step-parenting. But I absolutely LOVE the people I’ve met through this blog and the support we all give each other! And I love, love, love getting messages from readers saying they can relate to a post. It’s amazing how less alone it makes us all feel!
What's your favourite quote?
Oh boy, I have a million. But something simple my grandmother always used to say has become my life-mantra. “This too shall pass.” I think of it during the tough times (in step-parenting, especially) - but I also think of it in the beautiful times. We are promised nothing - and nothing stays the same forever: the good or the bad. So cherish the fleeting good moments - and barrel through the bad ones. They both shall pass.