So it’s Monday!
For most it means the start of a new week. A fresh beginning if you will.
For many, it’s the time to get back on track after a weekend of fun.
And for the lovers of Prime Time Reality Television, it also means The Bachelor!
I’ve just caught up on last weeks episode of The Bachelor, and well… I need to vent!
Last week, all the contestants had the opportunity to bring Bachelor Ben home to their families. It’s the week they call “Home Towns”. In the Bachelor world, it’s a big deal.
While the entire episode was jam packed with drama, one home town date in particular, didn’t sit well with me. And well, I feel like it’s something I need to address.
Here’s what happened.
Amanda, an amazingly beautiful mother of two, brought Ben home to meet her daughters and her parents. Her protective father, doing what protective fathers should do in a situation like this, asked Ben, if he was “ready” to have these two young girls in his life. If he was “ready” to be a father figure, if you will!
When I heard the word “ready” I immediately turned to my husband (who may or may not have been watching with me) and said “Ready? I hate that. No one is freaking READY to be a step-parent”
With a confused look on his face, he said “you were ready…”
I responded, “Do you need to get your memory checked? There was nothing about my 27-year-old-self that was READY for three step-kids”
He looked at me, even more confused... Because I did in fact become a stepmom at the ripe age of 27.
“Babe there is a BIG difference between being ready and being committed. I loved you. I didn’t want to live a life without you, so therefore I was committed to figuring it out and making everything work… but was I actually READY for everything that came with this whole step-parenting thing… not even close.”
“Yeah you’re right…” He got it. He started to remember … "Ready" was definitely a stretch.
I wasn’t ready for the curve balls or for the fact that even the simplest things aren’t simple.
I wasn’t ready to feel like someone else had control over every aspect of my family life or for all the responsibilities that came with parenting three (now four) children.
I wasn't ready for the mounds of laundry, the crazy schedule or those days where the kids are at each other's throats.
It was a big deal and A LOT to be “ready” for.
Like I said in one of my earliest blog posts… moving to a different country where they speak a different language would probably have been easier.
In fact, if I really sit down and think about it, I’m still not ready for everything that this step-parenting gig has thrown at me. Some days I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing!
But nonetheless, I’m committed to to it.
It’s similar to how the majority of step-parents loathe when someone tells them
“you knew what you signed up for when you started dating him…”
... because unless you have the ability to predict the future, no one REALLY knows what they are signing up for!
For those of you who are still confused, I looked up the actual definition of the word.
in a suitable state for an activity, action, or situation; fully prepared.
synonyms:prepared, set, all set, organized, primed;
Something tells me that if I asked my fellow stepmoms if they were (or are) “fully prepared” for all the stressors, responsibilities and curve balls that come with their step-parenting role, I would get a lot of "hell no"s
(Come to think of it, do you think any of us as “real” parents are fully prepared for everything that comes along with parenting a child? I know I'm not)
But we're committed. Committed to figuring sh*t out!
That is the difference…
That is the key word. Being ready has nothing to do with it. You just have to be committed to making it work and doing the best you possibly can!
Now before I get angry emails with backlash, I want to be clear about something. I am not throwing out any hate for Amanda's Dad. He’s a great father and was protecting his daughter. And well, his question was warranted because Amanda was the one who was sent home sans rose at the end of the episode. So, I guess it’s safe to say that Ben wasn’t ready or committed to this scenario!
I also want to be clear that I don't think anyone who asks if someone is "ready" has ill intentions (well most of the time...)
The point of this whole reality show inspired rant is that no one knows what they are signing up for until they are signed up…
Ready or not, at the end of the day we’re all just doing the best we can with what we have… and learning a sh*t load about ourselves in the process.
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Parenting and staying on the same page with a partner that you're married to (and actually like) can be challenging enough!
Trying to parent and stay on the same page as an EX-PARTNER (who you may not particularly like) somedays it can seem damn near impossible!
So if you too are wondering why I post more pictures of my daughter than my stepchildren, here are the 5 reasons why.
(I'll apologize in advance, the answers are not due to favouritism, or turf war drama between their Mom and I. She hasn't forbid me to post pictures of the kid. We don't have a relationship plagued with drama and power struggles. No juicy story here!)
It's pretty simple actually.
Yes, I am actually saying this out loud... Even though it was my choice, there were times when I was really struggling with our inability to get pregnant, that I wondered whether my decision to be a stepmom robbed me from having the number of children I was truly meant to have.
Introducing a new Summer VLOGing Series- "Our Blended Family Behind-The-Scenes"
What I'm saying is that bashing your husband's ex-wife on the internet is not a great idea. It's not going to improve your stepfamily life. It's not going to make things more harmonious. In fact, I'm willing to bet, it's not going to do anything positive for your situation at all!
Get a journal, call a friend, or get yourself an appointment with a therapist.
Find a healthy way to work through the extra stressors and challenges that come with blended family life, and keep the internet out of it.
Comments in the thread below were full of other moms, giving each other virtual high-fives and pats on the back.
Part of me chuckled at these status updates because they made me feel less guilty. But another part of me became a little annoyed and a little jealous.
Here is where the double standard between moms and stepmoms rears its ugly head.
"I wish I would have known the “Disney Stereotype” of the Evil StepMother. Hollywood has totally made sure to frame us as wicked and manipulative, but I as well as others are more than happy to demolish that stereotype!
I wish I would have realized that respect isn’t given and even if it is earned, some will still refuse to be respectful.
With four kids, I felt like we were always on the go. From arena to arena, from soccer field to soccer field. The schedule was exhausting.
But that was at the beginning of my parenting career. It didn't take me long to change my tune, and the way I look at organized sports.
When Reese turned two I proudly announced that she was going to start Potty Training. We were going to tackle it head on.
I was confident that she was going to be one of the first in her daycare class to be diaper free!
I quickly transitioned her from diapers to Pull-Ups® naively thinking that the whole process would be smooth sailing!!
Because well... it couldn't be that hard right?!
As it turned out, my three year old didn't really care about my schedule. She was goofing around, being her usual silly self. Normally I would laugh but, but on this particular day, acting like a wet noodle while I try to get her in a jumpsuit just wasn't funny.
When my husband introduced me to his kids, when we made the decision to move in together, when we got married, and even when we had a baby of our own, we didn’t experience any of the behaviours you would expect from a “child of divorce”. In fact, until recently, it's been smooth sailing!
I repeat—until recently.
I'm pretty sure I raised my eyebrows and quickly turned my head to say "come again?" BUT before the words came out of my mouth, I totally got it. She is our village. Together we are raising these three little people with one common goal. To raise them up into being kind-hearted, giving, hard-working, successful members of Society. Even though co-parenting is not always easy and sometimes we have different opinions, we are a village. When push comes to shove, we have each other's back.
To be honest, part of my wishes that my husband's ex-wife wasn't my husband's ex-wife, because I really like her. I wouldn't mind hanging out with her more often.
This book doesn't encourage you to not give a beep about ANYTHING.... it shows you how to direct your time and energy towards the things that are worth giving a beep about.
With the number of blended families and stepmoms in our Society, the stigma and assumptions often surprise me. Especially because I am connected with so many stepmoms who absolutely adore their stepchildren and treat them as they are their own.
HOWEVER after I posted the rant, I receive a message from one of my Instagram Followers that brought me back to reality.
People are always asking me if becoming a "real mom" changed the way I stepmom. The answer is 100 times YES. But probably not in the way that you think. Step or bio, all four kids ARE always and WILL always be treated the same in our home. This will never change!
What did change was the way I looked at being a stepmom... Specifically the way I consider how it may feel to be on the other side!
"How old are your stepchildren" everyone always asks....
"I have a 14 year old step-daughter, and step-sons who are 10 and 13"
"Ohhhh.... how's having a teenage stepdaughter?" they always respond. Obviously expecting me to report horror stories of dealing with teenage attitude and rebellion.
Even though, despite the inevitable struggles of co-parenting, I do personally honour her for being the Mother to the three beautiful kids who have changed me in more ways than I can write I this blog, the gifts (and the money spent on them) truly have nothing to do with her and everything to do with the people we are teaching them to be.
Every once and a while I like to do a little update post with some behind the scenes of what's been going on around here!
Life has been crazy. In fact, saying we've been busy would be an understatement. And no, I am not one of those people who wear "busy" like it's a badge of honour. Personally l like it when things slow down and we're able to stop and smell the roses every now and again!
Hopefully after this week, there will be more time for rose smelling... because this Mama is craving some quality family time!
Five years later, I'll say this. Feeling comfortable in another woman's home is something that can only be cured with time (and a little redecorating)
Slowly but surely, I have redecorated and put my touch in our home, while still respecting the memories and traditions that are still important to my husband and the kids.I've cleaned out those junk drawers, organized the storage room, painted walls, purged, donated and put my touch on the place. Five years later, it looks completely different.
The final step was our kitchen .... last summer we took the plunge completely gutted the main space of our house and transformed it into our dream.
The bedroom is where the 'magic' happens...and by magic I mean sex AND sleep and if you don't LOVE your BED or your bedroom you will have less satisfaction in the 'magic' department. SO make the bedroom NEW again. Fresh paint, new bed, new sheets and have FUN with your spouse picking it all out together.
Your Mother's Day celebration (or lack there of) does NOT define the level of love and appreciation that your stepchildren have for you.
It doesn't define your relationship.
It just doesn’t.
Look, I don't always post nitty gritty details about my own personal struggles, because I am very cognicent about how what I write affects the people in my family. The internet is forever, and I refuse to air my dirty laundry online. But make no mistake, it's not always rainbows & unicorns. From my experiences as a child of divorce all the way to a stepmom, like many of you, I have experienced abandonment, personal attacks, high-conflict situations, heartache and even accusations.
When I first started this blog and become a mother, I vowed that I would NEVER touch on this subject, because well, I've seen many of my blogger friends receive nasty comments, hate mail and some pretty serious threats for sharing their opinion. To say the topic of breastfeeding is controversial is a HUGE understatement.
As stepmoms, because our family dynamic is far more complicated than a "first family", we have this nasty little habit over over-analyzing situations. We often assume that any complications are due to the fact that the we are in a blended family. And well, sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't. But either way, it's not worth driving yourself crazy over.
I love this age. My daughter turns three in just under a month and I have to say this is my favourite age yet. Even though it is heart breaking that my baby girl, is no longer a baby girl, watching her to grow into the spunky, kind-hearted, funny girl that she is, makes my heart do things I didn't know were possible. It's also makes me think... a lot. Specifically about who I am as a parent and what I want to teach this young impressionable little girl. It's no longer about skin-to-skin and feeding schedules. It's about supporting her in becoming a caring, kind-hearted, successful and ambitious human being.