blended family

Stage Crew Credits

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Being a step-mom is weird.  It’s nothing you can learn about from anybody else.   And I hate the term “Step-Mom” for all the reasons one would expect – including the only two adjectives I’ve ever heard preceding it…evil and wicked.  There are no (or if there are, I can’t think of them) popular examples of step-moms who are loved, appreciated, or revered.  There’s even a show devoted to stepmothers who murder their families.  As if.

I blame Disney.

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For the first year playing this role, I felt like a new mom – The boys’ bio-mom was scarce at best…I was Mom #1, and unmarried, so without the “Step-Mother” label.  It was great.

This past year, the ex-wife has re-emerged as Mom #1.5, and I have had to learn to play the role of Mom #1.5, and be introduced and known as Step-Mom.  It’s much harder.  They say “Step-mom” but it feels like “Step aside…we’ve got this”.

 

I started dating my dream guy when my daughter was 16.  Small-child-parenting days were over.  When she and I were on speaking terms, it was about jobs, colleges, ACTs, careers.  My dream guy had eight and six year-old boys.  It was never a decision – I never contemplated NOT being with him.  I would have taken him von Trapp style if that’s how he showed up.

But any of you who have been here know that it’s nothing like raising the first, biological one.  Older, wiser, less self-absorbed, and much MUCH more worried about screwing someone else’s kids up than your own.

So many things are different/harder with steps, boys, siblings.

Weekend before last, we had two events Friday night, two lacrosse practices, two lacrosse games, a birthday party, junior high solo and ensemble, and a high school musical on Saturday.  Then another birthday party, team photos, a grown-up painting party, and Scouts on Sunday.  I was joking with my hott husband (and the ex) that We Did It!…relieved that we hadn’t left any kids behind, hadn’t missed or forgotten anything (that we know of ;-/), and that was all with my parents and her sister in town.  Then I realized that I did nothing of logistical value.  I was merely the calendar keeper…I made sure everybody knew where everybody was supposed to be.  My hot husband did all of the transporting or arranging of transportation for everything.  He physically drove everyone everywhere they were supposed to be, and was the parent of record for both kids at each and every event.  I felt like I needed to take my “WE Did It!” back and apologize for not pitching in.

I felt bad – until I remembered these seemingly small but critical things (to which few people give/get credit):

Everyone had home-cooked meals, the little athletes and big coach had chilled water bottles, the birthday friends had wrapped gifts, everyone sported clean uniforms and nicely pressed band gear, we had reserved seating at the musical, and everyone slept on clean sheets.  I finally know what the home fires are and what it means to keep them burning.

Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who praises every little thing I do to contribute, but I’m sure there are many who don’t, and THAT makes me understand why second marriages run an even higher risk of divorce than firsts.  I work harder raising your two kids than I did my own but I’ll never earn the endearing title that implies unconditional appreciation – “Just Plain Mom”.

It’s his turn to be the actor on the stage who everyone knows his name, and it’s my time to work backstage to make sure he has his props and sets and zipper up to deliver the thrills without a hitch.  It’s a role I’ve not only made peace with but become fond of, and it’s a love language I didn’t even know I had until I became Step-Mom.

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P.S. –  As I’m writing this, I’m picturing my hott husband driving around in an eighteen-wheeler (which he does not), with dark glasses and Ronnie Milsap hair singing,

“She keeps the home fires burning, While I’m out earning a living in a world that’s known for its pouring rain…
She keeps the home fires burning, Ooh and it’s her warm loving that keeps me returning again and again.”

🙂

 

Could someone please pass the tradition?

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The Thanksgiving tradition for my family was set in stone, until us grandkids started getting married and having kids (and various renditions of those two things), which brings the inherent conflicts in schedules.  This also means that there started to be years without the sausage balls (sacrilege!), and then there were years with no kids’ table – which meant I had to be an adult…which hopefully didn’t mean I had to do dishes.  Yikes!  Hurry and take a nap on Grandma’s bed until the after-meal chores were done!  Nevertheless, holding to the “tradition” had become something unrecognizable and slightly less Thanksgivingy.

My hott husband was a Navy brat, and, with much of his family scattered around the planet, hasn’t spent any of his adult years living near the rest of his family.  So holidays are simply opportunities to get away – ski, surf, camp, etc.  The blended family that we are means our kids have other families who DO have traditions, so our take has been “pressure’s off…you don’t have to pick or split your Thanksgiving between family obligations…y’all go and have a good time with the ones who are tradition-oriented, and we’ll take advantage of the freedom to do/go wherever.”  One condition is required of our doing/going wherever:  Whataburger feast for Thanksgiving meal on two wheels.  This new tradition began simply because, unlike most places, Whataburger is actually OPEN on Thanksgiving!   Like most Texans, we love our Whataburger.  We eat there maybe monthly throughout the year, but Thanksgiving at Whataburger means Whata-sizing, extra everything, soda, milkshake (chocolate…duh!), AND fried apple pie.  We’re pretty sure we still come in WAY under the average American caloric intake.

Do my parents love this new tradition of ours?  Doubt it.  Do our kids care?  Doubt it.  Do we enjoy the opportunity to free ourselves of holiday obligations and chill in a camper, scooter parked outside at the ready?  Absolutely.  Do we spend a great deal of our time here expressing how thankful we are for this dream we get to live and the happiness we find in these simple things?  You betcha.

We love our families, we adore our children, but we hope and pray that they know that our happiness together is a testament to the long legacies of families who appreciate the simpler things – we’re just taking out the pressure of cooking, traveling, tryptophan comas, while using our time to relax and recharge so that we can be thankful EVERY day for this crazy/busy/wonderful life we live the other 364 days of the year.

Our way is not for everyone, but it is for us, and we hope the legacy we leave our children is to take this time of year to do what makes you thankful, whether that is celebrating a centuries-old tradition, starting a brand new one, or just taking the opportunity to rest and relax.  If you can’t be grateful everyday wherever you are, you’re probably not thankful at this time of year that is designated for giving thanks.  When you’re living the dream (even if it’s your own dream), appointed days don’t seem so necessary.