Category Archives: Blending Families

Never say never

One thing I said years ago after my separation and subsequent divorce, was that I would NEVER ever get married again. In fact, I said I was off men for good. All they do it bring heartache and pain and there was no way I was ever going to open myself up to that again. I had my boys – I didn’t want or need a man.

After a year or so on my own I started to revise that statement. I may not have wanted to get married at that point, but the idea of actually dating a MAN did not seem quite so terrifying. I eventually started to date. I dated the wrong men (oy, it hurts to look back), I dated the almost-right men – I have chronicled some of it here on this blog – but at some point I knew I wanted more.

At this point I was happy – happy from within myself, not dependent on anyone for that happiness. I had let go so much of the bitterness and resentment that had festered within. I was happy and content – on my own terms. I knew I didn’t need a man in order to be happy, however I wanted a partner to share in that happiness and expand upon it.

I wanted to feel that I was the center of someone’s universe, I wanted to feel loved, to feel warmth, to feel special. I wanted to be #1 on someone’s list. I wanted to be needed and cherished. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to share my life with an equal partner. I knew I was ready to love again, and take the marital plunge. It just became a question of finding Mr Right.

When I think back to how vehemently I had railed against marriage in those early dark times, I wince and chuckle a little wryly. THEN, that was how I felt. I was so sure that feeling would last forever. Thank the good Lord it didn’t. Time does heal, and I learnt that all men were not the same. All men were not the enemy. I was finally ready to give marriage another shot – but I was so cautious when dating. I made the KoD jump through hoops and practically pushed him away before I realized he was the one. (Yup, I almost let him go….)

Never say never – no one knows what’s around the corner.

Priorities

This follows from a conversation with a friend recently, and maybe it’s a second marriage thing, or not.

What is top of the priority list – the marriage or the kids?

There is no simple answer – I was just curious as to your thoughts.

WWYD? Letter from a reader

I received this letter from a reader, and it struck a huge chord with me. I don’t know what my answer would be as I can relate with this issue. Please weigh in with your thoughts.

My friend’s daughter is thinking about becoming engaged to a divorced father several years her senior. Like me, she was divorced with one small child, a four year old. The divorced father has a contentious relationship with his ex-wife and three out of his four children are exhibiting abnormal behavior. They have sought my advice – should she continue the relationship or break it off? For once, I am at a loss. My inner voice says “No matter how much you love this man, his life will drag you down. It will exhaust and frustrate you. Outside sources will control your daily life. Your needs will take a back seat to theirs. It cannot be helped. You deserve more and so does your child.” But how can I say this when I did the opposite? Or is that the point exactly? Can you ask your readers what they would answer? Thanks

There are so many of us divorcees in the same boat – we want another chance for happiness, but if that happiness comes at a potential cost to us – is it worth it?

In many of even the most civil divorces there is often strife and disagreement. Add a tempestuous relationship with an ex spouse – it could be like opening one’s home to dynamite.

I have much to say on this matter, but for reasons that I am sure you will understand, I am keeping my opinion to myself. But we want to hear from you.

Doing things differently

My ex-husband and his wife had a baby girl today. My boys all knew within minutes of her birth. They were in three different locations, but they all found out almost instantly. Within an hour they had all seen pictures of her – totally adorable.

This little girl has SIX older half-brothers to watch over her and drive away potential boyfriends. She is probably going to be spoiled rotten (and if I know him well, the apple of her father’s eye).

When my two half-siblings were born I had no idea. I did not even know they were on the way, let alone that they had been born. I found out when I arrived in the US on vacation from the UK. We came every summer to visit my dad and grandparents. One summer, my dad got married before we came. We didn’t know about that in advance either. The next summer there was a newborn baby. A few years later, another one came along.

I fell deeply in love with both of my half-siblings. I don’t recall there being any weird feelings on my part. These were my little brothers and I loved them dearly. I changed diapers, I rocked them, I hugged them tight – my time with them was so short, yet I cherished every minute of it. Unfortunately times change, and people grow up and grow apart, and families being what they are, estrangements happen. We’re no longer close with either of them. Sad.

I want my boys to be close with their sister. There is a big age discrepancy. Lenny is 16, Squiggy turns 15 tomorrow (wow), HockeyFan is 13 and the Chatterbox is 9 (and no longer the baby. Important to him that that’s noted). However, even though the boys have yet to meet her, they are already besotted with her and have promised between themselves to always look out for her.

This is harder that I thought it would be. I always wanted a daughter. Growing up I was sure I would be the mother of daughters. Hardly any girls on my father’s side of the family tree, but I had my dreams. However, I seemed destined to only have sons.  I was so sure our second child was a girl…. But Squiggy came along instead. The pinkitude was not meant to be. I thought I had made my peace with it.

This baby is not mine to love, yet my boys love her with a fierce passion already – what kind of room do I have to make for her in my life? One of the boys asked me today what she will call me. Will I be Auntie H like I am to so many of my friends’ kids…. Or will just “Hadassah” do? We have a while until she starts talking…. But the kids assumed she would have a place not just in their life, but in OUR life – and that kind of threw me.

There have been some tears tonight (from me too, privately) – even though the boys know 100% that they can be happy and talk about the baby in front of me, I am sure it feels a little strange for them to do so. I am still in the process of sorting out my own feelings – how can I help them with theirs if I am still confused?

I posted an update on my Facebook wall and the mazel tovs felt uncomfortable. Would I be feeling different if this baby would have been a boy?

Deep thoughts.

Thankfully the baby is healthy and has already brought much joy. May she continue to bring nachat to her parents and grandparents and allllll her brothers.

Changes – not mine….

My kids’ lives are about to change. My youngest will no longer perceive himself as the baby of the family, yet he always will be my baby. My oldest will soon be the oldest of five, not four – but not in my house.  See, the boys’ father and stepmother are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child together.

It’s taken me a long time to be able to sit down and type this post – and even after so many months many of my emotions still make no sense to me.

Months ago, my ex called me to let me know they were expecting, and that he was going to be calling the boys later that day to tell them. He wanted to give me a heads up.  I so appreciated hearing it from him – even though I was totally knocked for a loop. I managed to wish them both well before ending the conversation.

I went up to the KoD’s office to tell him, and I burst into tears. Actually, I sobbed my heart out. As KoD held me, and mopped my tears, he asked why I was so upset, and even to this day, I cannot verbalize it. My ex and I have moved on with our lives. While we may not exactly be friends, we are civil and friendly and I was happy for them. But still – my children were going to have a new sibling that would have absolutely no biological tie to me whatsoever. This baby will be their brother (or sister – I hadn’t considered that!) yet have no connection to me. That sounds so tremendously selfish.

But the tears were for more than that – and I am still not sure why it hit me so hard. I guess part of me didn’t consider the possibility that they would have a baby – it just didn’t occur to me. Not that it would have been my business either way. Was it a type of jealousy? I don’t think so – My baby making days are over, and I am beyond blessed with the children that I have. I love the independence that the KoD and I have these days with the kids being older and becoming more self-sufficient as time progresses.

Maybe part of me felt insulted that our 4 boys were not enough for him? (As I write that I know it isn’t true. He loves his boys more than anything – but feelings don’t always make sense).

Even as I write this I know that the real reason for the tears is just not explainable. My reaction was a purely visceral one – as if I had been punched in the stomach. And after months of soul searching I still don’t get it.

Now months later I am excited for them. The boys talk about the baby a lot. And I encourage this chatter. I have half siblings myself, and I know that there could be a great bond formed if all the parents are on the same page. But I wonder. When he calls to tell me the good news, how will I take it? Will I be able to wish him congratulations with a full heart, or will it reopen this old wound? I want to just be happy for them.

Have you been in a similar situation? Can you identify with anything I am feeling?

15 things Stepmoms not so secretly want to say to Moms

(from a blog I read religiously – The Psycho Ex-Wife)

Adding in a note here, left in the comments by the author of the original post – he makes an excellent point. I did post it out of context.

As the author of that blog post, it’s presentation here is out of context. It was written as a direct reply to a post by a biological mother that was equally as ludicrous and was intended as such.

I believe it’s important to make that clarification. It was designed to be deliberately snarky to all of those entitled biological mothers who believe that the world revolves around them and everything that a biological father does (with or without a step-mother in the picture) – requires checking with her first.

The opening of the blog post in which that list exists explains precisely why it was written.

~Mister-M”

15. I’m happy to love your child.

As a stepmother I love your child as if they are my own. When they are in my home, I will do all the normal things a mother would do for them; like cook them meals, teach them how to ride a bike, take them to their sporting activities, and so much more. This is normal and your child should not be punished for enjoying time with me.  It doesn’t mean they love you less.  Really.  Not everything is about you because they “came from your body” – no matter how much you’ve been trained like a circus monkey to believe so.

14. I’m not trying to be their mother.

While I play the mother role in my home, I’m not trying to replace you, even if your child prefers to refer to me with the term “Mom.” I have my own children that I adore.  I didn’t form a relationship with your ex-husband to steal your children from you. If I want more children, I’m perfectly capable of becoming pregnant.

13. We can’t save all the fun for you.

While it’s nice to do new things with your child, we can’t save all the fun for you. Your child will experience new things and cross new milestones with us. If there is something important you want to do with your child, do it! I am not a mind reader, I don’t know if you want to be the one to give your daughter her first pedicure and I’m certainly not going to call you every time I want to do something with the family.  It’s unreasonable for you to expect that.  Remember, the experiences are for your child first and foremost, it’s not all about you.

12. My house my rules.

While it’s great to be on the same page as far as corporal punishment, I set the rules in my house. Every child that spends time under my roof will follow my rules whether it’s your child or a friend. It’s important we teach our children to respect the rules of the homes they visit, my home is no different.

11. Don’t tell kids my rules don’t count.

If you are upset about some punishment that was handed down in our home, telling your child that the rule is stupid, or worse – allowing them to then do whatever we said they couldn’t so you can be the cool parent – not only undermines my authority, it pits the child against both of us. Don’t be surprised when they start trying the same thing when they are mad at you in the future if you do this.

10. Don’t badmouth me and then expect respect.

Speaking poorly about me to the children and then expecting me to treat you with respect is simply not going to happen. I don’t make fun of you to your children.  Neither does anyone else in our household. The Golden Rule still stands – treat others the way you would like to be treated. If you treat me poorly, don’t expect the red carpet treatment from me.

9. Invitations to family events.

While I wish we could all celebrate events together, the fact is you are not part of our family and when you treat me with disrespect including screaming at me in front of the children, speaking poorly of their father in front of the children, and other such uncooperative endeavors, you will not be invited to attend our family events.

8. Please don’t spoil the kids.

Buying the kids everything they ask for so you can tell them how cheap I am only does a disservice to the children. They come to expect everything they ask for, which only causes you financial problems, and children with no concept of what it takes to actually earn things. Don’t forget, most of those gifts are paid for with your child support that comes from our home and our hard work.  You get paid well.  He gets paid better.  We have 50/50.  What we send isn’t really child support, it’s free money for you to do with what you please.  And if you’re one of those moms who doesn’t work – get a  job and start contributing more financially to your children’s upbringing.

7. Stop reminding your ex of all the times you made love when you want something.

It’s amusing to watch you say how happy you are to have finally gotten divorced and then see you send emails reminding your ex about all the times you made love under the Christmas tree when you want something from us. Believe it or not, he’s moved on, he isn’t still in love with you, and he’s not coming back, whether I’m still in the picture or not.

6. Stop acting like the victim.

Your ex didn’t leave you for me, you left him. It’s time to stop telling the stories about how awful he was and how much happier you are now, all while blaming me/us for everything that is wrong in your life.

5. You can have mother’s day, but don’t cancel.

I have no problem with you wanting to spend Mother’s Day with your children, but please remember two things. First, Fathers Day is reserved for my husband.  He is, after all, their Father. Second, if you suddenly have something better to do on Mother’s Day, don’t think you can just drop the kids in my lap to take care of so you can go to the beach with your latest boyfriend.

4. Your financial failures are not my emergencies.

We pay child support, we also pay for 100% of the children’s expenses in our home, without help from you, even though we have 50/50 child custody. Don’t call us to pay for something because you’ve mismanaged your money by shopping too much and neglecting things like your mortgage and car payment. Yes, the kids need a roof over their head.  You should think about that the next time you’re at the mall shopping for goodies for yourself.

3. Please teach your kids to knock.

If Little Johnny saw me in my undies, it’s not because I was “prancing around” in them in the living room. Chances are he decided to barge into our bedroom instead of knocking.  This is likely because you’re still “co-sleeping” with him.  He’s 14-years old, not 3.  Such emotional incest is going to ruin all of his future relationships and it’s extremely creepy.  You might want to find a warm body to sleep with at the local bar.

2. I can discuss my children and how great they are.

I know you think your kids are great, and so do I, but that doesn’t mean I can’t discuss my children and their accomplishments. If this makes you feel inferior about your children, I highly suggest therapy.

1. There’s no need to ignore me.

I don’t need to be friends with you, but we are all adults. I get along with my ex-husband just fine. He’s even invited to family events like the Superbowl party we had. He treats me with respect.  He puts the kids first.  He doesn’t make your ex feel like they are in a competition to win the kids’ love. If you do the same, I guarantee this relationship will go a lot easier, faster, and better for the children.

Children come first

I have many divorced friends and acquaintances, and readers, and I am constantly shocked that are those parents who do not put their children first. Maybe because I am a mama bear, but it is so hard for me to understand how mothers / fathers can ignore the best interests of the kids, in order to punish or hurt their ex. How they use their kids as pawns to exact their revenge.

Where does that get anyone? It just piles more stress on the kids – and makes them even more conflicted about who they are “allowed” to love.

A child, any child, has the right to be able to love both parents equally without prejudice or judgment. No adult has the right to tell a child not to love the other parent. That the other parent is evil or bad. If you tell a child that the donor of half of their genetic material is inferior – what does that tell a child about himself / herself? That they are no good?

Parents – please, put your children first. Always. It shouldn’t even be a discussion.

How are you supposed to counter this?

I just saw this tweet from a fellow step mother:

Bm [birth mother] tells kids they stink when they get dropped off; makes them shower first thing, even if they’ve just showered at our house.

What kind of a message does that give to the kids? How do you minimize the negative effect of that on the child? My heart just breaks….

Step Parenting Quote

When they ask to call you mom, as flattering as it is, as much of a victory as it feels like, as much as you feel you’ve earned it and deserve it, your life will probably be a whole lot easier in the long run if you point out, “I love you very much, but let’s think of something else for you to call me, since you already have a mom.” Again there are exceptions, but they are few and far between.

From StepMom Magazine – FROM THE JANUARY ISSUE: Taming the Mommy Tiger, by Wednesday Martin, Ph.D.

What’s in a name?

In my quest for more resources and information on blended families I just came across this awesome site – this lady calls herself “Smom” instead of step-mom and it works for her and her step-children.

When the KoD and I got engaged my little one asked us if he could now call him “Abba”, which was awfully sweet. But we explained to him that he and his brothers call their own father “Abba” and it would be disrespectful to him to call the KoD by the same name. The boys call the KoD by his given name, and the KoD’s kids call me Hadassah and we are all ok with it. There are times that the kids’ friends have called me Ima, but that was funny. In some old-school movies the kids have called the step-parent “Mother Hadassah” or “Father KoD” – but that just is too formal and weird.

Sometimes I wonder whether it would help the relationship a little if step-parents had an honorary name like Mom, Dad, Abba or Ima etc. The “Smom” has found a name that works for her family – although she did tell me that one of her kids calls her husband, the step-dad – “Cookie” – and I was wondering whether you guys have honorary names for the non-biological parental units in your life? If you do have non-traditional names (like the aforementioned “Cookie”), how did they come about?