Saturday, August 31, 2013

Just Relax

For many, school is starting on Tuesday, or maybe already started this week.  If you're anything like me, you have a tendency to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everything that needs to be done.  I like to make sure everything is in its place and just right, and I won't sit down until it's done.  Instead, there are times when I need to focus less on the details and more on the big picture.

Today, I am taking my own advice.  Rather than worrying about the vacuuming or grocery shopping, or all the little things that need to be done around the house, I am spending an adventure day with my husband, Roger. We are taking the day to do different fun things around town and just enjoying each other's company.

And so, I encourage you as well, to just relax.  It is the last long weekend of summer, enjoy it!  You don't have to spend a lot of money or do anything fancy, just relish the moment.  Live for today and delight in who is around you and what you are doing at that time.  If it's mowing the grass...enjoy it...winter is coming (especially here in Michigan).  If you have to give the kids a bath or play legos with them...savor day they won't want to play with you anymore or need your help in the bath.  Take a day and enjoy your family.  Invite everyone over for a cookout or meet everyone at the park.  It doesn't matter what you long as you have fun....and relax!  I know I will be.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Letter to My Children

Dear Alex, Adam and Christian,

I don't know what it is like to be a child in a blended family. As you know, Grandpa and Grandma have been married for 46 years.  I do know, however, the worry that would go through my mind when I would hear them argue. I remember the wonder and concern I would have if an argument indicated they were getting a divorce.  When I was growing up, divorce wasn't talked about or as common as it is today.  Even though it wasn't that many years ago (contrary to what you may believe about my age), it was still a bit taboo.  Today, you could probably go through your friends and list several who are also in a blended family.  I had one. 

I am sure the three of you remember the times before we were a family, and maybe it seemed like an easier time, but I hope that you have come to enjoy and appreciate our family.  We are certainly the farthest thing from perfect, but we try to work together to be good parents to all three of you.  It is important for you to know that we love you all very much and truly see each of you as our own.  Whether we have known you from birth, or we just got you as part of the packaged deal, you are ALL our children.

This year you have seen other second marriages fail.  People who have been married for decades and perhaps people who you never thought would get divorced again, have done just that.  If I were you, it would make me question my own family.  It would make me wonder:  Could that happen to us?  Could Stacy and Dad/Mom and RP, get a divorce too?

Well, I am here to tell you that it will not happen.  You do not have to worry about going through another division with us.  Although I cannot predict the future, we, as the parents, work very hard on our relationship and on working together to provide a solid home for you all.  We may not agree on everything all the time, but we work together to figure out the best thing for all of us.  We love each other very much, and have learned from our past and previous marriages on how do do things better this time.  In fact, we have specifically discussed that divorce is not an option.  We are here to stay and you can ALWAYS count on us, no matter what.

I also want to reassure you that every marriage does not end in divorce. Please know that when you find your life partner, I believe that you will all be successful in building, working on, and maintaining that life long relationship.  I also believe and pray that you will have long, fulfilling and happy marriages.  It takes work and effort, but it is as wonderful as you make it and want it to be.

With that being said, maybe you weren't excited when we first told you we were getting married, but we hope that will be able to move beyond that and resolve those feelings.  I hope that you have grown to love our family as much as we do.  You are all so important to us and we love you more than you will ever know.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fun Times and Good Memories!

A few weeks ago, Roger and I worked diligently to clean out the garage. We took time to toss things that were trash and also send some rarely used items onto Goodwill.  One great item we came across was a camping tripod grill.  It looked a lot like this:

We really hesitated to give it away, but the reality is we only used it once.  Yes, it was only used once and that one time was the one and only time our family went camping.  Now, I think it is important to clarify here, that when I say camping, I don't mean in an RV or a pop-up or a fifth-wheel camper. I'm talking, dirt, tents, sleeping bags and no showers.  It was....amazing.

It was so amazing in fact, that we have never gone again.  I believe we collectively decided we prefer camping in hotels.  The trip was fun, don't get me wrong, but we're not really the roughing it types.  I think we want to be, but we're not. At least I'm not.  Our camping trip however, was truly awesome.  We may not be 'real' outdoors men, but we made memories that will never be forgotten.   I think we all want to forget the camping trip, but we never will.

Our trip occurred around this time of year, late August, about 7 or so years ago. The kids were much younger and more willing to get dirty.  Roger and I were naive and frankly, we are willing to try most things at least once.  We left late afternoon on a Friday and came back early on a Sunday morning.  After arriving to our camping square we set up tents and then went for a hike. I use the term, "hike" loosely because I am not sure if that's what you can call it when kids string behind you 20 and 30 feet whining the whole way.  We enjoyed a delicious dinner and campfire time, to which our daughter, Alex, went to bed after the sun went down and then we all got in trouble for being too loud because she was trying to sleep.  While on the outside of the tent the rest of us were remaining as calm as possible to avoid getting sprayed by a visiting skunk. Ah, yes, good times. 

The next day we visited the lake down the road for a good swim, to which we listened to the sweet sound of complaints for reasons I don't really remember.  We had a great picnic lunch of peanut butter and jelly, or for our son, Adam, just peanut butter, and went on our way.  The next day we awoke to stiff backs and the pitter patter of rain drops on our tents, as we hurried to pack up our gear and head home to warmth and a hot shower.

Sounds like a blast, I know.  In fact you're probably thinking I should be a spokesperson for camping. I've been told that before.  The reality is, however, we did have a lot of fun. It wasn't perfect, by any means and we didn't make everyone happy all of the time, but our family bonded.  It was in the early years of our marriage and we needed to do things together as a unit. We needed to bring our blended family together in ways to get to know each other and learn to love each other.  We needed to laugh together, complain together, get mad together and poke fun.  We needed to make memories and that we did.  I will probably never go camping again, but I am so glad we went just this once.

Do you have a great bonding moment for your blended family?  What fun times or vacations have you had - good or bad?  Share in the comments below!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Stuck in the Middle

When I started writing this blog, I decided that I was going to discuss real topics from a real blended family, so people can relate and know that they aren't 'the only ones who feel that way.'  I didn't want to sugar coat stories, or make us seem like we do everything the right way, and we don't ever harbor any negative feelings, as that is not reality.  As a result, some of the things I write about might not paint me in the best light, and I'm OK with that.  However, it might also make the children in my home feel as though what they are doing and/or feeling is wrong, and that is not my intention.  I know that is vague, but you'll see what I mean....

Truth be told, I still struggle with the other parents.  It's not the same as it used to be when Roger and I got married.  Then, it was a struggle about the little things like sharing time, having to talk to them, and discussing issues about the children, when to me it seemed like their parental involvement was sporadic and conditional.  Now, its more relational and I often wonder if our kids have completely forgotten who raised them for the past...well forever.  I guess the bottom line is, sometimes I'm jealous.

One time, I remember my son, Christian, coming home after a weekend at his Dad's around his birthday.  His step-mother had made him a birthday cake. It sounded marvelous, as apparently she had some professional baking skills.  I pictured this:

The birthday cake I made for Christian, although incredibly delicious, looked more like this:

Christian was so excited. I was excited for him, but on the inside, I felt small and sad.  I was glad he had a great weekend, but sad that I didn't do better or what I did wasn't good enough.

Recently, our daughter, Alex, and son, Adam, have been spending much more time with their mom then they ever did growing up.  In May, Alex decided to live with her mom, for the first time ever! (But that's a whole other blog post.)  I have also seen Adam spend more time at his mom's this summer, than he ever has.  I'm glad they are spending time with their mom - they need to, but in light of social media, my heart gets crushed a little too.

Both Alex and Adam seem to post all kinds of wonderful things about their mom.  According to Facebook, for example, Alex and her mom have had all sorts of great movie time and coloring and I am so glad for her, but at the same time I think how Roger and I can barely get her to leave her bedroom at home. Is it us?  Is it me?

Adam has recently tweeted and Instagramed how 'his mom is the bomb' and 'best buds since 1994'.  My heart sinks a bit, and I think, Really?!  Because I don't remember her helping you with your math or making your dinner every night for the past...years.  What about me?  What about us?

Then...I think, what about my relationship with Christian? Am I giving him the attention he needs and wants from me?  Am I working on my relationship with him as much as I am focused on my relationship with my step children?  Maybe I should stop worrying so much about being that great step-mom, and focus a little bit more on my role as mom, because in my mind, I'm all Christian has. 
It's tricky and I don't always feel like I have the best balance.  I feel stuck in the middle of being a parent vs. being a step-parent. 

I guess I'm envious of the kids' desires to have their other parents be all they want them to be. I am also hopeful that one day I'll be the bomb and maybe make the awesome birthday cake.  I admit that I don't have all the answers, but I do try to keep it all in perspective, and put myself in their shoes.  In the big picture, it is insignificant that I feel this way. Sure, I get a little crushed, but it is more important that all three of my children are getting what they need from all of their parents.  If they need that time with the other parent, they have every right to get what they need.  If they need time with us, then we are here for them - always. 

Being in a blended family, teaches us to take the focus off of one and put it on the whole.  If we all think about what is best for 'me' we will fail, but if we reflect on what is best for the family, we will succeed.  So, let's take a step back and look at the big picture, remembering that the picture includes the other parents too.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Thanks for Reading and Have a Good Laugh

A few months ago, my son, Christian, told me that he started to read my blog...and liked it.  Sometimes I am amazed when someone tells me that they read my blog. I think my first response is:  "You DO?!" Then, I follow up quickly with a 'Thank you for reading!"  I figure, I'll take all the readers I can get, right?

A few weeks ago, after finishing my weekly post, Christian made some comment about what I had written.  Then, my (step) son, Adam, piped up that he too read my blog.  My response was, "Really?!"  I know my (step) daughter, Alex, has read posts before too, I guess I just never figured any of them cared about what I wrote.  Or maybe, it's quite the opposite, they know I am writing about our family, so they care very much.

With that being said, let me just say that nothing that I write is meant to embarrass, humiliate, or degrade any of my children. It is never my intention to make any of them feel bad by anything I have written; they are simply stories about our experiences in a blended family from my point of view. Sometimes I focus on the blended part, and sometimes its just about parenting or married life in general.  I may poke fun here and there, but mostly I try to poke fun at myself.  As I have said many times, we are all in this together, and I am just trying to be a resource to those in the trenches.

So, I want to thank my kids for reading my blog and thank them for allowing me to put our lives out there.  I think it is important for them to share their stories as kids in a blended family, as well as for me to share mine.  I would also like to mention that whether I was lucky enough to birth you, or lucky enough to get you as a packaged deal, you are ALL my children and I love you very much. We might not always agree on stuff or see eye to eye, but I support you and your decisions (providing they are legal and do not harm yourselves or others), and know all three of you will go far. In addition, if any of you three want to be a guest blogger for me or give me a story to share, just let me know, because I think that would be great.

For a little fun and a good laugh, I thought I would include a couple of short videos on being a mom and parenting.  These are from comedian, Tim Hawkins.  If you enjoy the videos, you can visit his website:  Tim Hawkins

Laughter is food for the soul!  Click on the links to enjoy these videos!

Tim Hawkins on Moms

Have you Eaten?

Tim Hawkins on Kids