Accidental Hiatus + Clean Your Room!

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I suck. I am soooooo sorry! I was getting such wonderful responses and then I just disappeared! Well that’s life. I’m a teacher who does NOT get summers of and I’m planning a wedding by myself while trying to keep up with everything else that happens in daily life. I apologize! Anyway, as promised (I think…) I would like to share who I am able to successfully get Hudson (now 4) to clean his room by himself without me having to stand there for two hours! Here goes…

I love that Hudson has an active imagination and that he loves playing with his toys–but I do not love the mess that results. I think that it is important for children to learn independence and accountability from an early age. The earlier you start, the less work you have to do later on. This is true of most aspects of parenting–instilling a sense of respect for adults and others, being kind, saying prayers, brushing teeth, and so on. Being responsible for cleaning up after one’s self is no exception. We starting making Hudson clean up his own toys at age 2. Now, I don’t have to tell you that a 2 year old can make a mess much faster than he can clean it up! But here are some tips to get you started:

1) A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING, AND EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE
Now, I admit that I am somewhat of a type A personality, (I’m being sarcastic. I’m borderline OCD. So sue me!) BUT I do think that having a more specific “system” for Hudson has really helped him to keep things organize. We bought this shelf from IKEA (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S89842470/) which has two different sized “buckets” that can be slid into grooves within the shelf. We established a purpose for each drawer: balls, men/people, imagination (dressup), cars, etc. If her knows specifically WHERE things belong, he is much more capable of putting things away. I think (I HOPE) that this also helps him to develop a desire to be organized in other areas of his life (like school) in the future.

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2) LINE THEM UP, KNOCK THEM DOWN
Hudson used to always ask for help with cleaning his room. It’s not that I am against helping him, but I have the entire rest of the house to clean, including my own shared room with a not-so-compulsive man-child. I don’t really have the time or energy to clean up toys, but I still want Hudson’s room to be well kept! My general rule is that if I play with something (with him), I will help clean it up–for example, building LEGO things. Hudson has a special talent for tearing his room apart, and it is easy to see how a 4 year old could get overwhelmed by the destruction his dinosaurs caused while playing soccer with the LEGO men who had to jump on the balloons to be safe and then ride on top of the laser guns through the tunnel into the tent… I’m sure you catch my point. This is my solution. A line. I started out by first creating the line for him as well as the rules of how it worked. My way of “helping” him was to create a structure for him to follow:

1 progress 2

The rules are that he cannot touch or clean anything other than what is in the line, and that he must follow the order of the line. When we first started out, I would periodically return to his room to start a new “cleaning line,” but I eventually told him to just make his own. He still has a bit of trouble with that, as he like to start creating a second line before completing the first one–but that is a much better problem to have than finding him playing. This step has been crucial to his cleaning independently, and he is very proud of the final result. It also creates somewhat–I mean soooooomewhat of a game.

3) FINDERS–KEEPERS
I believe I am not alone when I say that I do not want to have to pick up cars out of my bed or 1000 other toys from all over the living room. My solution? Jail. For the toys, I mean. We have a “treasure box” in the bathroom… that can be explained later on. Anyway, if I find any toys in our room or the living room after he has gone to bed or when he transitions to his mother’s house every other week, those items go into the treasure box–something he is not allowed to touch or open. Thankfully, he is a very obedient boy and we never have any problems with stealing or snooping. Now, I don’t think this has really had that much of an effect on helping him remember, but when I say, “If I find something in there, it’s mine!” He does fanatically search for whatever items he left behind.

4) SHARING IS CARING
Sorry, I couldn’t really think of a better title for this section. I’m open to suggestions. Every year, we do a “fall cleaning” rather than a “spring cleaning” in order to get ready for the 1 billion toys, clothes and other various items that he gets showered with every year. We get a big bag and talk about how there are children whose families don’t have much money to buy new toys for Christmas, and how it makes our hearts stronger to be generous with others. Minimizing the number of toys he actually HAS goes a long way.

Try it out and let me know how it goes! Or if you have any other suggestions, please share them with me!

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Discipline Update

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DISCIPLINE Pt2
I’ll just share a short story–a win for Team Step Mommy! When Hudson’s mother began dating this new guy, she would complain to us about how Hudson was so completely rude and hateful to her new man–and also how he refused to listen to HER. At the same time, he would come to our house, be completely respectful to both Aaron and I, and we really didn’t have many discipline problems. So what’s the difference (even now)? Well, I will tell you:

1) not following up of threats of discipline (seriously–they are testing you–don’t fail!)

2) she gave no authority to her boyfriend (now of 2 years)–therefore he had no respect (I don’t think he really wants any–he’s a 21 year old college kid)

3) she teaches Hudson to be mean to people he perceives as being mean to him (aka her man plays around by sticking his tongue out or pushing him and putting trash in his hair, so Hudson gets legitimately upset and retaliates–and then comes home saying that mommy’s boyfriend is mean).

A president has been set from day one. There were already feelings of animosity previously–I guess (I hope) that Hudson is merely *projecting the “meanness” behind the actions of the boyfriend due to never having a proper child-adult relationship with him. Even the babysitter has the authority to take away toys or put a kid in timeout if they misbehave! Come on now!

If you do it right, it does work–and even the SAME kid can flip-flop his behavior tremendously depending on the ENVIRONMENT he is in.

A Mommy by Any Other Name is Just as Sweet… Right?

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As a new step parent, you will constantly be reminded that you are, “NOT THE MAMA.” The thing that you have to remember is that you really are NOT the mama. I know it sounds simple–and kind of harsh–but it’s true. You will never be this child’s mommy (unless, I suppose, the other parent is in jail or died or something). The other thing to remember is that this does NOT make your role in the child’s life ANY less important. Now, before I continue, I must remind you that when Aaron and I got together, his son was not even a year old. I have been here since the beginning. I know many of you out there are probably not so lucky.

Now, I know that I am not his mommy–but I am certainly more important than a teacher or random aunt or neighbor. While some may not feel this way, I felt that it was important for me to have a name. I don’t want to be called “Miss Erin.” I have been a teacher for 5 years and a nanny for at least twice that–to the kids I babysit or my students, I am “Miss Erin.” To me, our relationship dictated a necessity for a different title. I brush his teeth every day; I wake him up and make his breakfast before I go to work, I wash his clothes, I do bath time and read him his bedtime stories–I hold him when he cries and put band-aids on his boo-boos–I play Power Rangers with him–I have changed his diapers for almost 3 years now–I am NOT “Miss Erin.” This is how I felt and still feel about it. Now, I wasn’t trying to make him call me mommy–although if he had–and he does on occasion–I wouldn’t correct him. I just wanted something else–some kind of personal nickname. Since I spent a year overseas, Aaron and I came up with the idea of something from another language. As you may have noticed in my last post, he actually calls me “ohmony.” This actually means “mother” in Korean. This may not be something that you care about, but I think it has helped show him what kind of relationship we have–daddy’s name is Aaron, but I call him daddy, ohmony’s name is Erin, but I call her ohmony. He adapted very quickly to the new title and has been using it for well over 2 years. If he wakes up in the middle of the night from a nightmare, he screams ohmony, not Erin, even though he knows my name. This title shows a deeper level of closeness, in my opinion.

Again, I was lucky enough to enter the situation when he was still very young. I don’t think he remembers a time when he didn’t know me. I feel very fortunate about that.

Everyone has their own opinion about the role of a step parent–and I think mine may be a bit different than most. From what I have read, I see a lot of, “Just step back and let him handle the discipline,” kind of tactics. I’m sorry, but for me, this just doesn’t fly. Discipline is part of parenting. It’s part of the relationship of mutual respect, and if you give up your right to be an enforcer in your home, you also give up the respect you deserve in your own house.

As far as the, “You are not my mom,” thing–take it with a grain of salt. Sometimes the other parent is using the child to deal with their own insecurities about being an inadequate parent (I’m not saying that they necessarily are). When Hudson was trying to figure out the relationship dynamic among the authority figures in his life, his mother would rant and rave about how I “was not allowed” to discipline him. Or speak to him. A particularly insane request when considering the fact that we lived together. As a result, Hudson experience a lot of confusion and had a lot of questions. He asked me several times if I was a mommy–not HIS mommy–just a mommy. I would say, “Yes,” because I am one. I own that. I’ve earned that.

That being said, I’m not going to make him call me mommy. Instead, I often tried to lead the conversation in a different way–we often talked about roles instead of titles. I would ask, “Who helps take care of you?” Of course he will answer with mommy and daddy first, but you should also bring other important people (grandparents, aunts, cousins) to his attention, including yourself. For example, I knew that if I asked these questions, the answer would be “ohmony” :
Who brushes your teeth?
Who gives you a bath?
Who makes you breakfast?
Who helps you get dressed in the morning?
etc.

I then tell him that I like taking care of him, and I do what I do because I want him to be happy and healthy.

*I will say that a big part of it is actually being involved. I get up an hour early every day so that I can spend time with him before I go to work. I also do a section of the bedtime routine every night so that I assure that we have some one-on-one time at least twice a day. On weekends, I, of course, spend more time with him. It really comes down to how involved you want to be. Being more involved means committing a lot more time than you otherwise would. It means being emotionally invested in the child. When you are more invested, they will be, too. Lead by example. I make sure to tell Hudson that I love him every day, and that I do the things I do because I love him–and because of this he knows that both daddy and ohmony BELONG TO HIM. We are his, and he is ours.

Not the Mama! Disciplining Your Stepchild…yay…

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So, since you are, indeed, not the mama, you also can’t tell your stepchildren what to do, right? Hmmm…

Before I explain what we do in our house, I will first tell you that a lot of what I have read is contrary to what I am about to say. It seems that they say–whoever “they” are– that when it comes to discipline, you should just step back and let the biological parents handle it. I think this approach might work better when your stepchildren are older–like age 11 and up? That’s just my opinion. This is certainly NOT what we do in our house. Let me explain.

When Aaron and I reunited, Hudson was two years old–more spoiled and stubborn than any toddler I have ever seen. If he didn’t get his way, he would scream until he did. He never apologized, and he didn’t care how he affected other people. When I fist started spending time with the two of them, I saw a novice daddy doing his best to get his son to act properly. Needless to say, it wasn’t going so well. Now, I admit that I am a type A personality–I like rules, I have OCD, and I’m a bit of a control freak. Despite my… personality quarks, I didn’t say much for the first month or so–I wanted to see how they interacted before I jumped in with parenting or discipline advice. A weekend-long family reunion at a state park gave us an opportunity to really grow as a family. On the second day, there was a huge family picnic at a large pavilion area. The three of us ended up being the last ones there, and Aaron told 2-year-old Hudson it was time to go. He refused. Several times. By this point I had been holding my tongue for so long, I may have had the faintest taste of blood in my mouth. Aaron looked exasperated. At this age, the easiest thing to do would be to pick him up and put him in the car while ignoring the screams an cries of the disgruntled toddler. If we had been short on time, I suppose it would have worked–it would have gotten the job done for the moment. This is where I’d like to introduce a bit of forethought; if this is the style you use, the child is never actually listening to you. He doesn’t learn how to respect you, and it certainly won’t be an adequate tactic when he is 13.

It was at this point that I volunteered a story about how I generally disciplined the children that cared for while nannying, and he agreed to try it. TIME OUT! I’m a strong believer that corporal punishment should only be used when children are very young–when they don’t yet have the ability to fully understand consequences, and only for dangerous situations–like trying to touch fire or running into the street. Now–if it was my step-child, I would certainly leave that for his biological parent (moreso to avoid any legal ramifications or twisted stories later on–sorry, remember that you are a STEP parent–Disney says that you are SUPPOSED to be evil). Aside from this, it’s time out alllll the way. My personal style is that the length of the timeout is dependent on two things 1) the age of the child (2 years = 2 minutes) and 2) the demeanor of the child. Hudson should be able to sit quietly for two minutes. If he goes into timeout screaming, calmly explain that his timeout can only begin when he is calm and quiet. After sitting for two minutes, there are FOUR questions to ask:

1) Are you ready to come out of timeout? (Sometimes they are still upset & don’t want to. Wait a minute and ask again)

2) Can you explain why you are in timeout? (If it’s the first time, or if they are quite young, they will probably need help, so repetition is acceptable: P: You didn’t listen when daddy said it’s time to go. C: I didn’t listen when daddy said it’s time to go.)

3) What are you going to do next time? (Again, if it’s the first time: P: You’re going to listen to daddy? C: I’m going to listen to daddy.)

*THEY DON’T ACTUALLY COME OUT OF TIMEOUT UNTIL QUESTION 4!*

4) What do we say when we have done something wrong? (The response should be an apology and a big, fun, playful hug)

Wellllllllllllllllll, Hudson sat in timeout for NEARLY 2 HOURS because he wouldn’t stop screaming, haha. Aaron kept saying, “He’s never going to get out. He can’t do it.” I continued to encourage him to be patient, even if we had to be there for several hours. The first time implementation timeout is the MOST IMPORTANT. If you break before a 2 year old child does…. well…. just don’t. Parenting is not easy, and being a GOOD parent is VERY TIME CONSUMING because you really have to actually spend the time disciplining the kids. No one likes to see their kids upset, but they need to realize that 1) they eventually do calm down 2) you have to show that you are the one with authority… and 3) if he follows the rules, we can have fun! BIG TIP: Make sure the apology is done properly without other distractions and that he or she hugs an apologizes everyone he or she wronged–and then HAVE LOTS OF FUN! Jump around! Swing him/her in the air! Do a dog-pile full of giggles. You want the exit of timeout to be rewarding for more than one reason. You want lots of positive reinforcement for good behaviors like remorse when others have been hurt. Hudson usually screams, “FAMILY HUG!!!” because he likes for both Aaron and I to be involved. If you have a Christian home, you may also want to include talking about how it makes God feel when we hurt each other, etc.

So. Two hours. Buuuuuuuut his second timeout was only about 45 minutes–and then 15, and then 5… then 20… then 5… Finally, just 2! At the end of the week, Aaron reluctantly turned to me and said those three magic words that every woman hopes to hear: YOU. WERE. RIGHT. The good news that if you are consistent–and make the time to be consistent–it does get easier. Children need boundaries. They need to know what is okay & what is not, and in order to figure out what and where those boundaries are, they test them. It’s natural. Especially around age 2 when there are major cognitive shifts happening.

Now, in my opinion, I DO think that I have not only the right but the responsibility to discipline my stepson. If you simply step back when they do not do as you ask, you rob yourself of the respect that you deserve. He or she has no reason to listen to you because you have no authority to do anything. Make sure that you and your partner are on the same page about this. Just like in a regular nuclear home, you should be a united front and back each other up. If you hear that he is not listening to daddy, you tell him that he had better listen or he will go to timeout– If you ask him to do something, his or her biological parent should back you up in the same way. You should show that you are equal. This took a bit of time to get used to, especially with BMD’s interference.

As young as age 2, Hudson would return from his mother’s house saying that I wasn’t his mom and he doesn’t have to listen to me if I tell him to do something. Additionally, BMD would text Aaron saying, “I told Hudson to tell your stupid girlfriend to shut up if she tries to tell him what to do.” Now–this really irked me for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact that she would rather use her son as a pawn and make him get in trouble and be unhappy than allow him to peacefully coexist with his soon to be stepparent. Secondly, what was is that she thought I was tell him to do?! Oh no! DON’T eat your vegetables. DO run next to the stairs! DO go try to pet the neighbor’s dog who has a history of biting kids! DO run into the street to chase a ball! So utterly insane. Anyway, if he had been older, this may have actually caused a huge problem. Thankfully, he didn’t follow his mom’s advice–although he did relay the message. Aaron was sure to tell him that he DID, in fact, have to listen to me. I later on had to clarify that he also has to listen to his grandparents and uncles.

I am happy to say that our system works splendidly for us. I get so many complements on Hudson’s behavior from Aaron’s family members, my friends and my coworkers. What used to be somewhat of a nightmare (for example, dinner was a 3 hour process) is now so absolutely pleasant, and I am proud that I am a part of what has helped him become such a well-behaved and respectful child–not just to his father and I, but to everyone. Yay!

*Some kids are just really difficult kids (especially highly intelligent ones)–you just have to keep working with them and be CONSISTENT.

Keeping the Piece

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Step-parenting is one of the most difficult and thankless roles a person could ever willingly place herself in. You will bend over backwards–you will go above and beyond for reasons only other under-appreciated stepparents will understand, and most of the time, you will NOT get the recognition that you absolutely deserve… so get used to it. On the other hand, you will find every milestone in your relationship with your stepchild that much more meaningful. Take comfort in your successes and know that when your stepchild actually DOES go clean his room without fighting with you, or when he does want to play Legos with you, it means that you are doing something right.

As a stepparent, I would like to say right now that you are important. You provide extra support in many ways. Do not ever feel that what you are doing is unimportant.

That being said, I will say that rule NUMERO UNO is–before you really get involved–before you spend time building a relationship with those who would one day be your step-children, you had better make sure that you are ready to be a parent. Right now. These kinds of relationships can be so utterly confusing and complicated. You may feel that on one hand, this is THE MAN (or woman) you want to spend the rest of your life with. On the other hand, you may see that he (or she) also has an extremely selfish, controlling, condescending, disrespectful, violent, short tempered, dishonest, manipulative…. baby mama–and like it or not, she will also be part of your life for the next X-number of years. She may show up at your house and try to break in in the middle of the night (true story). She may constantly harass you and send you threatening emails (true story). She may call you and work only to cuss you out and then hang up on you (true story). She may actually SHOW UP at your job just to make a scene and give you grief (true story). She may even go to your man pretending that she actually wants to make it work for their happy little family just to regain control of him and break the two of you up (…. true story). It’s an emotional cluster-EfF that you really may not want to get involved in. And that’s okay. It’s better to figure things out now than to wait for years to pass and finally decided that you’ve had enough drama after your step child has already grown attached to you. Waiting this long requires you to leave two people at the same time-one of which who will not understand why you are leaving.

From this point on, I’ll be using aliases–it just makes it easier!

Aaron and I have known each other for about 8 years. We have been together for about 3–minus the 8 month break when he went back to the mother of his child to try to make things work. I know what you are thinking–how could I possibly go back to such a drama-filled situation–especially after he left me to go back to her? Well, sometimes that’s just the way it goes. That whole, “If you love something, set it free,” quote comes to mind. I won’t say that I agreed with his decision to do that–lol–but I will say that when we got together in the first place, “Hudson” was not even a year old yet. The wounds were fresh; and even though BMD (baby mama drama) had been dating a new man for several months, she couldn’t stand the though of losing control of the one she had been manipulating and pushing around for the past two years. In all reality, and especially because of this Christian views, he was still holding on to the idea that you are supposed to stay with one woman and make a family with that one–and that was it. Of course, the general idea is that this woman is–well–not a selfish and manipulative psycho with a short fuse who brings out the worst in you. At any rate, that final attempt to maintain the original nuclear family ended in a much expected nuclear explosion.

Fast forward a few months. We began talking and spending time together again. I didn’t come back. I never really left. What happened hurt–but not as much as the idea of just never being with him again. I knew the situation would implode. I knew he still cared for me. I knew that if I had survived the drama I had experienced thus far, there was nothing I couldn’t handle. At the risk of boasting, I will say that I am a stronger and more patient person that I ever thought possible. When someone attacks you–your reputation–your family–the natural instinct is to fight back. I did a lost of praying and soul searching on how to deal with such an insane person. For example, and I quote,

“let me make one thing perfectly clear to you: you are not to be contacting *****. ever, in any way, for any reason. through anything electronic or in person. ever. and if you speak to him ever again, im going to beat your mother fucking ass to the point that your own mother and grandmother wont ever recognize your ugly face. not that your drunk mama or deteriorating grandma can even recognize you anyway. go fuck yourself.”

Now, I very easily could have written a book of a response to this… whatever this is–but how do you argue with someone who is so blinded by rage that she makes up random addiction problems and talks smack about an 80+ year old woman with Alzheimer’s disease. By the way, my mother isn’t a drunk, and despite the disease, my grandmother knows exactly who I am–I’m her favorite grandchild! Anyway, I have about 30 more emails just as classy and sweet as this one. So you may be wondering why I didn’t respond–why I never respond. Well first of all, it pisses her off. She wants a fight. She needs drama–so I starve her. I’m sorry but no ill-tempered potty-mouthed girls is going to get me to lose my temper. Ever. This was a personal victory for me. Every time she flips out and starts blowing up my email or phone, I just ignore it. Just like with a child, I do not reward bad behavior with attention. (It’s a bit ironic since she is actually older than me). Secondly, I know that I have to play smart. If you are in it for the long-hall, you have to realize that if he is the kind of dad he should be, he will want to have custody. Especially with technology, everything you do is recorded. If I were to retaliate in the same way that she attacked me, I would be no better than her–no better as a person and no better as a PARENT. There’s a little thing we call a custody battle, and these things can get messy. You keep YOUR hands clean, you hear me? If she flips out at you in text, email, social media–whatever–document it. Print it. Save it. Record it. And make a file with her name on it. You will keep this file for two reasons: 1) you may feel like filing harassment charges *and if you have responded, your claim of harassment is null 2) you want evidence of character if the custody battle gets ugly. You do NOT want to be the reason that your man doesn’t get custody of his kid.

You should be squeaky clean. 1) Clean up your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram accounts. I would recommend removing tags or making albums private & running through your statuses. Thankfully, I have never been one to post all that much, so this didn’t take me too long. 2) Block her on social network websites. You don’t want her embarrassing you on your own page/pictures and you certainly don’t want your friends who love you to jump into a cyber war with her either. Don’t give her the opportunity to start airing dirty laundry–whether she’s spouting off lies or not. 3) As mentioned before, save everything. 4) I know this is difficult, uncomfortable, awkward, and even a bit scary, but play nice. If you see her in person, make polite chitchat. Why? Well you eventually want this drama to end, right? This post is called KEEPING THE PIECE–I mean your piece of mind. There’s no reason to have stress and drama-filled lives. If you have an opportunity to be helpful or nice, take it. And do it with grace. Don’t expect anything in return. Don’t eve expect a thank-you. It has taken a couple years, but my BMD has stopped harassing me and actually says nice things about me sometimes. Go reread that email I shared with you. Do you think it would be possible for her to say that she is thankful her son has such a stable and dependable person in his life (me) if I had retaliated to the stupid things she has said and done? Someone has to be the bigger person. Someone has to decide to be the grown up. And depending on the age of your step-children, they will eventually see who the instigator was, and who handled herself with grace.

This also reminds me of rule NUMERO DOS: Do NOT talk smack about the absent parent anywhere near the children. The image your step children perceive of you is so very important. You must show that you are not the one who is causing drama and show your desire to have a happy and healthy relationship with everyone–including the BMD, no matter how terrible she may be. Hudson often says things like, “My mommy is mean. My mommy is not smart. My mommy is bad.” Aaron and I make it a point to never say negative things about his mother in front of him. I can only conclude that 1) children can sense the hostility that exists among separated and step parents even if it is quiet and 2) his mother tells him very negative things about the two of us. I think he expects that we do the same. I can always tell that there is an element of surprise when he tells me, “I don’t love my mommy because she is mean,” and I respond, “Your mommy loves you and you love her, too. It’s not nice to say that we don’t love someone. Is she really mean? What does she do?” Now, I am not saying to dismiss things–you don’t want a child to remain in an abusive household if that is the case, but if his response is something like, “She didn’t give me ice cream,” or “She put me in timeout,” you should talk about the fact that if he does something like throw toys, he would go in timeout anywhere and that it is being used to teach him how to be respectful and responsible–it’s not to be mean. I can’t stress this point enough. You must be a good example. You must show restraint. You must help him understand that we don’t just say mean things about about people, that lying is wrong, and it’s okay for me to love you AND daddy AND mommy. I am not trying to push a Christian viewpoint on everyone, but I am a Christian and I do believe in being the bigger person. If no one shows these kids how to deal with conflict appropriately, they will be tyrants when they get older. At the end of our nightly bedtime prayer, we always say, “Thank you for my daddy, thank you for my ohmony, thank you for my mommy, and for all my family.” Help the children to see that it is possible for everyone to be happy and get along. Maybe–hopefully the children will help to influence the other parents.

No one EVER said that the life of a step-mommy was easy. But if you are with the right man and you are a strong enough person to deal with all that comes along with the role, I think it’s absolutely worth it. Our journey has not been an easy one, but I can say without a doubt that we are stronger not only as a couple, but as a family–all three of us–than I ever could have anticipate. I love my man. I love my life. And I love the stepson I have raised more than words can say.

I’ll leave you with two quotes today:
“Remember that hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”
“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds, and diamonds are made under pressure.”

An Introduction to ImpromptuStepParent

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Where to begin…

As you can see, this is my first post. It actually took me about 2 hours to create an account–what with going back and forth between reviewing tomorrow’s grammar lessons (I teach), calming my future step son’s cries for his mommy (he’s 4 and daddy’s at work), and trying to figure out how to navigate this website (it’s 11:30PM)–anyway, you can see why it took a while. You may also be able to easily detect what it is that prompted me to start a blog in the first place.

While many of my friends are married–and a few do have children (or children on the way)–none of them have really experienced in their relationships the kinds of things I have experienced in mine. I suppose the reason is that at my age, most people are just beginning to start families. They aren’t broken–and hopefully never will be. As a result, few friends my age know what it is like to raise a child–and even fewer have any clue about what it is like to raise someone else’s child. Most of what I know about parenting has been learned through trial and error via my experiences with babysitting and nannying as well as watching other people (generally much other than me) make horrible parenting decisions… and TV. (I hope you detect the sarcasm in the last item).

So, I suppose a bit more background of your writer is in order, huh?

 When I returned from teaching English overseas (preK-12) at age 22, the last thing I expected was to fall in love with a newly separated single father of a beautiful 8 month old baby boy with enough baby-mama-drama to last several lifetimes… for several different people. Although we have had our ups and downs, I can say that almost 4 years have gone by and I know that I am exactly where I belong. Of course, that’s not to say that I–we–haven’t met our fair share of difficulties. I now value, more than ever, my many years of babysitting, nannying and teaching

This blog is mainly an outlet–and if I happen to bring a bit of understanding, comfort, and trial-by-error tips to new parents or step-parents who read, so be it!