Choose your happiness.

One of the things that I have noticed with most stepparents I talk to, is that their problems aren’t usually with the stepchild, per se.  Their problem is the way their significant other treats his/her biological child.  Often, they talk to them like they are infants.  In a non-blended family, I’m sure this also occurs, but isn’t as irritating, because hey, that’s your baby too!  When this infantilization is connected to a child that you are already trying to fit into your new lifestyle and adjust to, it can be annoying, frustrating, and for many new spouses, almost a deal breaker.  If you don’t recognize it, you can subconsciously internalize an animosity for the child that is truly not their fault.  There are a few ways to help with this:

1.  Take a deep breath and realize it’s a super small issue in the grand scheme of life.  

You are with the person you loved and wanted to spend your life with.  You went into this relationship willingly and presumably you knew the strings attached.  We all have strings attached.  So this blended family is a tremendous exercise in compromise.  It will be a struggle, but there are places for you to vent.  Like here!

2.  Spend time with the stepchild.

Spending time together will build a relationship that is lacking in the first place.  You are given an instant family without the parent bonding time you get to develop with your own child over the course of their lives.  Doing little things for the child will also connect you and make you start to feel differently about your relationship.  Make cupcakes for them for school.  Make their favorite food.  Wash their blanket in fabric softener all fresh and clean and have it all set up for them when they are ready for bed-whatever will make that child/teen happy.  Discover what they like and indulge them a bit.  For example, my stepson loves Angry Birds.  I made special Angry Bird magnets for Valentine’s Day to put in his special treat bags for his class.  I felt good about it, he was excited and it was a fun memory to share.  It’s not always easy…but it helps.  It’s part of what I call “creating the mindset you desire”.  I wish to be a sweet, loving stepmom…so I act accordingly.  The hardest part is that with your own child, you often can say what you feel.  You can punish them or redirect them.  With a stepchild, that is a very touchy issue.  In our home, I leave that to my husband.  I tell him if I think something needs to be addressed and he deals with it later in a way that we both see fit. A stepparent has a difficult enough role.  It’s best if they just get to be more of a confidante, friend, mentor, role model-rather than a disciplinarian.

3. Every single day, spend some time alone with your spouse.  

Even if it’s only twenty minutes watching a show before bed, make a routine that is yours.  As your kids get older, you can tell them that they need to be in their rooms by that time (for us it is 9 pm) and settled down.  They can be reading, watching TV, drawing or whatever, but they will also grow to respect that it is time for you two.  Your relationship being solid is good for everyone in the family.  No one wants turmoil, anger and tension.  A nice routine is to have a little glass of wine or cup of tea each night before bed and chat theneveryone goes to bed happy.  We always stop what we are doing and head to our great room with a small glass of wine and watch an episode of one of our favorite shows before heading up to bed.  It’s one of our favorite times of day.

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Photo from http://www.stepfamilyrochester.org/cartoons.html

Ouch!

Well here we go.  My first injury in ages.  I mean ages.  I’m almost ashamed to mention it beause I’ve been so injury-free through my last couple half marathons and racing seasons…I just don’t know, why now?

Last night I iced them (did the whole RICE) thing, but I can still feel them throbbing and can barely walk.  This happened once last summer too, but you all know how hard it is to take time off from running when you are in training!  Ugh.  Any input?  I know I shouldn’t have trudged through my 35 minute tempo run last night but I can be a fiesty little brat sometimes.  I also think I dropped a nasty word when I had to stop for a sec and make sure I could still stand when I stopped moving.  For some reason the faster I ran, the pain seemed to lessen (maybe just numb).  A little old man in his flower bed, doing some gardening sure got a suprise.  I better take a different route for awhile.

On vacation this week with my precious daughter.  We day tripped to Montreal and got some school shopping done, practiced diving, got her hair cut and spent loads of quality time together, biking and chatting and re-organizing her closet (her choice, she loves that stuff).  And she got a new Shrek Opi nailpolish.  Another variant of blue!  I love staycations.  Today is our loungy, rest day.  Stepson is at his mom’s for two weeks and then he’ll be back with us.   Our kids start school a couple days after Labor Day so it’s not all that far off now.  Are you done your school shopping?  My daughter isn’t so about it this year.  She got a few things, but she wanted enough to start out and then buy more throughout the fall.  Much different than kindergarten when she started with over 35 outfits.  Oh those little Gymboree outfits with matching shoes and hair accessories.  Those were the days.  Cardigan, tights, skirt, sweater and headband…all matchy-matchy.

It’s getting hot in here…

Really, really, really hot in here.  Here in upstate NY, we consider 80 degrees Fahrenheit to be sweltering hot, since we often get below zero temperatures for a large amount of our winter.  I run all winter long, outside.  It has to be very frigid to keep me indoors on my treadmill.  Sometimes in the winter, if I’m in training, I will do my speedwork or interval training on the treadmill, primarily because the track is stacked high with snow!  This week it’s been 90 degrees at 7 pm when I go running.  I still did my normally scheduled runs.  I’m nothing if not determined.  Once I’m in training, I just about never deviate from my schedule.  It really helps to choose a training plan and adhere to it.  Somehow it helps as a motivator.  An additional motivator is all those nasty toxins I’m sweating out of my body on a run like that.

This all relates to stepparenting and single parenting for me in one very simple way.  When you feel good about your body, you feel good about yourself and you are able to release all that stress that those two dynamics can build up.  It’s the one good thing that is for ME and me alone, that schedules right into my life.  It’s taken a long time, but everyone expects my running now.  No one feels it takes time away from them, the whole family is proud and my daughter loves coming to the track to time my speed workouts.  Before I remarried, I used to run on a treadmill almost all the time.  I didn’t race as much back then, but I got my running in.  It’s my sanity.  And probably part of the reason I’m very laid back and less stressed than most of my friends.  And when my daughter’s father manages to somehow get on my nerves (it happens occasionally, even now) running to some loud angry music really makes it all go away.  Really.

Anybody interested in running?  I’d love to help and give advice-I want to motivate all of you.  🙂  And for my runner friends, especially those fast ones, help motivate me to bust out a great half-marathon in October!

Proud mama moment.

Graduation day was bittersweet-as they always are.

However there was a lovely surprise.  After a not-optimal year and a teacher that was the worst she’s had yet…my girl got the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence!  For those who don’t know (which I didn’t until after), it’s based on overall grades being 90-100, teacher recommendations and above 85th percentile on our state exams.  More on how ridiculous those state exams are later.  What a proud moment for her!  Her dad’s parents were there and my mom and me.  Lots of pictures and a lovely, happy, confident girl.  And now, we’re off to middle school.  And I profess this adamantly, that little girl you see up there in that adorable dress?  Yes, the one that people mistake for a 14 year old?  She’s 10.  And she’s my baby.  Still.  Always.  Ask her.  She’ll tell you.

Name change?

I’m going to start regular posting again, as I’ve had some people mention that they are having a hard time finding a blog that deals with blended families.  My question for all of you is…should I change the blog title from “Former Single Mommy”?  If so, any suggestions?  Catchy of course, is always good.

I think we’ve done a good job with our “blending”, now that we are three years into it, I feel like I can discuss it much better and with more detail.  I do have to say that the road isn’t easy or for the meek.  It’s been a very interesting transition, one that I am excited to share with all of you.  And hopefully, it will help those of you who are just entering this new life, to feel less alone and to have a place to vent.

For my single mom friends…I still want to remain part of your chats as well, since that part of my life is very dear to me.  And as those with blended families will assure you, once a single mom, always a single mom.  🙂  I definitely have my own parenting thing going on, in addition to the blended situation.

For those unfamiliar with my dynamic, I married a man who has full-custody of his eight year old son.  The son does go to his mother’s quite often.  Every other weekend and more frequently on school vacations.  More on how this came to be, later.

Roll call…anyone else out there?

Find me at my new home!

Hi girls (and a few guys)!

I’m starting a new blog and want you guys to follow along-it will be a totally different vibe as it’s all about technology and fun gadgetry.  Since you got to know me while I talked about my most enduring and biggest love, my daughter-I’m hoping to stay in touch with you while I talk about my love of all things electronic.  I won’t shut this blog down, as I’d like to come back and update when I have time-but I have one simple request.  Please don’t mention THIS blog on the other one…of course that is always fine in a private message to me.  However, I’m planning on being very public with my Adk*Gadget*Girl blog and I’d rather that all the people who know me IRL don’t come back to this blog.  It’s not that there is anything secret-but it is from a part of my life that is very special to me, and that other people (especially people who haven’t been in the single parent trenches), probably won’t understand.  I think of all of you often-you made some lonely and some challenging times during my single parenthood so much less lonely.  I felt we were a team and bonded indefinitely and I still do.  Those of you whom I chatted with more frequently via this blog, well I’d love to find you on FaceBook too, so please message me.

Please come on over to    *adk*gadget*girl.wordpress.com  and leave feedback, questions and tips.  I plan on posting several times a week, and eventually hope on daily posting.  (Just leave out the asteriks in the blog title…that was just to derail Google-or at least try to).   I can’t wait to talk to all of you again.  *Adk*Gadget*Girl is soon to be a website all it’s own, which will link back to the blog as well.  I’ve missed all of you.  I hope your babies are all well and that you are all blessed and healthy.  And I’ve noticed several of you aren’t “single” parents anymore-congrats to you!  I hope that the love is huge.  But guess what…once a single mama…always a single mama.  🙂  It’s a mentality and a way of life.  See you soon. ❤

Another single mama!

So I have single mom radar.  When I ws ready to sell the house that I had with BsDaddy and kept for three years post-separation, I bought a house in the nearby “city”.  Then after a while, I found NewHusband and we eventually decided to move in together, and get married.  I got a realtor who was proven to be the best in the area, with a track record miles long and top sales awards to boot.  Well, she was a single mom!  We bonded over the transaction, and now I count her as a friend.  

Today, I had a meeting with a lawyer for the “fact-finding” court date, where child support is evaluated.  I’d like to get it all done automatically, as I had never done this (trying to be nice to the ex, always my downfall).  I’ve heard this lady plays hardball and I was tired of trying to defend myself when BsDaddy always gets an attorney and I never do.  We get chatting and lo and behold, she’s a formerly single mommy too!  Of 4!  Now happily married to a man she enjoys spending time with and her kids all turned out well, graduated college, all working towards second degrees.  She was an inspiration!  Even was apparently as strict (yet loving) as I am with B!  She’s excellent.  And although I walked in prepared to pay a retainer, she gave me the un-glossed over truth.  I didn’t need to bring a lawyer in to this fact finding meeting with the support magistrate.  She also told me who the magistrate was, the type of guy he was and exactly what I should do and say.  And then she said, if it starts to go south, just say you want an adjournment until your lawyer can be present.  But she really thought it wouldn’t.  So that’s good.  She said she could take my $1500 to do this, but I could definitely do a good job on my own.  So I’m going to try that first.  

When I came to work and mentioned how great it was to connect with these single moms, this co-worker who is the second wife of a man she has two kids with, and two stepkids that are his biological girls, said “it is it’s own culture isn’t it?”, in a semi-scathing way.  Yeah, my claws are out.  It’s a culture because of women like her who refuse to believe that we got here through anyone’s fault but our own.  I wasn’t a miserable wife, I wasn’t a nagging wife, I was honest and truthful, kept a clean house and even my ex will tell you I was an excellent wife.  He cheated through no fault of mine.  He’s just a liar and a cheat.  That’s something no one can change for him.  And I left because I want my daughter to be a powerful, independent thinker who does not rely on men (or anyone else) to make her happy or make her who she needs to be.  I would not have been true to myself, if I had stayed with a man I could not trust.  I want her to have conviction and to stand up for herself and what she believes in.  I believe in monogamy.  So I stood up.  And left.  If people have a problem with that, they can keep putting the blinders on to what their husbands are doing.  If that makes them happy, then so be it.  It didn’t work for me.  I know lots of marriages where the wives turn a blind eye to that behavior.  That wasn’t me.  And I’m not bitter or depressed or even angry.  I just knew I deserved better.  I deserved MORE.  So when I meet another single mom (or single dad) who feels the way I do and parents the way I do-well yes I do connect with them on a different level.  And if you want to refer to that as our “culture”-well so be it.

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