Branching out the blog.

So it’s been awhile, right?  But I’ve been pondering what to do with this blog.  Although I still strongly identify with the single mamas, I have been successfully part of a blended family for about five years now.  I am a full-time stepmother of my stepson, as my husband has full physical custody and of course have full-custody of my girl.  Over the past five years, I have listened to others tell me how I need to write a book about blended families.  They have come to me with their problems and challenges and asked for advice.  Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been easy for me, but I think we’ve got a good handle on this whole dynamic and it’s taken a lot of research and compromising.  🙂  

So, are any of you interested in a blended family blog with tips, hints, stories and guest bloggers? Please comment and give me some of your super helpful feedback!  

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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!

To the one who made it all possible…

Happy Mother’s Day Mom.

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I’ve spent my entire 35 years trying to please my very intense, Marine father.  However, I have not once felt the need to “try” to make my mother proud.  She just always is proud of me and has always made me feel very secure in her love.

I call her every day, with no particular topic or question at hand-just because I enjoy hearing her voice.  We are very different people.  My daughter is much more like her than I was, am, or ever can aspire to be.  They are both people-pleasers, always concerned about others, always trying to make people happy.  They have a genuine empathy that is instilled in their hearts and could not be faked.  They can both be very affected by things people say or do, albeit unintentional or just an offhand comment.  I am much more nonchalant and things roll off my back much more quickly and I am definitely not all sweetness and goodness as those two are.

My mother has set the bar so high for parenting it is almost impossible to attain.  She worked full time my entire childhood, cooked meals every single day, packed lunches, did all the laundry, sewed, quilted, gardened, painted and built…she is more Martha Stewart than Martha Stewart.  To this day, I ask her to hem pants or fix a pillow or any other chore that to her is routine, but to me a major undertaking.  Just recently, she revamped a too-large tablecloth into the right size, making the excess material into matching napkins and pillows for my sun porch.  Over the past 15 years she has taken care of her two elderly parents, her aging mother-in-law and helped all of them to die with dignity.  She has watched her children have children and has become the role model my daughter so desperately emulates.  She is the “fun” Nana who takes B hiking and playing outside and yes, shopping too!  She is a fitness fanatic and has instilled that love of the outdoors and exercise in both me and my daughter.

We are so different I sometimes have trouble understanding her reasons and her upsets.  When she is stressed out, I have a hard time being compassionate, as that’s not something I “get”.  I often say that I won’t allow stress in my life…I feel it is a choice and drama that I don’t have time to allow in.  She doesn’t understand the bittersweet feelings of remarriage and divorce and single parenting.  She’s been with the same man since she was 19.  (She conceived ME on her wedding night)!

Yet, sometimes, she still surprises me with a bout of open-mindedness.  Recently I told her the Twilight books were incredibly good and since I don’t usually love fiction and especially not popular fiction, she listened.  She’s now on the third book and surprisingly completely addicted!  My daughter and I adore movie nights at her house, where we snuggle up and eat junk food.

She is passionate and strong and hopelessly in love with my father.  She’s curious and loyal and always there.  Getting angry with her can upset me like nothing else can.  She’s ridiculously wrapped around my 9 year-olds finger and it both makes me envious and warm inside, all at the same time.  I can’t begin to imagine a day when she is not there.  I’m not sure I would be able to go on, without her in this world.  It gives me hope that my daughter too, might feel I am necessary, needed…long after she actually needs my physical presence every day.

Thank you Mom…I love you.  You have done the most exceptional job of mothering I have ever seen.  Thank you for giving me everything and then some.  For traveling to stores far away so I could have those Guess jeans back in 10th grade.  For allowing me all the sports and clubs and activites that kept you running for all my teenage years.  For hunting down a Cabbage Patch kid when I was crying each night because I wanted one so badly. For making every Christmas, Easter and even St. Patrick’s Day magical.  For gifting me with the most idyllic childhood imaginable.  For lying in bed with me, spooning behind me and holding me as I cried myself to sleep, the night my first husband left our home and I drove to your house, 7 months pregnant.  For supporting me as I stubbornly held onto my home for three years after leaving my husband.  For helping me when I bought a house in a more convenient location.  For being so happy when I remarried and built a new family.  For….just being.  I love you more than you can ever know.  And I appreciate it.  Every last thing…every day of the last 35 years, and 4 months.  There is no other you.  How lucky am I?

Happy 35th Mother’s Day Mom.

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August 17th.

This is the day that I married B’s Daddy.  Way back in 1996.  I don’t think I regret that.  Not exactly.  Except that I could have gotten this amazing little girl through a one night stand with him and spared myself all these years of rebuilding, healing and then regressing, only to rebuild again.  Permanent healing?  Does that exist?  I’m guessing not.  It would have been our 12 year anniversary.  And it’s…not.  Every year this day is remotely painful, no matter how fabulous my life is at that moment.  It still feels like exactly what it is-a failure.  

I’m not always as positive as some of you think…lately I’ve been a little more down and actually missing having my own home and my single mama days.  I like being alone a little more than I am, and not having anyone to “answer” to.  The new marriage still feels so, well, “new”.  Even though it’s to someone I’ve known for a long time.  I’ve never lived with anyone other than my ex-husband and that, well, it’s that part that takes getting used to.  It’s not just a new husband, it’s a stepson too.  Am I really cut out for this?  Stepson comes home today, until next Sunday, then he’ll go to his non-custodial mom again for a week.  It’s been very quiet this summer, with him visiting his mom so frequently.  Wondering how we’ll get used to it all again once school begins.  He’s a much, much different type of person than the rest of us.

Time to get moving and get some planning done for the new school year.  I’m hitting paranoia about the new job and the first day of school in front of a pile of high school kids, trying to teach them some subjects they don’t really want to partake in (Chemistry/Physics).  Thanks for listening.

Girlfriends.

So I have some super-duper, fabulous, there-through it all girlfriends.  I think I’ll do a tribute to them now.  I won’t get through all of them, but I wanted to at least get a new post up!  We’ve been SO busy lately, but more on that later.

*Tammy*

I’ve mentioned her before, but Tammy has been with me through it all.  She walked in just as I was delivering the placenta, after B was born (TMI, nah…you’ve been there).  She moved to FL after her divorce (she was married to a friend of my ex-husbands and we bonded pretty quickly).  She has stood the test of time.  She’s loyal to a fault and our bond is like sisterhood (she should know, she has 3 sisters!).  When I’ve had to have surgeries in the past, I always tell her she is in charge of making sure that my ex-husband takes care of my baby and that my girl knows how much I love her, should something happen to me.  B calls her “Aunt Tammy”.

*Jess C.*

She’s stood the test of time as well.  She is the little sister of my ex-husband’s band mate and we worked in the local retail outlets together.  I adore her.  Even if I don’t see her for a year, it doesn’t change a thing.  I’d do anything for her and she for me, and we both know it.  She introduced me to the guy who eventually became my second and last husband.  And when we were apart, she never badmouthed either of us to the other.  That’s huge.

*Jess H.*

I never see my little Jess anymore, but she’s fabulous and should have been my daughter’s godmother.  She’s got morals, she’s beautiful and a genuinely good person.  I miss her all the time.

*DeAnn*

Oddly enough, I met DeAnn when she dated my ex-husband and my daughter fell in love with her and her two girls.  The ex and she broke up, my baby missed the two girls and Miss DeAnn and we arranged some ballet classes together for the girls.  We hit it off and now say that the reason the ex was brought in our lives was so we could find each other.  We’ve had some rocky spots but it made our friendship all the stronger.  And I love her girls a ridiculous amount.  They are like my other kids.  Our girls are like sisters and we take special girl trips together periodically.  We single-mom’d it for awhile together, several years and now we take vacations and do girl days with the five of us.  Our girls have often said we should all buy a house together, and I have to say, we have definitely contemplated it.

*Diane*

She’s about four years older than me and her life is mine, 4 years into the future.  No joke.  If it happens to her, I can expect I’m going to go through nearly the same thing in 3-4 years.  It’s time tested folks.  Divorce, kids, re-marriage, jobs…all of it.  She’s fabulous and usually the person who gives me the best advice, even when it’s not what I want to hear.  She’s a great mom and I know she parents like me.  She’s a great role model and wonderful friend.  She’s been an inspiration in how to stepparent with ease.

I love those guys.  I have great family and lots of great friends, but these guys are a core that I don’t know where I’d be without them.