Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

What comes to mind when you think of the term ‘Stepmother’? I’ll tell you what comes to my mind…younger woman who replaces an aging mother and wife; breaking apart the happy family and stealing the husband and father away. Evil. Home wrecker. Unfair. Rules with an iron fist. Unloving. Caustic.

I became a step mom at a young age; 23 years old to be exact. My stepdaughter was 7 and my stepson was 5 years old. The Detective was 31 at the time were married and that made me the younger woman. He was reeling from a failed marriage and the guilt he felt was still fresh when it came to his 2 young children. I was in college, just learning to be independent and barely out of my own parents house. I had gone from living alone in an apartment, going out whenever and where ever I wanted to being a wife and a mother figure to boot. I had no clue what I was doing. Far from the picture of evil maliciousness; I was just a kid myself. It was like Smurfette trying to fit in with the cast from Guiding Light. I was outnumbered and quite frankly; outwitted.

Over the course of 4 or 5 years we gradually became a bonded family. We adjusted at what seemed at the time to be a ridiculously slow rate but looking back it was pretty average. I had moments of intense happiness when I would get a hug from one of the kids to moments of incredibly dark sadness when one of them would scream at me that “You aren’t my mom!” or “I hate you!”. I hated myself sometimes too. I hated that I had thought for one second that I was smart enough or confident enough to be a step mom.

When we would go somewhere as a family and people would refer to me as the kids “mom” it was inevitable that someone would correct them. I look nothing like the rest of my family anyhow, they being blond and light and me, being brunette and dark. After a few years, I was able to joke around and say that people took me for their nanny. When people would find out that I was their step mom they sometimes struggled to hide their surprise. I could practically hear the thoughts running through some women’s heads as they stepped back and clutched their own children and husband to their side; like I was some temptress that had come to steal away their families if they looked away for 5 seconds.

It was hard enough to have outsiders react that way when they found out what my title was. I felt like I was an afterthought within my own family too. It was years before I felt that I actually belonged. I had to make a conscious decision to become part of my family. There were many times I built walls up that harmed me, my husband and my stepchildren. It’s hard to love someone else’s children as if they were your own because you are reminded everyday that they are not yours. You have no power to make decisions for them. You have no right to them in any way. You can sacrifice everything and give your entire self to them and you will never be anything more than their “other mother”. The other woman. The home wrecker. No matter how incorrect that assumption might be; it seems to always be the first thought for the average person.

I’ll tell you what though…I wouldn’t change a thing. I love my step kids. They have helped form who I am as a person and as a parent.

Bonus: I haven’t given either of them a poison apple OR enchanted them so that they pricked their finger on a deadly spinning wheel on their 16th birthday. Then again, my youngest stepchild is only 15 so I still have time to live up to that “Evil Stepmother” title.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Love And Marriage

Today is October 27th, 2010. That's 9 years since the day that The Detective and I were married.

In the last 9 years so much has happened. We went from being 23 and 31 year olds to a 32 and 40 year old. In between the years passing we bought our first home together, dealt with a job change and then a lay off and then another job with terrible hours, we met new friends and said good-bye too early to some...we created a beautiful little girl together, and we learned what it was like to co-parent a young man and a young lady who grew up too fast and left us hoping that we gave them just enough freedom balanced with just enough boundries to keep them feeling secure in themselves and in us.

The Detective went from only knowing how to cook Hamburger Helper to knowing how to cook Hamburger Helper AND tacos. I went from having to kill spiders myself to having HIM kill spiders...while I run screaming from the room, of course.

Oh, how we've grown! *sigh*

Happy Anniversary to the man that annoys me the least...most of the time. *grin*

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Be Yourself. Those Who Mind Don't Matter And Those Who Matter Won't Mind.

A conversation with an old friend today got me thinking about how very difficult it is to just be myself. you read that right: It's hard sometimes to just be me. Plain old me. As I get older though, I've found that it's become easier and easier to be myself. As I chatted back and forth with my friend about some insecurities he was having; I found myself telling him to just be himself.

"Just be yourself. You're great."

It sounds so simple but in reality it's as easy as trying to put a 2 year old down for a nap after you've fed him a chocolate bar and a gallon of Mountain Dew. Almost impossible. Unless you have patience and accept that it's not always smooth sailing.

I have some close friends who love me and my quirks. Like the fact that I laugh too loud, make strange Tourettes pterodactyl sounds, and support me through every single one of my strange obsessions. These are the people who have been with me long enough to see the real me...the me that I keep under wraps upon meeting new people for fear that they won't like who I truly am.

I was recently slapped in the face , hypothetically of course, with the fact that I don't come off as a friendly person. ME?! I always thought that I was friendly, polite...but I was told by someone that I just recently met that I come off as stand-offish...mean, even. They rushed on to tell me that that couldn't have been farther from the truth but the damage was already done.

Wow. I  have to admit...my feelings were hurt. I wasn't upset with this person in any way but I was upset with myself. It had taken me 32 years to get to a point where I felt confident and comfortable with myself and it took 30 seconds to destroy that foundation that I struggled to build. I know that the person telling me this wasn't trying to hurt me but...it stung. I obsessed over this for days. I asked The Detective over and over again what I had done to make that impression on people....

"Maybe it's because it takes you a while to really open up to new people?"

I don't know the answer to that, I don't know if I ever will. What I do understand now is how wrong a first impression of someone can be and how insecurities about revealing your true self can be such burdens. It brings to mind the old saying: "Don't judge a book by it's cover."

I can't change my "cover" but I have a pretty good story to tell if you just give me a chance. This experience has taught me that I need to slow down with my assumptions about other people....everyone should.

Above all else: "Be yourself! Those who mind don't matter and those who matter won't mind!"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sushi, Shenanigans, and Surprises

While I was out on the beautiful East coast, I was surprised by some of my wonderful, supportive, and beautiful friends. This group of friends is very special to me. We met just a mere 1 year or so ago on a fitness website called My Fitness Pal. It was then that I was invited to joint their private and very privileged email list. We go back and forth during the day about a plethora....yes, I just used the word 'plethora'...of subjects ranging from the serious to the not-even-close-to-serious. These girls have been my lifeline and my confidants. The one catch?

We all live in different states, for the most part.

We had never met face to face and I had never even talked to any of them on the phone. Crazy, eh?

I made plans with one of my girls on the email list to meet for dinner prior to one of my shows this past weekend. We even had shirts made up that said: "Sushi and Shenanigans Boston 2010"! I had them printed by a local friend here in Michigan. So, imagine my surprise when I walk into the restaurant and see not just my one friend but FOUR of my friends from our email group! The added bonus to the whole thing was that they were all wearing the SAME EXACT shirt that I had ordered and had printed up. How? They started arranging to meet up the minute that I made my plans, they contacted my friend who printed up the shirts and arranged for him to secretly send them extras.

They are evil genius's. One of the many reasons that I'm friends with them.

Meeting them in person just solidified how much I adore them; to meet them was a gift that I will cherish forever. For them to go out on a limb and arrange this surprise meeting was wonderful. I mean, for all they knew, I could have been an ax murderer, right?

I'm not.


Thank you, girls. I will never be able to express how much that surprise meant to me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

No Autographs, Please...

Expressing Motherhood Boston 2010 Cast
This past week I travelled to Boston, Massachusetts...Cambridge, to be exact...with my partner in crime, Kendra, to perform in a stage show called Expressing Motherhood.

It was amazing to say the very least. We met women from all walks of life who had stories about motherhood that they shared not only with our small group of mommies but with about 600 people over the course of the shows 3 day run.

Farrah told us about a not-so-perfect relationship that she had with her own mother and how, after having a child of her own, she now understands what her mom meant when she said "You will understand when you have your own children."

Alison explained how even though her baby was the "moose of the NICU" she was still shaken to the core and no matter how careful you are with your planning, a baby tends to throw all of those plans out the window.

Jody told the story of her own mom and what a beacon of light she was. She explained how blessed she feels to be able to say that she's "becoming" her mother.

Julie shared the story of her difficulty conceiving in a light hearted manner. She made us laugh through our tears with her wit and wisdom about the many methods that she tried and how they were all worth it in the end.

Angela went out on a limb and told us a story of what true faith is.

Robin taught us that the world of teenage girls isn't always pretty and that being a "victim Sherpa" to her "cute young abuser" is something that we can look back on...eventually...and laugh.

Caitlin painted a picture of her little boy who held his breath and her attempt to stay calm while he did.

Sher got straight to the point when she said "Why didn't anyone tell me how hard this would be?!" Through wit and humor she states: "Motherhood is a damn bitch." What mom hasn't thought that before?

Andrea shared her story of love after loss. This was a healing journey for her.

Chris defined motherhood in a way that encompasses every emotion, every thought that I have for my children. "As moms, we find the deepest part of our children's soul and dive right in." Yes, Chris, we do.

Elizabeth weaved a portrait of a sick baby and the ache of a mother's heart. She taught us that fear should never define us.

'Mother' is defined by Webster's Dictionary as:
a : a female parent b (1) : a woman in authority; specifically : the superior of a religious community of women (2) : an old or elderly woman

This seems much too simple of a definition to me...mothers are so much more, don't you agree?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Everything Is Better With Bacon

That's right, folks! It's another irregular installment of "What I found on the Internet today!" and this time it's something that all of us love...BACON!

First, we have my personal favorite: Bacon Lip balm:

Now, the main problem I see with this product is that your lips would smell like bacon. I, personally, cannot resist bacon and might end up chewing my lips off which would be really inconvenient if you think about it.

Our next bacon themed product we have is Gummy Bacon!
The issue I have with this particular bacon themed product is the fact that it's strawberry flavored. Why would you develop gummy bacon and make it taste like strawberries?!? It's just wrong...it goes against everything I believe in.

Finally, we have the Bacon Air Freshener. Mmmmmm...smells like bacon, baby.

The only flaw I found with this bacon novelty is the fact that it isn't flavored as well as scented like the delicious bacon that it represents...I suppose we can't always get everything that we want though.

Remember: Enjoy your bacon responsibly!

Monday, September 13, 2010


I read somewhere that about 70% of moms work outside of the home.

70 freaking percent.

I'm no math genius but that's most of us, right? Answer me this question:

Why do I feel so alone then?

I mean, if most of us mamas are working a job outside of the home then doesn't that make us the majority? Why is it like searching in the proverbial haystack for a needle to try and find another working mom to be friends with? Why am I surrounded by stay at home moms and dads at the bus stop every morning talking about which volunteer oportunity they're going to be doing that day at their childs school?

It's seriously like a game of *cue music* "Which one of these things is not like the other?"

After the bus comes and picks up our children, the stay at homes turn as a group and walk home while talking about what new cupcake recipe that they're using or how they need to make sure that they get little Mary to her Japanese lesson on time that afternoon. I turn the opposite direction, knowing that I won't get to lay my eyes on my precious child for at least 9 hours. It's like the Star-Bellied Sneetch's and the Plain-Bellied Sneetch's....and I'm missing a star.

The Sprite pointed out to me, when I was venting to her, that I would go insane if I stayed home. She reminded me of the time I was laid off for about 2-3 months and how I was ready to run screaming into the hills. She also pointed out that I'm not a bad mom for working because that isn't how being a "good mom" or a "bad mom" is defined. Just because I work does not mean I love my child any less.

It seems to me that most media is focused on the stay at home variety of parent. It's rare to read an article about a mom who works outside of the home. It seems it's socially acceptable and even encouraged for stay at home moms to "need a drink" but nothing seems to be said about how work outside the home moms never stop working either. Why would a woman who works outside of the home complain? They have their "break" by going to work.

Break? I don't think so.

I hate every minute of seperation from my daughter. I stress and worry that something will happen and I won't be able to get to her fast enough because I have to drive from the office I work at.  I feel like my life is almost constant chaos...there's never enough time to get what needs to be done, done. Am I a failure for  having to work outside the home? I think sometimes that I am. My house isn't ever as picked up as I want it to be. I don't play enough with my daughter. I'm always tired. The detective doesn't get enough attention from me. My clothes are never put away and dinner is always late because of my schedule.

In the end though, I just hope that my little girl knows how very, very much I love her...even if the dishes aren't always done.