Parallel Parenting Forms & Resources

Parallel Parenting Plans Templates Forms Documents

A few weeks back, I wrote about Parallel Parenting and how sometimes it proves better than coparenting. This time I’m back with a few suggestions and thoughts on parallel parenting forms and documents. It’s all great and dandy to be given advice, but doing something and taking action is much better.

Parallel Parenting Forms & Documents

Originally I intended to create a template just to offer you for free, but then my inner legal counsel decided against it and hear me out.

There is NOT one plan that I could give you that would provide you exactly everything you would need. Nope. Not even close. Every situation is different, every state plays by different rules, and every family has different wishes. Nothing I could offer would truly be of value to you. Which is also why I believe so very few exist.

The second issue is that my last post expressed the need for an official mediator of some sort IF the situation calls for it. Chances are if you’ve found yourself parallel parenting, there’s some type of conflict and creating a plan on your own is probably not your best idea. IN FACT, I so boldly say, seek out legal help. Yes, it’s expensive, but the rest of your life you’ll be glad you did.

BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t point you in the direction of some really wonderful forms and documents that already exist!

Links to Parallel Parenting Forms

  • Between Two Homes has many different forms, comparisons, even classes (if local!) for parallel and coparenting. Definitely worth a look.
  • Matthew Sullivan is a Clinical Psychologist that offers tons of free downloadable plans and templates in all types of parenting situations. Warning: he is based out of California and the laws may be different state to state. 
  • Developing a Child Custody Parenting Plan is a full workbook with examples and templates starting at Page 10 (although everything before page 10 is a great reminder and resource too!). Warning: again, state specific, check your home state laws prior to creating any plans. 
  • This Parenting Time Template is extremely specific and well thought out. Warning: again, state specific, check your home state laws prior to creating any plans. 
  • A checklist that provides as many details to be included in a parenting custody plan. There was a lot of great pieces of information to consider in this list!

One big thing I notice over and over is that there is very little acknowledgement for the little things that come up that don’t get pre-decided. Creating a set plan or knowing what to do when making these decisions is valuable.

For example, when children are of school age, who will pay for school lunches is a topic that seems to be ever present in our situation yet was never discussed formally. Each year it happens to change, which tends to get confusing. Having the ability or the option to work through these situations is important for everyone and their sanity.

Parallel Parenting Resources

  • Kate over at This Life in Progress is amazing! It’s a community she’s created for divorced and blended families. What I love the most about her is that she stands on both sides of the fence: mothering with an ex and newly blending a family as a step mom. It’s a lovely and refreshing viewpoint.
  • BeUnrehearsed – a Blog about coparenting/parallel parenting from the viewpoint of the Mom. It’s always good to see both sides of things!
  • Checklist that may help reduce conflicts – this is a great list of thoughts and suggestions. Warning: again, state specific, check your home state laws prior to creating any plans. 

 

I hope you find some success in whatever you are looking for! As always, feel free to ask any questions, I’m here to help and support!

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Baking with My Babies on Mother’s Day!

Baking with Shari's Berries Mother's Day Baking with Kids Baking with Babies

First of all, Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mothers, Mothers in Law, Grandmothers, Godmothers, Mothers of angels, Mothers that are waiting patiently, StepMothers, and so on. Everyone women finds today with so many different feelings, so wherever you are at in your journey I wish you peace and happiness today.

To celebrate, I decided to spend the time doing a few of my favorite things: baking and being with my babies ♥ Cake Pops are on the menu for us today!

Baking with Kids Mothers Day Shari's Berries

This post was created in partnership with Shari’s Berries for Mother’s Day. 

Baking Advice from Mom’s That Know!

The older I get the more I realize the wonderful wisdom that Mother’s can provide. As our cake pops cook and then chill, I have some baking tips to offer from some wonderful Mom bakers out there!

Baking Tips Mother's Day Advice

Although I love this infographic and the majority of the advice is perfect, I’ll admit this Mama never measures… oops! Sorry Lori. The rest is pretty sound though 😉

It’s time to dip the cake pops, so I’m off, but I hope you enjoy your day! Also, click here and find a bunch of wonderful recipes on the bottom of the page! Cranberry Pound Cake with Orange Glaze has me #allthehearteyes!

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psst. Want a little more Mother’s Day inspiration? Find a quick and easy DIY of positive affirmations for Mom here! 

 

Positive Affirmations for Mother’s Day + Printables!

Personal Creations Positive Affirmations Mothers Affirmations Mothers Day Gifts
In honor of Mother’s Day, I’ve partnered up with Personal Creations to bring you some positive affirmations for all of us Moms!

Mothers Deserve Positive Affirmations

Most would argue that motherhood is one of the toughest jobs in the world– if not the toughest. From the moment her child is born, Mom rarely gets a break. With young children, diaper changes, meal time, and baths demanding all of her time. As kids get older, her job gets more complex as she guides them through the tribulations of adolescence, not to mention driving all over the city!
Positive Affirmations for Mother's Day Mother's Day Gifts
Yet as hard as Mom (or Step Mom!) works, she rarely gets as much credit as she deserves. In fact, she is often overwhelmed with the message that she’s not doing enough. Personal Creations doesn’t think that’s fair, so they created positive affirmations for mom to remind her how amazing she is. The affirmations are easy to print and can be assembled into a tear away booklet for Mom’s desk or nightstand. Coupled with a bouquet of her favorite blooms and a heartfelt note, they make the perfect gift this Mother’s Day.
As you prepare to spoil the women in your life that mean so much, add in a few beautiful positive affirmation cards to remind her that she truly is amazing. Us Moms do so much; it’s nice to be reminded of that!
Personal Creations has included all of the directions to DIY this beautiful gift and of course provides access to all the printable! Mom will be so glad you did ♥
I can’t wait to build mine and have it out on my desk as a daily reminder! How will you use yours?!
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When Parallel Parenting is Best

When I first started dating Caleb, co-parenting was the only type of blended family arrangement I was familiar with. had ever heard of. To me, it was just another term to describe our future blended family. I really had no clue that it was a style of parenting, until I read more about it, for the good and the bad. (Warning future or present Step Mamas: that internet can be a cold dark place for us.) It sounded like a novel idea. Two families happily getting along, making decisions together, heck some even being friends and hanging out. That didn’t sound too bad. I could handle that. Then….. reality hit. Then I learned about parallel parenting. It all started to fit together.

What is Parallel Parenting?

According to Psychology Today, “Parallel parenting is an arrangement in which divorced parents are able to co-parent by means of disengaging from each other, and having limited direct contact, in situations where they have demonstrated that they are unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner.”

I want to be clear on something. Yes there are occasional disagreements between Caleb and his ex; however the typical reasoning is that they are both very different types of parents and have different view points on what’s important. This definition seems very harsh for our current situation.

Parallel parenting is usually best for high conflict situations. There has to be some level of agreement between the parents in order to account for important decisions for the children, but there is also a “safe” level of disengagement between the adults for the sake of keeping things conflict free for the kids.

Think of it legitimately as parallel lines, where each line represents one of the families. Typically the families live their own life and follow their own rules and household expectations. There is very little overlap unless a serious decision regarding the children needs to occur, then conversations will take place or may previously been outlined. Depending on how high the conflict is, email, mediation, or other type of supervisor may be present when these conversations happen. The families only overlap when parenting time switches and even then, depending on the situation, that may not even happen.

Why Choose Parallel Parenting?

Parallel Parenting has a lot of benefits for everyone involved. Both parents are free from major conflicts and constant communication, when it isn’t pleasant for either party. Any children involved are free from the pitfalls of any major disagreement or fight between their parents. Parents can create new support systems for the children at their own household. It’s less stressful for everyone. Think of it as a business arrangement. Everyone knows their job and works to fulfill that independent and separate.

What Works for Us?

We’ve found some safe combination of co-parenting and parallel parenting. Things aren’t always clean cut and easy, so parallel parenting works. The kids both have “new families” at both homes with their own set of rules and expectations. Both households have very different rules and expectations. Email is usually the safest and most used form of communication. It’s documentable and non face to face. That too can backfire though, as there tends to be extra “strength” without a face.

Co-parenting is starting to semi work, but I know it may never be achieved or desired. Sometimes conversations occur and work out face to face just fine! Since the kids are picked up from our house twice a month, face to face conversations have to happen and making sure they are civil and friendly in front of the kids is vital. We’ve even found ways to support the kids together in extracurriculars, but there is still a long way to go.

How Can You Implement Parallel Parenting?

  1. Create a very detailed plan with some form of legal mediator present. This can be in the form of a divorce decree or a parenting plan on any type of family system (read: Our Family Wizard or the like). The important piece here, especially in high conflict situations, is some type of mediator. This will provide safety for both parties. Consider every single detail possible: school decisions, extracurriculars, lunch money, clothes, field trips, doctor/dentist appointments, holidays, vacations etc. The more detailed it can be upfront, the easier it is later on.
  2. Create a safe and loving environment at your own house. You are only “in control” of what happens at your own house, make it a good one.
  3. Be open and willing to discuss things that come up with the other parent. You can plan all you want, but not every thing can be pre-discussed. Things happen! They’re kids!
  4. Have hope. Yep. This is important. Parallel parenting does NOT mean that co-parenting is never going to happen (although in some cases, it may never). Parallel parenting may actually provide a future of co-parenting and happiness with families together.

 

Need some help? Have more questions? Feel free to ask! I’ve learned tons in the last few years of my life.

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Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and have no law degree or background. All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn more about our experiences. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current and is subject to change without notice. Please seek out legal counsel for specific cases and situations.

8 Gifts for a Special Woman on Mother’s Day

8 Mothers' Day Gifts Personalized Step Moms Etsy

Mother’s day is just around the corner! For Mother’s it may mean a day of rest, relaxation, and pampering. For the rest of us, it also means still being a Mom, you know Mom chores. However, for those that don’t quite hold the title of “Mom” it can be a really hard day.

As a Step-Mom I am also acutely aware of how it impacts us step-mamas. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband, who acknowledges my role as Mom and Step-Mom and I have a wonderful step-son (good ole Carson) who always makes me a gift in school. Thinks aren’t so simple for Ava. I respect that.

Sadly, Caleb and I have also had to work through the loss of two babies, so I’m always aware of the effects of loss of motherhood, as well. Like I said, Mother’s Day isn’t always so pleasant for all.

But… there can be some wonderful additions and I’ve rounded up a few of my current favorites  from Etsy! (Psst… these are not sponsored. Just loving on them!)

8 Mother’s Day Gifts to Give

8 Personalized Gifts Mother's Day Etsy

// one //

Sound bar necklace // I love this as it’s simple, dainty, and it can represent so much. The shop has it listed as the heartbeat of a baby. For someone who has experienced the loss of a baby, this could be such a meaningful way of remembering. I also thought it would be so cute to have the sound wave of your little one saying “I love you Mom”. So many lovely options.

// two //

Watercolor Portraits // This is my dream. I want a watercolor portrait of my clan; however since we haven’t decided if we are “done” I don’t want to buy one yet. Seriously though, so beautiful and so thoughtful. I also thought this would be perfect for those pet mamas, think how cute this would be with a little weiner dog ♥

**I was fortunate enough to get a personalized Fourth of July plate from my MIL, that I cannot wait to share. Two is totally ok, though. Amiright?

// three //

Mom Tote // Every women has stuff. Moms have too much. Plus the saying pretty represents any suburban mom: “Messy Bun. Leggings. Target. Starbucks. #Momlife”. Nothing more needed.

// four //

Matching Shirts // Mama Bear, Baby Bear, plus a little aztec style. I’m all about it! Matching is the best with little ones. Big ones are so into it, so take advantage when they’re little! There’s also a Papa Bear one available. Hint hint Daddys!

// five //

Name Bar Necklace // I love this simple, modern and slightly trendy necklace. This one can be personalized with any name and doesn’t necessarily connect to just a “Mom” so it can be super versatile. A child’s name, a step-child, a pet, a spouse, a god mama (!) etc. so many choices! Rose gold is my current favorite!

// six //

Wooden Personalize Plaque // This one is a little more rustic style, but I still love the personalized factor. I also really like the sentiment “My Greatest Blessings Call Me Mom”. Although I’m lucky enough to have a few extra blessings that don’t call me Mom, I still think it’s a lovely piece of art.

// seven //

Step Mom Keychain // This one is really special to me. A lot of Step Moms I know get forgotten or sadly ignored on Mother’s Day, as the kids have a “real” Mom to be with. I don’t get to see the kids on Mother’s Day as its their mom’s legal parenting time, so I do miss them dearly, but like I said before, they do good making sure I feel the love before or after. Anyway, what a beautiful sentiment and simple idea. It’s small, so feelings won’t get hurt, but still loving and considerate: “We may not have your genes, but you will always have our ♥”. So sweet.

**Step-Mother’s Day is actually celebrated the Sunday after Mother’s Day. The jury is still out how I feel on this. 

// eight //

Personalized Stackable Rings // Gah I love these! When we are “done”, I’m so getting these. I love how dainty and delicate they are. It’s also replicates the name necklace bar (#5), but in a smaller way and well, duh it’s a ring. I think I could get 5 on one finger ha! Anyway, these top out as my absolute favorite on the list. Rose gold again for the win!

 

Any ideas I missed that you’re loving on? Please share and let’s show all those lovely women in our lives lots of love. Happy shopping!

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4 Step Family Mistakes that Worked Out Perfectly!

I don’t write about step motherhood too often, not because I don’t consider it a high honor or high struggle (sometimes), mostly it’s because I feel like a fraud. I don’t separate my love or motherness towards them so it seems weird to separate my words and title, too. That being said I’m a step mom and we’re a blended family and that’s just how it is.

But we rock at it! Seriously. 99% of the time we got this. The other 1% is because no one is a perfect parent, blended or not.

However our road to awesome-ness was filled with every “no no” possible. Caleb has read tons of books on divorce, dating, remarriage etc long before I ever existed (go him!). When I met him, I started to peruse the internet looking for guidance and found tons and none all at the same time. Go figure. But I took my cues from him, who better to know his situation and children than him? Vice versa to Jack and me.

BUT we did it all wrong and it led to a really great family atmosphere and relationship. Am I suggesting to make our mistakes? Nope absolutely not. I’m just saying that sometimes books aren’t perfect. They don’t know you or your situation. Great references and ideas for sure, but not the only way. Think about it, every family is different and every situation in which that family encounters is different, so trying to take ALL advice from a book is going to be a challenge. It’s not practical.

Mistake #1.

We dated our family and we went all out. Yep, that’s a bad idea. Word out there is that it gets your kids into this ill conceived notion that this is the norm and that isn’t quite reality. Sounds logical. Wasn’t practical. We like hanging out with our kids. Did then, do now. Caleb and I wanted to explore and try new things together. So they came with. Jack and I showed them our favorite things. They showed us theirs and we were on the go all.the.time. It was a blast. It was exactly what we needed to see our families bond and grow together.

Flash forward. They were right. Kids ask us all the time what we’re doing for the day and chores and house work doesn’t quite get the same enthusiastic response. Oops. They definitely expect that awesome dating lifestyle. That being said, we have a really great family bond and we all enjoy each other’s company the majority of the time. The kids act like what I understand “real” siblings act like, you know that love and hate that drives me bonkers sometimes? Yea, they do it too.

Mistake #2.

We introduced our kids to each other and ourselves too fast. They say you should give it time, make sure that you both like each other. Then introduce the new significant other to the child before the children to the children. Again, seems logical. Everybody gets a slow chance to meet each other and learn. Yes, we both planned on being really stable in our relationship and talked about waiting months, but life happened and they met and they played and it was just fine.

Flash Forward. The kids play together all the time! They really have become best buddies. The only issue here is that there is 3, which means 1 seems to get left out a lot. It rotates who, but it happens. I’m not sure waiting would’ve prevented that. Cue Harv. Ha.

Mistake #3. 

We didn’t wait the appropriate amount of time before moving in and marriage. Yea we failed big time on this one. There isn’t many suggestions on time frames, as long as everyone is comfortable and there isn’t any rushing involved. We didn’t rush. Caleb and I knew it was right and would last, so we knew we weren’t hurting anyone. But the 7 months of dating before living together and 40 day engagement?…. well I’m pretty sure that qualifies under the  “too soon” category.

Flash forward. Sorry Charlie. You’re wrong on this one. Maybe for some waiting is best. But I knew Caleb was “all in” and I knew I was, too. I’m a Cancer. Loyalty, especially family loyalty is our thing.

Mistake #4.

Don’t discipline your spouse’s children. Ok I’ll be honest, I never really believed that not disciplining step-children was a good idea when I first heard/read about it. As a teacher, I discipline and have high expectations for behaviors, attitudes, respect, etc. of other people’s children on a daily basis. With high expectations comes big results. I want kids to become great and smart members of society, so I’m not even sure it can count as a mistake, when I whole heartedly am against it. It only made sense to apply that in our own home, too. It doesn’t matter which adult is disciplining or which child is the offender, we are a united front with our own set of house rules so it just happens. So yea, failed at this.

Flash forward. We don’t discipline the kids much at all anymore. They really know and understand the rules. It’s easy when they’re the same and treated the same. Yes, we still have to on occasion, they aren’t perfect (no one is!), but it’s different. It’s easy, part of our life, and now we have them reflect a lot and make choices about the consequences of their actions. It actually really set our family up for a united front.


It’s clear we made mistakes, but when I look back it’s also clear why those mistakes worked so well for us. First and foremost, Caleb and I are committed to each other and our family. We both knew we wanted to be together and make it last. No second marriage statistics here.

Second, Caleb and I knew that our marriage had to come first and we had to show the kids that we were important. Things like date night, quiet time together, and our bedroom was off kid limits (that didn’t last haha). We also acted as a united front. This was hard at first as we did come with 2 sets of family rules and expectations. Conversations started a lot with “well I need to talk to Dad” or “let me talk to Sam first” until Caleb and I found a rhythm that worked. The kids were young enough to realize the “ask mom or dad” game wasn’t going to fly – so stop trying. It also allowed us to enforce the rules we believe in and no matter who was home or who saw the issue, we both felt mostly safe to speak up. And yes I said mostly. It isn’t always perfect.

Third, we knew if we wanted to make it work, it had to work for everyone and be fair. We wanted the kids to get along, but we didn’t want to force it either. It had to grow naturally, so we gave tons of opportunities for it to work. Let me tell you now, it DIDN’T always work. Nope not at all. Somedays kids were crying, I was crying, and we just had to call it a day. But we kept trying and eventually the spats over toys and who was playing with who were just really little bumps. We also made sure and still try (it’s getting harder now and could be another post all in itself) to keep everything fair. They are all super close in age (besides Harv) so things like presents, parties, treats, attention, time etc. all had to be the same. They all 3 mattered and were loved the same, so they were treated equally as well. It definitely took out the negative feelings of feeling cheated or being jealous. Typically step child feelings.

Lastly, forgive yourself. That’s something that Caleb and I both tend to struggle with. Sometimes the day or the situation really just sucks. But it’s a bad day, not a bad life or a bad person and so we pick it up and try again the next. That’s the “all in” factor that is completely necessary raising a [blended] family.

As our family grows and continues to change, I know Caleb and I will adapt how we do things, because we aren’t a book and we aren’t our mistakes, nor are we perfect. But we’re a family every day and the love we all share is pretty great. We also talk about things all the time, sometimes it is almost too much, but the reality is that if we’re prepared and ahead of the game, the kids will all be in good hands. Ours.

psst.. want more thoughts on stepmotherhood? Check out this post to hear more of our story!

 

 

First Big Announcement!

I don’t usually pop in on the weekend, unless there’s something really exciting going on! Which today is no exception, BUT before I tell you why, we need to rewind a few years.

When I was first tossed into the Step-Mom role (ok not tossed, I semi knew what I was getting myself into) the days were easy. It was a lot of playing, fun, and more of a cool older playmate type role. Then we moved into together and started talking marriage, and the reality of my new role was more prevalent. Add in a few different mediation and court dates and I was a scared, stressed mess.

It.was.hard. and the only person I felt safe enough to talk to about my feelings and that could maybe remotely understand what I was going through was Caleb, who was the one actually going through the mediation and court dates …. so… well, not too fair on my part. So I did what any sane, confused, looking for an answer person does, yep I Googled it. AND OH MY GOSH that was the worst mistake of my life.

Think Googling a sore throat on Web MD and you discover you’re going to die some horrific death and you have 2 weeks to live.

Yep it was not a good move. Everything I found or read was so negative of the children, the husband, and especially the ex wife. I didn’t feel that. I didn’t want to feel that. I wanted help. Positive help that didn’t make me out to be the Cinderella style Step Mom, because that isn’t me. I love my kids, I love my husband, and I don’t utterly despise the kid’s Mom. I gave up on Google.

Then one day, years later, in the middle of the night, with a really colicky baby who wouldn’t sleep I stumbled upon, I don’t even remember how these days, Grady. Grady is a Step Mom; a sweet, adorable, fun, loving Step Mom that loves and adores her step daughter (and she blogs about it all!). Huh. It was this awakening moment, that maybe, just maybe I wasn’t alone.

Now, every broken/blended/step family (whatever you want to call it) is different, which is also what makes advice and writing so hard. But, for once, someone else I found was happily married helping raise someone else’s kid. Little did I know, that Grady would become a fast friend.

Cue the first big announcement of the year (which I referenced back here).

I’ve written a few (ha!) words over on Grady’s blog today! I had the wonderful opportunity to interview/guest post on my thoughts on step-motherhood and my family’s story! It was so fun working with Grady and such a blessing to have found her as a friend!

So go grab a cup of coffee (or tea!) and sit down, it may take a while to read. Find my post here!

Thanks for having me Grady! It was so much fun!!

Happy reading all!

 

 

psst…. my image is from haute chocolate.

Do I like being a Step-Mom?

I need to start a while back, before I can answer that. A couple Saturdays ago, it was 70 degrees in MN in November and with the reality of snow not too far off, the little boys and I decided it was the perfect time to venture to the “big” park one last time for the year. Skipping all outside chores that really could and still should be finished. Oops.

Unfortunately we were not alone in that thinking. The park was full of kids, parents, and a stray albino turkey. Yes. People were petting it and my children were mad that I was not letting them. Go figure. After playing for over an hour, I convinced Jack that Harv needed a break and I needed quiet, so we went for a walk through the trails. Along the way, we checked out the army tank, the Veteran’s memorial, and a bunch of teenagers jumping the fence to skateboard in the unfilled pools. Really world?! I was hoping for a quiet day at the park.

As we headed back to the car, they saw the park and asked to go back. Well, Jack asked nicely and Harvey just pointed and screamed. So we headed back. It didn’t take me long to realize that Carson and Ava’s Aunt, Uncle, and 2 cousins had now join the masses. Let me be a little clearer: from their Mom’s side. Meaning, Caleb’s ex-wife’s family. I’ve met them once. Years ago now at Carson & Ava’s Baptism. I didn’t think they’d recognize me, but I smiled anyway. I barely recognized them. More so I knew it was them because the kids. We hear lots about their cousins 🙂 As far as I know, they didn’t recognize me.

I text Caleb and he responds with “Do you still like being a Step-Mom?”. Whoa hold up stop the train.

Little did that Man know the conversation he was going to get after that question. I get this question a lot, “do I like being a Step-Mom?”. Like a real lot. I’m going to answer this as truthfully and honestly as possible. And then please stop asking, because it’s messy. K? Thanks 🙂

The simple answer is yes.

The other simple answer is no.

The complicated answer is I’m a fraud.

I was a Mom long before I was a Step-Mom. I love being a Mom, I really do. I know 100% for a fact it is one of my biggest purposes in life. The love that I have for my little people is immense. The natural nurturing carries over into my students. Any parent & teacher will easily admit that having children makes you a better teacher and being a teacher makes you a better parent.

The yes I love being a Step-Mom, is because I love the “Mom” part. I love that Caleb trusted me enough to risk his kids (for the record, I don’t consider myself a risk ha I’m pretty safe actually) with a new relationship. I love that I have 2 more people to help grow, mold, love and yes even worry about and get grumpy with. I love that my heart had the chance to grow. I love watching softball games, volleyball games, helping with homework projects, sharing a favorite color, listening to trombone practice, attending new badge cermeonies. I love being a wife to Caleb. That is all the easy-simple-yes I love being a step-MOM.

The no though? That’s a little different. That is a little hairer. That’s the “step” part. It isn’t fun having your husband’s ex-wife come to your house weekly, to call in the middle of dinner, to miss the kids when they’re away on the weekend, to have zero legal rights, to worry if something happened to Caleb, would I lose the kids too? Those early days, weeks, months were HARD. It was an adjustment for all of us. It was learning to play a new game, to trust Caleb, to learn from Caleb, and to do lots and lots of reading. None of that is over. Nor will some of it ever be. I’ve just learned to handle my emotions, to find a place that I’m safe with, and that Caleb is comfortable with. Would it be easier not to? Sure. Maybe. I guess I don’t know. I don’t live that life. But I wouldn’t trade Caleb, or Carson, or Ava for it either.

Ok so I mentioned before there are 3 answers, the yes – being a mom rocks. The no – court and decrees can suck. But the fraud. Yea. Let’s talk about that.

I’m a fraud. 

I am a Step-Mom. Have been now officially for 2 years, 8 Months, and 7 days. (Not that I’m counting or anything). I have loved the kids and been a part of their life for longer though. Not much longer, but still longer. In that time I have only felt like a Step-Mom once. Yes. Once.

It was at Carson’s last birthday party. The boys were eating dessert at the table and I was cleaning up in the family room. I don’t remember what they were talking about, but Carson’s best friend said “Oh no, that’s Carson’s Step-Mom”. Bam. There it was. Never heard it before. Not like that. Not to define who I was. Let me be clear, the boy was NOT being mean. I was not offended at all. It was weird, it was like “oh yea, I am” moment. I think it even hit Caleb a little because he looked at me like huh.

I know they have a Mom. They see her every weekend. They talk to her most nights during the week. I know I’m not their Mom. Nor do I try to be. They have one. I’m their “Sam”. Someone they talk to, get help with homework from, hang out, are fed by, etc. but I’m not their Mom.

It makes me feel like a fraud sometimes. I’m not their Mom. But I don’t feel like a Step-Mom either, because I was a Mom first. So where do I fit? I know where I fit within the confines of our home and the 6 people we share it with. But to the rest of the world? I don’t fit into one of those nice and tidy categories. It’s just not who I am. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes I feel like it’s easier to hide that I’m a Step-Mom. And sometimes I feel like it’s easier to hide that I’m a Mom too.

The answers are messy. They aren’t perfect. They are definitely not black and white. And the answer changes depending on which part of the phrase “Step Mom” I’m experiencing (the Step part or the Mom part).

When it comes to it, I love them. That’s all that matters.

So to answer do I like being a Step-Mom? Yep. I would never trade the people I love. You wouldn’t trade being a Mom, even through the hard days. I know it. Don’t expect me to give up then either.

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