#StepMomMagazine #January Review

2014 January cover

In New Year’s Resolutions: Goals for the Not So Perfect Stepmom, it actually admits “a perfect stepmom doesn’t exist” so Gayla Grace offers some resolutions of how to keep going on days when you want to quit:

  1. let go of the stepmom guilt
  2. forgive yourself when you fall
  3. seek out support from other stepmoms on hard days (this was especially hard for me in the beginning as I was the first to become a stepmom in my friend circle…now, there’s the Facebook…)
  4. recognize the significance of loyalty conflict and how it affects your stepchildren
  5. listen to your heart on how to parent your stepchild instead of others’ opinions (I think this runs true as any type of parent)
  6. take time (for yourself) to regroup when the step-parenting strain takes over
  7. realize that time is on your side

The article Eyes Wide Open: How to Marry a Man With Kids asks important questions regarding telling exes or not about the wedding, considering a prenup, etc. As excited as you are about the wedding of your dreams, there are certain realities of marrying a man with children:

  1. keep your eyes wide open to the realities and potential complications of stepfamily life
  2. remember that a wedding is only one day but a marriage is the rest of your life
  3. take a weekend retreat with your partner before the wedding
  4. don’t take anything personally
  5. go on a honeymoon without the kids

High Conflict People: A Guide to Understanding & Managing Difficult Personalities spoke to me. One thing that I truly believe and agree with in this article is to always remember that the High Conflict Person believes “they are being reasonable and their actions, even if violent, are completely justified so it is fruitless to get angry…”. Been there. Lived that.

There was also an interview about an interesting film called SPLIT: A film for kids of divorce (and the parents). I have not seen the film but I’m very intrigued now. It’s a documentary about divorce, from a child’s perspective, interviewing 12 kids, ranging in ages from six to twelve.

I’m very blunt whenever I hear anyone is getting married…doesn’t matter who you are, how much either of you make, or how much you love the person, get a prenup! The prenup my father insisted my (then) fiancé and I sign before we got married, definitely came in handy when we divorced. Everything was laid out very clearly, so there was little fighting over assets and liabilities we both brought into the marriage. In Do we really need a prenup: How spelling things out create stronger stepcouples, the steps are laid out very clearly:

  • Determine whether it is wise for you to have a prenup
  • Realize you already have a prenup (ie: laws in your jurisdiction)
  • Discuss and determine what to include in your prenup (dos and don’ts)

In YOLO: You only live once – piercings, tattoos and a stepmother’s love are forever, the stepmom describes why she went ahead and got matching tattoos with her stepdaughter. I love this quote from the article: “In 2014, at the age of 42, it is likely that I will get my first tattoo and it will match a tattoo on my stepdaughter. Why? Because she asked me, and if I don’t do it, she may never ask again. I know it will be there forever and will never change, juts like my love for her.”

To top it all off, the editor Brenda Ockun is the featured Stepmom for the issue. I’ve never met her in person, but have corresponded with her for almost a year. A beautiful woman, inside and out!

The March Issue of StepMom Magazine will be out next week. To purchase a subscription, click here: http://www.stepmommag.com/shop/

Meghan was given a year subscription for her review of the StepMom Magazine.

Recap of #Blog for #2013

Inspire Me 2014

Today’s Inspire Me 2014 Blog Challenge writing prompt: We’ve seen everyone do it this week on Instagram and their blog…recap your favorite moments from 2013. Or post one random picture from each month of the year.

I’m going to change this prompt a bit by sharing my most popular blog posts from 2013 because frankly, I tend to get way too involved and lose A LOT of time when looking through old photos. What can I say? My kids are cute! 😉

You Might Be An Autism Parent If…

Review of StepMom Magazine – May Issue

The Wonder of a Weighted Blanket (Autism) – although I wrote it in 2012…things that make you go hmmm… 😉

Who is Meghan? – awww, thanks everyone! 🙂

Yup, I’m Broken, Literally! – yet another one I wrote in 2012

After School Me Time, While the Kids Are Home!

Mother-Son Movie Time

30 Days About Me: Day 7 – Photo Happiness – yet another one I wrote a while ago…in 2011!

My Son Let Me Cut His Hair!!

Guess What? Autism Parents Are Stressed

#StepMom Magazine – #November Review

November 2013 Cover

I Used to be Single, Smart and Sexy: The Biggest Mistakes I Made When I Became a Stepmom (And How I Fixed Them!) described all the mistakes the author made when she became stepmom to her husband’s 4 year old twins…and short of quitting my job (which she did), I’m guilty of each of them. I wanted to fill what I believed were my (now ex-) husband’s expectations of my role as a stepmom (including him wanting me to refer to her by name instead of recognizing she is my stepdaughter). My role as a stepmm was very different from my role as a mom. While I’m STILL trying to find myself again amid my kids’ needs and myself returning to school, I agree with the author’s advice of “take off the apron and just be yourself”. Forget Martha and just do it YOUR way!

I understand that many stepmoms have issues with their husband’s ex. I didn’t. Since getting divorced from him, we suddenly have something in common (ssoooo many things in common with respect to our relationships with him…snicker!). We don’t spend time together now but it’s part of our new “normal” in my little family that my stepdaughter’s mom is in attendance at my kids’ birthday party, she has my kids overnight so all three kids can spend time together, etc. This is probably the exception to the rule so I found the article Restraining Orders: My Partner’s Ex Is Harrassing Me! interesting as it gave some obvious (domestic violence) and not-so-obvious examples of behaviours that can be used to make a case for a restraining order.

In Presents of Mind: A Father’s Take on Toys and Traditions, a father describes the joy he had receiving “the greatest birthday present ever for a 9 year old” from his childhood. When he became a father, he still remembered that joy but eventually got his kids gift cards to their favourite stores for Hannukah. They appreciated the gesture but their happiness was delayed. When they went to the store and were able to redeem the gift cards, that’s when their happiness began…until his wife did an “Anne-tervention”, basically reminding him of the joy he had as a kid when he opened presents. Personally, I like to give the kids presents we can all use as a family or for one-on-one time so it’s less about the present and more about family time…BUT that also doesn’t stop me from getting my daughter some Bratz dolls and my son his favourite candy, because they are kids after all!

Love the suggestions made in Holidays Do’s and Don’ts: Keep Calm and Carry On This Season, including:

  1. Create your own holiday traditions
  2. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family around whom you feel at home and loved
  3. Have a friend who has agreed to be “on call” for you in case things get too stressful and you need some extra support
  4. Be flexible with the schedule and understand that holidays are not about a day on the calendar but a day when you can all be together (my family did this…one year when I was married, we were all sick with the flu for weeks over Christmas so, by the time we had stopped infecting eachother, it was near the end of January before we had Christmas with my parents!)

Babysteps to Gratitude is about a stepmom’s emotional journey from infertility through to realizing she “had a family, whole and complete just the way they were”, and cancelled her appointment at the fertility clinic after Thanksgiving Dinner with her family. Tear-jerker!

There is  great gift list, specific for us stepmoms. Personally, I’m focusing on the book entitled “StepMonster” by Wednesday Martin because, well, the title. Totally judging a book by its cover. But there are other fantastic books which will be going on my ever increasing “To Read” list:

  • Big Shoes by Lisa Bradshaw
  • Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace by Gayla Grace and Heather Hetchler
  • Skirts at War by Jennifer Newcomb Marine and Jenna Korf
  • Parenting Apart: How Separated and Divorced Parents can Raise Happy and Secure Kids (A Guidebook)
  • The Smart Stepmom by Ron L Deal and Laura Petherbridge

I wasn’t a girl who fantasized about her wedding when I was a kid. My girlfriends all had this fantasy about their future husbands, their perfect wedding day, the “amazingness” of being married. I think the closest I got was like how the dress in Beauty and the Beast moved when they were dancing and I had a fleeting thoughts that I would like that for my wedding dress…which I never did. In Stepmoms and Grief: The Real Reasons Stepfamily Life Makes Us Sad outlines the sense of grief stepmoms can experience when those dreams they had as a kid are not reality, and the non-understanding from their family and friends, who tend to just negate the stepmom’s feelings with statements such as “I’m sorry you’re having a rough time, but you knew when you married him that he had children and an ex-wife”. Unless you’re a stepmom, you can’t relate. The key to overcoming this form of grief is to work on yourself and your own thought process.

Nobel Goals: How High (or Low) Are We Reaching? asks the questions to consider so you can help get your family through the tough times, or even a crisis:

  1. Why did you get into this marriage?
  2. What do I want this marriage to mean?
  3. What do I want my family to stand for?
  4. What qualities are important to instill in our children?

Meghan was given a year subscription for her review of the StepMom Magazine.

The new December StepMom Magazine is available online here: http://www.stepmommag.com/shop/

#StepMom Magazine – August Review

August 2013 Cover

In the article “Stepmother Stereotypes: Who Made Up All This Wicked Stuff, Anyway?“, I was reminded of my first “role” as a stepmom. I was the evil stepmom in my highschool’s musical “Into the Woods”. When I became an actual stepmom when I got married, I joked about being an “evil stepmom” but never really thought of where this stereotype came from. According to this article, it can be dated back to 17th and 18th century Europe. So many women died from illness and/or childbirth that the fathers had to remarry quickly since there wasn’t childcare back then as we know it today. This lead to lots of opportunity for strained relationships as I would imagine, most times, the children hadn’t emotionally healed from their mother’s death.

Carrying a Torch: What to Do If His Ex Hasn’t Moved On” was never a concern for me, and in case my ex’s girlfriend is wondering…trust me, I have moved on…happily so! 😉 The author lists 5 behaviours the mom does that may lead the stepmom to believe the mom hasn’t moved on, including the obvious “she’s admitted it”. The other behaviours focus on the amount and topics of communication. It then becomes your partner’s responsibility to put a stop to the communications and set up boundaries for their new relationship. Your role is to work on your inner monologue, and trust your partner.

In the article “How Does Your Garden Grow? Use the 4 Ps to Help Raise Hearty Flowers and Happy Families“, makes the connection of how tending to a garden is very similar to tending to your family. Both require planning, preparation, perseverance (lots of perseverance sometimes!), and patience.

The Mommy Club: Why Your Stepchild’s Mother Doesn’t Consider You A Co-Parent, Another Mother or A Bonus Mom” states that it’s not personal as to why the mother doesn’t see you as being part of the parenting unit. “It’s hard enough for many of them to work with their ex-husbands, let alone someone who is not related to their children”. Completely understandable. I know my ex-husband’s girlfriend is involved in my kids’ lives but I don’t see her as being part of the parenting unit…but they also don’t live together and in fact, live in different cities so she’s not involved on a daily basis.

Lessons Learned: An Interview with Diane Greene” shares Diane’s journey. She and her first husband married, had one child and divorced after 5 years, and her second husband passed away when she was pregnant with the youngest of her two children with him. Her third husband had a daughter from a previous relationship, so that’s when she became a stepmom.

The Ever-Present Loyalty Conflict – Why Being a Stepmother is a Call to Sainthood” discusses that the relationship between stepmother and stepchild(ren) comes down to a loyalty power struggle they feel between their mother and accepting the new stepmother. The best way to overcome this is to accept it, don’t take it personally, and don’t compete with our stepchild(ren)’s mother. It just can’t be done.

This month’s contribution to the monthly Emotional Intelligence and the Stepmom series is called “Choosing Optimism: 5 Simple Steps to Help You Start Looking On the Bright Side“. I’m intrigued to discover in this article that there’s a science called “Positive Psychology”, and that the research in this field has determined that “optimistic individuals have a better quality of life, more life satisfaction and even live longer than those who take a pessimistic outlook”. Beginning by identifying your thoughts and self-talk. Then follow five “simple” steps in choosing an optimistic approach:

  1. Give the benefit of the doubt
  2. Get curious instead of making judgement
  3. Make up a different outcome
  4. Change your expectations
  5. See the current situation as temporary.

Personally, I try to see the positive in situations…sometimes too much so. Admittedly, some days are harder than others. But on those days, I choose to “fake it until I make it”. 🙂

Prenups are discussed in “Gold Diggers: Are His Kids Afraid You’re Only In It For His Money?“. My parents were adamant I sign a prenup before we got married. I was shocked as we didn’t have anything. My parents pointed out that he had a child from a previous relationship and large debt, and I had family heirlooms to lose. Honestly, I signed one just to stop my parents from nagging me about it. Fast forward a few years, the prenup was part of our Court proceedings when we separated and got divorced.

Meghan was given a year subscription for her review of the StepMom Magazine.

The new September StepMom Magazine is available online here: http://www.stepmommag.com/shop/

#StepMom Magazine – July Review

July cover bigger

The “Steppin’ Together: Why Stepmoms Need Eachother” article in the July issue of StepMom Magazine surprised me a bit. It discusses the isolation step-moms feel, and the thought that went through my head is: How is that possible with the divorce rate so high?”. So, after some reflection, I remembered that when I first got married and became a step-mom, I felt very isolated. Very few of my friends were married, let alone in a step-parent situation and honestly, Facebook and other social media platforms were just starting or hadn’t even been thought of yet (insert an “I’m feeling old” moment here). I remember going to the library to try to find books to help guide me in my new role as step-mom and there weren’t any! There were a few about being a stepfather, but none for stepmothers. I was shocked. I looked for a local support group of some kind, and again, they were for stepfathers. Thankfully, social media helps connect whoever wants to connect to others, you just have to use the right search term. If you are an extrovert like me, this article also takes you through how to launch an in-person group because, at the end of the day, sometimes all you need is a hug from someone who has been there, done that, and doesn’t want to “fix” everything for you like so many of your family members want to do.

In “Love Them Like Your Own: What Stepmoms Should Know About This Well-Intentioned but Misguided Advice“, all the “shoulds” that people who aren’t step-parents tell a step-mother. You “should:

  • just be nice and they’ll warm up to you
  • have his ex over for the holidays
  • be friends with her
  • be able to ‘blend’ your ‘family together with good intentions alone
  • love them just like they’re your own”

In my opinion, the author sums it up perfectly: “When you hear ‘should’ regarding anything stepmotherhood-related, resolve to ignore the ‘advice’ until you get some information based on the research and facts about step-life and step-dynamics”. I’m a firm believer that the word “should” is full of guilt and no one needs the extra pressure of what we “should” and “shouldn’t” do in our step-parent role. Being a new step-parent is hard enough. Let’s not add the guilt of should.

I think the article “School’s Out: Sanity Saving Tips for the Summer” is good for any parent, not just a step-parent. The author reminds you to take some “Me Time” throughout the summer because you’re a better parent if you do. It also gives you “permission” to just spend a day at home, doing nothing. I don’t like to overschedule my kids…my son especially has A LOT on his plate with his 25 hours per week of IBI therapy. Sometimes, it’s nice to spend an hour outside in our garden, using chalk on the sidewalk, or just going for a walk around our cul-de-sac.

StepMom Chat Rooms: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” reminds us how chat rooms can be a great resource, but can also spiral out of control quickly. The “ugly” part is when step-moms can be extremely critical of the ex-wives, and say things they would not necessarily say in person – the “benefits” of anonymity. When I was married, I’ll admit, I jumped on the bandwagon too. I believed my then husband’s side of the story of their relationship, but the reality is that I became part of his life story after all the nastiness had dissipated (for the most part). Now, being able to talk with my stepdaughter and her mother, I see many commonalities between our relationships with him, and how my marriage to him ended as well. So, my advice (from having been there), is to remember that all “truths” about relationships is purely one person’s interpretation of the relationship.

You are also reminded to remember to be safe online by using a pseudonym, and non-identifying information when discussing anything in the chat rooms.

In a refreshing twist, the article “Dancing With Myself: Rejected, Alienated and Balancing on the Edge of Motherhood” was a letter from a 2nd wife to the 1st wife, never wanting/expecting the letter to be written. She recognizes why she is shut out and pushed away, as she herself is a child of divorce. She respects her stepchild for keeping her at a distance at all the family celebrations, and saying all the hurtful things like “you and I will NEVER have a relationship. You and I will NEVER be friends”, while recognizing her own part in the game of sticks and stones. At the end of the letter though, 2nd wife tells 1st wife: “You are the mother of the children I have loved for all these years. You have brought a joy to my life that I will never be able to reciprocate. You will always have a place in my heart, just as your children do…”.

I agree!

Meghan was given a year subscription for her review of the StepMom Magazine.

The new August StepMom Magazine is now available online here: http://www.stepmommag.com/shop/

#StepMom Magazine Review – June

June cover

I got a little behind in reviewing StepMom Magazine, not because of the content, purely because of life being busy, with end of school, summer break and camp starting, and my first vacation in 5 years (woohoo!).

 

The June issue honestly initially didn’t speak much to me as its focus was on fathers for Father’s Day. Not being a father, nor being remarried, I didn’t think I would be interested…but there were some fantastic articles.  I also thought it was a cute twist to have the Editor’s husband write for “Brenda’s Corner“.

 

In “Take Two: Becoming a Dad For the Second Time“, the author questions how her husband is going to manage seeing their soon-to-be-born child every day while seeing his first born every other weekend. I had never even thought of this as a “problem” until my then-husband mentioned once that he found it challenging initially to call me “mommy” in front of our twin babies, and “Meghan” when referring to me in front of my stepdaughter. He slipped a few times, but it all worked out.

 

The article entitled “Repeat After Me: 5 Important Mantras for Repartnered Men” is a great list for ALL men (to be stereotypical) and frankly, for any parent, male or female:

  1. I don’t always have to “fix” something
  2. I don’t have to retreat
  3. It’s not all about me – I have a partner
  4. My divorce and remarriage haven’t ruined my kids forever
  5. I deserve a happy marriage and my kids deserve to have parents who love eachother

 

In “The Secrets We Keep: 10 Things Stepmothers Really Want You To Know“, I didn’t have all of the secrets when I was married to my stepdaughter’s father except for #8…”sometimes I feel invisible“. Many times, my then-husband would have conversations, make decisions and/or plans with his daughter for our family of three without telling me, and then be shocked when I wasn’t ready to go to wherever they had decided to go and/or that I had no clue what he was talking about. Because I wasn’t ready to leave when they were, I would be left standing behind the closed door, feeling left out, unloved, cheated from an experience my stepdaughter would enjoy, and almost worse, I was not part of his family.

 

After it happened a few times, I pointed it out to him and didn’t really see it again until after our kids were born. Then, he would leave with my stepdaughter without giving me any warning, or even inviting me and the babies. Even if it was a quick outing, or one that the babies were too young for, I told him I would have appreciated knowing about it more than 5 minutes before they were leaving. It was the simple courtesy of giving me time to determine if we had enough diapers in the house (twins…lots of diapers needed!) to get me through the day and if we didn’t, for me to go get some before he left with my stepdaughter for the entire day, for me to run to the basement to flip laundry over before he leaves, or more importantly, for me to have a quick shower. I could deal with all the diaper-changing, crying, or throw up the twins could throw at me…as long as I had a shower.

 

The June Issue even included directions for a handmade (leather-covered!) journal for dad, and a bunch of pictures of stepmoms with their partner in the section “Celebrating the Men We Love“. Cute pictures!

 

Meghan was given a one-year subscription to StepMom Magazine in exchange for reviews.

Review of #StepMom Magazine – May Issue

StepMom May Issue

In the May issue of StepMom Magazine, the focus of this month’s magazine was Mother’s Day. My stepdaughter gave me a card she made herself for the second Mother’s Day after her dad and I got married…she made my year!

Lisa Bagshaw’s article entitled Kids: Now You Have Them. Now You Don’t! Six Tips to Help Child-Free Stepmoms Find Balance and Happiness speaks of finding balance when you are a childless stepmom. Before I was married, I didn’t understand why couples with children had to organize their weekends with so many activities for the kids. After I was married and a new stepmom but childless myself, I understood. Whether or not you are a stepmom, the tips are great, including focusing on creating balance for yourself first, and then focusing on creating balance within your relationship. Bagshaw mentions the idea of looking for “big picture balance”. It’s a great concept, especially on those weeks in the summertime when you are suddenly a fulltime stepmom, without any break. Go into the week knowing that you can just grab 5 minutes here and there, as your family’s schedule allows (personally, it’s the 2.5 mins it takes to make my chai daily as a SAHM, custodial mom and non-custodial stepmom).

The article Baptism by Barf is as good as the title implies. 😉

The very interesting question “My husband’s ex-wife is posting some very derogatory (and untrue) things about me on Facebook and Twit­ter. What should I do? Legally, is there anything I can do to stop her?” is asked in Legal Matters. When I first became a stepmom, there was no such thing as Facebook and Twitter, and I have blocked my ex-husband and I would expect that he has blocked me too. Thankfully though, my stepdaughter and I are “friends” on Facebook.

In Sticks & Stones & StepSiblings, stepsibling bullying is discussed. We didn’t have this issue in our family and I think it’s because of the almost 11 year age gap, plus my stepdaughter was super excited to have a set of twins as brother and sister.

Say What? More Stepmom Comebacks adds realistic answers to statements some stepchildren say such as “We don’t have to do this at my mom’s house”. Any responses given should also be adjusted to be age-appropriate of course. Statements you might receive from the child’s mother are also included, such as “My son/daughter told me you yelled at them. Why would you do that?”.

The Stepmom Retreat was announced in this issue as well: September 27 – 29, 2013 at the Embassy Suites Dallas – Love Field Hotel in Dallas, Texas. I’m impressed with the line up of speakers and it’s only $99US as early-bird pricing. Registration opens June 2nd.

Yet again, the recipe looks yummy: Cinco De Mayo Guacamole. The Real Stepmoms. Real Stories is of a stepmom to 3 and mom to 4. I love her philosophy on life “Every life is a story; make yours a best-seller!”

My favourite quotes from this month’s magazine is from Spring Cleaning Stepmom Style: Practical Advice for Throwing Away Negative Thoughts:

“Just like we need to clean out our physical closets every now and then, it is equally important (if not more so) to do a mental inventory of our thoughts and clean out the ones that clothe us in negativity and despair.”

And

“The reality for many stepmoms is that we have a lot of the responsibility but little of the authority.”

The June issue of StepMom Magazine will be available June 3rd. Subscribe!

Meghan was given a free one-year membership in exchange for reviews of StepMom Magazine.