I’m literally sitting outside Target right now. About to go in and get a couple of things for my work and I need to get a wedding present. I also need — no want — new shoes for the wedding however it is not with in my No Spend November rules. I’m saying a quick prayer that the temptation does not overtake me. Still not feeling so great about me not spending or rather the spending I’ve been doing. I sent two birthday cards yesterday. Not a lot of money but I did spend money. OK time to go. Wish me luck.
Two packages arrived yesterday in the mail: a suitcase and a Christmas gift. Thank you, Amazon Prime. Both I ordered before No Spend November commenced. I also need to give a coworker money for a joint baby shower gift.
I’m not feeling so good about my No Spend November progress. I will say I did decide to toss a school fundraiser order form and Scholastic book order even though I wanted to purchase something from both. I decided neither fit into my criteria for my month of no spending.
Day Three Total:
Baby Shower gift $20
Next up, I’m in the process of deciding if we take a vacation next month. Are the memories worth the expense right now or can we make memories without spending a thousand dollars?
I need your help. I need you to hold me accountable. This November I’m declaring “No Spend November.” My spending is a bit out of control and I’m hurting my family. We can’t grow our savings because I’m spending outside our budget.
Here’s my “No Spend November” rules:
No spending money outside bills, groceries, and gas
No eating out because I failed to plan and make lunch ahead of time (eating out for special occasions will be ok)
No clothes shopping for me and hubby will shop for kids if needed
That’s it. Wish me luck! I’ll be attempting to post here regularly and you can keep me accountable! Does anyone want to join me?
I would guess that every stepmom and her husband have had at least one frustrating communication experience with the kids’ mom.
I remember, years ago when we were waiting for a response from T’s mom and how frustrated I was. Days went by and not a word. I’ve already had a fight with her going on in my head… “Don’t you want to talk about this important thing?!” I had what she would say and my clever responses played out. I was mad. The more I thought about it, the madder I got and the real conversation hadn’t even happened!
When M finally is able to talk to “the mom” there is no explanation or excuse why she hasn’t been in touch but the conversation is civilized. They discussed matters and put together a plan of action. I wanted to be mad that she didn’t “care enough” to write back or call sooner. But would that really help? Nothing was accomplished by my anger/frustration.
If you are in the early years of being a stepmom let me tell you things will get easier!
You may never be best friends with your kids’ mom but communication will improve simply because you will both know neither is going anywhere and no one wants to have those issues forever!
Stepmom, you can lead the change. Lead by example to help make communication less frustrating between all the parents.
Here are three tips to help you make communication with “the mom” easier.
1. Who should do the communicating? Me or my husband?
Let the least conflict-inducing person do the communicating. Early on, my husband and I figured out that it was best for me to handle the communication with T’s because they were not able to have a conversation without it turning into a two-hour fight complete with yelling. Somewhere along the way, something changed and it was no longer working to have me communicate with her. If I would try to reach out to her it would just cause all kinds of problems. So, figure out which one of you should do the communicating based on who causes the least amount of conflict. That’s the first thing to do.
2. What form of communication should we use?
Next decide how to communicate. I am a huge fan of email. Email ensures you have a written record of your conversations. However, it is so easy to take emails out of context or assume a negative tone is being used when it isn’t. It might work for you or your husband to make a phone call first and then follow up with an email. If talking on the phone causes arguments, the just email as much as possible. If emails are constantly vicious and unproductive, then maybe phone calls are better for you. Just be sure you and your hubby always stick to the facts and do not attack the bio-mom. We also text information which is better than talking on the phone and gets a better response rate than email but we find it useful to have details and agreements via email.
3. How much do we need to communicate?
Honestly, my husband and I disagree on this a bit. It is such a chore at times to communicate with the ex that he chooses to do as little as possible. If there are dates that she needs or something happens at school, he makes sure she knows. At one point, with the encouragement of a counselor, I was sending an update to her every week that T was with us. She didn’t send one to us. It’s not her thing. For me, I would love if we each sent weekly updates to each other. Something like: “You know, he had this project this week, we had to talk about this, he wasn’t feeling great this day, he’s hanging out with this kid.” Maybe it’s too much but I feel like that would help everyone feel involved in his life instead of just on the weeks he is with us. Because that’s how it feels… like when he’s not with us we are not supposed to be a part of his life.
Bottom line: decide with your husband what you feel is the right amount of communication.
Make sure the mom has any important dates of meetings and activities, phone numbers of friends or coaches, knowledge of any major school assignments and incidence of illness or injury, as well as is involved in any important conversations that need to take place (the birds and the bees, anyone?). It’s is important for your child that you provide this information even if you don’t feel like you are getting the same information back. You should always do what is right for your kid even if you feel the ex isn’t.
I hope that helps. Things are still a challenge even 15 years after the divorce but it is not early as bad as it was even five years ago. And believe me, I never thought it would get better! I pray that gives you hope, stepmama!
As 8th graduation was nearing for T, I was pinning graduation party ideas. I thought we could even do something with his “other” family. I was picturing a big group of people who all loved T eating pizza together, being friendly and celebrating him.
That’s not what happened.
M and I had dinner alone after the graduation. T’s mom never got back to me about doing something together. We later learned that she took him out to pizza herself. We were not included and that hurt. We may have even shed some tears that night.
I sometimes envy the stepmoms and biomoms who work together so nicely and even become friends for their children.
But that is not us. As a dear, sweet friend gently pointed out that’s maybe not what T wants because of the tension when together and separate lives his two households live.
Over the years I’ve been inspired by blogger friends and “real-life” friends who are able to have a friendly stepmom-biomom relationship. These ladies are able to have birthday parties together, take family photos, and even talk on the phone ((gasp!))! There are times that I wish we had that too but that kind of blended family relationship doesn’t work for everyone. We don’t have that. There aren’t family events all blended together — not even pizza. Just communicating regularly is a challenge for us.
When you’re co-parenting, all that matters is the kids, not if you are friends.
It is not really important that M and I had hurt feelings that night almost four years ago. All that matters is that T felt loved and supported by his whole family. Sure, I wish simply communicating with one another was easier. I’m ok with not being buddies with the ex as long as we can get along for the sake of T.
How about you…. what is your relationship with biomom like? If it’s not so good, what is one thing you think you might be able to do to make things a little better? And if you have a good relationship with biomom, what’s one thing you can recommend to those of us who don’t?
I felt like there was an elephant sitting on my chest and I just couldn’t even breathe. I had to walk out of the counseling session because I was about to cry or scream or do something. I don’t even know.
I was so angry and just did not understand why this was all happening.
My husband and I were with my stepson and his biomom at a counseling session and I can’t go into details – I don’t want to go into details – but it was just all so wrong.
I was hurt and I was angry for myself, for my husband, for my stepson, for all of us.
And I just had to leave the room. So I did. I left them to finish discussing everything and I sat outside just trying to breathe. I sent a text to one of my sisters in Christ and asked for her to please, please pray for me. She wrote me right back and said just repeat over and over God is with me, God is with me, God is with me. So, I sat outside the counselor’s office and did exactly that.
God is with me. God is with me. God is with me.
The more I said it the more my breathing returned to normal and the calmer I felt. I can’t tell you the outcome of that counseling session and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t what I had wanted but I can tell you the simple act of remembering that God is with me such a peace.
Remembering that God is with you can give you can give you so much hope no matter what the situation.
My prayer for you dear stepmom is that you also remember that God is with you. Remember that you are never alone. Remeber that is long as you are trying your best for your stepchild (even though you will make mistakes and even though things will not go how you want) you are doing your best for your stepkid and God is with you. That my friend is enough. You are enough and you are never alone.
I can’t remember what the situation was that made me so angry but I screamed at her in the middle of swim practice. Y’all I don’t do things like that. I cannot remember why or what she did. Thankfully we weren’t near anybody else. I was shaking with furry and shouted at her telling her what was on my mind.
I truly don’t have many regrets in life.
I feel like all of my mistakes are really just opportunities that I learn from and made me who I am by making me stronger.
I do have maybe one regret.
When I was a young stepmom are used to just get so angry and feel so bitter towards my stepson’s biomom. Her parenting style was completely opposite of mine and my husbands. I did not agree (and still don’t agree) with many of her parenting choices. And it often felt like she was doing things to purposely irritate me or my husband. And you know what maybe she was maybe he wasn’t it doesn’t matter.
I focussed so much energy on being angry at her and feeling like she was so wrong that I truly believe that I missed out on some things with my stepson.
There were times when honestly I would look at him and they would see her and it would make me mad. I never take that anger out on him but at underlying feeling was there. I spent a lot of time with him playing or just sitting near him. I participated in a lot of school activities and even committees and was always at his extracurricular activities. But there is just some sort of emotional connection that I feel like it’s missing and I don’t know if it’s because of how angry and bitter I often felt. Or if it was just because he’s a boy and he feels conflicted between his bio mom and stepmom. I don’t know.
But I can say that I do regret not hugging him a little bit more and wasting my energy on feeling so angry.
So if I could get one piece of advice to young stepmoms out there I would say let it go. You’re feeling angry and frustrated or even better is not helping anything it’s not productive. You can’t change anything by being angry. There’s a scripture that says something to the point of you can’t add a day to your life by worrying. There are times to be worried and times that something will come out of that worry but for the most part worrying is not going to get you anywhere. Being angry is not going to get you anywhere. So in the words of Elsa: let it go.
I remember this time when I was a young stepmom being at back-to-school night. Without going into all the gory details the bottom line is I pretty much yelled at the bio-mom for her choices for my stepson’s lunch. I could say that she started it and she may have but that doesn’t really matter.
What matters is how angry I felt.
I knew I was right and she was wrong and I just couldn’t understand why she couldn’t see that. How come she couldn’t understand that what she was choosing to feed my stepson was not the right thing to do?? I mean, my day job has to do with food and nutrition. Why would she listen to me? I was so angry and so bitter.
Looking back I just see the ridiculousness of all of this.
Yes, I did not agree with her (I still don’t) but what did it matter, really? Telling her what to do was not helping.
If I can go back and tell my younger stepmom self what I know now I would say just breathe.
I would say take your frustrations to God and pray it out.
I would tell myself that whether I believe it or not and in 10 years none of that will matter.
That in 10 years time I will feel so much different because I have a relationship with God and he gives me peace.
That there are things that I can do for my stepson that don’t involve a confrontation with his bio mom.
Just know stepmom if you are feeling frustrated like I was all those years ago, you are not alone.
And it does get better. It might never be great you might never be best friends or understand each other but it gets better. You will figure it out you will learn how to communicate better or less or whatever is needed. You will learn to do what is needed for what is best for your stepchild not what is best for you or for her or for anyone else. Your focus is on that child and just remember that why you may not agree with what the other household decides you don’t have to. As long as your child is physically and emotionally safe it’s OK.
It’s not going to be the end of the world even if it feels like it in the moment.
You got this, stepmom. You’re going to be OK. Your stepkids are going to be OK. And you are not alone.