1/2 Parents

Nothing can prepare you to be 1/2 Parents and it doesn’t matter what you do, you cannot make up the other 1/2.

Children need both parents and both examples whether good or bad. Children are free to make choices and we mold those decisions at a very early age. My question is when do they need to be held responsible for making bad choices and not blame their other parent? At what point are children liable for their behavior? Depending on the parents, some NEVER have consequences and are still protected even when they have children of their own. Some learn at a young age to be held a accountable for what they do, say and how they treat others. Some have to learn in their teen years when their parents realize the effects of their previous leniency. In any of these circumstances, one thing holds constant – we are developing our children’s character, how they handle relationships, how they accept when they are in the wrong and how they treat others.

We have so many mental issues these days and some of these develop very early on. Some are hereditary and some develop later in life due to circumstances. What are you, as a parent, doing to make a change? Are you teaching kindness through your actions? Are you blaming your child’s behavior on their surroundings or others? Are you allowing your child to treat you poorly? Are you teaching grace and gratitude? Do you recognize anxiety in your child? Do you understand depression? How self-aware are you? What are you contributing to your child’s behavior?

These are heavy and I don’t take my role lightly. I make mistakes daily and sometimes I have to apologize for those to our children. But – my intent is to make sure they are an asset to society and leave their mark in a positive way. Our children are still young and very impressionable and they have lots of influences.

Keep in mind when you get a divorce and share custody – you share the right to mold your children. You may have been with your children every minute of every day and after divorce you find that they are gone 1/2 the time. They have more influences and you can just pray they are positive.

Sometimes I think I could have put up with my ex longer to allow our children to not have 1/2 parents and I could have controlled their environment better until they were older. I have even apologized to our babies for making their life more difficult than it already was. But, our girls and I have discussed this and without these circumstances, they wouldn’t be who they are today. They wouldn’t have a mother who is strong, confident, self-aware and independent. They wouldn’t have bonus parents that give them love in new ways that add value to their character. They wouldn’t have my full attention due to my worry about my ex and his diseases. They wouldn’t understand how to process stress and manage change as well. They have so many qualities I adore and know they will value some day.

Today I still struggle with being a 1/2 parent, but I am so grateful for our girls’ resilience and strength. I love their characters (even when I see the challenges of my ex coming through). At least now I can recognize them and work to correct it. I will hold them accountable because that is the only way they will learn and grow into beautiful people on the inside as well.

Expectations…

I have always had high expectations and I’ve learned a few things regarding expectations prior to divorce, during divorce and after a divorce.

Many of you are in the midst of one of these seasons and it IS temporary, but what you can learn from what you expect can make a huge difference in your overall ability to make the best of each situation.

  1. If you are/were married to someone that is selfish, do NOT expect that to change when you are no longer married to them.
  2. If you are/were married to someone that does not put the child’s best interest first, do NOT expect them to do that throughout the divorce or after it is final.
  3. If you are/were married to someone that doesn’t see education as a priority, do NOT expect them to have a vested interest in the education of your joint children of the marriage or to place it as a priority after you are no longer married.
  4. If you are/were married to someone that would hurt you intentionally, expect that to continue and possibly increase after you are no longer married.
  5. If you are/were married to someone with low self-esteem, do NOT expect that to change once you are no longer married to them.
  6. If you are/were married to someone that did not put God as a priority in your lives or the lives of your children, do NOT expect them to do this once you are no longer married… although you can pray for this daily.
  7. If you are/were married to someone that has/had no consistency with their life, do NOT expect them to be consistent when you are no longer married to them.
  8. If you are/were married to someone that has/had a pattern of bad decisions, do NOT expect them to make good decisions once you are no longer married.
  9. If you are/were married to someone that does/did not understand how/when to communicate effectively, do NOT expect them to understand that once you are no longer married.
  10. If you are/were married to someone that blames/blamed you for all their life struggles, do NOT expect that to change once you are no longer married.

This is a short list, but you get the idea.  While there are some circumstances where people change, having the mindset and expectations for them to do so in this environment is not advantageous for you or anyone around you.

High Expectations, while relevant and have good intent, will eventually lead to disappointment in a divorce situation.  There is enough disappointment throughout divorce and the years following, there is no reason to add to it.  It is healthy to expect the behaviors of your ex to continue as they were – you are divorced for a reason.  Your purpose is to lighten the effect those behaviors have on your children as much as possible.  Keep in mind your children may be spending half their time with your ex and they are little sponges.  Re-direction is key and you must lead by example.  Organizing your expectations and not developing un-realistic ones can help you stay grounded, not be surprised by actions/events and avoid constant disappointment.

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A Letter to the bonus-mom of our girls…

As you know, the past few weeks have been extra tough.  I have wanted to tell you exactly what I think about your decisions, who you are as a person and role-model for all the children in your home and help you see what I see and feel.  Thankfully, I have never approached you about our disagreements and here’s why:

While you don’t know me and have never taken time to get to know me, I can still appreciate what we DO agree on and that is taking care of the girls.

You came into our daughter’s world during our divorce and were engaged to their dad shortly after and married to their dad within 6 months.  This was a lot for them to take on and overall, they handled it well.  I have let you know how thankful I am for you and let them know that they are lucky to have multiple people that love and care for them.  You have been warm, loving and have went out of your way to make sure they were comfortable and happy.

It has been 2 years since your marriage and aside from a few bumps in the road (i.e. step-sibling disagreements, moving, etc.), they are still doing quite well.  You buy them clothes, take them shopping, fix their hair, pack lunches, do laundry and drive all over making sure they are where they need to be. They truly are lucky to have you.  I have raised them to be decent, kind, loving, appreciative girls and will always expect them to respect you and appreciate all that you do.

While I am very grateful for all of these, please know that they are still hurting.  While they have almost everything a child could need, they do not have parents that can be in the same room without tension.  I am not blaming you for this, but I know that you could contribute to the solution some day.  I am a realist and with the recent tensions, DHS involvement due to illegal activities and your need to bring my husband’s ex and family into the dynamic unnecessarily, we have a long road to go for resolving this for the girls.  I am open and always have been.  I am willing to put these things aside and allow our girls to have parents that are cordial.  We do not have to agree (we are divorced for a reason and agreements aren’t always going to happen), but we do need to come to some realization that enough is enough.  I don’t hate you and I don’t hate my ex and I will never teach hate to our girls.

I have been doing and will continue to do these things in order to resolve some of the conflicts and ensure that your life has added value when our girls are involved and that you do not hurt or struggle where they are concerned:

  • They will always be able to contact you and their dad through text or phone calls as I see the value in your relationships and will nurture them – always.
  • They will share their location with you and their dad so if you ever have a worry, you can locate them.
  • They will be required to show you and the rest of the family respect at all times.
  • They are asked to be kind to their step-siblings regardless of the situation.
  • They are asked to use manners – always.
  • They are asked to follow your rules and maintain the household harmony.
  • They are asked to show gratitude and know they are blessed.
  • They are expected to show you the same amount of love and effort that you show them.
  • I will continue to ensure communication is open and important details, memories, travel arrivals/departures, photos and information is shared.
  • I will continue to place value on celebrating you on special occasions by taking the girls to buy you gifts and show you they care.
  • I will be present at the majority of their events and am open to sitting together to show them we are adults and they don’t have to choose who to run to first for their hugs and approval.
  • I will include or invite you to important activities to allow our girls the best of both worlds.
  • I will refrain from speaking of my disagreements with you and my ex in front of the girls.  (I have done this the majority of the time except for recently and I know this is wrong).
  • I will introduce you to my husband and encourage a relationship there since he has been in my life for 2 years as well and you nor my ex have never met or spoken to him.
  • I will continue to offer my assistance with all of the children when the need arises as I understand how difficult it is to not live in town and have 4 kids with different schools and activities.
  • Our home is always open to you, your children and my ex.
  • I will continue to uphold certain expectations for the girls and would appreciate you upholding them too.  They are simple – Good Grades (A’s and B’s), no delinquent behavior, hard work, kindness, respect, appropriate language, appropriate attire, cleanliness (both hygiene and their environment), following rules in both households, be allowed to make mistakes, doing good deeds daily, discipline when necessary and lots of love.

When all is said and done, life is short and should not be this difficult.  The drama is exhausting and so is the constant tension.  If I haven’t told you enough that your efforts have not gone unnoticed, now you know.  I am grateful for you and all that you offer our girls.  I want them to have everything and not to hurt in any way.  You have my number and I welcome any suggestions you have as well.  Our girls deserve the best we can offer them and I promise to do my part.

Sincerely,

The other Mom

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When do the good people win?

Over the past few weeks I have asked myself this question over and over…

As you can tell by this blog, I am a giver. I love helping others and I will give and give even when I get nothing in return. BUT… this question keeps popping in my head when times get tough and we have seen our fair share of tough lately.

My husband and I put our kids first always…

We live in separate homes, in separate cities in order for our girls to remain in their school districts with less life disruption due to our adult choices – while their other parents choose to live wherever they like.

We schedule our work and date nights accordingly so the majority of our attention can be with and on the girls when they are with us – their other parents do not.

We have rules and expectations for school, behavior, treating others with respect and decency for anyone they come into contact with – including their other parents. While their other parents negate every rule we have and allow inappropriate behavior, mistreatment of others on top of influencing and providing drugs and/or alcohol.

We accommodate schedules with no reluctance when there is a need while fighting to maintain composure when the same is NEVER returned.

We consistently pay to support our kids in many areas and actually get threats when something is not “fair” if paid by the other parents. We keep track of everything and that is necessary under our circumstances.

We try to avoid drama when other parents create it unnecessarily and get the children involved.

When pondering all the things we do and don’t do, I find I’ve answered my own question… we ARE winning and good people do get the BEST in the end.

Our children all see exactly who we are and what we do (even our guardian angel in heaven). They are teens and pre-teens and we won’t get it right all the time (maybe only a portion of the time), but they know we’re doing our best and putting them first.

Our exes are angry and have every right to be – they both had “givers” that gave up on them. They are self-absorbed, dishonest people with no character and deserve the lives they have made for themselves. We have won BIG finding each other because we both give whole-heartedly and we are fully transparent. We are true to ourselves and each other and there is no bigger compliment than support and consistent love over all. We make each other better and we will be the consistent source in creating “givers” out of our girls regardless of their influences. We know it could be easier, but these are the cards we were dealt and it only matters how you play them.

We are grateful for the storms because they draw us closer to each other, closer to God and help us see the real picture. I hope you can see where you’re winning when trials come your way. Choose character over the chaos and you will find…Good people DO WIN every single day!

This Is Me…

I love everything about this song and here’s why it belongs in MY story.

Being married and having children with an alcoholic is one of the toughest things I have ever been through. Divorcing that alcoholic was even more difficult and just when I think I’ve endured the worst, those influences are becoming evident in our children and a new battle begins for their safety and well-being.

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down – I’m gonna send a flood – gonna drown em out”

My ex, his wife and a few friends of theirs consistently say “why are you talking about this? – you should get a life and stop worrying about theirs?”  I have a beautiful life, an amazing husband and I am setting the example I want my children to live in our home… I would love for that to occur in all of my children’s environments, but it doesn’t and their safety is my priority. Why would I blog about it and write a book you ask?  Because I am not the first person that has endured this nonsense and I’m sure I won’t be the last.  I’m bringing awareness and THIS IS ME – I certainly don’t ask that everyone like what I have to say or understand it.

🚫I am not going to stand for my minor child (15 year-old) being given alcohol by her stepmother or her father! Not just a sip, an entire glass or liquor mixes on more than one occasion. That is illegal and is now reported.

🚫I am not going to stand for my minor child to be allowed to be a designated care-taker to her “very drunk father” who chooses to use his time with them to feed his addictions. He only has them part-time and can use his “off weekends” to do that or the weekends that he has me watch them because concerts are more important.

🚫I am not going to stand for my minor children to have free reign over social media when I have strictly forbidden certain sites with good reason. Thankfully it was found early and is full of “evidence”.

🚫 I am not going to stand for any retaliation against my children for being honest about activities when I am not present that may bother and affect them in a negative way.

“I’m not scared to be seen – I make no apologies – THIS IS ME”

❤️ I will focus on helping our children build their character

❤️ I will fight for them to be safe regardless of where they are

❤️ I will do everything I can to provide boundaries for them when they aren’t mature enough to make them for themselves.

❤️ I will expect decency and following the law from anyone and everyone who spends time and has influence over our children.

❤️ I will support our children when they make mistakes and do everything I can to correct bad behavior.

I get it… teens are teens and when given an inch, they take a mile… well this past week I got to find out what happens when they are given the whole road. I have tried so hard over the years to protect them from this awful disease and all that comes with it. I have dreaded this reality and what happens next.

All of our children have 2 very different environments they live in and their little minds now have to be mature enough to choose character over the chaos. How can they be expected to choose rules over freedom? What happens when the other parents demonize us for being “too strict”. What is a teen going to do when left home alone until 1 or 2 am? In some cases, the law will step in. In some scenarios, a judge may intervene. In all cases parental guidance is crucial to ensure the overall well-being of our children.

Fortunately, I am very close with my daughters and they recognize our efforts. I cannot say the same for my step-daughter. She loves the freedom, minimal or no rules and nobody getting “into her business”. She has lost a beautiful relationship with her father and it is extremely sad and unnecessary.

I pray that we will have well-rounded children who make good decisions for their future, but they will not do that on their own. They require guidance, rules and consequences to understand accountability. They will get all of that wrapped in love in our household.

I am a nurturer, a leader, a hard-worker, a mother, a stepmother, a wife, a friend, a Christ follower, a disciplinarian and a giver… I expect decency and I enforce accountability and NOTHING is going to change all that I have poured into my babies to build who they are! THIS IS ME – I’m not perfect but I always put our babies first… in the end, they may be a little of ME too 😉

The view is better up here…

Trials… they come to anyone and everyone and nobody is void from them (no matter what you see posted on social media). We each have a choice of how to react or proactively behave in order for these trials not to deteriorate or change who we are as a person.

I’ve seen many trials in my life and thankfully, I don’t see myself as a victim – I am a Victor and proud of it. I have chosen to take the high road in many circumstances (I did not use the word all here because sometimes I choose to respond or react negative and mirror the behavior that is thrown at me as I am not perfect and never will be). When I do take the high road the view is better and my heart feels at peace for my actions and my thoughts.

What does it mean to take the “high road”? Does it mean to allow others to walk all over you? The answer to that is NO – you can be kind and not tolerant at the same time. This is where your boundaries come into play. You must have them and stick to them otherwise you will be a doormat.

Does it mean that you are continuously nice regardless of how you are treated? The answer to this is No as well. You are responsible for your actions just as anyone else is. You can remove yourself from the negative behavior and if it doesn’t change, you may have to make a more permanent decision on why this person or people are in your life and what value they bring.

Taking the high road in my world is a choice I make each and every day. I am a mother – any parent has to choose this at one time or another throughout the day i.e. teenagers. I am a stepmother which brings a whole new set of challenges. I am married to a man with a high-conflict ex and I have a high-conflict ex myself. Add working in the customer service industry along with some volunteer activities each and every week and I have a “trial” almost every day.

It looks different for everyone, but it’s knowing you are doing the right thing even when it’s the hardest thing. Those teenagers will never respect you if you don’t respect yourself. High conflict people make everything difficult and it doesn’t have to be. Work is hard but it’s worth every ounce of effort and if I can volunteer my time in order to help someone else, we are both benefiting.

My closing thoughts… Don’t let someone else’s bad behavior bring you to their level! Don’t allow anyone to invade your boundaries and Don’t sacrifice your character when put in difficult situations. The “right” thing to do is usually not the “easy” thing to do. The view is pretty spectacular and a kind heart is so much prettier than the alternative.

Time

The older I get, the more I realize how precious my time is… I spend countless hours worrying about things I cannot change, wasting moments I will never get back and using my time on people or things that do NOT deserve it. As a “giver”, a lot of us fall into this trap and often we forget to make time for us a priority.

A few reminders for today:

✋ STOP ✋

Worrying about things you cannot change

Wasting time on people that don’t deserve it

Spending energy on negative thoughts

✳️ START ✳️

Taking time to do the right thing

Spending time with the right people

Making time for what matters

Spending energy on positive thoughts

Focusing on me (sometimes 😉)

Savoring moments and creating memories

Taking time to express gratitude

Practicing patience

Showing kindness to someone unexpectedly

Time is so valuable and yet we literally waste it away each and every day. The tips are simple and may be just a quick reminder, but you cannot stay on track if you allow unnecessary thoughts, feelings, actions or energy to consume you and your day.

Time flies, life is short – might as well have fun!

Distraction

I have had too many contacting me to leave this blog, so I’m back and my focus has shifted a bit.

Distraction – a daily occurrence when you’ve been through divorce, are married, have a full-time job, are raising kids, have fitness goals, etc… I assume this can connect with anyone.

Having all these distractions can cause a person to lose focus, drift from goals and in a sense, lose direction and feel like you are traveling backwards rather than forward. There’s hope. You have to get up every day with a purpose, know what you want to accomplish and get it done. Will you fail, you will (that’s how we truly learn to prevail). Will you make mistakes, yes… it’s how you handle the mistakes that allow you to change and grow.

Our church series was most recently about relational vampires – loving the people that suck the life out of you (Life.church)It was awesome!!! Do you know any of these? If you’ve ever known a narcissist, manipulator or self-centered individual, this series is for you (PS – it can be a child too). This series spoke to me in many ways – not only was I married to one of these individuals, my new husband was married to one in the past as well. Needless to say, our lives are filled with distraction and chaos. It requires daily focus, loving the manipulators through it and an overall sense to ensure our children do not grow into that type of adult. This is a big task – our children have genealogy that can pre-dispose them to these character traits.

Our conclusion: It’s out of our hands other than the example we set. “Your goal is not to be right – your goal is to help someone else be right with God.” – Pastor Craig

Now I will be the first to admit that every parental decision I’ve made is not right in the eyes of the Lord…I’ll bet a lot of them aren’t, but never a better time to start than now. Discipline was always something present in my girls’ lives – my bonus daughter, not so much. Circumstances were different and life experiences much more difficult than my girls endured. But excuses cannot be made when character development is needed. We will redirect our children to guide them to be good, kind, trustworthy individuals that develop goals and handle distractions with ease, forgiveness and love.

I have blogged previously about boundaries, respect, character, kindness and grace. All of these are required when dealing with distractions and figuring out the next step. Our behavior is key (sometimes that requires silence, no response or a prayer). We are human and will feed into drama on occasion – it’s best when we can recognize that and put an end to it in order to be at peace and put in the hands of God because it is bigger than we are.

My prayer for today: Dear Jesus, I pray that you guide me and my husband to focus on the positives in our day, to avoid distractions and to guide our children to do the same. Please help us look to you for answers rather than formulating them on our own and bring us back to you when we wonder and lose direction. Help us continue to be a team, stay strong in our bond together and let nothing interfere with our growth. Help us set a great relational example for our girls allowing them to know what to expect from others. Thank you for your grace always. Amen.

My hope for you today is that you are able to focus on what’s best for you, avoid distractions of any kind and accomplish what you set out to do. In this you will find or create your purpose and you will feel and be a success. Every day creates a new distraction or challenge… are you prepared?

Moving Forward

I am in the process of stepping into the next chapter in my life… 2018 is right around the corner and I am ready for everything coming my way. I’ve started running again which is excellent for my body and my mind. Work is outstanding and all my studies are behind me. The girls are all excelling in school and their activities. I’m turning 40, so there’s that 😜 and I’m getting married to a one-in-a-million man.

The past few years have been tough, but I couldn’t be more grateful for the close friendships I’ve formed, for the lessons I’ve learned, for the personal growth I’ve achieved and for the exciting things to come.

In order to Move Forward, I’m leaving this blog behind. I’m starting a new one and this will be just like all the chaos – a thing of the past. Please feel free to contact me anytime and remember to choose character rather than add to any chaos directed your way.

True Intimacy

The definition of Intimacy is a close familiarity or friendship; closeness; a private, cozy atmosphere; sexual intercourse. You can have sex without intimacy and if it’s confined to your marriage, it can make you feel even more lonely. In my previous marriage of 13 years, sex was never absent. In fact, it was a daily occurrence, but intimacy was never there.

There is a huge difference when you have true intimacy and when you don’t. The loneliness is constant when it is not there and nothing you can do will bring it back when dealing with an addict no matter how hard you try. You can be honest, loyal, giving, kind and understanding and it won’t matter. Trust me when I say this, if Intimacy is lacking or completely absent, your marriage is in trouble. Just know this, you cannot make him be honest, you cannot make him be loyal and you cannot make him want that private comfort with you. They have to want it too and doing that makes them completely vulnerable – some people are incapable of this type of closeness. Their insecurities will create insecurities in you and it will take some time to figure all that out and realize it’s not you.

For me, it took many years. I dealt with a lot. I’m even finding out lies now from 10 years ago…it’s heartbreaking to know I gave and trusted him with so much with nothing in return. I thought because we had a good sex life that we were good – lots of marriages fail because of sexual needs not being met, right? This might be true, but I would be willing to bet that more marriages fail due to lack of true intimacy or the complete absence of it. If you are unwilling to reveal exactly who you are and what you are about, you are not being fair to your partner/spouse. If you think keeping secrets of any kind is beneficial to your relationship, you are sadly mistaken.

When you experience true intimacy, you will realize how amazing and simple your relationship can be. The mutual respect between two people who love each other despite their faults, is amazing. Sex can be good without intimacy, but it can be better than you could have ever imagined with true intimacy. Wait for it. Don’t settle for good. Expect more for yourself and enjoy the private, cozy atmosphere with a partner/spouse who truly loves, respects and adores you enough to be honest and let you in.