Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Ugliness of Step Mom Jealousy

A couple days ago, the oldest two kids were spending the night with my parents and the younger two were with their mom.  These nights without any kiddos in the house are few and far between.  I was excited for an awesome date night.

We went to try a little hole in the wall place in town.  All was well and we were having a great time.  And then... my husband saw this poster advertising their Saturday special.  And then...he commented on how much the younger two would enjoy that.  And then...he was making plans to take them there on Saturday.  And then...I just wasn't enjoying the evening any more.  At all.

My husband sensed it.  He asked me about it.  These feelings are impossible to express and equally impossible to just let go of.  How do you tell your husband that you're jealous of his children?  You don't.  You say something else or you try to just get over it.

Maybe this seems silly to you, but it's not just the planning ahead for Saturday with the kids on date night.  It's the often feeling like you're an outsider when the kids are with their dad.  It's feeling rejected when the kids always ask for their dad to do things for them.  It's raising my kids one way on their time and standing on the side lines when the step kids arrive.  It's doing all the mom things and receiving very little of the mom affection or appreciation.  It's having every day interrupted by the bio mom in one way or another.  It's not being able to celebrate your anniversary on your anniversary because it's my husband's weekend with his children.  It's other people not understanding why one week we bring one set of kids to church and the next week a different set.

You see, it's. all. the. things.

And I can cope for a long time and then a couple of comments on date night do me in and all the ugly feelings want to spill out, but I can't really share with my husband or it does more harm than good.

So, instead I pray ALOT.  I have a couple of good friends who listen without judgment.  I have a sister who understands my need to really vent once in a while.  I write.  I go to a step moms meet up and every so often I even go to counseling.

Step mom life can be so hard.  No one talks about that because no one except step moms really understands.

So struggling step mom, know that I get it.  I so get it.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Best Advice My Mom Ever Gave Me

A few weeks after I returned to work after being home with my newborn daughter and my two year old son, I had a meltdown moment with my mom.  A moment where I told her that it was all too much.  Being a mom.  The lack of sleep.  The full-time teaching job.  Keeping a house together.  Grocery shopping. Errands.  

She listened and then she said these powerful words.  Since that moment, I have learned to show myself grace and to let go of my own over the top expectations.  

My mom always worked full-time.  She wasn't giving me advice about something that she didn't know about.  She had been there.  More than once.  

I still have PLENTY of moments where I feel overwhelmed.  Mom life is non-stop. My older kids are now 9 and 7 which means I sleep more and they are fairly independent.  The time investment looks different in many ways, but it's still a significant investment.

Some days I have it all together.  Our house looks decent.  I try a new recipe. The laundry is caught up.  The reading minutes are done.  The backpacks are cleaned out.  My kids eat a wholesome breakfast.

Other days I make it to work in the nick of time.  My kids eat cereal for breakfast and take out or frozen pizza for dinner.  The house looks like a bomb went off.  

And both are okay.  

Friday, September 11, 2015

Why I'm Getting Up Earlier

I really am a morning person.  Deep down I know it is better for me to get up before the rest of my house. All that said, I have been struggling in this area.  Badly.  

During the school year, the absolute latest I can sleep and get all of us to school on time is 5:40am.  What time have I gotten up most of the 100+ days of the current school year?  5:40am.  Not good.  Every night I set my alarm for 5:00.  Every morning I hit snooze until 5:40.  

Weekends are worse.  For a long time I have been waking up to my kids on Saturday and Sunday.  7am or 8am or maybe even later.  I love them to pieces, but waking up to a constant stream of requests is not so pleasant.  It does not create a great tone for the day.  Not at all.  

Summers are just down right embarrassing.  Let's not even talk about that...

When I think about changing bad habits, this is #1 on my list.  I have to train myself to be an early riser.  

What's working for me...

1--I plug my iPhone in in the master bathroom and set my alarm for 5am.  I'm on day 4 and I've done pretty good so far.  Minus the snow day and the sick day this week.  But, progress is progress.  When my alarm goes off I turn on the light, start the shower, count to 10 (seriously), and then turn off the alarm.  

2--Going to bed by 9:30 or 10pm.  I read a little and then try to shut down for the night by 10:30.  

Today, even though it was Saturday I got up at 5:15.  Here's a list of everything I accomplished today:
  • Showered, dressed, dried part of my hair
  • Bible study, coffee
  • Graded 3 assignments @ 20 students/assignment
  • Started the dishwasher
Kids up at 7am
  • Breakfast for kiddos
  • Helped Miss G with her Hello Kitty sticker project
  • Finished getting ready to go take care of a couple errands
  • Washed and dried sheets
  • Started second load of sheets
  • Wrote long email to my student teacher outlining the week
  • Went to Target to take care of Valentine's Day stuff
  • Went to the local library to re-stock on books
  • Lunch
  • Read with the littles for 45 minutes
  • Helped littles pick up living room
  • Helped littles find activities for rest time
  • Outlined and posted lesson plans for the week
  • Snack
  • 2 more loads of laundry
  • Cleaned 2 toilets
  • Dinner in the crock pot
  • Unloaded and re-started the dishwasher
  • Helped Miss G address and put together half of her Valentines
  • Re-organized/cleaned out our mud room drop spot
  • Spent 30 minutes cleaning out the basement
  • Dinner
  • Unloaded and re-started the dishwasher again.
  • Cleaned up from dinner.
  • Read to littles again
  • Put littles to bed.
  • Updated blog
I am so impressed with myself!  Usually I wouldn't accomplish half the things on this list during the whole weekend.  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Teacher Mom Rant

I have been a high school teacher for fourteen years....2 schools....probably a dozen different classes....upwards of 2,500 different students.  I LOVE what I do.  I have had the opportunity to teach some great kids.  I've also taught plenty of at-risk students.  Students who carry heavy burdens.  Students who are raising their younger siblings because mom and dad are home, but can't (or won't) parent.  Students who face significant challenges just to get to school every day.

Then there are all of my special education students.  Students who work so hard to learn how to to learn.  Students who will re-take test after test just to improve by a couple of points.  Students who would give anything to know what it feels like for school to be easy.  I have always felt copious amounts of empathy for my students who struggle.  I try hard to encourage them.  I search for ways to modify strategies for them.  I try to figure out the source of their behavior.  I try not to judge.  I learn from them.

I'm now raising a child with high functioning autism and an IEP.  A precious boy who loves tractors, Matchbox cars, playing in the dirt and mud, farming with his Papa, and creating incredible Lego projects.  A little boy who loves watching funny You Tube videos, tormenting his sister, riding his bike, and tries desperately to make friends and feel like he belongs.

A boy who currently hates school.  A boy who carries a behavior plan in his folder.  A boy who other kiddos just can't quite understand.  A boy with a winning smile who loves to tell jokes.  A boy who can give me directions to his grandparents house an hour away from the backseat.  A boy who consistently scores two grades ahead in reading and two grades behind in math.  A boy who will most likely never fit the mold in a traditional classroom.  A boy who needs his teacher to try and understand where he is coming from and why.

The lines have blurred for me.  I want what is best for my son.  I want his teacher to want to try and understand.  I want his teacher to see all his strengths.  I want his teacher to offer encouragement and find ways to reach him.  I want my son to like school, to have friends and to achieve goals.

As a mama who loves her son, it breaks my heart when education professionals try to hammer those square pegs into round holes.  The sad news is all too often, the square pegs only fit when they break.  My son breaks a little every day when he is nit picked over minor behaviors.  He breaks a little every time you are quick to point out his mistakes, but fail to acknowledge his strengths.  He breaks a little more when all you see is a behavior and not a person.

We have to do better.  We have to see the worth in EACH child.  We have to be willing to search for the cause of the behavior and do our best to problem solve solutions that protect children's dignity.  We have to treat EACH child like they are someone else's entire world.  Because they are.  Please.

The Divorce Valley

I wrote this almost two years ago, but never published it.  There were things that I needed to say, but I just wasn't ready to share it.  Divorce feels dirty, taboo and uncomfortable.  However, those who shared their stories helped me live through mine so I know that this needs to be shared. 

Seven months ago I married for the second time.  I never saw this coming.  He literally walked into my life, we became great friends and then we fell in love.  God created tremendous beauty from ashes in my life.

Written in 2014
I often wonder what it would feel like to hear your husband admit to an affair.  Would it be better or worse than discovering all the evidence and confronting him?  I'll never know.  Pieces of my life fell like dominoes around me for months.

Over a three month period I discovered that my husband was involved in a long-term affair.  I was forced to discover every bit of evidence myself.  Even when he knew that I knew bits and pieces, he did not admit to any more than what I knew. I'm sure there are still many pieces that are missing that will never be uncovered, but I'm okay with that.

The feelings are so hard to describe.  Initially, when I learned of my husband's adultery, it was numbness and physical pain.  I literally felt sharp pain in my chest for days. Next came feeling like I was walking around in someone else's life.  I could see myself, but couldn't believe what I was dealing with. Nothing felt real.  The world seemed fuzzy.  I also felt physically sick every time I had to see him to exchange our children.  It was so strange to me that this person that I shared over a decade of my life with suddenly became a person that literally nauseated me.  Then came immense anger.  I'm thankful for the anger, the anger forced me to fight to get my life back and to press on for my children. Then I moved into a phase where I experienced many moments of wondering which parts of my married life were real.  And, the flashbacks of realizing that so many of my good memories are tainted by his double life.  

In a way, I am thankful that God protected me from all the details.  I truly believe that He knew how much I could handle and chose to reveal the depth of the betrayal in layers so it was not completely debilitating.

Know that I never viewed divorce lightly.  I knew that there are only a few instances where the Bible permits divorce.  I knew that there would be serious, life long implications for my children. I also knew with every fiber of my being that my marriage was over.  I found it borderline sociopathic that my husband was able to keep up a double life for years.  I just knew that the only way I could ever be whole again was to be done and so I chose divorce.  

I want to say that I know that there are many couples who are able to forgive the betrayal and heal the broken trust.  I respect that.  I admire that, but I also know that each situation is so very different.  Only the husband and wife and God truly know all of the details.  Having lived through this dark valley, I would never tell someone else how to handle their own trial.  Nothing hurt me more than people who judged my decision as sinful while only knowing pieces of the whole story.  

Churches need to be gentle with spouses who are considering divorce after adultery.  We are already hurting enough without the church imposing a blanket policy on how we should respond.  I'm thankful for the support of friends and Christian counselors who held me together when I was disintegrating.  

I had a difficult time forgiving the pastors of the church I was attending who made me feel that I was wrong to even consider it.  Their harsh admonitions of "So what that he broke the covenant?  We break the covenant with Christ every day" and "Hosea repeatedly took back Gomar" cut deeply when I was already badly wounded. 

A wise friend shared with me that God provides just enough light for the step we're on.  I can testify that this is true.  God walked with me.  He listened.  He knew my every need.  He loved me deeply.  He provided immense comfort.  He sent people to provide encouragement.  He met my physical needs.  He protected my children from the enormity of their lives being torn apart.  He gave clarity where people (some who even claim to teach the Word) could not.  He healed and restored the broken places.  

I prayed and prayed and prayed to be able to forgive my ex-husband.  I knew that in order to be free I had to get to a place of forgiveness and eventually I did.  But, forgiveness does not mean reconciliation.  There is confusion about that in our pulpits.  You can forgive the thief who broke into your home and stole from you.  You don't make the thief a part of your family.  
Divorce is ugly and lonely and misunderstood.  Few people know what to say or how to help or what to do.  Divorce makes other people uncomfortable.  I appreciated my family and friends who continued to love me for me.  Who truly listened.  Who sent me encouraging texts and cards.  Who invited me to do fun things.  Those people taught me what it means to love other people well.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Goals for the Week of February 10th...Just a Little Late

Review of Last Week:

1--Prep paperwork for taxes.

2--Work on basement 4 times for 15 minutes.

3--Take littles to the library.

4--Do a lego project with Little Mister.

5--Do an art project with Little Miss.

6--Call the cleaning lady.

7--Check into swimming lessons at the Y

8--Start Valentine's Day heart tradition.

9--Finish Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

10--Update 2 grades/class.

Goals for This Week:
1--Finish tax paperwork to send off on Monday.
2--Send Valentines to school by Thursday.
3--Fancy Nancy party with Little Miss
4--Do science project with Little Mister.
5--Finish Valentine's Day tradition and have a family Valentine's Day party Friday night.
6--Valentine's Day surprise for the Hubs.
7--Set up online bill payer for all regular bills.
8--Get up by 5am every week day and 5:30 Saturday & Sunday for daily Bible reading.
9--Clean out 5 mini hot spots.
10--Do grade update prior to Tuesday morning deadline.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Working Through Say Goodbye to Survival Mode - Part 2

I finished Say Goodbye to Survival Mode last night.  I'm not one of those people who can do the assignments in each chapter before moving on to the next chapter.  I have to digest the whole thing and process, process, process.  Over the last two weeks, I've been praying about my priorities.  The answers have come one at a time.

Priority 1:  Work hard on building a strong, vibrant marriage.
Set aside intentional least a little every day.

Priority 2:  Be a loving, nurturing mom to my children. 
Little mister is now 6 and Little Miss is 4.  The little years are fleeting.  Next year they will both be in school full-time.  Nothing else in my life has molded me like motherhood has.  I want to invest in my children and not take time for granted.  Growing up, I never felt like my parents didn't have time for me.  I always felt cherished and valued.  I want the same for my children.  

Priority 3: Provide a pleasant place for my family to live. I love to cook and provide wholesome meals for my family.  I like for those I love to enjoy being at home.  I want them to live in semi clutter-free, clean environment.  I want to have family traditions and meals around the dinner table.  Nothing fancy or exotic, just enjoyable every day experiences.

Priority 4:  Use my career as a high school teacher to build into the lives of my students.  While I enjoy the subject that I teach, I really enjoy the students.  I love teenagers.  I learn something every day and they absolutely keep me on my toes.  I have said for a long time that my work is my mission field.  I truly mean that.  While the work-family balance is hard sometimes, I really can't imagine my life without teaching.  When it becomes "just a job" or a "paycheck" I will know it is time to walk away.

Priority 5:  Practice better self care.  Break the bad habit of  sleeping in and get up earlier.  Continue to grow in my relationship with the Lord by beginning my day with prayer and Bible reading.  Exercise.  Eat better.  Drink more water.  Get enough sleep.  Read more.  Watch less TV.  Limit Facebook.  Find friends.  

Things I am giving up for right now...
  • Keeping a sparkly clean house...insert a cleaning lady to deep clean twice a month.  I do okay with maintenance tasks, but I haven't deep cleaned our house in 18 months.  For real.  
  • Elaborate meal planning.  I love trying new recipes, but I'm content to try 1 new recipe/week.  Taco Tuesdays, Casserole Night, Sandwich Night, Crockpot Night, Soup Night...I'm not married to any of these themes, but you get the idea.  
  • Extra professional commitments/activities/organizations.  I choose to work full-time and I have to work full-time.  I want the precious leftover time I have left to be spent on my priorities.  I'm a good teacher.  I love high school kids.  I try and give it my best every day.  But...I do not need to go to every extra curricular activity and I don't want my nights and weekends scheduled away from my family.
  • Late nights.  They ruin me.  A handful of time this school year I have gone to school after putting my kids to bed...8ish and worked until 12 or 1am.  Craziness.  Then I feel like I have the flu for 3 days after that.  I am done with that.  I would much rather get up earlier.  Or, not get so behind that those kinds of hours are necessary.  I do much better when I go to bed at 9:30 or 10:00, read a little, go to sleep before 11 and get up around 5.  Note:  I have not actually gotten up before 5:30 most of this school year.   So a little work to do in that area.  Working on it.