Balancing a Blended Family #HappyMothersDay

My daughters and me at Jodi's (first) college graduation

My daughters and me at Jodi’s (first) college graduation

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and stepmoms out there. I want to send a special shout out to those of you who wear both hats. When my husband asked me to marry him, I knew that it was about so much more than a marriage. It was about becoming a blended family. Take a broken family, add me, and ta-da! Instant family. To make things more complicated, we got pregnant right away. In the beginning, I imagined a storybook situation, where I would be room mother, taking treats to every elementary school party. I imagined that our house would be the cool house, where the kids would have friends over for sleepovers and I’d provide lots of snacks and a sundae bar.

Juggle BallsIn reality, I struggled to juggle it all.

My pregnancy went south and my daughter was born at 28 weeks, had several surgeries and spent months in the hospital. In my imaginary world of being a stepmother, I overlooked the fact that my stepdaughter had a mother. I didn’t think about the fact that holidays would be fraught with stress. My daughter needed physical therapy, occupational therapy, and lots of doctors’ appointments. Life was not as I imagined it, in any way, shape or form.

But we survived. And this Mother’s Day reinforced the fact that I did the best I could, and that I did something right (though Lord knows I did a LOT wrong). My stepdaughter called first thing this morning and wished me a happy Mother’s Day. She came by and we went to brunch. This afternoon, my daughter called and wished me a happy Mother’s Day, then came by to see us after work. I am so proud of both of them. What I wanted for them was to be happy, healthy, independent women. And they are.

So, if you are about to embark on the wild roller coaster ride of motherhood, I have a few tips for you:

  • Sometimes you’ll have to work when you really want to take cupcakes to the school party. Don’t beat yourself up. Not everyone can do that, and the kids won’t remember in 20 years which mom made cupcakes.
  • If you don’t have time to make real treats to take to the school party, it’s no big deal. Buy chips or cookies.
  • When your kids want to have friends over to spend the night, don’t say no because your house is a mess. Big friggin’ deal. Get over it and let them have friends over.
  • Don’t worry about your kids keeping up with everyone else’s kids when it comes to clothes, cell phones and activities. Focus on YOUR kids, what they want and what you can afford.
  • Don’t get a TV for the kids’ rooms. Even if you’re all sitting together in the living room watching TV, you’re doing it together, creating shared memories.
  • Make memories. It’s not about how much you spend, it’s about the time you spend together. Color Easter eggs. Visit Santa Claus. Go to parades. Make green spaghetti for St. Patrick’s Day. Go fishing.