Mom, stepmom, blended family, extended family……just…FAMILY

“Isn’t it hard raising someone elses kids?”  Yep.  Nope.  It’s hard raising kids…my own or someone elses!

“But what if she doesn’t like what you do?” Well, then we talk.  It’s about communication and compromise.

“Do they (the kids) listen to you?” No…because they are a teenager, a pre-teen and a toddler…it’s got nothing to do with them not being my biological children.

“Shouldn’t they call you mom?  You’ve been around long enough.” Uhm.  No. They do.  Sometimes. Then they call me Laura.  It doesn’t bother me. Either way.  They call me Laura to my face, but when I over hear them talking to others they refer to me as their mum…not their stepmum.  Not their “other” mum.  Their mum.  I would never ever force it on them.  I am not their mother, and if they never ever want to call me mom/mum/mummy, then it’s okay.  But at the same time, if they did decide to, I’d be okay with it.  If their mum wasn’t okay with it, then I’d ask them to stop.  Out of respect for her.  Because I feel that that is such an important aspect to making this work.  Respect.

I have, what appears to be, a very unique relationship with my (Step)kids mum.  She is one of my closest friends. We weren’t big buddies at first…. it all started with a cup of coffee.  And it went from there. You see, we both want what’s best for the kids.

I have nothing to be bitter about.  My husband isn’t holding grudges any more.  And quite frankly, if they didn’t split up, I wouldn’t have my husband, my child and my current life….Nor would my husband, Liz, her husband, their daughter, my son, and our boys!

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At the end of the day, we all want the boys to be happy.  To grow up right. To have manners.  To show respect. To be hard workers.  To be kind. To be caring. To be patient.  Liz and I work together.  Okay, so the men don’t talk but I think that’s down to man-pride. But it’s okay.  The kids are our priority.

Open, clear communication about the boys and what’s going on is what’s helped us to build such a strong relationship.  They know that their mum and I are on the same page with everything.  They know we talk on a daily basis, and make decisions together.  Chores, rewards, punishments, outings, phones… we make the choices together.  There’s no back and forth bickering.  There’s no trying to make each other jealous and using the children as pawns.  Quite frankly people that use their children like that make me sick.

There are tough days.  HOLY SHIT are there tough days. But I guess there would be whether the boys were mine by birth or not.  There are days when I get frustrated.  Days when I’m not sure what to do, days when I don’t know how to cope, days when I could bang my head against a wall.  But I know I have my support systems.  My husband, and his ex-wife. I am exceptionally blessed to have the relationship I have with them both.

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Liz is one of the strongest women I’ve ever met.  She allowed the children to move with us to a different country…because she knew that the opportunities were much better for them in the UK than in South Africa.  Was it easy for her?  Nope.  To this day she still hasn’t said the word “Yes” to our question about bringing the children with us to England.  Her answer to me was, “my answer’s not no”.  Does she ask herself questions every day about her children?  Yes.  Does she regret her decision?  Nope.  Do I let the children skype/video call/message their mom?  No.  I don’t LET them.  I expect them to.  I encourage them to.  Just because there’s sea between us, doesn’t mean we can’t all be “together”.  I know she received a lot of flak from people because of her decision to let the boys come with us – but to this day, she’s remained strong.  She’s been utterly selfless by allowing the children to come and live with us.  And I take my hat off to her.

Liz came to visit them at the end of October last year – the boys were super excited. We organized (sneaky sneaky) that her AND her mother would arrive on the Saturday – four days earlier than the boys were expecting.  I got the children to help me decorate (they’d wanted to put up British flags, English cold drinks etc around) on the Friday evening by telling them we had plans for the weekend, and wouldn’t want to rush after school on the Monday to do it. My cousin and I picked them up from the airport, Andrew took the boys out for the day and we got ready. Watching my dear friend embrace her children both warmed and shattered my heart.  Watching our 10 year old fall asleep on her shoulder, holding her hand sent tears streaming down my cheeks. I couldn’t help but feel guilty.  I took that away from her.  But would we change our minds? Would we take back our decision to move to another country? No.  We’ve done this, not for us, but for the future of our children.  

We’re a family.  We make it work.  And we make it work together.

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Those of you using your kids as pawns….STOP IT!  You are doing more damage to them than you are to your ex.  And quite frankly, showing that you’re an a$$hole.

Blended families, stay strong.  It’s worth it.

Step mommies/daddies…keep your heads up.  Remember, those are someone elses children.  Put yourself in that mommies shoes…it’s going to be hard for her too.  Include the children wherever you can.  Make them feel a part of your life.

Mommies/daddies…remain calm…but remember, it’s okay for someone else to love your children – isn’t that better than the other option?!

♥ L