Over the past 10 years, I have been ask over and over, How do you do it?
This is an early Picture of our bended family and honestly the only picture we have of us all together.
Parenting is the toughest job you will ever have, but also the most rewarding. Parenting is not something you can practice or even perfect, it is something that just is. You have to work hard at it, you have to use every ounce of patience you can muster and you have to be willing to make time for yourself as well.
When people ask me, how do you do it, they are not referring to being a Parent in general, they are referring to the fact that we have 7 kids, and became a blended family 10 years ago with all the kids. I'm not sure I have ever had the answer most people are looking for because some days I can't figure it out myself. It isn't easy, and some days , weeks, even months, I find myself in tears just trying to find a Happy Medium.
I'm not a perfect Parent and so many times I have caught myself saying well "my kids" , and that is wrong. They are all my kids and the biggest thing you can go wrong with is comparing your children. As the only Mother figure in the lives of my 4 step kids, I have found it rewarding, yet frustrating and hurtful. Kids can be mean and say some things you would never expect. Kids can and will break your heart at some point, even unintentionally, and not just Step-Kids.
I have found that the hardest thing for me, is finding time for each child as an individual. I have a 16 year old Special Needs Daughter and she wants to be with me every second she can, so when one of the other kids wants "Mom" time, I have to spend days talking to her about it and trying to make her understand, yet her feelings are always hurt when the time comes. That is one thing that breaks my heart every time because she is an Angel and loves her Mommy and spending time with me.
The biggest thing I am guilty of is letting my kids skip school once a year or so just so I can have my special time with each one without disrupting every one's schedule and allowing us that one on one time with each other.
I will never be Parent of the Year, and I can admit to playing Hooky from work and blogging some days for a few hours, grabbing a book, and curling up in bed to watch "Ellen", Rachel Ray and Judge Alex until I have to get up. Making time for yourself, regardless if you are a Mom or a Dad, is important, because if you do not take that time as an individual, you will lose sight of not only who you are but become frustrated and identify yourself only as a Parent, never as a Male or Female. It is also super important to make time for your spouse and you as a couple. No couple can go indefinitely without couple time. That is where Chris and I have the biggest problems, is not spending enough time with each other as a couple. I get frustrated with him because sometimes it seems like he puts every one's needs before mine, but at the same time, I feel selfish because I do the same thing to him without even realizing it.
As my Step-Kids get older, I find that I have to call on Chris more and more for discipline because I frequently hear " you are not my boss" and Chris has to step in and set things straight.
We have different ideas on Parenting as well, and seem to end up at odds about how to handle different situations. I am the more strict Parent, he is the more relaxed parent. So it always seems like the kids have each a different set of rules to follow. This is not a good thing, so if you are considering blending a family, sit down before hand and decide together how discipline and different situation will be handled and the rules for the household for everyone. I wish I would have done that 10 years ago.
I have to admit, finding out that My Oldest Step-Son was going to be a Father, I wondered what my place would be in the baby's life. Alex and I had a rocky relationship for a few of his teenage years. I never voiced my concerns or worries though, because I felt selfish. As the due date for the Baby came closer, I wonder if Alex could pick up on how I was feeling. He approached me one day and told me that I was his Mom in every way that mattered and that he loved em and hoped I would be Asher's Grandmother. I cried, happy tears, because I finally realized, I must have done something right. we have had a chance to talk since that day and I also found out some things I did wrong, but the most important thin g I learned is that Alex says he always knew I loved him and cared about him no matter our differences. Now, at 37, I am a Grammy and I am loving every second of it.
Basically, love your kids, don't spoil them and teach them right from wrong. Kids pick up on things, so never argue in front of your children, that is not healthy for you or them. You will make a mistake, as a Parent or as a Step Parent, that is inevitable. The main thing is to learn from each mistake, move forward and stay strong. Make time for yourself and each other, support your children and praise them, apply tough love when needed, guidance and unity.
Never try to be the Perfect Parent, because the Perfect Parent does not exist.