Should the role of Stepmom come with a rule book?

Standard

Boy meets girl. Girl likes boy. The two fall in love, get married and start a family. If, however, you’re a woman of a certain age, the story may change. Tell me if you have heard this before. Man meets woman. Woman silently wishes her dating days are over. Man tells woman he has kids from a previous relationship. The couple, more mature and pragmatic, forges ahead, gets married and blends families. Simultaneously, the woman has two new titles after her name, wife and stepmother. Full of optimism and love, she embraces her new roles. But what happens when said stepmother is told,

Stay in your lane and play your position?

Perhaps naively, it never occurred to me that a stepmother’s biggest task would be to stay in the background, help when needed, but never be included in significant decision-making or disciplinary actions. I assumed that a martial partnership would also include a close-to-equal say in the lives of the children. I mean, there may not be a biological tie, but surely, a stepmother has to mean more than a babysitter or a teacher? As someone who dated a man with two young children, I often wondered what my role would be in their lives should the relationship advance to the next level? In the meantime, I battled internally with how much of a connection to build to the kids and their well beings. I was always aware that at any moment, the bonds we formed could be broken; the relationship could end or the biological mother could exert her veto power and exclude me from their lives. Surely, it would leave a considerable hole in my heart, and perhaps in theirs too. It wasn’t until last week when watching The Wendy Williams Show did I hear what might be the popular opinion of many biological mothers. Essentially Williams advised stepmothers to stand-down, not to make stepchildren her “everything” and always keep in mind that the kids are not hers. Although, I am no longer in that relationship, Williams’ words struck me. Would I have been expected to maintain a certain distance from the children? If I had married him, does staying in my lane mean remaining tight-lipped on important topics like their schooling? Certainly, a portion of my earnings would pay for their food, clothes, outings, and transportation. There would be holidays and birthdays shared together. Photos snapped to memorialize moments. Could I not consider us a family?

As more children are born outside of marriage and on the opposite end of the spectrum, divorce continues at the same rate, dating someone with children becomes a more probable scenario. What are the rules of engagement?

Can you cap the depth of your feelings simply because the offspring are not biologically your own? How do you silence your opinion and ideas on raising kids that in every way other than DNA are part of you? If becoming a stepmother means staying in your lane, maybe it’s time to park the car and walk.

Eating New or Eating Ewwww? Trying New Foods – Week 1

Standard
Eat what you want, what you don’t want don’t eat.” – My Mom

Photo Credit: CytoonThat was the advice straight from my mother’s mouth when I was a toddler and then repeated many more times until she realized her pearls of wisdom created one picky eater who refused to eat fruit, vegetable or any other foreign object placed on her plate. Now, some 30 plus years later, here I am. I insist on referring to myself as selective, but lets face it, I have never even tasted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (For those in shock, I urge you to accept this reality and trust that one day I will try it. Maybe). My mom, a straight shooter, typically had sound advice, but she missed the mark with this one.In the spirit of self-improvement, I challenged myself to expand my culinary horizons and try new foods. Now in my second week, I can share some feedback about my leap into eating what I DON’T want and staying away from the tried and true staple foods.

Here’s a quick rundown of what I shocked my system with in week one.
  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt
  • Grapes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Parsley tea

I can feel your eyes judging me as you read. Now I’m sure this is all very basic for those of you with a normal upbringing, but for me, this is a big deal.

Of the 5 new food items, I can peacefully rock with three, the other two, (yeah I’m talking to you, oatmeal and yogurt), I cannot. Well, at least not yet.

SERIOUS QUESTION: Do people really like oatmeal?  In the three days I tried it, all attempts resulted in failure. Day one was an instant packet I popped in the microwave. One and a half bites later and I threw in the towel. Oatmeal 1, Me 0. Day two I decided to jazz it up based on people’s recommendations. This meant preparing it on the stove top and adding cinnamon. Two bites in and I was feeling better about it, so good, in fact, that I decided to toss in some apples. Abort! Abort! Couldn’t get down a single additional spoonful after that screw up.  Oatmeal 2, Me 0. Day three I abandoned all the bells and whistles and opted for a pragmatic approach.  I reasoned with myself. First, I went over the health benefits; good source of fiber, slow burning carb, yadda yadda. Next, I rationalized how silly it was that I, a grown adult, couldn’t finish a tiny bowl of oatmeal. I recalled all previous athletic accomplishments and academic achievements to psych myself up. The result? Oatmeal 3, Me 0. The taste and the texture are not for me. I imagined the experience to be more like Farina, a childhood favorite. It’s not.

Yogurt wasn’t nearly as bad. I opted for the French Vanilla variety from Yoplait; fewer calories, less processed sugars, etc. Once again I’m working without a point of reference, so without knowing what it’s supposed to taste like, it started out just fine. There was a slight hint of vanilla and then, wait what is that?  What the heck is that taste on the back-end?  My limited food vocabulary prevents me from even describing the taste, so I will simply label it, WEIRD. Is it rancid? (Checks expiration date: Nope, it’s fresh). Ultimately, I was able to endure just over half before my palate took over and shut me down. I still have hope that I can make this yogurt thing work, so I’ll consider this half a win.

My “Trying New Foods” score for Week One is 70%.

Catch up with me next week when I tackle zucchini, peanut butter, salmon, avocado and pumpkin seeds.

Until next time,
ASK MORE QUESTIONS