Biological Children

30 04 2009

Interview with Stepmom Author Izzy Rose

29 04 2009

izzy-roseOn May 5, stepmom blogger Izzy Rose’s book The Package Deal will be available in bookstores nationwide. Read my interview with her below. Then visit her website to watch the book trailers and pre-order your copy. It’s a fantastic read that will make you want to invite Izzy to your house for drinks.

When you first started your blog Stepmother’s Milk,you were searching for support for stepmoms. Were you surprised at how little there was available?

I was surprised once I learned some of the statistics– that there  are something like 15 million stepmoms in the country today! I thought, if there are so many of us, why isn’t this a mainstream discussion? Why aren’t we on Oprah? Since then, I’ve watched in amazement as our online community has grown. We’re everywhere now! It seems like every day, I discover a new stepmom blog or stepparenting site. It’s very encouraging to see so many women reaching out to each other, connecting and offering advice.
Your book describes your first year as a stepmom. How have things changed since then?

I’m more relaxed. I no longer refer to myself as the Ruler of Cleanliness and Order. I just couldn’t keep that role up. I was outnumbered– a husband, two boys and two male kitties! In addition to adjusting to filth and fur, I’d moved across country, given up my career and left friends and family behind. Needless to say, I was a little on edge. Two years later, the newness and panic has worn off. This is a good thing– for everyone’s sake.
What three things do you think a new stepmom has to have to survive the first year of stepmotherhood?

  1. A surplus of wine
  2. A sense of humor
  3. Lots of therapy (with you and your man, alone, and maybe with the kids, although you might want to wait on the whole family combo deal until they unpack).

Do you still have full-time custody of the kids?

No, my oldest stepson, The Tall One, is the only kid living with us full-time now, and you’ll have to read the book to find out why.
What has been your greatest challenge as a stepmom?

Balancing my own needs with those of the kids. I’m sure every mother struggles with this, but because I married into my parenting role and don’t have kids of my own, I’m never quite sure how much I’m expected to give and compromise. To be honest, it was really tempting early on to shirk some responsibilities because I was “just the stepmom.” But, the reality is that if kids are living full-time under your care, you’re responsible. My stepmom rule is to compromise, but not sacrifice myself. I’m a big believer that if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re no good to anyone else.

There’s been a large debate going on about stepmoms who blog or write books about their families and how it will affect their stepchildren and relationships with their husbands and the ex. How do you decide what you’re going to write about? Do you share your writing with everyone in your family?

I’ve made jokes about moving to Mexico or going into hiding once the book came out to avoid a family mob attack, but truthfully, I think the need for that is slim. In writing The Package Deal, I worked hard to be fair to everyone involved and I made drafts of the manuscript available for family members to read throughout my writing process, and I encouraged them to speak up if something felt wrong or icky.

That said, I’m very honest and I suppose you do run the risk of offending people when you expose your insides. But when you start self-editing to please the crowd, you lose your voice.

Have you ever had someone in your family object to or been hurt by something you’ve written?

Not that I’m aware of and I hope that’s because I’ve made a conscious effort to be respectful. Before I started my blog Stepmother’s Milk, I asked my stepkids if they would be okay with me writing personal stories about our family. It was really important to me that they be on board. Every step of the way, I’ve reminded the boys to come to me if there’s something they don’t want me to write about or if they’ve read something they don’t understand. I’m constantly mindful of their privacy and how far I can push the boundaries.
What have been your greatest rewards as a stepmom?

As someone who thought she was missing the mom-gene, it’s been a sweet reward to realize I’m capable of taking on someone else’s kids and not failing horribly at it. The boys showed me a reserve of love I didn’t know was there. I said yes to a marriage proposal and I ended up with a family. A pretty good deal, if you ask me.

If a dear friend told you she was marrying a man with kids what would you say?

Welcome to the club! Becoming a stepmom is so “in” right now. One might say– stepmom is the new black.
Do you think you made the right decision when you said yes to your husband, moved to Texas, and signed up to be a custodial stepmom?

Absolutely! I’m in love with my husband, Austin is a fantastic town and in addition to their entertainment value, the kids have helped me grow up. That said, I didn’t always feel that way. There were many days early on when I wanted to scream, WHAT WAS I THINKING! HOW DID I END UP RAISING ANOTHER WOMAN’S KIDS?  My therapist (and yes, every stepmom should have one) helped me realize that in order to survive, I had to adjust my expectations and be willing to reinvent myself. That’s powerful stuff. I remember thinking, OK, I can shift. I can do this.

What advice would you give to a stepmom who is struggling?

Seek out one good girlfriend who is willing to listen to you spill the good, the bad and the revolting. And then spill. I truly believe that laughing and groaning over our shared stories is one of the best antidotes for warding off insanity. It’s worked for me.

Father’s Day Rally

29 04 2009

Peter Spokes, the president of the National Center for Fathering is helping to plan a National Responsible Fatherhood Rally in Washington, D.C. Pass this along to the dads in your life! Check out his message below and the video about if from CEO Carey Casey.

“This Father’s Day marks the 100th anniversary of the first observance of Father’s Day. In recognition, a National Responsible Fatherhood Rally is being planned for June 20 on the Mall in Washington D.C. when organizers are
asking dads to make a simple, 5 point commitment to their children. The goal is to get more than 1,000,000 dads across the country to make this commitment prior to Father’s Day, and then begin living it. To accomplish
this goal, we need the help of every organization and individual working with dads.

The Commitment
The first three of the five points are focused on a dad’s relationship with his own children.

o Loving your Child – affirming and nurturing your child, loving and/or respecting the child’s mother.

o Coaching your Child – being involved in your child’s life and knowing them well

o Modeling for your Child – consistently living the values you wish to pass on to your children

Recognizing that there are 25 million children living without their dads who would still benefit from the involvement of a father or father figure we added a fourth point:

o Encouraging another Child – reaching out to a child in your sphere of influence and getting involved as a father figure

And to generate a sense of belonging and to ensure that we involve enough dads to make a difference, we added the final point:
o Enlisting other fathers – to make a similar commitment and to live the life of a responsible, involved father

These are the five elements of the 2009 Father’s Day Commitment: Loving, Coaching, Modeling, Encouraging and Enlisting. Our experience is that dads respond to this as a personal call to responsible fatherhood. They get it
and they remember it.”

Mother’s Day Dare

29 04 2009

Hi gals:

Here’s a dare for you from The Step Mom’s Toolbox: Send a Mother’s Day card to your stepchildren’s mother. Can you do it? Will you? Here’s more of the post, check out the blog for the full story.

“This Mother’s Day I am going to not only honor and recognize my mom, my step mom, and my mother-in-law, but I am also going to honor and recognize my daughters’ step mom (she would be my ex-husband’s wife) AND my step children’s mom (she would be my husband’s ex-wife).

This costs me NOTHING except $3.00 for a nice Hallmark card and what ever the US Postal Service is charging for stamps these days.

My goal is to encourage 5,000 or more step moms to send their step kids’ mom a Mother’s Day card.”


They Say it’s Her Birthday

22 04 2009

 Are you stepparenting a child whose mother has passed away? If so, you already know there is an embarrassing shortage of resources for you. Diane over at Mama J’s Parenting Posts is working on a book Stepparenting the Grieving Child. She wrote a fantastic post on the topic today on her blog. Check out the post: They Say it’s Her Birthday. Diane gives ideas about how you can honor your stepchildren’s mother’s birthday and the day of her death. Here’s an excerpt:

“April 24 comes around every year. It’s not like Leap Day; it never gets skipped on the calendar.

At least two anniversaries each year should not go without recognition in a grieving stepfamily: The deceased parent’s birth date and death date. Throughout the twelve years our stepfamily lived under the same roof, these two days were awkward for me, only slightly outdone by Mother’s Day (yeah, that’s coming up too).

In two days, my stepchildren will again remember their mother’s birthday. She would have been 49 this year. “


Resources for Stepfamilies in Trouble

22 04 2009

I’ve had several letters lately from struggling stepfamily members asking for resources that will help (and by stepfamily I mean anyone dating, living with, engaged to, or married to someone who has kids from a previous relationship). I have a list of resources that I am putting together and will eventually put on a separate page on my blog hopefully sooner rather than later. But as I’m putting together this list I thought I’d ask all of you if you’ve worked with an amazing counselor, therapist, or coach, read a helpful book, or watched a useful video. If you have, please let me know and I’ll add your resource to the list. For now if you’re struggling, check out the links on the side of this page for a place to start. You can also check the back of my book where I list many resources including books, websites, and organizations. There is help out there for stepfamilies. Let’s prove it!

Mother’s Day Prep

22 04 2009

All right. We know it’s coming. Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 10. So instead of waiting until the last minute, let’s get some ideas flowing ladies about how we’re going to spend the day. The goal, of course, is to avoid hurt feelings. Here are a few ideas:

  • Remind your husband that mother’s day is approaching and you would like him to get you a card to celebrate the great job you’ve done stepmothering his children for the past year.
  • Plan to be out of the house doing something you love. I always love a good massage, so that’s on the books for me!
  • Make a lunch or cocktails date with your stepmom girlfriends.
  • Celebrate your own mother with a visit to her house.
  • Ignore the day completely and throw your own special stepmom day.

So how do you plan to spend the day? Please submit your traditions in case the rest of us what to try something new! And I hope you will, at the very least, pat yourself on the back on Mother’s Day for a job well done. Being a stepmother is not the easiest road to walk and you deserve major kudos!