Live Chat Today, All Day!

19 10 2009

If you’ve got a stepmothering question head on over to Peggy Nolan’s blog The Stepmom’s Toolbox where I’ll be answering your questions all day today, Monday, October 19. Plus one lucky gal will win a signed copy of my book!

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Guest Post: The Ex is an Ex for a Reason

13 10 2009

Today’s guest post is by Peggy Nolan. She’s a stepmom and the blogger responsible for The Stepmom’s Toolbox. But she’s also an ex-wife and biological mom. Visit her website during the month of October to meet the authors of some of the top stepfamily books. You can also listen to the conversation I had with Peggy on the Becoming a Stepmom podcast.

The Ex is an Ex For a Reason

By Peggy Nolan

I have an unhealthy need to ensure my daughters have a good relationship with their father, my exhusband.

There.

I. Said. It.

This need has caused me grief from the time he and I divorced in 2003. I’m a daughter and I know what it’s like to have an amazing relationship with my dad. I also know what it’s like to believe that I wasn’t good enough and had to prove myself before my dad would love me. In my early 20’s I set out to conquer my world and become the best at everything I did.

It wasn’t until I got divorced and had my run in with breast cancer that I realized that my dad loves and approves of me. He always has. He always will. No matter what hair brained idea I come up with.

So it is within this warped dynamic that I view my daughters’ relationships with their father. A man hard to please. A man full of judgements and criticisms. A man who has a nasty streak as deep as the Grand Canyon. His bitterness runs deep. His words are his weapon of choice…and look out because if you’re in his way, he’ll slice and dice you and leave you with a gaping hole in your heart.

After our divorce, I healed my heart. I repaired myself. I learned “not to throw pearls at swine.” I found my own happiness and grew my own love story.

Today I know that I can no longer carry this unhealthy need to ensure that my daughters have a good relationship with their father. I have tried. Boy. Have. I. Tried. It’s like herding cats, nailing jell-o to a tree, squeezing blood from a turnip. It’s an exercise in futility and I’m tired of repeating it. Oh gosh, what’s that saying?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

That’s it! I’ve been INSANE!

In three weeks, my oldest daughter is getting married to her fine lad from Ireland. The Red Head (well, they both have red hair, but I’m talking about my daughter) tripped over herself when she announced her engagement via Facebook in May (while I was on vacation in the Turks and Caicos no less) and that did cause quite a rumbling between her father, her sister, and me. The Red Head originally wanted to get married on the beach in Lagos, Portugal – which I was more than ok with, if she could wait ten months. Words were said. Emails exchanged. Some not so nice, some even not so much nicer.

But The Red Head and I have something her father does not have with her – a relationship. And we both make deposits into this relationship. Our arguement withdrawal didn’t even dent want we had stored up in our mother-daughter account. We talked on the phone. We made peace. A week later, she called me and asked if it would be OK if she and my future son-in-law could get married when they came home in October. To say I was thrilled is an understatement.

In my excitement, I started planning her wedding. In doing so, I commited the worst offense imaginable – I tried to include my exhusband and his wife. In three months I sent three emails. I didn’t hear back from him and even asked my youngest daughter if he changed his email. She clued me in. He thought I just wanted his money.

I don’t give a rats pa-tootie about his money. It was the farthest thing from my mind. With him I’m either damned if I do or damned if I don’t. I’d rather DO and be damned.

This past Friday, I sent one last email giving him an update on the wedding plans. I stated that his silence was a bit confusing but it is what it is. I apologized if I offended him or his wife in any way.

His response is the old X that I remember so well. Mean. Nasty. He thinks the wedding is a joke. And that he’s giving The Red Head money instead of participating in something he thinks has been overblown. The money he gives her will come with hidden strings…it always has. I can only hope she searches deep within her soul before accepting his money.

As I sat with his email, sadness overwhelmed me. I am sad for my daughters. I am sad that they have such a bitter, negative, miserable father.

Sadness turned to anger. And I did the only thing I could think of. I put on my running shoes. Instead of walking or riding the bike like I normally do (because I’m fond of my knees), I flipped my iPod play list to Albannach and took off running. I’m not a runner, I don’t like running…but I had to transfer my anger somewhere and kickboxing isn’t until later tonight. There’s nothing like a rebel Scottish band, heavy on the drums, to trash your knees to.

I kept running. And running. My second lap around the duck pond, I started praying. I asked God how I could best help my daughter have a beautiful wedding day. I asked God how to deal with the knowledge that her father thinks her wedding is a joke. I asked God for an answer.

As I rounded the corner, I noticed I wasn’t alone on the path. A thirty something male dressed in black pants and a blue shirt was strolling along, most likely taking advantage of the gorgeous fall weather that was pretty much lost to me as I ran my heart out. I glanced over at him and he was talking to me. The drums of Albannach drowned out the sound of his voice. I took my right earpiece out, “What was that?” I asked.

“It’s a beautiful day for a run,” the stranger replied.

“Yes…yes it is,” I said, more than just a little out of breath.

“Temperature is just right and the sun is shinning,” the stranger went on.

“You are so right,” I said. I smiled and waved at him as I continued to jog past him.

And I smiled. A big smile. Because God answered me through a stranger.

It IS a beautiful day. Enjoy the moment!

It’s not my job to ensure that my daughters, who are now 25 and almost 22, have a good relationship with their father. I’ve done all that I can do. I don’t own his relationships with them or theirs with him. I am only responsible for the relationships I have with each of my daughters.

And both my daughters know that I love them without reservation. Without conditions. I love them for who they are and who they are becoming.





New Podcast: Peggy Nolan of The Stepmom’s Tool Box

27 09 2009

stepmomcircles3This week’s episode of the Stepmom Circles podcast is ready to download. My guest is Peggy Nolan, a stepmom blogger whose blog The Stepmom’s Tool Box is a place you’re going to want to hang out during the month of October. Peggy is hosting authors on her blog all month who will be available to answer your questions and who will be giving away copies of their books and other fun prizes. (Yes, I’ll be one of the authors!) For a full schedule of who will be stopping by Peggy’s blog this month, listen in to today’s show or visit or blog.

Peggy is a mom of two and stepmom of four children. As you’ll hear most of the kids did just fine when Peggy and her husband got together three and a half years ago. However, Peggy’s youngest stepson has proven to be a challenge mostly because he is a special needs child.

Not long ago I received a letter from a reader who is a stepmother of a special needs kid and I thought it would be useful to my listeners to discuss this topic because if your partner has a special needs child or you do yourself, then the issues that are common in stepfamilies are made even more complicated. Even if you aren’t dealing with a special needs child, this show will give you some fantastic tools to help you develop  a stronger relationship with your partner and deal with the challenges that sometimes come with stepchildren.

The Stepmom Circles podcast is in an mp3 format. You can listen to it online or download it to your computer or mp3 player.

Do you have something you want to hear about on a future episode of Stepmom Circles? Join the Stepmom Circles group on FaceBook or leave a comment here.