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Second Place

I remember when I was in elementary school.  Every year around my birthday my school would host a track and field day.  I was shorter…yes, shorter than I am now!  And any short people know that we also have extremely short legs.  Track and field day was not my friend.  But every year I would get up early, eat a good breakfast and wait patiently for the school bus.  I would climb on and pray the whole way there for just one first place ribbon…just one. 

I have decided that step-parenting is a lot like those days of track and field.  There is always a wish to be in first place.  To be the parent that is the first one the kids go to whenever there is a need for something.  Most mothers would read this and wonder what in the world I was talking about…for them, there is never a feeling of competition.  And I would think that every step-mother is sitting there shaking her head up and down knowing exactly what I am talking about. 

Let me tell you the difference between step-parenting and track and field.  During parenting when you come to a day when you realize that you just came in second, you find that your mom is not there to hug you and tell you she is proud of you.  You are the parent now and you realize that it still hurts to be in second place.

Continued on….again

Now came the hard part.  I had gone back to continue school but it was not where I really wanted to be.  I am sure that my parents were stressed out completely…their 19 year old daughter dating a man with two kids who was not divorced yet.  I sit here now with a daughter turning 18 in a month and wonder how I would feel in one year if she was doing the same thing.  Puts things into perspective a little bit!! 

By April of 96 I was done school and moved in with Richard and the girls.  We were confident in the fact that I wasn’t going anywhere and I had won over all of the affections of the girls.  Life was good.  I could be brutally honest. I could tell you all the times that I felt inferior to his ex-wife…all the times when I wondered why I jumped every time she called.  But the funny thing is that I look back now and realize how easy we had it.  She rarely came around at first which allowed me to bond with the girls and when she did come around it was only for an afternoon.  She never demanded holidays or weekends, I was the one that offered.  She never made me feel unwelcome, she has always known that she was the one that chose to leave.  As I look back, I realise that I feel sorry for her, sorry that she missed so  many wonderful things about the girls growing up.  She missed Daniele learning to talk, Taylor starting preschool.  She missed their first day of Kindergarten when I showed up to get them at the end of the day and they ran to me for a hug.  She missed it all.  Stuff like that, the stuff you can never get back. 

I will still remember the first day that Taylor called me Mom.  Daniele was so much younger and called me mom for a long time before Taylor ever did.  We lived in a very very small town at the time and there was a girl across the street that was Taylor’s age.  They were the best of friends and played almost every day.  Taylor was bugging me to go play one day so I told her that as soon as Daniele went down for her nap, she could go outside.  About two minutes later, her pudgy little cheeks peeked in the door and called me, “Mom, can I please go play with Tamara?”  She said it like she had called me that since birth.  I stopped for a second, registered what I had just heard and called back “Go ahead, stay in the yard please”.  That was it…and she never called me Tanya again.  Back then it seemed like it took forever, but really, we just let them decide when the right time was for them and that is it.  We always said we wouldn’t encourage or discourage it if they ever decided to call me “mom”…we wanted them to feel comfortable with whatever they chose to call me. 

Life was good.  No…life was great!!

Oh Happy Day…

Today I went to Cody’s school for a play.  Every year they have a group of actors come in that work with the kids for a week to put on an amazing display of artistic talent and imagination.  Cody has been talking about it all week…how excited he was. 

As Cody’s mother, I don’t expect that Cody will ever get a speaking part.  Because of all his airway trauma, Cody has a paralyzed vocal cord and speaks in a loud whisper.  To many people, he is near impossible to understand.  To us, it is fine because we hear it everyday, but if you get him in a room with lots of background noise, it can be very tricky.  So you can imagine my surprise when I heard that my son had gotten chosen for a speaking part.  A small one, but who cares.  The whole program was based on diversity and accepting the differences within one another. 

As I pulled out my video camera in time for his group to come on stage, I had a hard time holding back tears.  This was monumental!!  I was nervous for him, nervous if the other kids and parents would wonder what was wrong with him.  I could feel myself holding my breath as he got up and went to the mike and then….just as plain as day, he spoke his part.    I let out a sigh, he looked at me in the crowd and gave me a thumbs up.  It couldn’t have been better.  I was so proud and I know that moment will be with him for a very long time!!

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An A-Ha moment…

I learned something new today…about myself.  I had a brief and memorable A-Ha moment.  I will let you in on it in one moment but let me start at the beginning.

I have two teenage daughters.  Two…at the same time.  They happen to only be 16 months apart.  So it seems that between them and me, there are a lot of hormones and emotions running through this house at all times.  I will openly admit that I play a factor in there as well!  🙂  Anyway, if you have a teenage daughter you will know that many days are filled with laughing and crying.  Days filled with anger and sadness quickly get replaced with joy and elation.  That is just the way it is.  These little girls that we have encouraged and praised for 16 years get into high school and get jolted into a whole new reality.  At home, we still try to do what we have always done, but they are not as receptive anymore.  They are big girls now, they want independence and trust.  They want freedom to carve their own way.  And that is what we want too….right???  I know that deep down that is what every mother wants but I didn’t realize until a few months ago that in order for that to happen…I had to change.  Taylor was 17 and in her own way was trying to break out on her own a bit.  I was fighting her on every turn, trying to keep things the same.  In turn, she was fighting me and our household was upside down. 

It was then that I realized that as she evolved, I was going to have to evolve too.  I was not about to let her take the reins completely, but I had to loosen them enough to let her live and to let her make her own mistakes.  I always felt at her age that my parents were very strict and I always felt like I didn’t make my mistakes until I left home.  Then the problem was that I was making mistakes and had no one to support me and help me when I needed it.  I want my girls to feel like it is ok to make some mistakes and that I will still be here to help them if they need it.  Then maybe when they pack their bags up and head out the door, they will have a better understanding of real life.  I hope.  It was amazing for me to see what happened when I realized this.  I let her take some more control over her own life and things just fell back into place.  If I would have only realized that when the fighting started! 

Now my revelation…I wondered if a greater power was at work for those months of fighting.  Was something trying to prepare me for when she had to move out?  Was I going to be a wreck?  Did her behaviour want me to make her move out and not miss her??  And then I realized…she is moving out…I am going to miss her terribly.  It doesn’t matter how much she fights me or how bad of a day we are having…there are so many good days, it doesn’t matter.  She is my heart. 

This will always be my oldest girl, the one who read at 3.  The girl who wrote her name on the wall when she was 3 and tried to blame her one year old sister.  The one who would sit with me while Daniele napped for 3 hours and color.  The girl who got stuffed animals and named them things like puppy and big monkey.  Who has always loved every animal in her life unconditionally.  Who would give her sister horsey rides even though Daniele was almost always bigger than her.  The girl who loved to do my hair in barrettes and pigtails and now wants to be a hair stylist!  I will miss this girl with all my heart.

Meet the man…

Now it’s time to meet my amazing husband.  We met when I was only 19 and he was divorced and had full custody of his two beautiful girls.  People thought I was crazy to even consider it but I knew he was the one for me.  We got married in Jamaica when I turned 21 and we’ve never looked back….well at least I haven’t!!  ha ha 

Here’s where we got married…

This is a Sandals resort in Dunns River, Jamaica and it was beautiful.  We spent  7 days in this paradise, swimming, cruising, laying on the beach.  From the minute we got there, the service was amazing.  We sipped champagne while we were checked in and met with the wedding planner when we were settled.  We had to be in Jamaica for 48 hours before we could be married, so we picked where we wanted to get married, the flowers and met the photographer.  It was a busy afternoon, but we never felt rushed at all.  The day of our wedding everything went perfect!  The Sandals resorts are beautiful and the service was incredible.

So what can I say about Richard??  Well, he is an amazing father, incredible husband and hard worker…and he just turned 40! 

For his 40th birthday weekend, we jetted off to Los Angeles for a little alone time.  It was great…we relaxed, slept in, and did some touristy things we may not have done with the kids.  I know a lot of you out there don’t like to travel with your kids, or never leave home without them.  I appreciate each and every one of you and entitle you to your opinions.  I like a mixture of both…I love to take the kids.  I like to show them things they normally wouldn’t see.  But I also love to go on vacations without the kids.  The beginning of our lives together showed me I was meant to be a wife and mother, but when C was born, it was very stressful.  Anyone who has had a child with life threatening medical issues knows that.  I learned to appreciate the time that Richard and I had alone together too…it is how our marriage works.  I have an amazing family.