Dads matter too.

This weekend my husband and I went to Ikea to wander around. Apparently there was a lot of other people who had that idea as well. Maybe it’s the lure of Ikea’s Swedish meatballs that draws people in. Or maybe it’s their bright colors and fun gadgets that do the trick. Or maybe it’s the fact that Ikea feels 50 degrees cooler inside their store than in the blistering Arizona heat. Whatever the reason – it was packed.

As Jason, Aliya and I made our way through the sea of people I found myself doing one of my favorite things; people watching. Looking around I was struck by the amount of dads that were there with their families. I felt like it had been a long time since I had seen that many dads in one place (minus Sunday mornings at church). We even ran into a friend of ours who introduced us to his wife and little boy. Jason and I smiled as they talked to us about their little boy and the upcoming birth of their second boy. I couldn’t help but notice how proud this father was and how happy he was.

After leaving Ikea I couldn’t shake the image of all the dads that I saw there. I wasn’t sure why I couldn’t stop thinking about it, or why it mattered to me, until later that night. I realized how HAPPY it made me to see fathers with their kids.

As a mom I will be the first to say that there is NOTHING like the power of a mothers love. But as a woman who grew up without a dad I will also be the first to say that there is NOTHING compared to an engaged, loving father. Moms undeniably have a special way of doing things; kissing boo boos, wiping tears, making everything they do reflect love for their family. While most dads may not be as equipped to do the “gentler” things in life that moms seem to effortlessly do, they are more efficient at the subtleties in life. A mom can never replace how a daughter feels when she knows her dad loves her. A mom can never truly understand the physical/hormonal changes a boy goes through and really sympathize with him. A father is your children’s first example of how a man should act.

Now before all the single moms have a conniption, please hear me out. I was a single mom at one time and in no way am I diminishing your role. I just feel that society has placed SO MUCH on the importance of a loving mother and so little on the dads. In reality, there are a lot more hands-on dads out there than the world gives them credit for. Why is that? Have we placed a stereotype on men that we just assume they are: 1. Going to be an absent father, 2. Not going to be a good father or 3. Fathers can’t do anything right? As mothers have we put ourselves up on pedal stools thinking that we are the know all/end all and men are idiots?

I look at my husbands interactions with our daughter and know, with all my heart, there is no way I can ever replace that. Jason may not be the most tender-hearted, cuddly-est dad out there, but let me tell you this: when it’s 1:00 am and our daughter wakes up with 104 temperature and is shaking – he is at her crib and taking her in his arms to sit with her all night. He is the one putting butterfly wings on his head and singing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” with his daughter. He is the one that will show his daughter the type of man she will want to marry. That love, that special bond they have – it’s special for a reason; because it’s her daddy.

If you’re a dad reading this I want you to know something – YOU ARE IMPORTANT. Whether you’re a single dad, a step dad, a part-time dad or a full-time dad, you are irreplaceable. Every word, every moment and every touch with your child matters. Don’t let anyone try to downplay your part in your child’s life. You have such an impact on them, your daughter and/or your son. Everything you do is meaningful, so take your role seriously.

A special thanks to my husband, Jason. After raising four boys and being a great step dad to my son – you have done wonders in parenting our baby girl. I am so humbled when you listen to me when I tell you my fears about raising our daughter and how you step up and parent in a way that puts those fears to rest. I love you, my butthead.
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No soul mate for me, thank you.

I have a confession to make…my husband isn’t my soul mate.

When we first met my cheeks didn’t flush, my heart rate remained steady and my feet stayed on the ground. There wasn’t an instant spark or a heated connection. I knew my husband back then as Jason Ray. For those of you that know my husband you know that his name alone defines who he is, lol, but for those of you who don’t know I’ll fill you in. He loved to make fun of me (still loves to), he refused to call me by my first name, only my last, and he gave me high fives so hard it felt like my hand would break – a very brother/sister relationship. He was always quick with a joke and a smile and he was extremely nice. When I was going through my divorce he gave me some sage advice and when I moved into my condo he offered to help. But at the end of the day he was Jason Ray, my friend.

It wasn’t until he and I helped chaperon a church youth event, a high school camping trip, that things changed. I got to spend three days in the woods with some of my favorite people – the kids, my friends and God. I got to see Jason in his element; the woods, the water and having fun with the kids. Jason likes to think he wowed me when he took off his shirt to cliff jump. That didn’t hurt, I will admit, but more than that I noticed things I hadn’t seen before. He looked relaxed, healthy and happy. I remember the feeling hit me like a ton of bricks. I quickly hurried to my friend Sarah and advised her of the feelings and she said “Jason Ray?!” That moment still makes me laugh. After the camping trip I texted him non-stop. When I want something bad enough I will try anything to get it – Jason was no exception. We were married two and a half months later.

Of all the words I would use to describe Jason, soul mate is not one of them. I don’t feel like he was created for me nor I for him. Just the idea of a soul mate makes me insecure. I hear soul mate and I don’t think “yes, there is one person who is meant to be and we will live happily ever after”. What soul mate tells me is “there is only one person on this entire planet who is willing to put up with your crap – choose wisely”.

Maybe Disney, or most romance movies, have put this idea in our head that when we meet our soul mate we will know. The symptoms are there: your heart beats out of your chest, you get all hot and sweaty, you can barely breathe, you never want to be away from this person… This person must be my soul mate. But, sadly, most people confuse lust with love; thus starting the hook up/break up cycle. They think they’ve found their soul mate until their “soul mate” does something to make them mad and they move on to the next soul mate.

Truthfully speaking I think almost (almost) any two people could live happily ever after. I know that goes against what society thinks but I really feel it’s true. You know why? Because people don’t get divorced because they aren’t “soul mates”. People get divorced because they are selfish, lazy, scared and impatient. Being in love is a choice, not a feeling, and people often disregard that concept. And why wouldn’t they when pop culture so lavishly promotes the ridiculousness of celebrity “love”? The hook ups and break ups, bed jumping, and divorces after 58 days (does Brittany Spears or Kim Kardashian ring a bell?). Shows like The Bachelor/Bachelorette, Joe Millionaire and I Wanna Marry Harry are embarrassing representation of what America views as “normal” love or “finding your soul mate”.

Couples who have made it through the worst of times understand what it means to be selfless, humble and forgiving. They have been strong when the other is weak and have carried the burden for each other when needed. Or maybe they both broke down and were so weak they knew they needed each other to rebuild and they hung on to what they had for dear life, instead of walking away. Maybe they realized that a vow before God was not meant to be broken and come hell or high water they were going to figure it out. Maybe one didn’t care about the marriage but the other stood strong and loved hard, even when it seemed hopeless, and the other person came around. The fact is – they are still together. Thick and thin, better or worse. And those couples know what it’s like to weather the “I don’t like my spouse right now” or “I can’t stand them” storms. We’ve all had that moment with our spouse, when you’re angry, hurt and fed up. The “I don’t like my spouse” often leads to the misconception of “I’m not in love with my spouse anymore”. But this is where love becomes a choice. A choice that most people don’t want to make when it’s easier, or so they think, to walk away.

When you are married you should always try to put your spouses needs above your wants, something that has been my constant focus for the last month. I realized that if my marriage was going to be fruitful, I had to change my attitude and actions. Now, don’t get me wrong – I am in no way a love “expert”. I have gone through a divorce and I know that not all marriages are salvageable. Jason and I have had our peaks and valleys. Times that have been amazing and times where I didn’t want to see his face. But Jason and I made a commitment when we got married that we were going to stick it through no matter what. And thankfully, at our darkest times, one of us always comes around and makes it right. And I have to tell you, putting him above myself has paid off immensely. He, in turn, has followed suit. We still have our problems (we both can be massive butt heads) but we come together to make it right quickly, and then we move on.

Happily ever after is a lot of work. It’s not rainbows and butterflies, it’s compromise that moves us along (Thank you Adam Levine for those wise words). Do I believe in soul mates? No. But I do believe I found my happily ever after. I just have to make sure that the chapters from here until the end are filled with love and laughter. But most importantly: selflessness, humility, and forgiveness. We are not perfect people, but together we are perfectly imperfect. He is my prince charming and I am his princess. I am okay with that.

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How my daughter changed me.

June 21st, 2012 at 5:32 P.M., Aliya Marie Ray came into our lives. She weighed 6lbs 11oz and was 19.5 inches long. Due to a rare gestational disease I was diagnosed with, Intrahepatic Cholestasis, she was born via C-section three weeks early. This C-section, unlike my first one, went without a hitch. After they prepped and opened me up my doctor removed the scar tissue off my bladder (my son tore my bladder in two places and it had to be repaired directly after he was born via C-section in 2008), they scooped baby girl out and then tied my tubes. I remember she didn’t cry a lot, she was too busy sucking her thumb, but she was alert. “God is so good” was all I could think.

For those of you that don’t know, June 21st is the summer solstice; longest day of the year. I find it terribly ironic that my daughter was born on that day. At two years old she has more charisma than most adults I meet. It’s almost as if the stars aligned and agreed that her larger than life personality needed those extra hours of sunlight for her special day. And like the day she was born, she has captured my heart every day afterwards with amazing force.

Blonde hair, blue eyes and dimples. A gigantic smile and a mischievous gleam in her eye. She is her daddy’s mini. And much like her daddy, when I am upset at something she’s done, she gives me that dimpled smile and my heart just melts. I sometimes have to pinch myself to make sure that the little angel in front of me is real and I didn’t just dream her up.

So how has she changed me?

When we found out we were pregnant with a girl someone said this to us “when you have a boy you only have one penis to worry about, when you have a girl you have everyone’s penis to worry about”. Yowza. But they were right! Suddenly, I realized “oh my gosh, this little girl is going to grow up one day!” I have to protect her! (For those who haven’t read some of my posts, I’ve had a rough childhood. That childhood includes being molested two different times by two different men) But, as a parent, you know that you can’t be around your child 100% of the time. This caused me major anxiety. They will go to daycare, school, friends houses, church and *enter any location away from you here*. How can I protect my daughter if I can’t be around her all the time? I stressed about that stuff with my son but not to the extent that I did with my daughter. Maybe because I know what it’s like to be hurt at a very young age? Maybe the little girl in me doesn’t want what happened to me to happen to my daughter. I don’t know but sometimes the thoughts paralyze me. I’ve come to realize that I need to educate her as best as I can on how to protect herself but also to let her know that I will always love her and be a safe refuge for her. That’s really the best we can do as parents, right?

Aliya has definitely cured any lingering issues that I had with my absent father. Back before I had children and I was married to my first husband, I was afraid to have a baby. I was afraid if I had a girl that I would be jealous of any close relationship that she and my husband would have. When I had my first child with my ex so much of that fear went away. I reveled in the fact that my husband was a good daddy and he and my son grew close. Seeing my current husband, Jason, with our daughter makes me realize how lucky she is! How lucky that she has a daddy who loves her and holds her and makes her laugh. What an amazing feeling that I almost let some non-existent father steal from me.

I’ve watched boys become men. We have five boys in the house, ages range from 15 to 6. The minute they held her they became these little men who wanted to protect her. They spoil her rotten and she soaks up every moment of it. Just last night I was watching the oldest two boys run from one room to the next and each time, five seconds after they would run by, little Aliya would be running after them. Her chubby belly, infectious laugh, hands outstretched and they welcome her each time with hugs and kisses. Sometimes the interaction between the boys and Aliya is almost too much for my heart to take, these children are so amazing.

Most importantly she made me self-aware. The way I dress, the way I handle myself, the way I talk about myself. Before Aliya I wanted to be a woman who the boys would look up to and think “that’s what I want my wife to do”. But with Aliya the actions will be deeper for her. Mom carried herself with confidence, never took any crap. Mom always did the right thing. Mom always stood at daddy’s side. Mom always let me know she was here for me. Those are things my daughter will, hopefully, want to emulate. We already have a routine in the mornings. She brushes her teeth with me, we get dressed and then we put on make up. I realized early on that she wanted to copy me so I gave her some empty make up containers and old make up brushes. When I am putting my make up on she is copying every move I make. If she copies me over the “little” things then I know she will with the bigger things.

Thank you, little princess, for being such an amazing soul. Thank you for teaching me so many things about life and about myself. With those tiny little hands you have already touched so many people’s hearts. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.

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Friendships after children: Why we lose some and why we win some.

Not too long ago I had a falling out with a best friend. The argument itself wasn’t a shocker, over the course of our 22 year friendship we’ve had many, but this one was different. For me there was one sentence that was the catalyst in the shift of our friendship.

I received an email from this friend breaking down into explicit detail why I was a bad friend. From not sharing my love of yoga with them, not asking for advice on anxiety (which we both struggle from) and lastly, that I didn’t take the time to study about infertility, like I said I would try to do, so I could share in her pain. I’d like to say that I tried to respond in the most Christian way I could – whether or not it was received that way, I don’t know. But as we went back and forth my defense was: I was managing 19 people, working 50 hours a week and then coming home to my husband and six kids, yes, SIX. I stated that any free time I had was saved for my family, not studying infertility. I pointed out that my lack of studying was not indicative of my concern for her, I truly cared deeply about this person and I would be overjoyed if they were to become pregnant, I just didn’t have time. In their response, rebutting any “excuse” I had, one sentence took all the fight out of me. “I don’t have kids but I’m busy too”. I read that, stopped, and read it again. It was like a wave of calm and understanding took over me.

You can’t compare what you don’t know. Have you ever vented to your childless friend about being up all night with a baby? When you’re done venting your friend looks at you and says “yeah, I know what you mean, Fido licked my face at 3:00 this morning and woke me up”. Really? You KNOW what I mean? Unless Fido was aggressively attacking your nipple every two hours last night I don’t think you KNOW what I mean. Stuff like that used to frustrate me until I realized that most of the time they are just trying to feel like they can sympathize with us. They really do have good intentions, well, most of them do, but sometimes end up insulting parents instead of helping. How can you fully have someone understand what it’s like to watch your heart outside of your body if they don’t have a basis for comparison (and NO, your animal doesn’t count – grrrr).

Friends feel unimportant. After becoming a mom I had no interest in going out. When I did I instantly felt guilty and wanted to go home. Mom’s are nodding their heads, everyone else is rolling their eyes. I’ve had a couple friends get frustrated that I couldn’t be out past a certain time or get annoyed when their suggested time interfered with my child’s nap time. Or how your child felt that the moment you buckled him in the car seat was the perfect time to have explosive diarrhea and projectile vomit. Trust me, before kids I would feel the same way. “What the hell. I’m never going to let my child dictate my schedule” – LOLOLOL!! How naïve was I?! Your child IS your schedule. From nap time to feeding time to quiet time to bed time, your world shifts so you can teach this precious child the meaning of normalcy. If you’ve never had to deal with the curveballs that children can throw you I can easily see how one could be offended or angry about changing or canceling plans.

One day they’ll understand. After the birth of my first child I had such a change of heart. The people that I would try to steer clear from became very important to me. I suddenly understood the frustration in my friends voice when they had to cancel our playdate because a stomach bug had swept through their house or their sitter canceled and they were not able to make it. Oh, I get it, you can’t just be selfish and up and leave your child to pay attention to me. I understand now, this amazing little bundle of joy is the center of my world. People that I only talked to here and there now became a must have in my day to day conversations.

The calm and understanding that swept thru me the day I read that sentence is still in place. I love this person dearly, but for the moment, until they can experience offspring, our friendship has taken a backseat. For now, I will cling tightly to the mommy friends that I have in my life. The ones who I don’t have to talk to everyday but feel like no time has gone by when we do meet up. The ones that lovingly hug me when I have a breakdown because I feel like a horrible mom, or send me back encouraging text messages when I have let them know that I feel down. The moms that rejoice and celebrate when my children have reached a milestone – even the silly ones like their first giggle. I never knew the importance of having close, tight knit mommy friends until I became a mom. Now I couldn’t imagine my life without them. Celebrate your mom friends and do all you can to build each other up.

For the friendships that are struggling due to reasons above, don’t give up hope and try to be patient. If you have to step aside like I have and pray that one day the friendship will be rekindled, don’t feel guilty. One day, hopefully, you can be the person that your friend comes to for advice on mommy-hood. But until that day comes you should never feel guilty for putting your family first and not tolerating people who don’t understand or support that.
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Dear Dad, Wherever you are…

Dear Dad,

I know we’ve never met. We’ve never hugged, argued or laughed together. You’ve never checked under my bed for monsters, kissed my forehead or bandaged a boo-boo. You’ve never scolded me for being bad or taught me right from wrong, you’ve never walked me down the aisle. You never read me a book at night, gave me advice or wiped a tear.
You weren’t there when I was younger and my mom would beat me. The nights that I had nothing to eat and no clean clothes, you didn’t tell me it would be ok. I was with a mother who moved twice a year which lead to me attending 11 elementary schools, two junior highs and one high school. A mother who sent me to girls homes or tried to pawn me off on my friends parents. A mom who let her boyfriend hit me, hang me upside down by my ankles and spank me because I left a fork in the sink.
Dad, when I was 5 years old my mother would leave me with her live-in boyfriend when she went to bed. He molested me for a year. My mom found out because at 6 years old my little body couldn’t stand the stress anymore and I had a nervous breakdown. Less than a year later my mother let me drive home with a stranger who pulled the car over halfway home and made me fondle him. You weren’t there to protect me, you weren’t there to tell me it would be ok and, more importantly, you weren’t there to help me pick up the pieces of my shattered innocence. And try as I might, through teenage promiscuity, I never got the pieces put back together.
Dad, remember when I sent you a letter in 2004 asking for a family history and if I had any siblings? You sent a letter back stating I had three older siblings; Jeffrey, Julie and Jolene. Guess what – I contacted them via the internet. One day I will meet them in person. We talk via Facebook, a reason I love social media, I can watch as my sisters become grandma’s, see my niece play in her softball games and send them messages that I love them.
Dad, you don’t know this but growing up I had a hard time watching movies like Armageddon and Father of the Bride. Any movie that involved a father/daughter relationship would tear away at the gaping hole in my heart. I would spend hours in tears after watching those movies, traumatized by the fact I would never know a relationship with you.
Dad, remember earlier when I said you never walked me down the aisle? I’m married to a man named Jason. We have six amazing kids. He has four boys from his first marriage, I have a boy from my first marriage and we have a beautiful baby girl together. My blended family is so amazing. All the kids are unique, each with their own wonderful personality. I was scared to have kids. I was scared that if I had a baby girl I would be jealous of her relationship with my husband. But I had my first child and it changed my world. My husband was a devoted father, loving and giving to his son. My second husband is an amazing father as well; god-fearing, smart and hard-working for his family. Being a mom is the best thing that has happened to me.

I guess you’re wondering why I am writing you this letter. Why am I letting you know all these things? Well, I wanted to say thank you.
Thank you for not being there while I was growing up. Because even though you were an absent father, my Father above was not. He was by my side every moment and placed wonderful men in my life to show me how real men should be. Thank you for leaving me with a mom who constantly uprooted my home. Even though moving twice a year was awful and I was constantly starting a different school it taught me as an adult to adapt to any situation. I can walk into a room full of complete strangers and feel totally at ease. I can strike up a conversation with anyone who comes my way and feel confident on my own. Thank you for not showing me what a husband should be like. On my own I was able to find two men who are amazing people. Even though my first marriage didn’t work out, it wasn’t because he was a bad guy, he is a wonderful man but we both made stupid mistakes. My husband, Jason, is funny, loving and caring. Both of these men are everything you weren’t. Had you been around maybe I would’ve ended up with someone like you. Thank you for letting me find out in my mid-twenties that I had older siblings. It was my first experience with love at first sight. The minute I knew I had siblings, I loved them and wanted to meet them – still want to meet them. Thank you for not being around my children as you probably would’ve made a lousy grandparent. My kids don’t know you and aren’t hurt by your absence. Thank you for being absent because it taught me everything I didn’t want to be as a parent. It taught me that I would be there for my children, whatever the situation is, and they won’t ever second guess that. It taught me to hug them every opportunity I could, to kiss them and tell them I love them everyday.

Dad, I also wanted you to know that I forgive you. You see, holding on to anger and hostility about my childhood is a reflection of my spirit, not yours. I can sleep at night knowing that I am doing my best for my family. I feel bad for you and how your life must be. You’ve never met your grandkids, your child and you must be a very lonely person. It’s been a long road to get to where I’m at today. Many mistakes and tears. I forgive you for the abandonment and the pain that you put me through because that’s what my heavenly Father taught me was the right thing to do. And honestly, you’re not worth the heaviness of the burden that I carried for so long.

The gaping hole in my heart that I talked about earlier – it’s been sewn up with seven beautiful stitches: Jason, Eli, Payton, Gavin, Logan, Adan and Aliya.

Your daughter – Lori
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The 2nd Wife

When you get married for the first time you assume that your marriage is going to last until the day you die. No one goes to the altar with the mentality of “This is just training for my second marriage”. How crazy would that be?! But life happens and divorce happens, it’s sad but we all know it’s true. When you’re getting married for the first time people love to give their words of wisdom “don’t go to bed angry”, “happy wife, happy life”, “always laugh”, you get the drift. But when you are getting married for a second time people tend to be a lot less vocal with their wisdom. It’s usually “congratulations, please let me know if I can do anything for you”. That doesn’t mean your friends care any less about your marriage but more than likely they are still on their first marriage and don’t have an idea of what to say.
But maybe you have a friend who has had more than one marriage. And maybe that person loves you enough to give you some advice on the adventure you are about to embark on. If you do, please listen closely to them. If you don’t, hopefully I can be a helping hand. Here are three helpful things I have learned with my second marriage:

1. You are not each other’s ex’s:
When Jason and I first got married, whenever we would fight I would do to him what I did to my first husband – clam up. I can ignore someone for a LONG time. My ex-husband would ignore me right back and we could go a long time without speaking to each other. But Jason wouldn’t have me ignore him. He would vocalize how much it bothered him and eventually I would have to speak my mind. Which usually got him more upset at me, lol, but it got the conversation flowing. I still clam up (it’s a work in progress, people) but not NEARLY as long as I used to.
Jason’s love language is different from my ex’s too. So what would make my ex happy doesn’t necessarily do the same for Jason. It took me some time to relearn how to treat the person I was married to. To break the bad habits that I had been doing for the 10 previous years.
We need to take the time to learn what makes our husbands happy and what means the most to them when it comes to showing them love.

2. Your spouse isn’t always right:
In any marriage you feel this desire to defend your spouse to the end, support him in any way that you can. For the most part that’s how it should be – but it isn’t always the right thing to do. Two specific examples jump to my mind: When Jason and I were first married he worked at our church. It was Sunday and for the most part the church was empty but as I was waiting for him in the front office I heard familiar voices arguing in the hallway. I went to check it out and there were Michelle and Jason. Michelle was trying to tell Jason that their youngest boy’s eye looked infected. Without even looking Jason was denying anything was wrong. Casually I looked down at little Logan and I could clearly see his little eye was turning pink and goopy. I found myself in unfamiliar territory. To contradict my husband, in front of his ex-wife, would be marriage suicide. So I calmly waited for them to part ways and as I took the boys home I had already decided that I would be taking Logan to Urgent Care. While on the way home Michelle called my cell phone (this was before her and I were so close) and I told her I saw that his eye looked infected and I was taking him to Urgent Care. To no surprise Logan was diagnosed with pink eye. Later on that night I had to sit with my husband and lovingly have a talk with him about the way things were handled at the church. His actions we unacceptable and he had to realize that everything can’t be a fight. To my surprise he agreed.
The second instance was shortly after our marriage as well. Jason would pick up the boys in the morning and take them to school, even on Michelle’s day. Anytime that Jason and Michelle would get in an argument, which at that time was a lot, Jason would tell her that he wouldn’t take the boys to school anymore and that she was responsible. This went on and on until one day I had had enough. I sat my husband down and told him that he needed to make a decision and stick with it. It wasn’t okay to continuously use the ride to school as a punishment. I told him from that day forward he had to pick a decision and stick with it. Either he was gonna take them or he wasn’t. I would support him either way but he had to pick one and I would hold him accountable for his decision. Again, to my husbands credit he received everything I had to say about the situation and agreed. And to my happiness he loves to use that example as something that I have helped him with in regards to mending the relationship with his ex.
When we realize our spouses are in the wrong we need to make sure that we approach them in a calm manner and to let them know that our words come from a loving place. We want them to receive what we have to say and actually digest it, not just immediately put up a wall and tune us out.

3. Learn from past mistakes:
This one seems like a no-brainer, right? If we learned from past mistakes would our first marriage ever have ended? But the problem is we don’t learn from past mistakes and that is why so many couples get divorced the second time around. I was totally guilty of this in the beginning. Just like with my ex, I would love to throw out terms like “you never do this…”, “you always do this…”. Even today I will still throw those words around and my husband has to remind me that I can’t say those things. Every time I get mad at my current husband I have to fight every urge I have to clam up. I have to fight every urge to not let my razor-sharp tongue say words that I can’t take back. I have to fight every urge to fight fire with fire. I have to fight every urge that helped destroy my first marriage. I will admit that fighting the urges are easier, not always because my man can fire me up, but I know that they will continue to get easier as time goes by.
When you notice that the same things that made your ex mad are making your current husband mad it’s time to do a “habit inventory”. Are the habits that you have carried over from your first marriage healthy ones? Are your words loving, careful and meaningful?

Our husbands, yes, even our second ones, are gifts from God. Even when my husband has me so mad I could spit fire I still have to remember that he is a gift and I have to treat him as such. God calls us to love and support our husbands through good times and bad. Not always an easy task… But I promise that once you start to show him that you are trying he will follow suit. I recently told a friend that I am trying to make my husbands needs come before my wants. In the past two weeks I have handled a couple of situations completely different than I normally would. I think it surprised my husband because there was no arguing involved with the situations. There were talking and tears, but no anger and fighting. These situations ended up bringing us closer and happier.

Wishing you love and happiness on your marriage!!

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My Husband’s Ex-Wife

Most people will read that and gag. Most people will read that and get angry. Most people will read that and cry.

This is one of those times I’m glad I’m not most people.

My husband, Jason, jokingly refers to his ex as my BFF. I guess in some ways that’s not too far from the truth. She is usually one of the first people I contact, if not the first, when something good, bad or ugly happens. She is at my house a lot and doesn’t even knock – just walks in, we constantly text each other and we make each other laugh. She spends holidays at our house and we all go out to dinner for celebratory reasons. We have swapped clothes (I wish we could swap shoes but the woman has dwarf sized feet, size 6 – really?!?!?), ideas and advice. She is a wonderful “aunt” to my son from a previous marriage and my daughter from my current marriage.

You would think that our relationship has always been copacetic, right? Wrong. Michelle and I didn’t start off as each other’s biggest fans. And for the most part that seems to be the norm when a divorced person with kid(s) gets remarried. From the start we found a way to be polite to each other – and by polite I mean we usually just ignored one another – but a game changer in our relationship was the birth of my daughter. Our five boys, four of them are Michelle and Jason’s boys, instantly fell in love with the bundle of pink. And much to my surprise, so did Michelle. And in the following months as my daughter got older the distance between Michelle and I lessened and we all decided to celebrate Halloween together. The night was fun and from then on we learned to work together, grow together and mold our blended family.

For me, having Michelle as a friend has been amazing. Not only is she a great person but she is helpful, smart and tells it how it is. The Mother’s Day that just passed, Michelle wrote this on her Facebook page: “Happy Mother’s Day to a wonderful Mom/Step-mom/Friend…Thank you for all you do for the boys and I. We have become a great team…I love our blended family. Hope you have a great day! You are truly appreciated”. I admit, I got a little teary eyed and please don’t tell my husband this but I think he did too! It’s nice to know that we can lean on each other, whether it’s life or about the kids. We support each other in ways that mom’s need to support each other but most of them don’t.

As I’m writing this I am getting text messages from her – she’s at the pool, soaking in the sun, and wants to lovingly rub it in my face. I laugh because she’s a brat – I celebrate because had you told me almost three years ago when I married Jason that one day Michelle and I would be “BFF’s” I would’ve laughed in your face.

Mom’s and step mom’s – I urge you to celebrate one another. You are both fighting the same battle, why not fight it together instead of each other?

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You have how many kids?

You have how many kids?

Yes, you heard me correctly, six. Five boys and a beautiful baby girl. My husband has four boys from a previous marriage and I have a boy from a previous marriage. When Jason and I got married we rolled the dice and decided to have one of our own. God blessed us with a girl and boy did he know what he was doing. She has been the emulsifier to our blended family.

To most people six kids sounds like a nightmare, and I’m not going to lie, there are days I feel like I’m trapped in a nightmare. No, I don’t mean I hate my life but a mom can only stand a clogged toilet smell so many times. With five growing boys you can do the math on how often that happens at our house. Luckily for me I love the chaos. I love hearing the boys laughing together upstairs, even if that means it sounds like the ceiling is going to cave in. I love dinner time discussions when all the boys tell me their rose and thorn of the day (best part and worst part). I love how the boys treat their little sister like royalty. Often caving in to whatever she wants. Her laughter, her chubby legs and her rotund belly running after her brothers to either mimic whatever they are doing or to get their attention to show them something.

I’m not going to lie, there are days when I feel overwhelmed. There are days when the house is a mess, I haven’t showered in two days and that damn toilet is clogged again. The laundry grows exponentially, the pantry empties almost as fast as I fill it, the floor I just swept somehow has crumbs all over and the clean sink is now filled with dishes. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who goes through this, like my kids are the only kids in the world who have some sort of aversion to putting dishes in the dishwasher.

But there are the good days… The days where everyone gets along, everyone plays together and no one fights. The days where no reminder is made to be nice, take turns and don’t throw a fit. The days where the kids laugh until bed time and they say “I love you” first and tell you what an amazing day they had. The days where the laundry doesn’t seem that daunting and the kids took out the trash without being asked. The days where EVERYONE eats what I made for dinner! The days where I feel like I’m doing something right.

For me, motherhood can be summed up in one word – rollercoaster. Because I’ve learned whether you’re a step parent or a bio parent, whether you have one kid or six, we all go through the ups and downs. The moments where our hearts shatter from sadness or our heart is about to burst from happiness. I’ve learned that I need to stop comparing myself to other moms and just realize that I’m doing the best I can. I’m learning to enjoy the ride – whether today is the day I am white knuckled holding on or the day that my hands are in the air with joy. One day I’m gonna look back and realize just how precious every moment was.

Let’s remember to build each other up, mommas. We are the only ones who can truly understand each other.