Category Archives: Kids

Middle School Musings

I saw this on Facebook as I was writing this blog post about middle school.

middle school adviceI recently reunited with a guy I have not seen since 8th grade graduation. Thanks Facebook. Seeing him was great, he was a cool dude then, he is still a cool dude today. And by cool, I don’t mean wearing the ‘in’ clothes or following the latest Top 40 band. When I say ‘cool’ I mean a genuine, authentic, trustworthy, reliable, caring person.

I posted a picture of us on Facebook. Posting this picture brought a flurry of comments and private messages from our old classmates. This triggered an emotion in me that I can’t quite explain: a bit of sadness and nostalgia.

I have lived through middle school 4 times! Once myself, 3 times as a parent. None of those times were easy.

I was not in the popular clique, I was not sporty, I was not the smart kid, I was not the nerd, the slut, the pretty girl, the artist, the singer, or the musician, I was kind of the invisible kid. In fact, when I reunited with my friend Joe he said he barely remembered me, all he could remember was that I was quiet and nice.

I was dealing with things outside of the classroom that didn’t leave me much opportunity to even attempt to keep up with what the ‘cool kids’ were doing.  I had a few friends. I observed the others. Also, my family did not have much money during those years, the years when it was wear the right designer brand or you might as well not even exist years. Does IZOD, Jordache, Calvin Klein, Esprit, Guess, Sergio Valente, or Sassoon ring a bell? Well I didn’t have any of those clothes. I had the latest K-mart special or something my mom had hand-sewn for me (she was a great sewer, I have to say).

Being an outsider, I did a lot of observing. Being a late bloomer, I was also quite clueless (learned a lot from my friend Joe on things that were going on in the class that I had NO idea about).  Oh my! Parents if you have not had ‘The Talk’ with your kids yet and they are already in middle school, the time is now.

I observed the dynamics of the classroom. You know that movie Mean Girls? Well there was definitely some of that happening. Some of those girls were so mean to others. I saw the same things happen when my girls were in middle school. What is it with us girls? It is so sad.

This leaves me wondering what the ramifications are. Are the girls who did mean things even aware now just how hurtful some of their behavior was? Do they realize some things they do or don’t do on Facebook now can still trigger hurt feelings in the kids who were bullied and mistreated?  Did they apologize for their behavior? Do they feel shame? If you were the girl or boy picked on during middle school, would you want an apology now? Would the brat taking ownership for their hurtful behavior be helpful to you right now? Was I one of the mean girls and not even aware of it? I definitely wasn’t an angel.

Looking back, I realize I have struggled with some of the same issues throughout life. The invisibility thing… this whole book I am writing is motivated by me being tired of feeling like the invisible parent. Probably the reason I am so out and about online too… How did middle school affect you?

Told you I was a late bloomer… me and Joe about 30 years ago.

Sally and Joe

We all have big hearts

CartLoveIt is not just mommies who have big hearts, we all have big hearts. Sometimes when parents have their first baby they wonder if they could ever love anything more than they love that little bundle of joy. Then when baby number 2 comes a long they discover their heart grows and makes room to love 2 beings with the same amount of enthusiasm. You could have 10 kids and love them all. The human heart and our capability to love is amazing.

I think we don’t always realize this kind of love is not reserved just for parents loving children. It goes both ways. If you are in a blended family your child or children are capable of loving more than just 1 or 2 parents. If  a stepmom has entered the scene in to your child’s life, your child is capable of opening her heart and adding another mommy, just like you are capable of opening your heart and adding another child to the mix of people you love and call family.

This idea can be very threatening and is often what makes mother’s day a challenging day for children of blended families. Kids may feel that in order to prove their love for their mommy they have to not acknowledge their stepmom. This is hurtful to the stepmom and to the child.

Unfortunately, I have learned this lesson in hindsight. My kids grew up with 3 mothers, their biological mom (my partner), me and their stepom. The kid’s love all of us, just like we love all of them. I don’t love one kid more than an other. Maybe they don’t love one mom more than the other, maybe they do. But who are we to decide who the kids love most? Is it really a competition? I’ve got news for you, there is no prize at the end of parenting for being the best mom or stepmom.

Just because you adore your 15 year old does not mean you do not adore your 4 year old. It works the same with kids and stepparents vs. parents.

After much research for my book I’m beginning to believe that the relationship between a bio (or original) mom and a stepmom may be the hardest relationship out there to navigate. The silly thing is those 2 women love and care about the same exact people.

If you come from a blended family I challenge you this mother’s day to take a step back and try to make room for your kids to express their love to whoever has been blessed enough to find a space in their little (big) hearts.