Not Cinderella's Stepmom

with Samantha

I'm a dreamer, writer and actor obsessed with classic television, lace, baking and quoting Ace Ventura (one of these things is not like the other). I like to believe that my life is just like a Disney movie with an Alan Menken soundtrack except the stepmom's not so evil. When I married my husband, David, in October of 2012, I fell madly, deeply in love with my two stepchildren, Chloe and Trey. It's incredibly hard to balance being a stepmom every other weekend with the rest of my life, but it is 100% worth it. You can find more stories about my family at my personal blog, fairytangles!

Why I Don’t Care if it’s a Boy or a Girl

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When I was younger and thought about my future children, I always said that I wanted to have a little boy first.

“Don’t you think that would be sweet?” I told my mom. “A big brother to look out for all of his younger siblings?”

She nodded, but reminded me that babies weren’t exactly made to order. I knew this. I wanted a little boy first, but it wasn’t going to kill me if it didn’t happen, it was just one of my many fantasies.

And then I met my husband. My sweet father-of-two husband that already had a little girl and a little boy. When I thought of adding to our family, the desire to have a boy first was long gone. All I could think was that there was already a big sister and a big brother now! I truly had no preference either way.

My stepchildren, however? Oh, they had big preferences.

Chloe has a stepsister that lives at her mom’s house, but talked for hours about how she hoped our baby was a girl. “I already have two little brothers,” she whined, referencing my stepson, Trey, and their younger brother at their mom’s house. “It’s time for another girl,” she said. The more she went on about this, the more worried I got. She so desperately wanted a baby sister that she was now putting her head right on my belly and saying “Hi baby… please be a girl, okay?”
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How To Not Get Overwhelmed With Baby Gear

Categories: baby gear, new baby, new mom

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about the early stages of baby planning, and how I was learning to chill out about picking the absolute perfect swing, highchair, play mat, etc. I realized that I had plenty of time to pick these items out and then Amazon reviews were not the answer to everything.

And then I decided to make a list of the baby gear I would eventually need… and I got overwhelmed all over again.

If you check out any registry “checklist”, your eyes might blur together like mine did in a fit of panic. There are the categories, which seem simple enough at first, like strollers, diapering, bathing, feeding, etc. But then you realize that each category has a sub-category. So strollers aren’t just strollers anymore. You can’t just put “stroller” at the top of your wish list. You need to decide if you want one with an accompanying car seat, one that rear-faces or forward-faces, one that comes with an entire travel system, one that’s just lightweight, one that’s nothing but a frame, and then there are stroller accessories.

Oh you guys. I think I’m going to be sick. And that’s just ONE category.
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Why My Love for My Stepkids Has Changed

Categories: children, new baby, new mom, parenting, stepmom

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I feel like I could go on for hours about what it feels like to be a stepmom and expecting my very first baby, but I know everyone’s not that interested. Instead, people want to know what the kids think of their expected sibling (They are both SO excited!), how I think they’ll transition (Fabulously, I hope) and if I will feel differently towards them once the new baby is here.

Before, my answer was a resounding NO. I will love my stepchildren the exact same way I always have. My love for them will not alter a bit and, if anything, I’m worried I’ll show more love towards them than my own child.

Well… I’m here to tell you that this is no longer the case. My love for my stepchildren? Yep, it’s already changed.

Let me explain! When I became a stepmom, I had an instant connection with my stepkids. We were close, I immediately filled in the “mom” role when they were in our home, and our family was strong from the beginning. There was no awkward first weeks, there was no fighting or resisting the family change… it was seamless. It went off without a hitch, and all I knew was that my heart was now stretching to fill two little people that I just met.

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What’s With These Extra Pregnant Emotions?

Categories: new baby, new mom, pregnancy

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I’ve always been a fairly sensitive person. I’ve been known to get teary-eyed during a particularly touching movie scene (When Forrest Gump breaks out of his leg braces anyone?) and cry over things like when my husband proposed to me. But pregnancy has added an entire extra level of emotional distress.

You guys. I sobbed my way through an entire episode of “American Idol”. I burst into tears during a moment on “Modern Family”, but my crowning “sadness achievement” was when I straight up had a meltdown over an episode of “The Brady Bunch”.

I need help.

They say that all of the extra hormones and emotional outbursts are normal, I know, but it doesn’t make them any easier to handle. In fact, my husband has had the hardest time with this pregnancy symptom. The poor guy has no idea what the hell I’m crying about and, bless him, he does everything he can to help. But I can’t count the number of times he’s simply rolled over and said, “Well… okay. Wake me up if you need me, I guess.”

Oh sweet husband.

The best way to work through these emotions, I’m learning, is just to let them happen. Don’t try and keep things bottled in, don’t try to ignore them, don’t try to will them away. Just cry. Let those emotions take over because as fast as they happened? That’s how fast they seem to go away. I can sob for a good four minutes, but then I’m fine. Everything is bright and rosy again.

Especially my runny nose.

I’ve also had to learn that whatever I’m crying over is not really the “source”. My husband may have said something he thought was funny and sent me into an emotional tailspin, but his “joke” wasn’t the issue. In fact, I think it’s taken him a while to learn this, too. He’s stopped getting quite so defensive over the things he says, and has chalked it up to his normally sweet-tempered, somewhat-emotionally-balanced wife having a case of the WACKADOO.

(This has become a permanent addition to our family’s dictionary, by the way.)

God, postpartum recovery is going to be FUN, isn’t it?

If you dealt with extreme pregnancy emotions, how did you navigate the outbursts? Did you allow them to happen and deal with the aftermath? How did your husband handle it?

Prepping for New Baby: Early Stages

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Before David and I were even trying for a baby, I was baby-crazy. I can admit this. One of my favorite hobbies was, and always will be, walking through the baby section of Target or Macy’s, cooing over the impossibly small onesies and running my hands along the edges of a crib. I would pick out the swing I liked best, which crib sheets would match my future nursery theme and, ahem, have even been known to read reviews on breast pumps in my spare time.

But, the minute I found out I was pregnant, all of those things seemed totally overwhelming. The thought of sitting down to pick the bouncer that is going to give my baby the utmost comfort so Mama can take a shower terrified me. Trying to decide if I wanted a bassinet, a Moses basket, a Rock ‘n’ Play or just a crib filled me with worry and hand-wringing. Even looking at clothes started to make me sweat; if the baby’s born in July, will it even fit in these long-sleeved onesies by October?
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I’m Worried I’ll Love My Stepchildren More

Categories: children, coparenting, new baby, pregnancy, stepmom

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Being a stepparent means following a lot of “rules” society has set forth. You know the ones I’m talking about:

Be nice to your stepkids’ mom.

Be nice to your stepkids.

Oh, and the biggest rule of all: Don’t treat your stepchildren differently when you have children of your own.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? But, I can understand why people would have trouble with their stepchildren relationships once a child of their own is in the picture. However, I see it from the opposite side because… well… confession?

I’m terrified that I will love my stepchildren more than I love my own child.

Wait! Hear me out! I know I sound crazy, but when my own husband has confessed to feeling the same, I get a little bit of validation.
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My Baby is ‘Their Baby’

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Chloe and Trey with their cousin, a sweet peek into our family\'s future.There are always challenges becoming a stepmom, but I’ve found that my biggest ones have had nothing to do with feeling inadequate or dealing with custody issues. My biggest challenge as a stepmom? My pronoun usage.

I know. Bear with me, it’ll make sense in a moment.

From the beginning of my relationship with my stepchildren, I wanted them to know that they came first. I never wanted them to feel second to me, to my marriage or to any future children David and I might have. I wanted them to know that we were all a family. Like the classic Lucille Ball/Henry Fonda comedy, Yours, Mine & Ours, but you know… without the first two pronouns.

(Okay, so kind of nothing like that. I just wanted to throw in a Lucy reference.)

The point is, I was never “Daddy’s wife”. I have always been their stepmama. It’s never been “Daddy and Sammy’s house”. It’s their house, too. When I was planning the wedding, it was always “our wedding”, including the pint-sized, but most important, attendees.
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New Year, New Baby | Sharing Baby News With My Stepchildren

Categories: children, new mom, stepmom

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From the moment my husband and I started dating, we talked about babies. While he already had two young ones of his own, it never stopped us from dreaming about expanding the family, about turning our Party of Four into a Family of Five.

A lot of his family members were shocked to hear that we wanted to add more children one day. “You already have two,” they would tell him. “Really? You want to start all over?”

But to us, it was never “starting all over”. Our family wasn’t finished, plain and simple.

Of course, the biggest critics were going to be my stepchildren, Chloe and Trey. Their feelings and opinions were the only ones that mattered to us. A lot of people asked me if I was nervous about telling them, if I was worried that it would change our relationship (Which is a post for another day) or our family’s dynamic. And sure, I was nervous about the changes, but nervous about telling them they would have a little brother or sister? Nope. Never. They knew we wanted more kids and they know we’re a family no matter how much we grow.

So a week before Thanksgiving, when I was able to surprise my husband with two pink lines, I couldn’t stop thinking about how we were going to tell the kids.
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Stepmom Confession: Why I Want To Start Family Traditions Now

Categories: children, coparenting, holidays, stepmom

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As I watch my two stepchildren race for their Advent calendars throughout December, I can’t help but feel a little wistful. And, I promise you, it is for the dumbest reason ever.

Every time we start a holiday/family tradition, I always feel a little sad that I can’t say to them “We’ve done this every single year for you.”

I know, I know. The dumbest thing ever.

It’s just hard when you’re a stepmom, I think. In fact, I think it’s even harder when your stepchildren are older and not little like mine. It’s hard thinking that they have different traditions with their mom and that those are the ones that will probably stick out the most to them. It’s hard when they’re only here every other weekend so traditions have to be crammed into three days. It’s hard when I think about future children and how traditions are still changing and being created.
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Santa’s Double Visits: Co-parenting During Christmastime

Categories: children, coparenting, holidays, parenting

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“And at your house,” my stepdaughter Chloe said, “I’m asking Santa to bring me an American Girl doll! But, at Mama’s, I want him to bring me an iPod Touch.”

“Wow,” I told her. “You better be really good if Santa’s going to bring you both of those things. Those are big presents for a little girl.”

She shook her head and smiled. “No, see, that’s what’s so cool about having two houses for Christmas! Santa brings lots of presents at both houses!”

Huh. Um… huh.

It’s true that Santa does visit both our house and my stepkids’ mom’s house each year. From what I can understand, they both get different things at each of our houses, which always makes me laugh. I guess they have different interests at each home? But, it had never occurred to me that we might be spoiling the kids just a bit. I started to wonder if it even made sense for Santa to bring a “big” gift at each house instead of just one between them.
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