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I know that I am not my stepson’s mother, but I constantly struggle walking that line between my head and my heart. Actions can lead to feelings.    Sometimes all of the work of being the maternal figure leads me to feeling as though I am a mother to him.  I want so much to think that – at least in my home – I can be that person.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

My husband was gone for a few days for work.  Things have always gone smoothly for me and my stepson when we are alone together.  He is a good kid who has never given me any real grief.  His dad has always expected him to be respectful of me and reminds my stepson to listen to me.

I got off early from work the same Friday that my husband came home.  I walked though the door, and my husband called out playfully, “Mom’s home!”  We all had dinner and watched a movie together.  It was after 11pm by the time the movie was over.

My stepson had been dozing during the last of the movie, and he woke when the credits were playing. He rolled over on the couch to continue to sleep.  I got up to go to the kitchen, and I called out to him to go ahead and go to bed if he was going to sleep.   He looked at me like I was crazy.  I added that I understood if he wanted to spend time with his dad, but repeated that if he were turning over to sleep that he needed to go ahead and go to bed.  Silence.

I looked over at my husband expecting support.  He said nothing and looked at me like I was crazy.  I immediately recognized that I was being left adrift.  Feeling angry and hurt, I went to take a long hot shower.

After crying a bit in the shower, I realized that yet again I was trying to act like his mother.  It is one thing to be in charge when I’m the only one home.  When his father is home, I need to lay low and not attempt to parent.

It can be so confusing.  Even though my husband will sometimes refer to me as “Mom”,  on some level he resents if I attempt to parent in front of him – as if I am overstepping my boundaries.  Even though my stepson will write sweet cards and thank me for “being the mother [he] never had”, he doesn’t actually want me to be “Mom” in our home.

He and my stepson only want my support of Dad as a parent.  That’s it.  This is the lesson I struggle with daily.

I might fill in as a mother in our home, but I can’t allow myself to feel as though I am Mom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 was a year of repeat lessons for me as a stepmom and wife.  Each time it get a little easier, but I hope 2016 is the year that I finally learn those lessons.  However, since every article I read says it takes several years for a blended family to settle, I expect I’ve got at three to four more years to go.

******

What did I do in 2015 that I had never done before?   I was away from home for the New Year, built a bee hive, used a cultivator, made a Reuben sandwich, participated in an organ harvest, first speeding ticket, first defensive driving class, threw a crawfish boil, surfing, camping, kayaked  27 miles, got my first tick, caught and cleaned crabs, had family to our lake spot for 4th of July, won a scholarship to national nursing conference, was apart from my husband for 2 weeks while he was out of the country for work, ate smoked duck pizza, made cakes for family birthdays, drove the boat onto the trailer, got my concealed handgun license, real snowball fight, Thanksgiving buffet, visited Utah, mountain biking in Moab, skiied at Park City, got my first Macbook (Christmas present from husband)

Did anyone close to you give birth?  3 co-workers had their babies.  My little brother and his wife are expecting.

Did anyone close to you die? No

Where did you go?  Kayaking and camping 3 days on the Ouachita River in Arkansas, Atlanta for nursing conference, road trip to meet husband’s friends in  Oklahoma, mountain biking and skiing in Utah for Thanksgiving, and stopping to see my grandparents in New Mexico

One of your favorite memories?  Valentine weekend at the lake with my hubby, my valentine card and message from my stepson, anniversary weekend with dinner and spa treatment, restaurant birthday dinner with both sides of the family, 3 day kayaking trip with my people, Thanksgiving snowball fight and sledding

What do you wish you’d spent more time doing? Writing, playing music, creating

What do you wish you’d spend less time doing? Wasting time on social media

What song will always remind you of 2015? Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars, See You Again by Wiz Khalifa, Exes and Ohs by Elle King

What was your favorite TV program? Walking Dead,  House of Cards, True Detective, Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, Jane the Virgin, Fear of the Walking Dead

What was your favorite movie?   Mad Max and Star Wars

snow bunny

Build my first bee hive

Try out this Beer Chocolate Chili recipe

Painting with a Twist with my work pal

Plan ahead my Valentine’s gift for the hubby

Have a movie night with root beer floats for my stepson

2014 2014 will forever be one of those years that I remember as a turning point in my life. I became a wife and stepmother in March.  Those two instant roles have required a lot of growth on my part – some I expected and some that surprised and overwhelmed me.  I know there is more to come. I joined the cardiovascular team in the spring (after leaving 5 1/2 years on a telemetry unit to try OR during the last of 2013) and have continued to expand my professional scope.

What did I do in 2014 that I had never done before?  Planned a wedding ceremony, got married, visited Alaska, caught a salmon, went dog sledding, went for a walk in the snow, rolled and played in the snow, rode a train, visited the most northern bar in the U.S., kept warm in a yurt, made a pie from scratch with berries I picked myself, caught bass, caught crappie, bought and drove a boat, participated in a work mentorship program, planted trees, went to a sex shop, rode on a motorcycle in the rain, tubing, wakeboarding, ate fresh honeycomb, took a jiu jitsu class, skiing, ate a New Mexican breakfast burrito, snowball fight, watched a torchlight parade and fireworks over a mountain

Did anyone close to you give birth?  Marlene

Did anyone close to you die? My husband’s mother and aunt both passed this year.

Where did you go?  Alaska, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado

One of your favorite memories?  A concert date with my husband:  wonderful dinner, Zac Brown Band, and drinks overlooking the city and learning to ski in New Mexico with my husband and stepson

What do you wish you’d spent more time doing? Spending more time with friends

What do you wish you’d spend less time doing?  Allowing myself to wallow in negative thoughts.

What song will always remind you of 2014? Happy by Pharrell and All About that Bass by Megan Trainor

What was your favorite TV program? Walking Dead,  House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, True Detective, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife

What was your favorite movie?  Maleficent, Interstellar, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

I used to keep a list of tattoo ideas, but I found that what was meaningful to me one day would be nothing the next day, week, or month.

I wonder if I will ever get one.

I try to imagine where I would put a permanent mark on my body, and I have no answer.   Every spot that I consider is a part of me that I love – neck, collarbone, rib cage, hip, butt, thigh, ankle. The idea of inking my body seems like vandalism.

How can I say, “I love my body just the way it is, but…”?  You either love your body, or you feel the need to modify it in some way.  It has been a lifelong journey to contentment with and respect for my body and all it can do.  I’m in a place where coming up with ways to change it seems to negate that positive.

And so I believe that the only tattoos I will ever have are the well-earned lines on my face and the images and lessons imprinted on my mind.

Still, I wonder if I will ever get one.

There are moments in life that you immediately know you will never live down.

This is one of them.

My husband recently had some surgery to take care of a pilonidal cyst that had been bothering him at the tailbone.  The incision itself healed nicely, but a blister had formed at the bottom between his cheeks. It was located high on the buttocks, but it was inside the skin folds.  It finally popped, and I kept an eye on it.  And it didn’t seem to be healing.  It would grown some skin over and then that skin would get torn from the stress of any movement.  It was in an unfortunate location that made healing hard.

I had some dermabond on hand and decided that I would put some over the weakest area close to his crack in the hopes that it would help limit that movement.  It seemed to be working. But then Husband soon started complaining about it.  I looked at it while he was standing up. I didn’t see what the problem was and thought he was being a bit of a baby.

A day and a half later he laid down on the bed and asked me to look again.  And then I saw the problem.

When I put the dermabond on and held the skin together while it dried, some of that glue had seeped down into his crack.

I had glued his cheeks completely together.  That meant every time he made any kind of movement that results in a spreading action of the cheeks, it pulled on his skin and hair and hurt.  He was lucky it hadn’t quite reached his asshole.

I was mortified.  And started laughing.  I couldn’t believe what I had done to this poor guy.  He was confused and wondering why I was lying and giggling on the bed next to him.  I explained and apologized again and again between my laughter.

I took my time and slowly removed the glue.

He experienced immediate relief.

I was relieved that we had taken care of this before his doctor’s appointment the next day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t think it could go anywhere.

I decided to participate in a healthy weight-loss program at work that would award the top-3 losers with a nice sum of cash.  I knew that I could potentially lose about 15-20 pounds and still be a healthy weight for my body type.   The program involves watching videos once a week and entering my weight.  The program is called “Naturally Slim.”  When I was deciding whether or not to do it, I looked it up and saw that it centered on good eating habits.  It also cost nearly $400 to participate on my own, but the hospital was allowing me to do so for free.  I would have $50 deducted from my paycheck if I didn’t complete the program or weighed more than my starting date.

I put on several pounds the two days before my official weigh-in to try to pad my percentage loss.  Right now I hover at the 20-pound weight loss.  There are over 900 employees corporate-wide involved.  I don’t know where I stand now, but I figure a 20% loss would be competitive.

I was pleasantly surprised at the changes I’ve been able to make through this program that I can continue the rest of my life.  The first initial change of “no sugar” was the hardest.  I could add it back to my diet now, but I’m choosing to keep it out until the last weigh-in.  This isn’t something difficult to count.  It is simply no obvious sugars. No jellies, jams, candy, cookies, cake, pie, coke, etc. No yogurt because it is generally loaded with sugar. No wine because of the double effect of alcohol and sugar. The program also recommends I not use milk except for cooking or in my coffee.  I drink a lot more water. They recommend at least a few of them be a mix of orange juice and water.  I drink them all that way.  The idea is that little bit of sugar keeps my blood sugar up and my hunger levels down.  I’m supposed to eat slowly and take a break after 10 minutes. The idea is to give you time to feel full.  I’m only supposed to eat when truly hungry and stop when I’m comfortable.  Not a new idea, but it is hard to do.  No regular snacks, just a few items I can eat if I’m in a situation where I’m truly hungry but won’t be able to eat a meal.

I cheated. There were two birthday weekends and the holiday weekend.  Other than that I’ve kept to the program guidelines.  I like to run and have been running 3-5 miles two or three times a week.

And now my ass is gone.

I loved my ass. As soon as the 10 weeks are over and I weigh-in for the last time, I’ll start doing more muscle-building like squats and lunges.

Gotta get it back.

My grandmother and father gifted me with  long, skinny, and bony feet.  That alone would have eliminated being a foot model as a possible career choice, but I also inherited a matching set of bunions.

Those bunions have been a sore spot.  They hurt throughout any preteen and teenage growth spurts.  Just accidentally rubbing one foot on the other would send a burning pain up my foot. Later, they didn’t bother me much as long as I stayed away from shoes that put pressure on them.  Right.  As long as they didn’t touch my bunions a certain way, they were okay to wear.  Shoe shopping was not fun.   Tennis shoes were about the only kind that I could always wear comfortably.

It wasn’t until I began working as a nurse that my feet started to hurt regularly again.  After three 12-hour shifts, I would feel that familiar ache.  After a year on the floor, I was only able to wear my tennis shoes and one pair of flats comfortably.  A couple of years later, I was talking to people who had a bunionectomy done.  Five years later, I was ready to get it done. I met with the doctor to get x-rays and discuss my best options. I just needed to call her nurse to schedule.

There never seems to be a good time to schedule a procedure that will require months off work. A couple of months after that appointment, an afternoon motorcycle lesson left me unable to wear even tennis shoes without a lot of pain. That eventually subsided after a couple of days ,but the pain never completely left. I finally made the call.

The surgery day went smoothly.  My sister took the day off to take me.  Pre-op teaching was done, the IV was started, and fluids were hung. I remember nothing after the Versed except for a fuzzy memory of them strapping my arms down.  I woke up crying in the recovery room. “Is it over?”  “Yes, it’s over.  Are you hurting?”  Again and again the nurses asked if I was in pain.  I couldn’t feel anything, but I couldn’t stop the tears.  They wiped my face for me.  I looked around at the monitor, but I couldn’t see since I had no glasses or contacts.  I asked how the monitor looked.  She told me my heart rate.  “How’s the rhythm?”  Sinus.  I started shivering, and someone turned up the warm air that flowed through my surgical gown.   I heard one nurse ask the other about my toes.  She said she was going to call my doctor. “I work in telemetry.  What are you calling the doctor about?”  My toes were dusky, and they just wanted to make sure that was to be expected.  It was.  I asked to be sat up and for my glasses.

I was moved into another recovery area without all the extra monitors and oxygen mask.  My sister was able to meet me there, and it wasn’t much later that we were able to leave.

My mom met us at my house, and together they helped me get into bed.  The power was out.  My sister lit some candles.  We had forgotten to buy ice packs prior to the surgery, so my mother left to get them and came back with some Taco Bell for me – two bean burritos with no onion and extra cheese.  I got out of bed later to watch Parenthood. And then I went back to bed.  Still no pain, for that wonderful nerve block lasted over two days.

Moral of the story: nerve blocks are awesome.

 

 

 

My Happiness Project

1. Set a bedtime.
2. Make my bed every morning.
3. Always be reading something.
4. Move more.
5. Toss and organize.
6. Give proofs of love.
7. Leave the past.
8. Fight right.
9. Don't expect praise or appreciation.
10. Kiss more, hug more, touch more.
11. Aim higher.
12. Find some fun.
13. Ask for help.
14. Smile.
15. Realize it's possible.
16. Don't compare;be inspired.
17. Focus on what I have.
18. Beware of drift.
19. Take a chance.
20. Listen.
21. Be mindful.
22. Cultivate gratitude.
23. Spend out.
24. Do good, feel good.
25. Show up.
26. Have the courage to be imperfect.
27. Find joy in the ordinary.
28. Work smart.
29. Enjoy now.
30. Talk to strangers.
31. Go outside.
32. Start where I am.
33. Show up on time.
34. See art everyday.
35. Love with abandon.
36. Be colorful.
37. Dress the part.
38. Revel in accomplishments.
39. Learn something new.
40. Fear less.
41. Take pictures.
42. Speak with integrity.
43. Don't be critical about small things.
44. Manage my pain.
45. Surround myself with creative people.
46. Practice, practice, practice.
47. Don't force it.
48. Deal with something once.
49. Trust my instincts.
50. Avoid gossip.
51. Choose to see the best in people.
52. Take time to be silly.
53. Throw my own party.
54. Be a mentor.
55. Lean into my fears.
56. Find the others.
57. Do the unexpected.
58. Don't break the chain.
59. Do things others aren't.
60. Slow down.
61. Be cool with not being cool.
62. Be kinder than necessary and more generous than reasonable.
63. Pretend I'm good at it.
64. Keep in touch.
65. Row my own canoe.
66. Do what only you can do.
67. If it doesn't work out, find something that does.
68. Dream bigger.
69. Notice what's right.
70. Stop talking. Start doing.
71. When in doubt, choose laughter.
72. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
73. Respect everyone.
74. Be early.
75. Delete the unnecessary.

Three Simple Rules

1. If you do not GO after what you want, you will never have it.
2. If you do not ASK, the answer will always be no.
3. If you do not MOVE forward, you will always be in the same place.

All I Need

1. Someone to love.
2. Something to do.
3. Something to hope for.

What I’m Reading

Blood Meridian
by Cormac McCarthy
Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston

U.S. States I’ve Visited

Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
Colorado
Georgia
Florida
Louisiana
Maryland
New Mexico
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
Texas
Utah
Virgina

Countries I’ve Visited

Mexico
Colombia
Thailand
Vietnam
Bermuda (British territory)

I write about…