My Best Parenting Advice: Find a Place You Can Shut the Door!

Your house will soon be filled with the constant sounds of "mom, mom, MOM!" yelled from across the house for no apparent reason. You will be in the middle of any phone call or conversation with another adult, and someone will pull on you to ask to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW! Your shower will no longer be a sacred place, but will be an open house for anyone in the family to walk in asking why there is no orange juice in the refrigerator. You'll have a day where you feel like Wonder Woman, because after a decade, you've finally gotten this mom thing down, but within an hour everyone in your house will be melting down. Including you and the dog.

Believe me, you need a place where you can shut the door.

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I Do Not Have It Together

Today my sweet friend reached out with a note that said something like, “Please consider writing about how you balance your career and family life. You always seem to have it all together.”

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. This is a mom who I want to be more like. She is truly among the best examples of motherhood I’ve been blessed to witness. But on this point, she’s wrong. And hilarious.

I do not have it all together. My life is never in balance.

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12 Loads of Laundry

My oldest stepdaughter has this really sweet way of finding me in the midst of doing housework, when the other kids are off playing. Her bids for attention are quiet, sincere, and patient. I'll be in the middle of work at the kitchen table, making a meal, cleaning the kitchen, or doing laundry, and she'll come in and almost silently sit or stand near me until I ask if she needs something. Usually she'll answer that she's just "hanging out", and then waits for me to engage, which I always do.

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Go down the water slide!

I waited in line patiently after the five-year old in front of me, looked to the life guard for a nod of "okay", and zip, splash, into the water I went. Down the water slide. 

Yes, I was "that" mom, the weird, goofy one who got into the pool with her kids. The mom who did handstands in the deep-end, raced her kids across the pool, threw rings to be found at the bottom, and actually went down the water slide. I was in fact, one of only three moms that got in the pool today. And honestly, I don't totally understand it.

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A New Image for the Stepmom: Dance Recital Weekend

Across social media there are countless posts of children in tulle, bedazzled leotards, sparkled headbands, and giant bows. Moms and dads post photos as though their children have just opened on Broadway. These proud parents beam with excitement for their little people. And I love this.

But for this stepmom, this ritual of dance recital weekend feels like another reminder that I am not a actually their parent.

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Siri...What's the weather today?

So, like all newlyweds, last night as we were laying in bed my husband and I had a full in-depth conversation about the kids' outerwear and where exactly all their sweatshirts, sweaters, and jackets go. I joked during winter that I had a recurring order with Amazon to send weekly supplies of snow pants, boots and gloves. I think I may have to do the same with sweatshirts.  

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Best. Worst. Thankful.

When you're blending a family, you also blend traditions big and small, and the first few weeks I had unrealistic expectations about how meal time would go.  Eventually we settled into a pattern where we all ate at the same time, and roughly the same food.  It took me awhile to figure out that four out of five people will always eat whatever the dish is, but five out of five is just asking for a meltdown - usually mine.  We got through that, but we were still struggling at first with the dynamic of conversation, conflict and competition that came out of three kids trying to share, or not having space to share about their days.

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Four Days Maternity Leave

Turns out, there's no "What to Expect, When You're Expecting - a WHOLE NEW FAMILY".  I was good at being pregnant. (One time with my perfect son.  With no morning sickness. And a 45 minute labor...)  I could plan for that.  There were milestones, measurements along the way, checklists and rules.  None of that applies when bringing together two different families in hopes that they become one.  

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Will there be a wedding tomorrow?

I had this picture of my "bachelorette" party in my head. (Bachelorette exists in air quotes because I really don't think you get to claim this phrase when it's your second wedding, and certainly not in conjunction to the word "party" when it's daytime and the most scandalous thing about the event is inappropriate cupcakes that your best friend's husband made..)  

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