Hello my friends!
I'm so excited to be bringing you the next installment of The Stepmom Club Series!
Today we have Laura Edge, a mom and stepmom, with us on the blog today to share her stepmothering story! I've gotten to know Laura through our facebook group, and I'm really happy to have her here today!
(Would you like to be part of the project, too? Fill out this Google form and I'll get back to you with more information within 48 hours!)
I'm so stoked for you all to read Laura's stepmom story, so without further ado...
-What is your name and general location? (South, New England, etc)
Hi! My name is Laura Edge and I live just outside Madison, Wisconsin
-How many stepchildren do you have? (And what age and gender, if you’re comfortable sharing) If you have biological children, feel free to let us know about them here, too!
I have two stepchildren. Paige is 13 and Jackson is 10. My husband and I also have an “ours” and her name is June. She is 3.
-Can you tell me a little bit of background about your stepparenting story?
I met my husband Jason in 2010. I was 29. I moved in with him and the kids in 2011 and we were married in 2012. We met online and after stalking his social media I notice a pic of him in his car. I could see multiple car seats. At least two but could there be more?!? I soon found out about his 2 children. We currently split placement 50/50 with his ex-wife and her husband. They live nearby. We do 2 on/2 off, 5 on/5 off…not sure if that has a name. It works for us for now. We don’t have to do any transitions from house to house as they are all done through school days unless it’s a holiday or special situation.
-What do your stepchildren call you? If you also have biological children, how does the role of titles (ie mom and dad) work in your family?
Usually in reference they call me Laura but nicknames include Mamasita, Moms (with an s??), Mumma. June is starting to understand our family dynamic better and the nicknames have helped with her. They all call my husband Papa which we started when June was born. We have all grown to use it and love it. It seems to work better than Dad for them since they also have a “stepdad” and it just feels more comfortable. This has luckily always been pretty easygoing for us. We are accustomed to me getting called “Mom” in public, and give each other a smile and nod and go with it.
-How/When did you first meet your now stepchildren? Did you run into any difficulties bonding with them? (right away or just in general)
I first met my stepkids during a casual lunch at a local pizzeria. It wasn’t terribly awkward. Over time they came to understand that their dad and I were dating and the 4 of us began to spend more time together. They were young (3 & 7) so I feel bonding was more natural due to their ages at the time. As I reflect, I realize that I’ve been a stepmom to Jackson for more than two-thirds of his life. #mindblown
-How do you and your partner handle discipline/rules within your family? (Is it 50/50?) How do you and your partner make sure you are both respected by the children?
Without a manual or much discussion beforehand, I jumped into parenting full force. It came pretty naturally and I’ve disciplined alongside Jason from the get go. It works for us. A lot of stepparenting advice states to let the biological parent handle all of the discipline. I disagree. For us it has created a more powerful team and an equal playing field. I truly believe that the high level of respect I’ve earned from Paige and Jackson is because I treat them just like I would if they were biologically mine. Same rules and same expectations. I feel it creates fewer games and makes life easier for them. I also feel that sometimes stepparents can offer a more objective, bird’s eye view of situations, decisions, and discipline. I am truly thankful that Jason allowed me a few tough years to grow into my shoes of parenting. He stepped back sometimes to allow me to experience things I needed. It was messy and still can be but we’ve found a groove that works. He is the leader of our clan but I secretly smile when I hear him in the next room telling on of the kids to go “ask Laura” if it’s ok.
-Do you participate in communication/relationship with your stepchild’s other biological parent? (Not your partner) If so, how much and how do you maintain that relationship?
Jason handles most of the communication with his ex-wife. The day-to-day stuff. I will hop in and offer advice and my opinion on bigger ticket items. Usually by email but we do have situations where the 4 of us will sit down together when necessary. They had a rough split so it can still be strained but I like to believe that we all work on it and want it to improve. Her communication style is very different than mine and I’m still learning and adjusting what works best.
-How do you decide what things to do when you don’t have the children (when the children are with their other parent) and what things you want to wait to do until you have the children with you?
We live by a SCHEDULE. All. The. Days. This was one of the hardest adjustments for me. I remember in the beginning, sitting in countless hours of therapy trying to figure out why I was so pissed that I felt like my life was dictated by my stepkids. It's because it was. I chose it and had to get over it. I’ve improved my mindset but am still working on it.
We pick and choose what is important to do together and what is not. We plan holidays and vacations MONTHS in advance. This was a large adjustment for me. I was more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants…do what I want on a whim … type of girl. Before we had June we also spent a lot more time when the “big kids” were at their mom's house relaxing, going on dates, and traveling…but those dang babies…they change it all.
-Hardest/Most Difficult stepmothering memory?
My stepson struggles with some anxiety and behavior issues. Working through those effectively as a blended family has been challenging. We seem quick to blame each other for his issues which is zero-percent effective in helping him. Also, I’ve struggled with not being involved or in charge of his medical care and hearing most of the therapy session information and doctor’s advice secondhand.
-Best/Funniest stepmothering memory?
We laugh a lot and have done so many amazing things together as a family. Paige and Jackson are 4 years apart and have very different personalities - they constantly struggle to get along. Somebody sent me a picture of them holding hands…completely organically at our wedding. I keep it in my car. It was a beautiful day and a heartwarming image. #bestmemory
-Any particular resources (books, magazines, blogs, podcasts, etc) that have helped you along in your stepmothering journey?
Well this blog and our group is amazeballs! Laura Petherbridge & Café Smom are some good ones to follow. I’ve also dabbled in the #twitterstepmoms universe.
-What advice would you give your former self if you could send a letter back in time? Please write a short version of that letter here.
Hang in there. It will be worth it. You were meant to live this life. You have survived 100% of your hardest days - that’s pretty good.
-Do you ever get jealous that you aren’t the child’s biological parent?
Absolutely. It’s perfectly natural considering the amount of work we put in for the reward. It can be pretty uneven and comparison is truly the thief of joy. A happy stepmama needs to be strong in her own skin.
-What do you say when people ask if you have kids?
I say 3. Two older stepkids and a toddler.
-What do you say when a stranger (waitress or something like that) refers to you and your spouse as mom and dad? (ie “Ask your mom and dad”)
We just go with it. We rarely even flinch anymore or feel an urge to say anything, it happens so often. Especially since our toddler looks a lot like her siblings.
-How are you preparing for when the child might someday say “you aren’t my
real parent” or if others say that to you?
real parent” or if others say that to you?
This hasn’t happened to me yet. I imagine if it does it will come at a time when they are disagreeing with me or in anger. I have a response prepared… “and at THIS moment in time…I am glad that I am not” it sounds harsh when I type it but ooooh how effective for that moment.
-Was your now partner having a child or children a pro or a con when deciding whether to date and ultimately marry them?
I would say it wasn’t a plus but obviously wasn’t a deal breaker.
-Knowing what you know now, would you still choose to get into this relationship?
100% yes. My husband and I have a connection you don’t always get to experience in a lifetime. Everything that comes with experiencing and maintaining that is worth it to me. Being a stepmom has made me a better person in countless ways. I’ve learned more about myself on this road than any others I’ve been on before.
-Tell us three interesting facts about you that DON’T have to do with stepmothering. Also, please leave any blog or contact links below if you’d like that information to be featured here.
I am a yogi and fitness junkie.
I have a strong desire to become a professional paranormal investigator.
I could eat brussel sprouts every day.
Thank you, Laura, for sharing your family with us! I'm really happy you were able to be here on the blog today!
Did you like reading Laura's story? Want to read more in this series? Check them all out here!
(Don't forget that if you're interested in sharing your own stepmotherhood story just out this Google form and I'll get back to you with more information within 48 hours!)