The Stepmom Club Series: Gina!

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I'm happy to bring you the next installment of The Stepmom Club Series today!

We are back with Gina, a stepmom of two (with a very unique custody schedule!) who's here to share her story 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!)

And without further ado, here is Gina's story...

-What is your name and general location?
Hi, I’m Gina from British Columbia, Canada. Originally from the Netherlands.

-How many stepchildren do you have?
I have two stepchildren. Both preteen boys!

-Can you tell me a little bit of background about your stepparenting story?
I met my stepchildren five years ago during my first visit to Canada. A year later I packed my bags and permanently moved from the Netherlands to Canada. Now, I have been a stepmama for almost 4 years and we have a 50/50 access schedule.

-What does your stepchild call you?
They have always called me by my first name.

-How/When did you first meet your now stepchild(ren)? Did you run into any difficulties bonding with them? (right away or just in general)
We met on a sunny summer morning during the local annual fair. It was perfect because the kids were excited for the parade to start so they could fill their bags with candy. With all these events going on, there was less pressure on our first meeting. The rest of the day was filled with running from one carnival ride to the next with friends, eating food and hanging out.

Getting to know someone takes times, the same goes for getting to know your partner's children. Don’t rush or force the relationship. I took my time and participated in all the things the kids loved to do. Plus it gave me a great excuse to jump on the trampoline as an adult!

-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 child?
It all depends on the situation and who is around when discipline is required. At first, most of the discipline was left up their dad. It naturally progressed to include myself as I got to know my stepchildren better and felt more comfortable in my role. Generally, I stick to ‘please clean your room / push the chair in / put your backpack away (why do I have to ask this every day?!) / yes, you need to brush your teeth every day. The heavier topics are left for my husband but I don’t shy away from these every once in awhile either.

-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?
Yes, I do communicate and have a relationship with their mom. She has been very open and welcoming to my role in her children's life. As co-parents, everyone gets along very well which has been so beneficial to the kids.

-How do you decide what things to do when you don’t have the child (when the child is with their other parent) and what things you want to wait to do until you have the child with you?
Within our stepfamily dynamic, this is pretty easy. When my stepchildren are with their mom this also means my husband is working out of the country. I have a full household one day and the next it’s just me and our dog. It’s typically 4 weeks on, 4 weeks off. When the kids are with us we focus our time on them AND get in some much needed adult time. With preteen boys I’ve found it so important to focus on the kids now more than ever. As I write on my blog, they are growing up so fast and soon they will be more interested in hanging out with friends than their parents. That’s why I’ve said screw it to household chores.

Once everyone is gone I get to live my ‘single’ life again. It’s not uncommon for friends to joke around and say ‘when your husband’s gone we get to hang out, then he comes back home and you disappear’. Luckily they all understand why and fully support me!

-Hardest/Most Difficult stepmothering memory?
I would say this was the first time reality set in and I realized I can be overruled at any time because I’m not their biological parent. This is a nice little reminder that you need to remember your place as a stepparent. Recognizing an uncontrollable situation like this and setting your expectations is all you can do.

-Best/Funniest stepmothering memory?
The laughs and memories we’ve made. Especially the moments when my stepchildren gang up on my husband with me. (all in fun, of course!) I call these moments my stepmom wins!

-Any particular resources (books, magazines, blogs, podcasts, etc) that have helped you along in your stepmothering journey?

I loved reading Skirts at War: Beyond Divorced Mom/Stepmom Conflict, because it shows two sides to a story. The mom and stepmom both recall events throughout their journey and how different they both remember or experienced it.

Another good book to read is Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships: What Works and What Doesn't by Patricia L. Papernow. This touches on the unique stepfamily dynamic for everyone involved, how to approach conversations with your partner about your stepchildren and the insider/outsider syndrome every stepparent experiences.

-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.
Find a group of stepmoms who align with your beliefs and values. Do this right away! But remember, you’re not looking for any bitching or bad mouthing the kids. This really doesn’t help anyone. What you’re looking for is a group of women who are positive, understand what you’re going through and are not scared to tell you how it is, even when you’re in the wrong.

-Do you ever get jealous that you aren’t the child’s biological parent?
No. They are my stepchildren and I’m perfectly happy with the relationship we have and what this means for us.

-What do you say when people ask if you have kids? (if you’re a stepmom with no biological children)
This entirely depends on the situation and how I’m feeling at that moment. However, 80% of the time I say I have two stepchildren.

-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”).
Honestly, nothing. When I first became a stepmom I was definitely worried about a scenario like this. What I’ve learned since is that my stepchildren don’t really care. I don’t remember them ever correcting anybody, so I don’t either. Plus, I can’t blame a waitress for thinking this. I have probably said the same thing to another stepmom at some point in my life without ever realizing it. It’s not the end of the world and it gives us a great opportunity to laugh about it afterward.

-How are you preparing for when the child might someday say “you aren’t my real parent” or if others say that to you?
I’m not saying it won’t sting to hear these words from my stepchildren, but this is an it-is-what-it-is situation for me. We all remember our own teenage years and what we said to our own parents. People can easily find your weak spot and who’s to say that they won’t turn around to their dad and say ‘I don’t need to listen to you, what do you know?!’

As to others saying it to me, please focus on your own family and thank you for pointing out the obvious because I really had no clue. Sarcasm intended.

-Was your now partner having a child or children a pro or a con when deciding whether to date and ultimately marry them?
After meeting my stepchildren it was definitely a pro. My husband should thank his children because they are probably the only reason I married him. I’m totally joking here! His kids have always been polite and respectful little people. I know this made everything much easier.

-Knowing what you know now, would you still choose to get into this relationship?

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.

1. I am well aware of how hangry I can get. I usually start my day thinking about everything I can eat all day long. Healthy snacks are a big part of this! 

2. My mom moved for love, as I did. We lived all over the world for my dad's work until he was to sick to work. 

3. I love how my world has changed since moving to Canada. There are so many things I do here that wouldn't be possible for me in Holland. Getting away from cell service to camp is one of them! 

Like what Gina had to say and want to connect with her further? Check her out here:

Thank you for sharing with us today, Gina!  

Did you like reading Gina's interview?  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!)

Thanks my friends <3   See you Wednesday!

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