My Little Girl’s Dad

Since my husband subscribes to my blog, but seldom reads it, I feel pretty confident about talking about him today.

In all honesty though, it would save him from hearing the same stories over and over again. When I start to repeat myself, which I do often, he could always say, “I already read it”.

So since this is something I would never bring up to him anyway, this is perfect!

I want to talk about my husband’s and daughter’s relationship. He is her step-dad. Even though he’s known her since she was two, she’s always known he’s not her biological dad.

I remember when we were dating she would be so jealous of Smart. She would ask if she could call him dad too. We would never let her. It wasn’t appropriate, but boy was she excited for that first Father’s Day we had after we were married.

I was quite surprised how she reacted to it. It was obviously more important to her than I thought. When I asked her about it she said, “It’s my FIRST Father’s Day!”

Well, I guess she was right. I never thought about it, but she’d had no contact with her bio dad, unlike her older brothers who saw their dad three weekends a month.

So having a dad was a big deal.

Over the years I’ve watched the two interact. And I’m not proud to say this, but I just thought…

– Wow, hon. You’re not a very good little girl’s dad. You’re a great little boy’s dad, but being a little girl’s dad? Not so much.

He’s just rough with her. Not physically, but with his words. I mean he can be rough with anyone, so it’s not like he’s singling her out. But I just felt she’s a girl, and he’s being pretty harsh.

But recently, I’ve noticed something happening. She’s eleven now, almost twelve. And boy is she sharp as a whip when someone tries to tear her down with their words. She doesn’t let them hurt her easily. She didn’t get that from me. Not me at all.

Now, the flip side to this, is she is ruthlessly sarcastic and annoyingly sassy. Both qualities that suck for her parents, but will serve her well as an adult.

Then it hit me. He’s an AWESOME little girl’s dad!

I mean, look what he’s taught her. How to stand up for herself. How not to be so sensitive to what people say. How not to take things so seriously.

He loves her and gives her just as much crap as he gives the boys. Who better to talk crap to my little girl, than someone who does it with love? 

The world is going to do it to her, and it doesn’t give a rip about her. He’s not trying to hurt her. He’s making her tough. He’s giving her skills to protect herself.

Now, I don’t think he’s conscious of what he’s doing. He’s just a natural dad with a wife who tries really REALLY hard to stay out of his way.

This weekend we had his family over for Gamer’s birthday, and as I watched and listened to my sister-in-laws talk and interact I thought, I bet no one pushes them around. And their daughters included. 

They ALL learned this thing, I don’t know what it’s called, from their dad.

It’s what dads teach when their kids have to live and breathe in a world that’s not always so soft and gentle and sensitive with it’s words or how it treats people.

What an awesome family to be apart of. What an awesome quality to pass down to my daughter.

So recently, he tells me he’s going to run across the street to talk to the neighbor.

Our daughter tells him, “I’d walk, if I was you.”

I looked at my husband, “You know she gets that from YOU.” 🙂

I’m so glad she does.

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How it’s Suppose to Be

It’s been five months now, that Tunes has left our house. I miss him a lot.

A few weeks ago my husband cleared out his room. It was time. What he didn’t take with him are packed in bags and secure in our garage.

We played around with ideas about what to do with his room. I even briefly dreamt of a craft room for myself, but know I still have too many kids at home for that.

Ultimately, we decided to separate our next two oldest boys. They’re both in highschool now and could use the space and privacy. It was a good decision.

When the room was cleared out, my awesome husband also patched his walls and painted. This last weekend he ripped out all the old carpet that came with the house when I bought it, and laid down the same flooring he installed in the other public areas of the house. It looks very nice, very clean.

We bought some room darkening shades he’s going to install and he mentioned we still needed to buy a ceiling fan because it got so hot in there while he was working.

I agreed. Tunes often complained how hot it was in his room.

(Deep sigh.)

I told my husband I loved everything he’s doing to the room. It looks great, but it also upsets me.

He immediately tried to console and told me what he was doing in Gamer’s room, he also planned to do to the other kids’ rooms as well.

That wasn’t it.

This was Tunes’ room. For eight years my little boy slept there, changed there, was sent there. He lived there. It was his.

There were holes in the wall where he hung his TV up, only to move it and to move it again.

There was a big pink stain from some kind of an experiment he was working on that he couldn’t get cleaned up, or hidden.

The curtain rod was wobbly and bent from all the weight of the many blankets he would drape over it to block the light out and then, since his bed was up against the window, would lean on and pull down. I swore he was going to fall through that window some day.

I just feel sad. I feel I let him down. I never got around to making his room nice before he left. I wanted to do that for him. Just like so many other things I wanted to do for him but didn’t. He was in too much of a hurry to get out.

I hope he knows I would have. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, or didn’t think he was important. I just thought I had more time.

I didn’t leave “my” house until I was 23. I was working and going to college. But by then, my mom had already left. My parents were on the path of divorce. Which was fine with me. She had lived there, but really she had been gone for years.

Maybe that’s the difference. I’m here. I’ve always been here. I’ll always be here.

I don’t know. Maybe this is the way it’s supposed be.

He’s doing really well, from what he’s told me. He’s struggling, but managing.

Everything he’s doing just seems really scary to me. I’m glad he’s not controlled by my fear. I’m proud of him for facing his own.

Today, Justice came home from his dad’s and saw what has been done to the room. He joked with me and asked,

“Hey mom, what’s Gamer doing in Tunes’ room?”

Yeah, I don’t really know. But I’m happy for him. I’m happy for them both.

Communicating

My pastor and his wife came to pick my daughter and I up early, one Saturday morning. We were going to a couple of house dedications for Habitat for Humanity. As I entered the vehicle, he immediately handed myself and his wife a sheet of paper that had the time, date, and location of the houses we were going to speak at.

As we drove off we laughed, and joked and kid, about life and what was going on in it, when suddenly my pastor asked for my address.

I froze. I thought, what an odd question considering he just picked me up from there. I got about half way through my home address before it hit me, he meant the address of the house I was suppose to talk at for the dedication. We all started to laugh.

It was funny.

My son went to his dad’s house wearing a shirt that was too small, stained, and honestly was just weird looking. His step mom text me commenting about the shirt, saying Fun says he doesn’t have any clothes over at my house so she’s going to send some shirts back with him.

I was stunned and furious (with Fun) at the same time. I thanked her for the offer, but explained the child had plenty of clothes. He just chooses not to put them in the dirty hamper to get clean, so when it’s time to go to his dad’s, he has no clean clothes that fit.

Not so funny.

Communication is so vitally important to any relationship. It is easy to hurt someone’s feeling over a lack of communication. There is the potential for so many misunderstandings because we don’t know how to talk to each other.

How many times has a there been a broken relationship because of it?

I know, for myself, my first marriage disintegrated because we didn’t know how to communicate.

We just didn’t do it right. We didn’t talk. We didn’t speak up when feelings got hurt. We didn’t stop to explain our reasoning behind something. We didn’t listen. We assumed the other should have known, they should be able to read my mind by now.

For whatever reason, communication just didn’t happen.

So now I find it funny, two people who sucked at communicating one-on-one, find themselves in a second marriage with kids and step kids and exes (possibly two) and a new spouse.

No wonder second marriages have a low success rate. If two people could not communicate the first time, what makes them think this second time…with more variables, is going to be any easier?

Now we have kids’ schedules to arrange between school, and home(s), sometimes work. Half days, and holiday breaks. Activities they go to. Grandparents to see. Homework to do. Projects to get done. School supplies to be bought. Doctors’ offices to be visited. Churches to attend. Friends to play with. Birthday parties. Christmases.

UGH!!!

For the sake of our family, marriage, kids and our sanity we have to, really have to, learn how to communicate if we’re going to make this all work.

Here is a list of my suggestions I have found to be helpful when trying to communicate with my new family, and blending this mess.

– Talk
Never assume the other person knows stuff. Even if you’ve already told them, tell them again. And don’t be upset with them if they forgot. At the same time, don’t get upset if they tell you something again, and again, and again. Getting upset does not help with communicating.

– Listen
Listen to what the other person has to say, even if you don’t like them, can’t trust them, it takes too long, or you already know. Don’t interrupt. Don’t rush them. Be mindful.

– Assume the Best
Assume this person means no harm. Assume they love your children just as much as you do.

– Encourage
Use kind words. Build them up. If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say it. Don’t even think it and certainly if you can’t say it to them because it’s not nice, don’t say it to anyone else.

– However, You Can Express How You Feel
Use “I” statements. “I feel disrespected when you pick up and drop off the kids without telling me in advanced.” “I feel you don’t care as much for Peter and Mary because you don’t ask them about their day, like you do with James and John.” Instead of, “Changing the kids schedule without notifying me is disrespectful.” Or, “You don’t even try to care for Peter and Mary, because they’re not your own kids.”

– Avoid Words Like Always and Never.
Seldom does someone ALWAYS wait until the last minute to do something, or they NEVER help around the house. It takes just one time to turn you into a lair and now a battle of honor is about to pursue.

– Keep Your Emotions Out of It
Do not text, email, or call while you are angry. Walk away. Figure out why you are so upset. Calm down. You want to respond, not react. Usually our first impulse is to show them how we reacted to their message. They don’t need to know that. It’s often not pretty and not how we want to be viewed. Instead, don’t say anything. Process your feelings. Talk to someone to help get all your reaction out. And then respond maturely, calmly, and respectfully.

– Don’t Let Them Turn You into a Person You Don’t Like
It would be better to not say or do anything at all, than to say or do something you are going to regret. Stay true to you, and don’t give them that power over you.

– Do Not Ignore
Do not throw your hands up in the air in defeat, saying, “I just can’t communicate with this person.” Figure it out. Even if they do everything wrong; for your marriage, and your kids, figure it out. If it was easy, you probably wouldn’t be divorced in the first place.

– Practice Grace and Mercy
Everyone messes up. It is not unusual for people to suck at communicating. You don’t need to remind them. You don’t need to tell them how horrible they are at it. Assume they are learning. Assume they are practicing. Assume you suck at it too!

I am confident there are many more good tips to consider. These are just a few I try to practice and fail at, daily. Maybe they can help someone else too. Maybe you have some to share with me.

Until then, happy blending and keep communicating!

Faith in God, Who Gives Crazy Ideas

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – Matthew 5:9

“So, I got this crazy idea”, is usually how most of my projects have started out. They are usually followed up by, “Oh, you can’t do that Kim. It won’t work.” which then of course, THEY DO!

So this, I’ve learned has become the formula for when God is asking me to do something.

It starts off as an idea I think is absolutely not possible, and not only can’t see how it’s going to work; I don’t want to be the one doing it.

“No. No. No. God, what are you going to make me do? ” He pushes me outside my comfort zone, every. single. time. It sucks.

I do not want to host an ice cream social for the community. I do not want to knock on all my neighbors doors, to invite them to a block party. There is no possible way I can collect enough plastic bags and then make sleeping mats for the homeless, that would be enough to serve in any significant way.

All of which are done in the spirit of loving God and loving others (Mark 12:30-31), being a light to the world (Matthew 5:14), and making disciples (Matthew 28:13).

But it’s all about trust, right? Having faith.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. – James 1:22

Oh my gosh, Lord, what are you going to make me do now?

He doesn’t always give me the whole plan of how I’m going to pull it off, but he usually always gives me the excitement that comes with it before, rather than after. I see his vision. And I get so excited!

Then, in my excitement, I announce my crazy idea, and time and time again, it is followed up by people telling me it won’t work, or I can’t pull it off, or I’m crazy.

Oh, I know!

They’re not being mean, or unsupportive, they just know me really well. And they’re right! I can’t do any of these crazy ideas. But with God, I KNOW, I can (Matthew 19:26).

He gave me a vision. I can’t see how I will get there, but I can see what it looks like in the end. And I usually have the best time ever!

So, with that…

I GOT A CRAZY IDEA!

How do I know? Well, I’m terrified, for one, and I’ve already heard, “It’s a great idea, Kim. I just don’t know how it’s gonna work. People aren’t going to want to come. Most will not be ready for it.”

I can’t tell you how I got this idea. I can’t really remember when it started to grow, but I know with all my heart it’s something worthy and honoring to God. I can’t, not try.

When I went back to college to earn my degree in Christian Studies, people asked what I was going to do after I graduated. I told them really I had no idea. I was ok with it, because I knew God had a plan but if he had revealed it to me at the time, it would have completely freak me out.

We’ll guess what? I think this may be it!
We are The Peacemakers.

It’s working with moms who have had a child or children with an ex-partner who remarried, and now has another woman who is involved with her child’s life; the step-mom.

Yes, I’m aware that divorce is not biblical. But it is, however something very prevalent in today’s Christian churches. So why instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water, and not talking about this population of parents, as if it is taboo; why not see how we can bring them together in unity, that is God honoring, and show the world the power of Christ’s forgiveness, compassion and love, for the sake of their children?

The goal is to be able to put aside difference, FOR THE CHILDREN. It’s not to become best friends. It’s not to restart a relationship with an ex. But it is to be able to come together to co-parent so their children continue to feel safe, secure and loved by both sets of parents.

Many times, most of the time, probably all of the time, the step mom /ex wife relationship is sabotaged from the beginning because of one thing…the ex.

They may be completely lovely people but already don’t like each other. There is a barrier that immediately goes up. They are the enemy.

They don’t even know each other, and yet they share two very important things that should bring them together, instead of pull them apart; the children, and a relationship with their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

They may not go to the same church, but they may go to a church somewhere. So why then, can’t they work through this, if they claim to be followers of Christ?

It is almost an “ok” thing, to not have a relationship or even to have a bad relationship with an ex and ex’ wife. It is understood. It accepted. It is never talked about at church. It is never addressed, but yet ex-wives and step moms go to church every single week.

For whatever reason, a traditional single family unit is no longer a possibility, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try for the next best thing.

Therefore, I propose we come together for the best interest of the children.

The children, who by the way, are God’s children. Why would he not want this?

So with that, I’ve met with my pastor, and I’ve been interviewing friends; some of which who share children, and some who have counseled moms who do. And I’ve been collecting a lot of great ideas as to what THIS could actually look like.

My next step is to hit my Bible. I know, everything I need to know is already in there. My job is to drive in and find it.

I’m the lucky one. I get a double blessing. Not only in the end, I will be brining people closer to Christ, in the process I get to be closer to him as well! How exciting is that!

However, like any of my crazy ideas, I go into it with a lot of fear and hesitation.

After one of my interviews, I walked to my car and thought to myself, “Why are you doing this? It’s not going to work.”

What if both moms are not Christian? What if one or both are too wounded to focus on the children?  What if the step mom is the “other” woman?

But as quickly as my doubts came, I heard a voice inside me say, “They said the same thing about Girls’ Club”.

And like THAT, my fear went away.

This is going to happen. I don’t know how this is  going to happen, I don’t know when this is going to happen, but I know this is  going to happen.

I have faith in a God who gives crazy ideas, so that the rest of the world can watch and wonder, what is that? 

All for his glory, we will show the world.

And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. – Acts 2:44

I’ve Been Robbed

I feel like I’ve been robbed. Not physically, of course, but those kids, they take everything. 🙂

Oh I know it’s not their fault; they’re just kids. It’s all my fault, really. I went into motherhood believing it was a consequence, rather than a blessing.

They are the ones who take, rather than give. They were an obligation, rather than a gift.

Now that I have had a change of heart, I wonder how I could have raised my children differently.

Between the two of us, my husband and I have six kids. Six kids can be expensive, as you might assume. I often feel bad we’re not able to provide them with some of the opportunities that other kids in smaller families have.

People tell me all the time I should put my daughter in dance. I would love to be able to do that, but if I put her in dance, I feel I should put Fun in soccer, and Smart in baseball and, and, well if we put every child in something, we just wouldn’t be able to afford it.

I’ve always felt everyone should have the same. Everyone should be equal. It’s either all or nothing.

But then most of the time it means they get nothing. I hate having to tell them no all the time. But I also feel bad when I let one have something, or get to do something that the others can’t. And they know it, too.

“But that’s not fair!”

Now I know, life is not fair. But I’ve just always felt, in my house it should be. It’s my responsibility to make it be. But you know what? Fair doesn’t always feel right either.

So recently I’ve come across Matthew 20, again. You know, the parable of the vineyard workers? I’ve heard the story a thousand times, but I can’t say I’ve ever applied it to a real life situation.

That is until now.

Recap… A land owner goes into town to hire some workers to work in his vineyard for the day. He promises them a full days wage. Then again, at 3:00 and around 5:00, he goes into town to hire some more. At the end of the day, he pays everyone the same, and the workers who had worked the full day got pretty upset.

Do you know what he told them?

Should you be jealous because I am kind to others? – Matthew 20:15:b

I’ve spent my entire motherhood believing it was wrong to not enforce fairness. It was a sin, really.

Having a blended family has put even more pressure on me, since I would never want Mike to think I’m favoring my kids over his.

But honestly, I now realize I’ve been looking at it all wrong. Instead of judging me, I should have been training them.

I love them all, and I don’t show favorites but it really is OK if an opportunity presents itself for one child, and not for them all.

Should they be jealous because I am kind?

Sometimes one of them can get an extra soda, or go to a movie, or spend the day with grandma, and I don’t need to feel guilty about it.

I do, however, need to teach them to instead of worrying about my behavior, they need to start looking at their own.

Yes, life is not fair. And no matter how hard I try, life is not going to be fair in our house either. And by trying to make it fair, I feel like I’m being robbed of being kind.

My Husband

I was recently talking to Justice about anger and I was totally shocked when he told me Mike was the only man he knew, who didn’t lose his temper.

I told him, I know. I’m grateful when I do something stupid, he usually just laughs at me; not get mad.

This is something new to me. In my past relationships, if I had done something innocent, yet, stupid, I was berated, scolded, and verbally attacked. I was made to feel incapable, inferior, and cannot be trusted to do even small things like grocery shopping, cleaning or even to dress myself. I couldn’t do anything that didn’t bring criticism and name calling.

But this post is not about me.

It’s about my husband.

I’m so proud of him. I told him what Justice had to say about him. He was quiet for a minute and then he said, “He didn’t know me before.”

You see, I met my husband in CR. Celebrate Recovery is very much like a 12-step group, similar to AA, but God is our higher power.

He was there dealing with his anger. I was there understanding what codependency was.

We were a couple set up for disaster. We shouldn’t have worked out. And trust me, we were not encouraged.

And without Jesus, we wouldn’t have.

There is power in the name of Jesus. He has the ability to change lives. And he did.

I didn’t know him before, but I saw him in the midst of his change.

I saw him meeting with his sponsor. I saw him studying the Bible with his Forum of Four. I saw him helping, and serving. I saw his compassion. I saw his humility.

I saw him transform.

I’m so grateful for the man Jesus designed. I know he wasn’t designed for me. He was designed for Him. But he blesses me. And he blesses my children too.

Justice gets to see, he doesn’t have to be angry. He gets to see, he doesn’t have to lose his temper. He gets to see, what he knows, doesn’t have to be.

I no longer live believing a lie that I’m stupid. I no longer live in fear of being emotionally pummeled.

I now have a better understanding how much Jesus loves his church because I have an understanding how much my husband loves me.

We experience grace. We experience love. We experience the power of Jesus.

And now when I’ve done something so, so stupid like losing my glasses on top of my head, or leaving the the chicken out on the counter all night, or turning the knob the wrong way on the stove, I cover my face with my hands and I say, “I’m sorry, Honey. I think I’m losing my mind.”, he chuckles as he holds me and whispers, “I know.”

These Kids!

A time has come that I have just as many teenagers in the house, as I do, little kids. It sucks.

I have a kid who’s running a snack shop out of a second backpack that he takes to school. Mind you, this is not something I authorized.

He just took his birthday money as seed money and bought his inventory that rivals and prices that undercuts, the ice cream truck.

I found out today his net income is about $50 a week. A week!

HE’S NOT EVEN IN HIGH SCHOOL YET!

He has a log that he keeps track of his inventory in. He knows what’s going out and how much is coming in. Today, after stocking up on chips, he sent a mass text to all his customers informing them of tomorrow’s “sales”.

Seriously? Who’s kid is this?

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of him. But it does make me feel uncomfortable.

Being a single mom for so many years and then marrying and having to provide for even more kids, we never have had enough cash flow to trickle down in the form of allowances until just recently.

All of my kids, at one time or another, has wanted to start something to earn money. I’ve just never let them, in fear of them ripping off our community.

A few months before Christmas, I had another one of my kids snatch the opportunity during a Pampered Chef party, to go out and advertise his services for cleaning up pet waste and pulling weeds, before I knew what he was doing or could stop him.

The little booger was raking in $10 for two days of after school work, every two weeks.

This one’s not even in Jr High.

I kinda feel bad for my oldest. He never learned he could hustle too, just as long as mom never found out.

At seven, I caught him tying his Halloween candy to strings and selling them as candy necklaces for $1 outside our townhouse. Also caught him selling his Tec Deck skateboards for $6 a pop at school.

The issue I’m having now, isn’t that I’m afraid of them ripping someone off, but the power they think they have because they have money.

I’m having problems, particularly with my 14 year old retail entrepreneur and his 15 year old roommate, who think they are single college bachelor’s and can’t understand why they can’t have an ice chest in their bedroom to store cold soda, even though they KNOW they are not allowed to have any food or drinks in the bedrooms.

These two, who which are part of the reason we have a second fridge and freezer in a garage, that can’t be opened, unless by key that is hidden in my husband and my bedroom; thinks it’s unfair and doesn’t understand why they can’t keep their food in their room so others can’t get into it.

I say, then don’t buy it, if you think there’s going to be a problem. Sucks not being able to trust those you live with, don’t it.

After listening to them argue with, and complain about, and try to “reason” with me All. Day. Long, I tell them tonight we will talk to Mike.

After giving my husband the grueling details of my day, I call my two swindlers into our room to let them plead their case for an ice chest.

The one makes his request. My husband looks them straight in the eye, says “No.” And my son says, “OK.” and gets up to leave.

WHAT?!?

Wait. What?

All day long they gave me nothing but grief. I stood my ground. They almost had me swayed, but I didn’t. And these kids are mastermind manipulators!

“I’m over it”, he says. Well, I’m not! Oooh… I’m….going out for a walk!

Dear God in Heaven, this is a whole different game we’re playing now. These kids are getting smarter and more devious than me. It will be only by your grace that I won’t be out witted. So I continue to ask you for your help, your strength and your will to parent these delinquents.

May Mike and I always be a united force, no matter how frustrating I find it at times. May we continue to think as one. May we serve you well, as we raise your sons and daughter.