It’s never too late for Making Together Better

The following post is inspired by BRICA®, whose motto is ‘Making Together Better’. It was written as an entry to win a sponsorship to the Type A Conference. Be sure to check out BRICA® on Facebook and Twitter.

It’s no secret that I became a step-mom at the age of 21. A step-mom to pre-teen girls no less.

It’s also no secret that raising these girls was a struggle for me. One that was filled with actions and behaviors that I am not proud of. After all, we were essentially growing up together.

Lastly, it’s no secret that those pre-teen girls have now grown into beautiful, amazing young women. Young women who I am immensely proud of.

Looking back, the biggest regret I have relating to my girls, was that I did not make enough time for us to just be together. I mean, it’s not like we never spent time together. Eating dinner as a family has always been a huge priority in our house, but really the occurances ended there. I always tried to be there for them when they needed me. I always worked behind the scenes, but that was my failure. Instead of stepping up and being proactive, I sat in the background and waited for them to come to me, which I’m sure just appeared to them that I didn’t care.

It’s through grace that I can recognize these failures and endeavor to correct them.
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Blended to School | Classroom Giveaway (ENDED)

I have a little secret to share with you.

The life of a blended family is complicated. Right, I know that’s a big shocker.

See, there are close to 12 years difference between my youngest step daughter and my oldest son. Trying to find family outings that all of us can enjoy is usually hard. If a place is perfect for the big kids, it’s not age appropriate for the little kids and if it’s perfect for the little kids the big kids are going to be bored. But there is a certain time of the summer that bridges the gap. You know the time I’m talking about; that time when mother’s everywhere breath a sigh of relief because the countdown has begun. The countdown to the end of fighting, the end of hearing that so dreaded phase, “I’m bored.” That’s right folks, I’m talking about Back To School time!

Back to SchoolBack to School shopping is a time when ALL of my children have a commonality. I get to sit, or rather stand, at the back of the shopping cart and marvel as my kids bond over pencil boxes, folders, and glue sticks. In years past I’ve witnessed my then 4 and 16 year old crack up laughing over not recognizing a pencil sharpener when they see it. I’ve been blessed to see my older kids become little ones again as they help their younger siblings pick out the coolest pencils or the most awesome backpack.

Make Back to School shopping a time when your kids can enjoy one another. If the kids in your household are closer in age than give them their own school lists and partner them up. Give them a budget for the supplies and then set them loose. (It’s probably a good idea to research prices first so you can set a reasonable budget.) I think you will be amazed at how they can work together as a team and have fun in the process. And if you are like me and your kids are further apart, still partner them up. The younger kids will look to their older siblings for advice and the older kids will being idolized. Now I’m not saying you won’t have any bickering because they are still siblings; but if you look at the experience as a whole it will be enjoyable.

With all the other complications of living in a blended family, the visitation, differing parenting styles, and child support, just to name a few; the last thing you need to do is add to the list.

Whether the age gap is 10 years or 10 months, let them enjoy this bonding time with each other because really, that’s what being a family is all about.

ClassWish LogoThe good folks at VolunteerSpot and ClassWish care about getting your school year and teacher off to a great start, that’s why they are offering Volunteer Spotone of my readers a $50 gift certificate for classroom supplies for your favorite teacher!

In a comment please leave the name of the teacher or classroom you would give the $50 in supplies to.

Tweet the following (please leave a comment and link to each tweet, allowed once a day)
“Start the school year right! Win $50 for classroom of your choice from @ClassWish @VolunteerSpot and @MadHatterMom”


Originally posted as part of VolunteerSpot’s Views on Back to School Bloggers’ Series. VolunteerSpot’s free online sign up sheets save time, eliminate reply-all email, and make it easy for more parents to get involved at school. Register at VolunteerSpot before October 1st, 2010 using promotion code “TeachersSave” for a chance to win $100 in free classroom supplies for the teacher of your choice from ClassWish.

A Rite of Passage?

high school drama

Photo credit: Dean Terry

I was reminded today why, for no amount of money, I would not return to high school.

My stepdaughter has been in a funk lately. We couldn’t figure out what was going on so this morning on our way to school we stopped off to get a coffee and I asked. Now mind you we had asked before and gotten the canned teenage answer of “I’m fine.” So I figured a coffee bribe would work. 🙂

Thankfully, she told me that she, essentially, has been having some self esteem and confidence issues because of a group of kids that think in order to feel good about themselves they need to make others feel bad. I have to say that I am so very proud of her for the way she is handling it but it is taking it’s toll on her.

During our conversation she asked me if I was teased in high school. Boy, did a flood of memories come back to me. Here is just the short list of things I got teased about:

  • Acne
  • Hairy arms
  • My laugh
  • My weight (I was a size 10. What I wouldn’t give to be that again!)
  • My car (hey, at least I had one!)
  • I have a big nose
  • Basically, anything and everything I did, said, wore, you name it.

I know, in my deepest being, that had I not had to endure this type of ridicule I wouldn’t be the person I am today, but it still hurt. High school is a time of self discovery and I feel like because I was ridiculed as much as I was, I turned to other things to make me feel good about myself. No, I didn’t do any drugs, but I did start exploring in sex at an early age.  I lost my virginity at the age of 16 and became pregnant before I turned 17. Sadly, that pregnancy ended in miscarriage after I witnessed my then boyfriend die in a car crash. So there was something else I dealt with much earlier than anyone should.

So, I again I lean back on my theory that I would not be the person I am without all these experiences happening during high school but then I think am I better off? I mean I am essentially the way that God made me, so in would lend true that no matter what my high school career dished out I would have become who I am.

As a parent I don’t want my children to endure anything close to what I did in high school. It saddens me to no end that my daughter is dealing with this in school, but then perhaps this is the path that He has laid out for her.

It brings me to my final question. Is high school a rite of passage or a means to the end?