I'm not your mom. I'm Chan

As we approach the fourth year of the Modern Woman Show; the blog team and I have decided to reflect on the last year’s growth and changes. For myself I have always found that your world can be turned upside down at a moment’s notice and we have to learn to roll with the punches.

Hand me a work issue, rental property mishap, or multiple chronic diseases, and I GOT IT (with a little wine and some grumbling).  Now, add a whole new dynamic with a little eight year old, call me dad’s girlfriend and see me squirm.  I’m a fish out of water. KIDS. Shit. This sounds scary. It’s a tough gig this ‘stepmom’ role especially when you don't have children of your own. You never really know how you will be accepted by the family, the existing friends, and most importantly by the kids. In what ways will this effect your future? Will you sacrifice your goals and plans? And don't forget the ex wife who might pop out of the bush at any moment - that is a whole other level of stress. What do you say? What do you not say? Don't screw this up! Everything is so delicate. 

It happened and now you're attached to the kid(s). You love them with all your heart and can't imagine life without them. But a nice dose of reality sets in. You are not their mother

Today i'm offering a little advice to those second in command. I'm not a counselor but I have had personal experience as a kid of a blended family and now in the reverse role. So i have compiled a little list of dos and dont's. 

* Support your partner’s parenting decisions. You are a united front. Offer feedback and conversation out of earshot of the children but remember that you are the co-pilot in this particular journey. Kids like stability, so provide that. You may not have your shit together but the kids need to think you do.

* Be a good listener and don't force the process of building a relationship – when you are yourself it tends to happen naturally. Kids feel the pressure of being loyal to their biological parents. Don't make it more stressful for them. This process does not happen overnight. 

* Understand and accept that your friendship is a valuable piece in this little humans upbringing and being a positive role model everyday will always have a huge impact on who they grow up to be. We all have gifts that can be shared with the world. Find those common interests. Mine happens to be love of hockey and Nutella by the spoonful. 

* This is not for the weak. It can often feel like life in the trenches. Unless you have been there you truly can't understand. Somewhat like an outsider. Especially so when you don't have children of your own. Keep open communication with your partner and it can be of great comfort to talk to someone who shares this same role.

* You can't fix what you didn't break and just KNOW that some battles can't be won or more importantly -shouldn't be won. Be supportive. Be kind. Be patient. Be honest. And sometimes going to the safeway starbucks to take a breather is needed. It can be your secret spot. Just make sure to save me a seat.

I really want to say kudos to all the stepmoms and stepdads, the girlfriends and boyfriends who accept the challenges of a blended family. It’s a tough job but you are nailing it. 

And remember...

LOVE MAKES A FAMILY

Chantal