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Welcome to our monthly feature, where one of YOU shares your story with fellow moms and stepmoms.
Meet soon-to-be stepmom, Korina!
NOTB: Welcome Korina!
When was your situation at its best and at its worst — and what was that like for you?
Korina: It was at its worst when I felt totally helpless. My step-son (7 at the time) had been diagnosed with behavioral problems. Not right in the beginning, but about 6-7 months into my relationship. I had no clue what the right thing to do was.
That was the longest summer of my life. I was always taught that bad behavior didn’t get rewarded, so needless to say, we didn’t do too many fun activities that summer. It was tough for me because I love the outdoors. I love going to amusement parks, camping, going to the park and so on. However, we barely did any of that.
We would have outings planned and then he would act up and we’d cancel plans for that day, and either his father or I would stay home with him, while the other one took his sister. I remember crying many times and asking myself if this is really what I wanted to get into. On more than one occasion I said, I don’t think I can live like this. However, I stuck it out.
But he learned self-control that summer. He turned into a completely different kid. Now when he is with us, we hardly ever have to speak to him about his behavior. Through this he learned that bad behavior doesn’t get rewarded, but good behavior does. I gave him the option and told him that it was his choice, and it didn’t matter to me either way. I think he liked being able to make that decision and now we have tons of fun together.
NOTB: Tell us a story about when something went comically wrong between the families.
Korina: Well I find it funny now, however, when it happened I didn’t think it was too funny. My fiance was on the phone with his kids’ mother and they were talking about something. In the background, his daughter kept yelling “Daddy, I love you!!!” so I’m sitting next to him, and he says into the phone, “I love you too.”
Well, immediately I turned and gave him the look of death, because as far as I knew he was talking to his ex-wife. She started laughing and said that he better explain to me what just happened, or else I was going to kill him. I was so angry, but now I can laugh about it.
NOTB: When your situation was at its best, what was that like for you?
Korina: My situation is at its best right now. It is pretty peaceful and we have all learned to get along. The kids (8 and 10) and I are very close. Their mom and I are also becoming friends. My fiance has even started a business with his ex father-in-law.
I have no problem hanging out with his ex-wife and her boyfriend. It is a little weird at times when we think about it and when I talk to people about it.
However, we all want what is best for the children and with us all getting along and them seeing that, it has made all of our relationships with the kids grow. They no longer try to play one household against the other, because we talk to each other now.
These days at my step-daughter’s softball games, her mom and I are standing there talking away, rooting her on.
NOTB: What changed?
Korina: I am not sure how everything changed, but it did. I believe the biggest part of the change took place when their mom got very upset with me, because she felt I was keeping stuff from her. I am my step-daughter’s Girl Scout leader and there was a celebration going on that I thought she had told her mom about, and I also thought I had mentioned it to her.
But she informed me that she knew nothing about it, and that she was her mother and should be there. I apologized for her not knowing, and told her again that I thought she knew. I never raised my voice or encouraged an argument, I just talked to her, apologized for the miscommunication and we went from there.
Through that conflict, it opened both of us up to talking about how sometimes both of our feelings are hurt. We became aware of how sometimes our words or actions hurt the other person, and I know that neither one of us wants to intentionally hurt the other.
NOTB: What changed in you?
Korina: Honestly, a lot!
When I began this relationship, I always said I didn’t want kids. I would never even date a man with kids, because I didn’t want to become attached and then have the relationship not work out. So this was a huge step for me.
I ended up joining some step-mom support groups online and found that I wasn’t the only one to feel the way I did at times. That it’s not a bad thing and I’m not a bad person to step back and say “They are not my kids.”
I love the kids to death, everyone knows this. I have a very special bond with both of them and they love me also. It’s incredible to feel love like that and to give it back.
I am the happiest I have ever been in my life.
NOTB: What are you most grateful for now?
Korina: I am grateful for my family. I look forward to watching the kids grow and become adults. I am grateful for the love they have for me and the love I have for them. They may not be my flesh and blood, but there is nothing I wouldn’t do for them.
I love my fiance and he loves me and I am grateful that I have him in my life. There may be some bad times, but with us working together and being here for each other, there is nothing we can’t accomplish.
NOTB: What do you think other people might be surprised to learn about you? Hidden talents or crazy interests?
Korina: I LOVE to play pool. I love to watch it and I loved to play it. But I haven’t been able to play in a few years because all the pool halls in my area closed down.
I also love animals: I own 3 dogs, 4 cats, and a tortoise. I have no kids of my own, but life is never boring with my furry kids.
I also enjoy writing short stories and doing crafts.
NOTB: What is the best advice you can give fellow moms and stepmoms?
Korina: The best advice I can give is just to talk to each other. Don’t yell and scream, just talk like normal humans. You may find out you have a lot in common.
Make sure mom knows that you are not out to replace her in her kids’ lives. And moms, understand that being a step-mom is very hard at times. You both have feelings. Do what is best for the kids.
If you have a problem with something the other one is doing, talk to them, don’t yell or start an argument, just talk. Tell them how you feel and listen when they do the same.
You don’t have to be best friends, but you are going to be in each other’s lives for a very long time. You can either try to get along and understand each other, or you can dread seeing each other and fighting the rest of your lives. I chose the first and hopefully you will too.
Also, you need to make special time for you and your husband. You both need each other and try to plan special things to do with one another.
NOTB: What is your hope for other divorce-connected families?
Korina: My hope is that they will learn to get along. It puts a lot of pressure and stress on the kids if they don’t.
My parents divorced and my father never spoke a bad word to my brother or I about our Mom. It adds unnecessary stress to the lives of these kids. Just understand that, and put your differences aside, especially in front of the kids.
NOTB: What prompted you to want to share your story?
Korina: I wanted to show the world that it is really possible for a mom and a stepmom to get along. For them to be able to go to functions and sit and talk and both be there for the kids.
Kids have it hard enough growing up in this world. They don’t need the added stress of their family at each others throats all the time!
NOTB: Thanks so much, Korina!
© 2011 Jenna Korf All Rights Reserved
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