Friday, July 29, 2011

The Step Relationship

I have written about this relationship before because it has had a profound effect on my family.  Not only do my kids have a step-dad with whom they live, they also have a step-mom (they never see because they live across the country).  These types of relationships can be hard to handle if there is not an open dialogue and communication where people feel safe to discuss life.  We have been through many...there is another bog for that!  But though our experience is as unique as we are, there are some similar threads that will run through most situations.

I was asked recently by a friend who is getting married, how the 'step' relationship works.  I asked my husband - the step-dad - to answer.
He said a few great things:
  • always have time together with the kids, this way they learn about your trust and relationship and see that interaction is easy
  • as the 'step' he is not responsible for discipline - that is my job. It is too much pressure for the start of a new type of relationship to be the disciplinarian too - it sends mixed messages.  (Now that this relationship is in its 10th year, there have been some changes in this, but not much....discipline is deferred to me, although he always gets his say in the process)
  • kids are smart!  No matter what age, they realize that this is new and that there is insecurity and they may even try to pit you against each other.  Take the moment and discuss the matter in private before handling it together with the child.
I thought this was good information coming from experience.  Hope that it helps my friend (and You) navigate these somewhat trecherous waters.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Peace of Heaven

Here is what summer looked like in our old home in Burlington Ontario.  We lived on a fabulous green-space with a great pool that we loved.  Even though we had a road close by, we thought of our back yard as a our little heaven.

Two years ago, we moved due to a job change.  We ended up moving close to our families and bought a house with another pool.  This time, there is no road nearby and we have both 'peace' and 'heaven'.

When all the disctractions of life and family and siblings comes into play, we have our place to escape - our own backyard - with a little garden (I am growing corn this year), the pool, of course, a fire-pit for late nite entertaining.....and it's all on an 'if-we-want-to' basis. 

When we lived away from the family, they would come to visit on the weekends - the house and the pool full pretty well every weekend in the summer.  That was fun!  During the week, my husband and I would find our 'peace' after work - with dinner and a glass of wine on the deck, a nice swim and great conversation - sometimes just us, many times with other friends that would pop in.  But it was peaceful.  And we found our time to connect and talk and grow together.  This was probably the best time to form our deep bonds and create the foundation for the relationship and life we live today.

Now, with family so close, I tried to replicate the weekends when we lived far away.  This was a huge mistake!  I felt exhausted and unappreciated.  So did my husband.  Now, we have gone back to the focus on our family and our space.  Sure, we participate in family events.  We also host events with our friends and even colleauges - to a different effect and a different result.  Things change - but peace and our heaven will not.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Reaction - the enemy of relationship

Interpersonal relationships and communication are what keeps the world going round. Never had I understood the development of teenagers into adulthood until my eldest son had an argument with his stepdad. The argument was 3 whole minutes long, with both stomping away.

Going to soothe the feathers of each,  my son says to me...'I know that I have a short fuse and I will try in the future it not react but be quiet, listen and then speak if I need to'.

WOW...insightful and developing self-awareness. He also decided that he needed to go back and have the conversation again.

From the other side, instead of blaming the aging teenager, the comment came out that 'I didn't handle that very well did I?'. I did not need to answer, again, the self-aware stepdad came out and said he needed to listen to all of the words, and share all of the information, eliminating reaction and moving to understanding.

Off they go to try again. God love them for not giving up!

Friday, July 8, 2011


Having lived my life with a fashion background, though some days you would never know it, today I surprised myself.

I was out shopping for my son who needed new shorts and is at that age where wants to dress like a young adult but the sizes do not yet match his body. So to the Gap I go...and they have cool shorts for him, in his size and on sale. Great. Mission accomplished.
Sure.....I walk by a store and see the perfect khaki skirt ....not too legs are short, not too short...I want it to be professional, has a sheen, looks great and who is on the window as the spokesperson but Amber Mac! I think she is a fabulous Canadian woman on the, savvy, entrepreneurial and just super! So, because of her, and only because of her, do I walk into the store andimmediately buy the skirt. That's it, that's all.

Now you are thinking, what does this have to do with life? Well, I never thought I would fall for the 'right' spokesperson for the product. I just believed that after 40 some years of life, this would have moved past me. Never take for granted the influences that are around you and how they may resonate with you in more ways than one. to see how the shorts fit....or am I in for another trip to the store.

Friday, July 1, 2011

People Can Handle More Than You Think

One of the things I have recently understood is that guilt comes in all forms.
It manifests itself in your actions, your words and the elimination of your power. Sometimes this is simply giving your power up or away.
I found that when I release this guilt - whether it's rational or irrational- I am left feeling lighter and my approach to life and all the situations that arise is much different, more positive, calmer and more open to accepting what is coming my way.

So I have decided to let others take on a few of the things that I believed only I could do.

Imagine, they can actually do it and they actually do it well. It gives me time to do what I need to do and I don't feel guilty about letting someone else handle things.
So is it perfect?
Is it the way I would do it?
Probably not, but I don't stand and watch either, because then I should just do it myself.
I have decided get over myself and let go of a few things.
It's good to realize there are others who can help.
And that they can handle more than we give them credit for.