Bonus mom you ask? Well, let me explain. A bonus mom is a stepmom in a blended family where the children not only get to be with their biological mom, they also get to have a bonus mom in their life, in this case, ME!
I sit and patiently wait, with only an hour until the boys arrive. I have cleaned, dusted and arranged the knick knacks just so. I have decorated their room with sports posters and toys. Fresh flowers are in the kitchen and my hair and makeup is done! I AM READY! I got this!
I am no stranger to blended families. I have grown up watching blended families through my extended family and friends. I have always been extremely intrigued by them, how they seem to flawlessly meld together and seamlessly blend to become one. Now, under no circumstances is it always easy, flawless or fun. Nor can all blended families say that they get along. I have experienced my fair share of hardships with being part of a blended family. However I choose to focus on the positive and always stay true to my character and look for the silver lining in each and every situation.
As I think back to the first day I met my husband, I am overjoyed and full of gratitude, as he has been a true blessing in my life. He is my best friend, and I would not change a thing… However on our first date, we were strolling along the streets of downtown Toronto, and he turned to me and said, “I have 2 boys”… At that time in my life I was young and immature, floating around in the world with no cares and no life plan, and I quickly responded “I don’t date guys with kids”.
I’ll never forget that night, it was Nuit Blanche [My favourite Day of the Year] and I felt like love was in the air. We walked, talked and laughed. Boy did we laugh!…
We had breakfast together the next morning and were inseparable for the next two weeks. It was in those days that I realized I had become a bonus mom!
The boys had arrived, I showed them their room and all the ‘cool’ things I had picked out for them. I was so proud of how well organized I was and how prepared I felt. Within 3 hours everything that I had thought and prepared for was quickly fading to a distant memory.
I frantically thought, my house is NOT child friendly!
I had to forfeit the fancy ‘do not touch’ hand towels. I put away the white throw pillows and the large number of breakable knick knacks that I had accumulated over the years. Plastic cups, unbrushed hair and eating at the sink was my new normal, and this was only day number two.
I used to think my parents were making up all the quirky stories from when we were kids, but I now realize the stories were true. I honestly laughed so hard at the amount of times I had to say, ‘no you can’t stick that up your nose,’ ‘please put on underwear before we leave the house’ or ‘no you can’t download another app or buy V-bucks on Fortnite’…. NO, Fortnite is not a night where you build forts out of the couch cushions in the living room. I quickly lost my ‘cool’ factor after that question.
What made me laugh the most is when I would slip upstairs to the bathroom, and without fail, every time there would be a knock at the door and a little voice asking some kind of honest yet funny question. Why now? I would think, you haven’t needed me or spoken to me for the last 15 minutes and now you have gotten up, come upstairs and found me at the exact moment that I am ‘handling my business’… It is like they are the sheriff and have a radar that detects when you need a personal moment, which apparently is not allowed lol.
As a woman, when you carry life through pregnancy, you are naturally given the tools to fill the role as mom. Your body actually produces hormones that change the chemical makeup of your body in preparation for motherhood. Now, bonus motherhood is an almost instant role that we accept, where we are relying on our education and instincts to guide the way. There are no chemical changes or hormones to help the motherly instinct kick in. I love kids and enjoy being around them but when you have only hung out with adults for the majority of the last 15 years, you quickly realize how out of touch you are with these amazing little humans.
I am honoured to be the bonus mom to these absolutely wonderful young boys. I think about them non-stop and want nothing but the best for them. I constantly think about their future and if we are setting the best example for them. I try to remember that WE are the parents and what we say goes, I feel like it was just yesterday that I called my mom asking for her help and advice on life, oh wait, IT WAS!… lol.
Parenting, in my experience, is learning as you go, gathering information and multitasking.
We have recently made the decision to have our oldest son come live with us for a year, so he can experience everyday life with his father. The boys live in Texas and my husband has been working in Canada ever since the boys were born, so having their dad away has been the ‘norm’ for as long as they can remember. Now that the boys are getting older, we all feel it is necessary that the boys have the opportunity to live with us so they can have a strong male role model guiding them into their adolescent years.
Life Lessons From a Bonus Mom:
Lesson #1: The kids may have jelly on their face, be wearing their PJs in public [which I didn’t even realize until their dad asked why], and have not brushed their hair or teeth, but one thing I know their bellies are satisfied and their hearts are full of love. Remember what is important. It’s the quality time that counts, not how clean your house is.
Lesson #2: Communication is key. Communication between ALL parents is required. Consistency between households keeps the routine alive and allows for an easier transition between visits. The first conversations between the boys, their mother and I were tense and awkward. However, I understood that any mother would and will be [over] protective of her children, and It was my job to reach out and show my willingness and consistency to being a part of the boys lives.
Lesson #3: Kids get #Hangry too! If you’re hungry they’re hungry…
This I learned the hard way. I asked every hour on the hour if they were hungry. No, was the answer every time. Within 10 minutes of getting to the park they were grumpy, pouting, arms crossed and not talking…. They were hungry! Pack snacks and always have snacks! Yes, I know, so simple, however when you are not in the routine of doing this, you don’t do it.
Lesson #4: Be YOU! Don’t be who you think they want you to be or try to be their best friend. Be yourself, be strong yet fun. Hold your ground but be calm.
Lesson #5: Always be teaching. This is my favourite part, because no two families or households are alike, and there is no better gift for a child than knowledge. Teach them and give them opportunities to learn and to grow. Show them by example that being open minded to others and their way of life can be fun and exciting.
No two bonus mom stories will be the same, just as no two biological motherhood stories will be the same. Motherhood might be a bonus mom, or a single mom. Motherhood can be having multiple children and running a business, traveling and taking time for yourself to workout and feel good. Motherhood can be sexy, stylish clothes, bold lipsticks and being domestic all at the same time. Being a bonus mom gives me another avenue to share my passion for leading with love and an opportunity to help foster love and acceptance within our youth.
No matter what your ‘mom’ label is, know that you are a strong bad ass women with the right to have it all. Every child needs a mom, a bonus mom or a strong female role model in their life. It takes a community to raise a child, so together we will save our future by nurturing and teaching the youth of today.