I am planning on sharing more about this past week eventually. Hopefully for Tuesday’s podcast episode. 

As I have shared about our sleep issues this week in my stories, so many of you have reached out saying you can relate to everything I’m going through and how I’m feeling.

Social media is funny because, people often feel validated and “normal” when  they read my posts and watch my stories... but, you guys make me feel validated and “normal” too when you share your stories in the comments and in DMs to me. It means so much ❤️

I am planning on sharing...

We’ll let you know 👍🏼

We’ll let you know 👍🏼

Why does dinner exist?

Why does dinner exist?

Every time I do something like this... (get in the bath tub with Milo when he’s refusing to get in) I can feel people rolling their eyes at me. 

I think people see me do these things and assume I’m doing it FOR MILO. I’m not. I’m doing it for my husband and I. We choose our battles. I know people assume if you do something like this, your child will expect it and you’ll be getting in the tub every night. That hasn’t been our experience with Milo. 

So, if he’s having an “off-night” and doesn’t want to get in the tub and me getting in with him makes it fun for him and he happily gets in, then I’m doing it. 

As someone who doesn’t feel like showering every day, I can relate to not wanting to get in the tub. 

I asked my husband to wash me too... he said no. 😞

Every time I do something...

Feelin’ hawt today. Sike. (Do we still say sike?)

Feelin’ hawt today. Sike. (Do...

The Mom Room Podcast: Episode 65 

Myths vs. Facts with @mommy.labornurse 

Liesel Teen (@mommy.labornurse) tells us about her birth experiences, how and why she started Mommy Labor Nurse, and sets the record straight about some of the most common pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum myths!

The Mom Room Podcast: Episode...

Genuinely curious.

Genuinely curious.

What a fun game! You just need a small nail clipper and two players. It’s the funnest if one player doesn’t have a fully developed prefrontal cortex! So many people tell me to cut his nails while he sleeps. I am just not that brave. I can barely breathe when he’s sleeping because I don’t want him to wake up.

What a fun game! You...

Five Challenges That Come With Being a StepMom: Grace’s Story

I didn’t grow up expecting to be a stepmom. It wasn’t part of the plan. But here we are. My name is Grace, I’m 29, a PhD student, and over COVID I became a newlywed and stepmom! My husband is nine years older and when we started dating, he had a 4-year-old boy and a 6-year-old daughter. Now 5 and 8, we have the kids at our house half of the time. Our original plan was to get married in June, take a two-week honeymoon, have the kids in school for one week, and then start our summer as a new family of four. Instead we were married in our living room in March, moved into a new house April 1stand began the COVID quarantine.

Life has handed me some of the best surprises in these unexpected twists and turns. It’s hard to think back to a time that these two little people weren’t a part of my life. I love them in an unconditional and limitless way. The kind of love that makes you want to watch them sleep and stroke their hair just thinking about who they might grow up to be. These last few months have brought the highest of highs, but also some major frustrations and challenges. Today’s blog post is about the 5 biggest challenges I’ve encountered in my first five months of step-parenthood.

The first of which is the suddenness of it all. I went from living on my own, sleeping in, with my only responsibility to myself and my mini-goldendoodle, to early rising, home bound with two kids. There was no honeymoon trip and no honeymoon period. It was as though I turned on a lightswitch with a heap of new responsibilities. It was less of stepping into a new role and much more like cannonballing in. Most of us expect to plan for a child, get pregnant, carry the baby for nine months, and slowly wade through all of the child development seasons, adding more children to the mix as we see fit (with some surprises). Jumping into life with two little people midway through child development has been a shock to the system. I sometimes (actually frequently) catch myself envying moms who get to start from the beginning.

How do I compare as a wife? How do I compare as a mom? As a cook? As a snuggler? As a bedtime story reader? Both in my husband’s eyes and children’s.

The second major challenge I’ve encountered is the comparison I find myself engaging in. How do I compare as a wife? How do I compare as a mom? As a cook? As a snuggler? As a bedtime story reader? Both in my husband’s eyes and children’s. I frequently receive the statement, ‘Mommy doesn’t do it like that’ or ‘Mommy uses the green polysporin because it doesn’t sting’ or ‘sing the bedtime song that Mommy does’. A first reaction is to let envy, jealousy, or frustration set in. When this happens, I try and have a calming breath and think about the many different approaches to parenting. I ask myself what strategies might be helpful to adopt from their birth mom, while trying to stay true to the mom I want to be and attempting to keep a cool composure with the kids.

Co-momming is an experience I doubt many women anticipate. Like it or not, you are on a team with someone you didn’t pick to be on a team with. It is not just a short-term partnership either, but a lifelong linkage. Never did I think I would need to justify haircut decisions, outfit choices, negotiate extracurriculars, or run anyone else by my puberty talks. I’ve thought it best to have a light friendship of sorts, allowing us to text quick questions, exchange photos, and keep each other in the loop. It has been a process of setting up firm, but polite boundaries, knowing that there is a reason my spouse is no longer with this person and acknowledging that we may have distinct and competing priorities.

Sharing custody is like being attached to an anchor. You can’t plan a month-long vacation, decide to move somewhere else, or take a last-minute ski trip across the border.

I grew up with amazing parents who instilled a love of travel and adventure. When my brother and I were 11 and 13, but parents (both teachers) took us out of school for the year to travel the world. I didn’t expect to replicate this exact trip with my family and children, but I did hope to include travel (spontaneous and planned) in our life. Sharing custody is like being attached to an anchor. You can’t plan a month-long vacation, decide to move somewhere else, or take a last-minute ski trip across the border. Instead, you can make the most of your time with the kids and try to bring the experiences to them.

I’ve read about other moms having experiences of ‘mom-guilt’. I can only speak to my experience with stepmom-guilt, but it has been a doozy. Guilt has been more pervasive than I would have expected. I frequently feel guilty toward my children, my husband, or both. When the kids leave to go to their other home, I sometimes take a sigh of relief, joyful to have some quiet and restore some order and cleanliness in our home. I also feel guilty when I compare our kids to the hypothetical ones I had planned, or the ones we hope to have in the future. I catch myself thinking that if my blood and DNA had been in the picture or my parenting involved from the beginning maybe things would be different. Maybe they would like to read more and have better listening skills or table manners. When these judgey thoughts come in, I get an overwhelming feeling of guilt. I realize my own arrogance and naivety in the situation. When we are, God-willing, able to have more children, I’m hoping that this expectation vs. reality tension may have some resolve.

One thing I know is that mom life of any shape or size is not easy! In sharing my experience as a stepmom I hope to make others feel less alone and normalize these tough topics and conversations in the mom community. I also want to end off by acknowledging the really incredible, happy-tear filled moments that come with being a stepmom. I encourage you to reach out, check in, and follow along my journey as a mom/wife/woman on my @_aplaceforgrace Instagram page where I share about tricky bits and lessons learned along my journey.

Grace xx

XOXO Renee Reina

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Navigating COVID with a Newborn: Courtney’s Story
Five Challenges That Come With Being a StepMom: Grace’s Story