Day 153 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project and the evening was spent celebrating my youngest stepson’s twentieth birthday. I spent the first part of the day resting up for the party after feeling under the weather the last few days. I knew I needed to conserve my energy for when all of the boys, including a few of their friends, came home from golfing ready to watch Sunday night football, eat enough for an army and trash the house like rockstars! We’ve functioned as a blended family for the last decade ever since their dad and I first met, and seven years ago I officially became their stepmom.

Being a big fat blended family has had its share of ups and downs. At the beginning, there was a lot of conflict when I redecorated the house, except for their rooms and the man cave, in an attempt to make it feel like ours vs. the one they’d lived in with their parents. Toward the middle, the almost thirteen year age difference between my oldest stepson and my biological son and how the older boys interacted with the younger one caused some challenges. More recently, I’ve had my feelings hurt when the boys inadvertently did or said something that reminds me that they love me in their way but absolutely adore their mother.

Then there’s the fact that my oldest stepson became a dad when my son was eight. Since I was still trying to get him out of bedwetting, I was nowhere near ready to become a grandma! I felt like I’d only been pregnant a short time ago myself. My compromise was becoming Mimi, a play on Tammi that feels endearing without going full-on grandmother mode. I love being Mimi and have a sweet relationship with Izzy where she comes to me first whenever we’re gathered because she knows I’ll not only meet her physical need for food, drinks, toiling help, etc., but I’ll dance, play on the floor and sing with her too. Even so, there are times when even she will behave in a way that reminds me I’m the stepmom to her dad.

Sometimes my husband’s actions or words communicate the fact that I’m not their mother just as loudly. I believe this is a challenge for many stepparents and find for us, it’s best if I step back and let the biological mom and dad handle most situations. Of course each family must figure out what works best for them…

Middle, Surrogate, Youngest (Birthday Boy), and Oldest Stepsons. Me, Stepmom/Mimi and Izzy.

Thankfully, I’ve experienced as many or more ups over the years as a stepmom than I have downs. My stepsons nicknamed me LT (Little Tammi) after Ladanian Tomlinson, an NFL football player, and apparently, it’s a compliment. They have had my back, championed, defended, and gone to bat for me. And they tease me mercilessly, which my husband says is a true sign of affection. Recently, when I announced I was having a yard sale, John, the birthday boy asked, “Can we put you in it?” I heard the smile in his question and responded, “I don’t think there’s a high demand for stepmoms.” His immediate response: “Oh, well, I guess we’ll have to keep you then.” Made. My. Day.

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Chick who’s been around since John was eight, James was eleven, and Jordan was fourteen, I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a stepmom. It has challenged, grown and stretched me in ways I wouldn’t have believed possible. I’m so proud of the dad Jordan has become, the man after God’s own heart that James is, and the confident, mature young man John is becoming. His father shared with me today that John has decided he wants to have his own athletic wear line. That was no surprise to me as I’ve always been aware of his artistry, attention to detail, good taste, eye for fashion, and entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve encouraged these in him because we have them in common. Or maybe, just maybe, he got them from his stepmom…

John’s 20th Birthday Party. Stepmom and Dad were the photographers. 

I’d love to hear from any other stepmoms – your sorrows and successes.

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach

Beautiful Birthday with My Big Fat Blended Family

Beautiful Birthday with My Big Fat Blended Family

My forty-eighth birthday made Day 68 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project a special one. Though we’ve been boating and tubing every summer since we became a modern day Brady Bunch, this was the first time we did it on a birthday. My incredible hubby is the master planner (and payer) behind this huge undertaking and blesses all of us beyond measure with the way he loves and cares for his family. My husband being thoughtful and showering me with attention on my birthday is the norm. Quite honestly, he treats me like a queen every day. So while the wonderful day on the water, flowers, and a card that was picked with such obvious intention blessed me, I wasn’t surprised. So appreciative, but not surprised.

Youngest stepson, oldest stepson (w/wife and daughter), middle stepson, husband, surrogate son, and me, the Pink Collar Coach AKA LT (for Little Tammi).

Also, my oldest stepson (and his wife and daughter), my middle stepson and my surrogate stepson started giving me cards a few years ago as the guys grew. They did so today, with funny cards and a straightforward ones, both of which touched me tremendously.

The card from my  youngest stepson? Blew. Me. Away. First of all, as far as I can recall, he’s never gotten my a birthday card on his own. He usually signs one his dad or brothers got. Second, the card’s message itself was so kind, tender and thoughtful. I would never have imagined he’d take the time to find one so beautifully written that would speak to me the way it did. And finally, the fact that he took the time to write his own personal message almost moved me (and my hubby) to tears. His love and appreciation for me was spelled out so I’d have no doubt about it. Wow.

When I married their father, the boys were 17, 15, and 12. Now they’re 24, almost 22, and 19 ( the surrogate stepson is 26). I’ve never wanted to take the place of their mother (we have the same first name but with different spellings!), but the fact that I do hold a place in their hearts is one of the best birthday gifts I could have been given.

The bible tells us that the Lord sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6, NIV). As a divorced mom with very young children to raise on my own and without a supportive family, I was lonely for a while. And today, while there are still so many challenges with my biological children (with their father) and my wasband ( was + husband), I could have been lonely today. NOT.

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose chick second wife and stepmom, I feel especially blessed that I got to spend my birthday with my big fat blended family.