Amanda–Newlywed & New Bonus Mom

Amanda postHey there! I’m Amanda. October of 2012 I became a wife to my dear husband, Rob. But that’s not all! On that same glorious day, I officially became a Stepmother ( we prefer the term Bonus Mom) to my sweet 10-year-old Bonus Daughter, Madeleine. Being a bonus mom hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worth every minute.

In our household, I am the structured one. I enjoy plans and agendas, and I may be a bit of a neat freak. Rob? Well, he is a “fly by the seat of his pants” kind of guy. Maddy is a silly, jumping bean, girly girl who loves to read and be crafty. Together, we make quite the entertaining little family.

Maddy lives in Georgia with her Mom, while her Dad and I live in Virginia. Her living in a different state is a relatively new dynamic in our blended family. This was a decision that was sprung on her dad and I in 2012, but we have come a long way since then and we are all adjusting to the move. Maddy visits with her dad and I one long weekend a month, a week(sometimes longer)at a time for school breaks and holidays, and for a month during the summer. We cherish these times with her more I could ever put into words.

This role of Bonus Mom that I have chosen to take on has taught me a thing or two about compassion, respect and patience.  I never would have imagined that I would be a Bonus Mom. Now I can’t imagine my life any other way. So, I would like to share a few tidbits of wisdom that I have learned in this short time that I have had the privilege to be a bonus mom.

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9 Things I’ve Learned in the First Year of Being a Bonus Mom

  1.  Always expect the unexpected: This can be wonderful– like the first time your bonus child acknowledges that they love you. Or it can be, eh, not so great– like the first time you are witness to a disagreement between your spouse and their ex. Awkward!
  2. Be prepared for some resistance: For some children, the transition to a blended family may be an easy one. For others, it may be a hellish time of readjustment. I got lucky in that my bonus daughter made the transition fairly easily. But I’ll never forget when she was six years old, crying on the way back to her mom’s house and asking her dad “Why can’t you just come back home and live with me and mommy?”
  3. Also, be prepared for a lot of love: Maddy’s love and consideration brought me to tears this past Mother’s Day. I couldn’t believe that she actually did something special for me! The hugs and kisses, and hearing “I love you Manda” always elicit such an incredible feeling in my heart.
  4. Make the most of those special visits: My husband and I only get Maddy less than 100 days out of the year. That is a lot of quality time that we try to shove into those visits. Plan fun activities, make dinner together, asks questions and talk. Do whatever it is that makes them happy and builds wonderful memories for them and for yourself.
  5. If you have the opportunity, be involved with their mom: Maddy’s mom and I have no real relationship. I am still trying to find the right way to bridge the gap that exists. My lack of a relationship is why I would encourage others to be involved with the other biological parent if circumstances allow it. Afterall, we all have a common goal in mind– keeping the children safe, happy, and loved.
  6. If not, then be highly involved with your spouse: My husband and I have a very open line of communication when it comes to Maddy. We talk about issue if they arise, we talk about topics surrounding custody and child support, and we talk about ideas, plans and suggestions as Maddy continues to grow up. It is important to me that our ability to communicate about parenting remains open and honest and I hope that one day we will all (Both of Maddy’s parents, and her Bonus Parents) be one cohesive co-parenting unit.
  7. Find your boundaries: Jumping into the role of the bonus parent is tough! Figuring out what your boundaries are as this new parental figure may require some trial and error. For me, it required a lot of conversation with my husband and with my bonus daughter. Eventually, I learned what worked best for us all and made everyone comfortable.
  8. Assert yourself and request respect: Sure, kids don’t always listen and respect their biological parents and it can be even worse for bonus parents. It is important to talk with your bonus children and express to them that you also deserve their respect and cooperation, just as you will give the same to them. This can be easier said than done, but it is an important step in the process of getting your blended family to, well.. blend!
  9. Love beyond words: This is the easy part. Once you get through the muddy waters of everyone finding their place within a newly blended family, all that is left to do is nurture those relationships. Watch them grow with all the love and support you offer one another. Tell your children and your spouse every day how much you love them and that you enjoy being a part of a blended family with them!

It has been a wonderful year of officially being a bonus mom to Maddy, but the journey through the last four years of watching her grow and accept me into her life has been a real treat altogether. I know that she has so much more to teach me, and I cannot wait to learn from her.

Amanda is a newlywed and the new bonus mom to Maddy, her ten-year old bonus daughter. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, while Maddy lives with her mom in Atlanta, Georgia. Everyone is still adjusting to co-parenting from different states, as this is still a new development with plenty of teachable moments. When she isn’t working, Amanda enjoys writing, cooking, and Photography. Learn more about Amanda: www.FromBonusMomtoBioMom.com and follow her on Twitter: @BonusMom2BioMom

Amanda

 

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