Category Archives: Step Parenting

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Don’t judge a book by its cover is one of my favourite sayings. 

You never know what someone is having to deal with. You don’t know what’s going on inside.

I remember the early days after I had lost Ethan, looking around and thinking that everyone who had a baby where lucky. That they had everything they wanted and they where lucky. 

The truth was I had no idea if they had suffered before like me. If they’d lost a baby, struggled for years to get one or adopted because they couldn’t have one.

That parent in a shop who’s battling with her child yet again, who’s probably close to tears. Look a little harder. It might not be a naughty child, may be there’s underlying problems they aren’t discussing with anyone yet. 

Maybe they are battling a long term health condition. Maybe a loved one died. Maybe they lost their job. Maybe they are struggling in ways you can’t imagine. 

Never judge a book by its cover. You never really know what’s going on inside. 

Pinterest Mum

What I wish I knew before I became a Mummy.
I don’t know about you but about 80% of the time I am totally winging it with this motherhood malarkey!
I couldn’t wait to be a Mummy and have my own children when I was younger. I thought I would smash parenting. With always having homemade meals, taking my children 👶🏼 everywhere. Playgroups, outdoor play, groups, clubs etc. Being the so called picture perfect ‘Pinterest Mummy’.
There’s books and apps all about the different stages of pregnancy. Even help and advice on general new born stuff. Teething. Rashes. Temperature advice, and lots more. What about the rest though?
May be it’s just me and the way my brain works. I mean with three neurological conditions, things aren’t easy as you know and I work hard to keep my head above water most of the time.
Being organised is hard work as someone who’s dyspraxic. Not sure if that’s the reason I’m like this or if everyone is like this 🤷🏻‍♀️.
What I’m getting at is, the fun side of parenting. The part where some people just know where to take their kids, what groups are on, clubs etc.
It’s one of the things I feel really bad at as a parent.
Before I became a Mummy to Alfie I wish I knew where to find out what’s on. I wish I knew how to make new Mum friends without looking desperate!!! I wish I knew how to organise our time better. How to make the most of our time together while he’s young. How to know what’s on where, deals, where is best to shop.
I mean seriously, I look online and think oh crap that would have been good or I should have done that or he would have loved that. I’m the one that’s two steps behind and not two steps ahead.
I’m a bit of a last minute Mum I guess and always seem to do the same stuff.
I feel like everyone else has got a better grip on how best to entertain their children. That or they have a secret handbook I don’t know about! Not me. I look online in the evening to catch up with people and think oh wow that would be great, then the next day I forget about it. Or it’s already been and gone.
I guess you could say I wish I had a p.a to help organise and hunt things down for me. It just feels like a full time job trying to organise you and your kids to do stuff.
I mean I’m never ahead for anything.
I know I’m not alone though, I’m sure there’s others like me that feel like this.
The one who thought they were born to be a Mummy and would be that ‘Pinterest Mum’ where others admired. The truth is I’m far from that and I’m sure I’m not alone.

We are all winging it and not many of us find ways to fill our time where it’s forever exciting.
I mean we are all smashing this parenting malarkey but are any of us really a Pinterest type Mummy or Daddy? If you are that’s great. Just share the ideas with the rest of us so we have a head up lol!
Basically I could do with a guide book on what best groups and websites in my area are so that I can look back on Alfie’s childhood and think. Damn I was amazing and made the most of it.
What do you think?
Do you feel a bit like this?

Self care for children.

Let’s talk about about self care but not in the sense we are all discussing at the moment. We all talk about looking after ourselves and taking time out from the busy stressful life but what about children?
We expect so much from them, we expect them to be on their best behaviour, to do and act a certain things, we plan their day, what they eat and wear. They spend all day at school or nursery where they have to be on their best behaviour, expecting them to be nice, learn things all day, repeat things, concentrate all day. We expect them to have constant respect and care towards everyone. We generally expect quite a lot from them but what about letting them have some downtime and do something for them to relax and unwind?
As adults we are only now learning about self care and we still aren’t very good at it. So how about we start at the beginning and teach our children how to switch off, unwind and love themselves?
I recently ran Alfie a bath with a bath bomb and a hot chocolate, he loves a bath anyway but generally only has a few toys and bubbles. This time I let him have as many toys as he wanted, blew the bath pillow up and let him have a bath bomb. He absolutely loved it. We also have movie nights with the kids where they pick a film and we get some goodies out and a drink they want.
It might be that sometimes we let them have a treat tea.
We let William have time on his x box to have chill out time and do what he wants to do. Being older William has more responsibilities at home and he finds Alfie as stressful as us ha ha so I think it’s important to let him have his time to himself where we aren’t breathing down him to be and act a certain way.
I also think it’s important as some children suffer with anxiety from an early age so it’s super important to help them learn how to deal with it.
Some good ways to help children dealing with anxiety that people I know have suggested are things like, yoga and smiling minds. Some children find drawing and colouring quite relaxing which is great as then you can get chance to chat to them.
Some people use worry dolls too, or those worry tree’s. Also there is a growing trend of parents and children having matching stars or dots on their hands so the child knows the parent is with them.
Also labelling emotions for them really helps them to understand what they are feeling. I mean we can’t expect them to understand their emotions straight away, we have to teach them everything don’t we and give them the tools they need to understand what they are feeling.
Life has a habit of throwing curve balls be it big or small and if we don’t help them learn how to take a step back then I guess we will never change in the world of self care and learning how to look after ourselves. After all things that happen in our life and the curve balls we get can have an impact on our children too. I ended up in a wheelchair and had to learn to walk again. That had a major impact on our children, so, if your not already starting self care with your little ones then give it a go. I really think it will help them not just now but in later life too.
I would love to know if you practise any self care with children.
Much love
Emma xx 💋

This is Alfie after his bath. He actually has hair that’s been tamed for once lol x

Me and my Step Son

William and I have been spending time together cooking recently. He’s not a massive fan in baking so given the chance he much prefers making a meal.
I have been in his life since he was two years old, he’s now 14.
I love how our relationship is changing now he is older. It’s almost like having a friend. I’m so lucky to have him as my ‘bonus son’ (my friend has a ‘bonus daughter’ I’ve nicked this phrase from her!), he’s been fantastic through my whole FND journey. Loving him is easy because of who he is as a person, you only have to meet him to know this.
The only thing that bothers me sometimes is what kind of impact I can have on his life. I’m not a blood relative but I have known him and cared for him as my own son for so long that I want him to grow up with something that I have taught him. I want him to say in life, my step mum taught me that. That way it doesn’t matter that I can’t walk properly or that I’m not a blood relative. What will matter is that I make an impact on his life.
William honestly means the world to me and I love the time we share together. He really is such an amazing kid.
So if he wants to learn to cook then I will absolutely teach him! I’ll teach him everything I know and more and then he can do one better than me.
Do you have Step Children? I would love to know how you feel about how you make an impact on their life.

Leaving the nest

It’s something that we all know as parents that one day our children will leave home. Something that until recently it never occured to me that I would be thinking about it already.
Let me explain, our eldest William is almost 14 now, he lives with his Mum and comes to see us every other weekend. Sometimes we see more of him and sometimes less it depends on what he is doing really. Since Ste and I have been together William has always been a part of what we do and how we go about things. Just because he doesn’t live with us it doesn’t mean that we don’t involve him. I have always and will always do my upmost to ensure he feels a 100% part of this family. He is treated the same as he would be if he lived with us, his own room and bed, his own tv and Xbox, his own mugs in the cupboard and his own treat box. You get the picture. We try and save doing certain things for when he is with us, take him places etc, but then why wouldn’t we? He’s our son, just because he doesn’t live with us it doesn’t mean he isn’t 100% involved in all that we do.
The thing is now he is getting older and we live a fair distance away from his Mum’s house, all his friends etc are at his Mum’s. My fear now is that we may be facing William ‘leaving the nest’ so to speak far earlier than I thought. I guess you could say it was to be expected really but honestly it makes me so sad. We have such a great relationship with William and as he gets older it only gets better. I love the things we get to do with him now and the times that we share with him. After Alfie has gone to bed Ste, William and I can sometimes have such a laugh and do lots of things that we can’t with Alfie. To think that time may some day soon come to an end and we will see him much less just makes me sad.
We will never force William to come and see us, it will always be his choice. I just hope that he will still enjoy coming to see us for longer than I am anticipating and that it won’t end anytime soon. I do know this though, when he does come and see us I will always do everything in my power to make sure that William enjoys his time with us. He will always have his own room at our house until he buys his own house and he will always have his favourite mug in my cupboard.
I never expected to have such an amazing relationship with William and I am so glad we do have the relationship we have. I am incredibly lucky as I know not every one is this lucky when it comes to step families. Having a step family is not without difficulty I can assure you, however if you can get a great child like William then I can guarantee it will be worth it. I just hope we still have a lot more time than what I think we will.

 

October 

October is a funny ole month and a complete mix of emotions. Especially this year with the charity event.
The charity event went great by the way. I actually really enjoyed it! I couldn’t have done it without the help I had and it was truly a great success. There were a couple of things that I didn’t expect and didn’t go to plan but nobody else noticed and I think everyone involved had a good time too. If you’ve ever done a big charity event like that you will understand that incredible feeling that you get when you see all the hard work come together. It’s quite emotional actually. I got up rather early on the day and sat downstairs in my pjs, I was the only one up and got myself a cup of tea and just sat thinking and giving Ethan a cuddle. I sat and shed some tears into the soft fur of Ethan’s bear and thought about everything. What is, what was and what could have been.
My step son William was absolutely amazing that weekend. I’m lucky to have such a lovely bond with him. He insisted on helping me bake and get everything ready. He was my right hand man that weekend. He literally amazes me every time I see him, I’m lucky to know him and be a part of his life. I mean he’s nearly 13 and he’s helping his Step Mum bake and set up a charity event in his brothers memory. Amazing. I think since we have had Alfie he understands more about how sad the loss of his other brother is, he was 9 when we lost Ethan and I think as he gets older he gets it more and misses him more too.
William and I were driving around various places over that weekend collecting cakes from people that had baked for us. He turned to me and told me that he had put forward SANDS as the chosen charity for school, he then went on to tell me that the teacher had to explain what SANDS was to the rest of his class. The children voted and Williams charity tied with MacMillan. I mean how amazing is that? The boy astounds me. I sat choking back the tears whilst driving. I don’t think he realises how much these small gestures mean to me.
He was incredible the day of the event and insisted I get him up when I got up so he could get ready and be on time to help.  He also spent a fortune of mine and his Dad’s money that day but hey ho he’s a gorgeous caring and thoughtful boy and it was for a great charity so who cares?!
He tried to win Alfie a paw patrol gift on the tombola! He’s just so cute bless him.
So the day was a success, people came they ate cake and bought stuff, had a browse and a brew.
I am still collecting some money but all in all I raised just over £1,000!!!!!  I mean that’s just amazing isn’t it. In one day, in just a few hours. All that money to help families like me. I honestly can not put into words just how grateful I am to everyone who helped make that possible. It means the world to me. The money will be well spent on things to help grieving parents like myself.
Following the event comes baby loss remembrance week. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you will see the poems I have been popping up each day. I have a lot of poems that I have found over the years which all help me explain to myself and others how it is that I feel about the loss of my son. I can honestly say that unless you are unfortunate enough to have gone through a loss like this it is too difficult to out into words. I have a lot more good days now than I used to but I still have my bad days. I had one recently after reading something I knew I shouldn’t read but I read it anyway and cried so much and so hard that my poor husband wondered what the hell had happened. All rational thoughts went out of the window and I just said to him what have I done, I should have then him a chance, I should done more for him, I should have tried harder I gave up too soon.
I slowly came round to rational thinking and realised I was being silly. Ethan with the diagnoses he had and the several severe problems he had didn’t have any chance at a normal life at all and that was if he even survived the labour.
I was talking to a colleague today about the fact that we as humans attempt to prolong people’s life more and more now for as long as possible. Why though? What for? I mean with some exceptions I’m sure, why do we prolong people’s lives. It seems like it is just to make us feel better……..but if that was at the detriment my sons health, a differing life then I wasn’t prepared to do it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it many times more, I will live every day of my life in pain so that he doesn’t have to…..that’s what being a Mummy is to me. Sacrificing your needs for them.
One last topic on October before I go.
Ethan’s due date was October and it is also Alfie’s birthday. Wow. Last year for Alfie’s first birthday it really messed with my head. It should have been Ethan turning two but instead I had a rainbow baby turning one. I don’t think it will ever be something that I can get my head around though to be honest, just because of the dates. It’s all too close. Alfie is amazing and I am lucky to have him, he is my absolute world. He’s here because of Ethan not instead of him. That said it doesn’t stop me looking at Alfie and wondering if my other son would have been just as funny, just as entertaining and just as cheeky!!! It’s a hard week having Ethan’s due date and Alfie’s birthday all at the same time. I have no doubt I will face more challenges in the future and I have no idea how I will handle them but I know I will because I have to, I don’t have a choice really. I know that this week is Alfie’s birthday and like I said he is here because of Ethan not instead. That doesn’t make me stop and look at Alfie with a bit of sadness and think, it also should have been your brothers birthday. He should be turning 3 and starting to think about schools. Instead I take him flowers in the cemetery. It just doesn’t make sense. I realise this last bit probably doesn’t make sense, that said I’m sure anything I wrote does make sense to be honest ha ha!!! I just write….
Anyway, wish me luck for Alfie’s birthday. I can’t wait to spoil him but it always comes with a tear where I think of how lucky and yet unlucky I am. Tinged with sadness and wondering what if.
Happy birthday to my gorgeous precious rainbow baby. Alfie R Shepherd. You are my absolute world and words cannot describe how much you mean to me. Ethan Shepherd, what can I say, my heart shattered when I heard yours was broken. If a piece of my heart could have fixed yours I wouldn’t have hesitated. I will always wonder what if and I will always order why me. You will always be a part of me and my life. Thanking for sharing your would have been birthday and for giving me your baby brother. I’ll try and be the best Mummy ever I can to both of you, creating memories in every which way possible.
Love you always
Mummy





Being a Step Mum

Hello!

Welcome back to my blog.

I have to apologise for my absence but this year has been really pants for illnesses in our house! I currently feel like I am always unwell so that’s why it has taken me a while to get around to writing a new blog. Anyway, that isn’t what this blog is about!

I will talk about my dyspraxia again but this time I thought I would have a go at telling you what it’s like for me to be a Step Mum.

I have talked about my other boys so it’s only fair that I tell you about life as a Step Mum.

My Step Son is called William and is currently 12 years old and about a million foot tall ha ha!!!! He grows so flipping fast that boy I just can’t keep up!!!! I’m 5ft 5 (ok I’m almost 5ft 5 but shhhhhhh!!) and he’s practically the same height as me!

When I first got together with my now husband, William was weeks off his 2ndbirthday. I never thought for one minute that I would be a Step Mum to anyone. My life was planned out ahead in my head, I was almost 22 years old and I wasn’t ready for children just yet I was studying to get ahead in my career. Now before you judge me I love William like he’s my own son. He is amazing and we have an amazing friendship. I fell head over heels for Ste (the Hubby!) and our relationship progressed quickly. We had known each other for a long time so I knew he had a son. Taking someone else’s child on is a big thing though. It’s so different to having your own.

I first met William on his 2nd birthday. Ste and I took him to the zoo for the day, we had a great time and William was so cute and sweet it’s hard not to love him to be honest!!! He might almost be a teenager now but he is still one of the most considerate, kind and caring children I have met.

It was hard though, Ste and I didn’t really have any time together just the two of us. We both worked and my evenings in the week were spent studying. So when it came to weekends,it was always family time. Don’t get me wrong it was lovely, but Ste and I skipped the honeymoon stage of our relationship in a way. We were up early every weekend, going to the park etc all the time. It was lovely but as I said, it was hard as alone time was few and far between.

A few years after Ste and I had first got together, William’s visits went to every other weekend.

We missed him so much. We loved our weekends together and it was our routine. We still have him every other weekend now. Alfie loves it when he is over for the weekend.

The trouble is when they don’t live with you, to me, you feel like you can never ‘win’. Let me explain. Yes ‘proper’ couple time just me and Ste would have been great, going out, getting to know each other, weekends away and general adult stuff. Trouble is we would miss William. Even now sometimes I’m gutted we don’t see him as much as there is always something I would love to take him too but it’s never our weekend so we can’t take him.

Everything we have done has always centred around when we have had William and when we can do things. Ste used to work every other weekend for a while too and him working always fell on his weekend when William wasn’t with us so even then we didn’t get time together for just us. I know that’s kind of how it goes when you have children but when someone else is telling you when you can I can’t see them through the year it’s very hard. Ste and I just didn’t have a say in anything. From when we could have him at Christmas, birthday or anything. We got what we were given basically. Which is fine, I mean I have no say anyway but it’s Ste I always feel bad for. Over the years we (he) has missed out on so much. From taking and picking him up from school (picking him up was rare for us), getting stuff he had made a school, parents evening, teaching him stuff. There’s just so much that I feel like we have probably missed out on being part time parents. Ste is an amazing Dad and loves all his children so much and it makes me sad that he may have missed out on things like Father Day gifts from School, teaching him stuff or even taking him somewhere one day to a really cool event just because it wasn’t our weekend.

(Man this blog is hard to write!!! Please bear in mind that no matter what I love my Step Son and I wouldn’t ever change anything. He’s great and I love how much he loves Alfie too.)

Aside from the missing out on things I had my own difficulties. As William wasn’t mine, I found it hard to ever have much of a say or tell him off or whatever. As much as I consider him one of mine he isn’t my son by blood an ultimately I don’t have a say in anything. After more than 10 years of being his Step Mum if Ste and I split tomorrow I wouldn’t have any right to see him and to be honest that would break my heart.

It’s also hard to tell off someone else’s child. I always question (even now) if Ste might agree with me or not or if I have done the right thing. Just because I have known William almost all his life it still makes me feel uncomfortable if I have to tell him off for something.

The other thing that bothered me for a long time is that I would never be able to give my husband and his parents the thrill and excitement of the first child / grandchild. Someone else had. I was second and worried for a long time that there wouldn’t be as much excitement the second time. I also worried that I would feel hugely inferior to my husband’s knowledge of already having a child. I never quite got over that feeling, I just learnt to ignore it to be honest.

After we lost Ethan though I felt like such a failure. I was so sure it was all my fault that his heart was broke. After all my husband already had one healthy child so it must be my fault. It took a while to get my head around the fact that this was a fluke what happened to Ethan.

So, as William isn’t my flesh and blood son that obviously makes him and Alfie half-brothers. Their bond is so lovely, despite the age gap they get on great and after William experiencing our first loss I think he appreciates even more just how special Alfie is. The adore each other! William is already excited about Christmas and told me recently that he is staying with us on Christmas Eve so he can watch Alfie open his presents! He’s just too cute! He helped Alfie write his letter to Santa the last 2 years and I imagine he will until Alfie can write to be honest. I love that they have this love for each other as it did worry me that because they won’t live together all the time that they might not get on and also because of the age gap but you know what it doesn’t bother them. They treat each other like brothers although Alfie is still a bit young to understand relationships. I think it helps that William is such a lovely boy.

We have lots of fun together as a family and we still try when possible to make separate time for William so he gets that he is still just as important to us as he ever was. Although sometimes I get sad that we haven’t thrown his birthday party, or helped him with homework, or got to know his friends whilst he’s growing up, not seeing him on his birthday or only seeing him for a short time over Christmas…….

We do still have a special things that we try and do together. I have tried so hard to make an effort with annual yearly things like Halloween parties and bonfire nights etc. I work hard to create special times and moments for him at our house and as far as I am concerned I have 3 sons and he is one of them. I love and treat him like he is my own. I have shared things with him, books, events, our own secrets from his Dad (sorry Ste ha ha ha!!!). William and I love doing stuff together and I feel so lucky to have such a loving young man as my Step Son. As he is getting older things are changing and there is lots more fun stuff we can do together and it’s great. I have learnt not to dwell on what we might have missed out on and concentrate on what we have experienced as a family and what we can do.

So yeah, being a Step Mum is hard work emotionally, mentally, everything. Really hard. You know what though? When your Step Son is excited to do something with you that youalways do together, or he tells you you’re a good parent. It makes everything worth it.

Fingers crossed I continue to do a good job eh…….

Emma






















Introducing Me! 

Hi.
So as this is my first blog I figured I would introduce myself properly! I am in my 30’s and live with my husband and our youngest son Alfie. Together in total we have 3 boys. My Step Son (William) is currently 12 years old and at high school. He comes to stay with us every other weekend and he loves being a big brother. I love being a Step Mum and we are lucky enough to have a great relationship.
I had my first son called Ethan in June 2014. He was born at 21 weeks and sadly passed away at aged 28 mins due to hypoplastic left heart syndrome, severe aortic coarction, severe aortic stenosis and a huge atrial septic defect. It’s a difficult journey losing a child that was so very much wanted and loved but his memory lives on in our house and he is still very much loved& a part of our lives and our thoughts. I will discuss more about the grief of losing a baby in a further blog as this one could take a while!
I got pregnant 6 months after the loss of my first born, to say the pregnancy was difficult is an understatement. Thankfully Alfie arrived safely in October 2015 and he’s my absolute world and brings so much joy to our lives. We are very lucky to have him.
After having Alfie I decided to work part time. I am very lucky and really enjoy the time that Alfie and I get to spend together. I just love watching him grow and explore the world around him. It’s amazing seeing his little face get so excited by new things around him. It hasn’t always been easy with Alfie though, the first few months were really hard, he had reflux and I suffered with anxiety. I found losing Ethan hard all over again now that I actually had a baby in my arms to look after, I knew exactly what I was missing out on.
Alfie is also dairy, soya and egg free and this is a mine field living with this! There are lots of struggles and will be sharing our path of this along the way.
I will talk about Alfie and the anxiety and intolerances in a further blog.
I started working for the NHS in Cardiology in June 2004 at Pennine Acute Hospital where I worked for the next 9 years. I gained myself a distinction in applied science and a second class hons in Clinical Physiology, specialising in Respiratory. Whilst studying my degree I found out that I had dyslexia and dyspraxia. It was a relief to hear that my struggle had a name and that there was help and tips out there to help me reach my end goal of my degree!!! Not everyone understands or has heard about dyspraxia, people who have heard often think or describe it as just being clumsy but it’s so much more than that. I will explain more about this and what it’s like living with it for me every day.
I currently work in Cardiology at Salford Royal which I really enjoy and I have worked here since October 2013.
Well hopefully I haven’t rambled on too much!
I look forward to writing and sharing things with you and about me in general!
Goodbye for now, chat soon. Much love ❤️
Emma
#dyspraxicdomesticatedmummy