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The Warrior

Getting Real With & Poet Extraordinaire Tammy Bartholomew

The Warrior

A true warrior

Who’d fight till the end

Is it a sister, neighbor, lover

Maybe your best friend

Is it the soldier

Who wears a uniform each day

Walking out the door

Maybe the last of their stay

Your neighbor

Leaving from time to time

Family waits their return

Their life on the line

The friend

Talking to you dusk to dawn

Wondering if you’ll be okay

Check on you the next early morn

It might be the person

Who takes you to lunch

Giving you a big hug

Whispering I love you so much

A family member

Who becomes extremely ill

You become their warrior

Giving them strength to heal

See warriors change face

All the time

They don’t always hide

Behind enemy lines

Our warriors stare

Us straight in the face

We never know it

Because we ‘re looking in the wrong place

Always thinking the warrior

Our father, husband or brother

When all along the warrior

Was our mother


From Stepmom to Stepdaughter

It wasn’t until the envelope came in the mail that it was even real to me, and even then I wanted to deny it. I had known it was coming, and had tried very hard to put it out of my mind – but there it was, addressed by hand to Mr. and Mrs. David Bruce.

I thought to myself at the time, “Nice calligraphy,” but stopped, because I wasn’t ready to have nice thoughts about her yet. When I opened the envelope, the announcement was homemade, from one of those kits you can buy now.

They’d printed them on their home computer, with a picture of the two of them sitting there and smiling, like this could somehow be the happiest moment of their lives – like there was anything in the world to smile about.  I felt ill, like I had just eaten something that wanted to crawl back out of me.

The funny thing is, of all people, I should have been more tolerant, right?  When I married my husband, he had three kids. I would have been devastated if they had made my life difficult or didn’t trust me or didn’t want me to be with their dad. I was lucky, because while we have had our moments, we have great relationships.

It is different, though. My step kids were young; they needed a mom in their life. I never forced them to think of me as mom or call me mom, I just filled the role and took care of them and got involved in their lives and helped them through all those icky things that come with childhood.

My mom is in a “niche.”  Not even a real grave where I can go sit and talk to her, but just a little square of marble in a little wall not even as tall as I am surrounded by a bunch of strangers — like she moved from her big house to a little tiny apartment. All there is to know it’s her is a little name plaque.

I couldn’t face the fact that my dad, who had been married to my mom for 36 years, could replace her with someone else so quickly. I definitely wasn’t ready to have a step mom. He’s my dad, though, and I love him. I miss my mom very much and because I didn’t behave very well at the start of my dad’s new relationship, I still feel uncomfortable around my stepmom, but I try. I try because I remember what it was like to be the new person in the family and because, whether I like it or not, my mom is gone and my dad is here and he deserves to be happy.

Most of us have some kind of “step” in our family. As adults, we may find it more difficult to accept these relationships than our children would. It’s important to respect other people’s choices and feelings – to realize they aren’t trying to hurt you – and to try to find joy in your loved ones’ happiness, even if it is difficult to do.

Read Shadra’ s book, Stories From a StepMom, available on Amazon Kindle. Read more or request a review copy.


Mom’s Legacy

It’s almost Mother’s Day again. These years, Mother’s Day is very different for us. Our mom, Linda, died in 2006 after a long battle against cancer. Mother’s Day 2006 we could barely force ourselves to acknowledge the day because we were still grieving so terribly. The past years have been easier, but never without their moments of longing for just one more afternoon with mom. We’ve spent the beginning of each of the past three Mother’s Days at the cemetery, spending a moment connecting with mom by leaving flowers at her grave and telling her how much we miss her.  Now, Tiana is in Utah and I’m in New York – 2,500 miles away from where she was laid to rest.  We’ve realized over the last few years, though, that mom is with us all the time…and we owe her a debt of gratitude for the success we’ve had as moms and as stepmoms.

When mom was 11, her parents split up. This was in 1961, when divorce was not common. Technically, our grandpa took off, leaving our grandma with four kids, of whom our mom was the oldest. The youngest, our uncle, was only six weeks old.  Our grandma didn’t have any money, and our mom lived in poverty. After a time, she also got a step dad and a new sister (shortly after her 16th birthday), along with a long-distance move that left her spending her senior year in a high school full of strangers. She knew all about being a stepkid, about what it felt like to have a parent abandon her, and about how lost and lonely you can feel when your family disintegrates.

When I got married, not only did mom welcome my stepkids with the open, loving arms of a grandmother (Nana, the kids all called her) but she took a particular interest in trying to fill them up with love to wash away the pain they had experienced from having a parent choose a life away from them. As Tiana and I added kids of our own, she cherished them in ways that have left a lasting impression on all of her grandkids, all of whom remember her with joy and happy memories.

When I was first learning to be a stepmom, it was our mom who helped me do better. When I was exasperated because Dave and I couldn’t get a babysitter and get any time alone, she reminded me how much the kids needed to feel like I wanted them there. When I was frustrated because I felt like an outsider, she helped me understand what it must be like for the kids to have a stranger suddenly living with them. When I felt like my stepdaughter was trying to undermine my authority, she helped me realize how terrified Kira must have been to have her mom gone and only her dad to cling to.

When Tiana was having her babies, our mom was at her side. When her marriage fell apart, mom helped her deal with having four kids under 7 years old on her own. Whenever either of us needed advice, mom was the one we turned to first. With her gone, we rely on each other. I share with Tiana what I’ve learned about being a stepmom. We share memories of her and strive to honor her.

Our mom died because her heart gave out. The chemotherapy treatment was too much for her heart to handle. But we always think about how much her heart gave in the time she was with us…how she helped me open my heart and transform a little group of virtual strangers into a strong and loving family, how even my youngest daughter, who was only four when Mom died, still sings the songs she learned from Nana and still remembers cuddling with her, how each of us have inherited some of her strengths. She may be gone, but her gift of love lives on in us, in our children, and in the many people whose lives she touched.

It is in her spirit and memory that we have started MomsGetReal™.com … we want to share with others the joy that comes from motherhood – and share the laughter, tears, frustrations, and tear-your-hair-out moments that happen along the way. We hope you’ll join us.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom (Nana). We love you and miss you so very much.