Believe again.

by mssinglemama on May 31, 2012

Can you?

I know it’s hard. But try… for the kids. I think you can. I think you can. I know you can.

You are all single mothers, so I know you don’t have to look far for inspiration. Your children are right there, inspiring you every day with their energy for life, their pure belief that anything is possible. That all little girls are really fairies or princesses, of course.

And that all little boys are princes of light, or darkness, or where ever their mood takes them.

They dance and they sing and they laugh endlessly, as easily as they cry and shout and scream. Their emotions are always on the surface, honest and raw. They have little to fear. Our children, the children of single parents, are unique in that they have lost. They have lost their parents being together. They have… and it hurts, but with our support, they can re-build their hearts.

They can dance again.

We are everything to them.  Their heroes, their knights in shining armor – we lift them up.

Their teachers,

We guide them and show them that we can make mistakes, but most of all, that we can survive our grief. We can actually pick things up and recover and find happiness again. We are busy in our happiness, finding the right balance for us all. And there are definitely moments when we want to kick and scream ourselves because it’s so frustrating. But those moments leave as quickly as they come and for every one we survive, we grow a bit wiser. I find comfort in knowing we are definitely not the first blended family on the planet.

A few issues we are facing right now:

– The dynamic between Lily and Benjamin. Both being the oldest or only siblings, there are some turf wars.
– The odd number of three sometimes leaves one of them feeling left out.
– Benjamin is calling Seth “Dad” and Benjamin also wants to change his last name. We’re not sure how his father will feel about that…

Any advice is always appreciated.


More pictures.

We took these pictures at the Nelsonville Art & Music Festival a few weekends ago. It was absolutely spectacular. Next week we are all flying via Vision Airlines directly to Myrtle Beach from Columbus. We’ll be staying here, which is kind of hard to believe. The trip is sponsored (must disclose). It will be the first time all five of us are together for five days straight without any interruptions like work and school. We owe it all to you, my readers. So, thank YOU!

To see my entire photo gallery from the Nelsonville Music Festival, click here. We were camping, we were gross, we were dirty, and… for some reason, I thought it would be cool if Seth shaved his beard.


{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin May 31, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Encourage grace. Work to win their hearts over, not just their behavior. Ask lots of questions to understand the root of the “turf wars” – sometimes talk-therapy is the best way to let them feel heard and important.

I grew up as one of three siblings, and it often works to “self-regulate” bad behavior. It’s easy to include all three if they REALLY want to – sometimes those things work themselves out. If you’re there – take the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with the extra party.

With regard to the name change – wait until he is of age. Doing it now, or even encouraging him to do so now will only cause hurt angry feelings not only with the dad but also with him later as he grows and matures. He will later question you and during his rebellious stage it could backfire. He is too impressionable at this age, and it will look like a move of control instead of one he’s thoroughly thought out.


Ms. Single Mama May 31, 2012 at 6:38 pm

I love this advice, incredibly helpful. Wanted to mention about name change – this was completely unprompted. He actually has started signing his name at school with Seth’s last name. We were thinking maybe a hyphenated name? But,yeah, completely hear you on teenaged rebellion and would never ever persuade him one way or the other. His father, you should know, sees him once a month for a few hours at most.


Erin May 31, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I understand that he instigated it, but a 5/6 year old hardly has the capacity to understand the implications of his decision at his present age. It takes an adult to make that kind of choice when he is ready. Even though his dad is infrequently involved, he is still half him. No matter how you shake it. My kids’ dad literally never sees them, but I’d never dream of changing their name. Just because the love relationship didn’t work out doesn’t make the child less his. He may someday want to have your last name, or you can even hyphenate your maiden name… it’s up to you. But, I’d caution against changing his name, especially this early in the marriage. How he views who is TRULY his family won’t change (your husband being Dad), no matter what name he has. 🙂


Erin May 31, 2012 at 8:28 pm

On that note, I can’t say I haven’t considered changing their last name to my maiden name…! It’s a natural emotional reaction to the situation.


Stac June 1, 2012 at 8:42 am

As a child whose name was changed, and as a women whose son talks about changing his name to his step-dad….

In my state at least, I believe for that to happen the step-dad needs to become the legal father. I remember when I was 8 and that was all happening the judge saying to my “step” dad, “You know if you do this there is no going back and if things don’t work out you are legal responsible for child support, visitation and etc.”. Well, along those lines, as it was like 20 years ago I won’t pretend that’s an exact quote 🙂

Of course in our cases, my dad was MIA and my son’s hasn’t seen him in 2 years. It’s a little different when the father is involved (no matter how minimal).

Darla May 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I am dealing with the same thing. Been a single mom for 8 years and met an amazing man with 3 kids, 2 of which we have full time, and my son and his daughter are in the same grade, we deal with the turf wars, mostly making them work it out themselves, another issue is that his daughter is in all the higher levels of her grade and my son is right where he should be, and we have to work on not gloating that she does her work faster and “gets it” easier. At times I find it hard to not let my son be an only child anymore, and I have no clue what it is like to have siblings being an only child myself. I have never been the mama to an entire household. Does anyone have blog suggestions on meal preparation for larger families, and working moms?


jen May 31, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Try this blog for meals and meal plans The writer has five kids herself.


Katie June 9, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Darla, for a blog that can help with cooking for large families- check out I stumbled upon the site over a year ago and it transformed my entire world (that and a brand new second child of the newborn variety). Now, I’m blessed to get to be a part of the project.


wondermomma May 31, 2012 at 6:01 pm

I highly recommend the book “Siblings Without Rivalry” plus, if you haven’t read it already “How to Talk so Kids will Listen and listen so kids will talk” by the same authors.

About the name change, perhaps adding a hyphen with your new family name. He is part of 2 families and maybe that will be a way for him to feel a piece of both of them in his name?


jen May 31, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Blended families are hard. My partner and I broke up a few months ago because of issues between the kids and him not wanting to work those issues out and be an adult about it. We’re back together now after he realised he was being silly about it and that he missed what we had. I’m taking it easy on the kids being together front as they’re of similar ages and there were definitely turf wars between them. It’s especially hard when you visit their house for your child to have his own space! So long as the two adults are supportive and on the same page I think things should work out.


Momma Sunshine May 31, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I’d caution you against letting him change his name right now. This is a decision that should wait until he’s older and more mature and can fully understand the repercussions and the implications involved. There’s a reason why we don’t let young children make important decisions; otherwise they’d never go to school, eat vegetables, brush their teeth or change their underwear. There’s no way that they can “get it” at such a young age. Have him wait until he’s older and can fully think the decision through and make an educated, informed, sensitive and well thought out decision.


Stac June 1, 2012 at 8:47 am

I believe a child that age does get it. I did. But I wouldn’t change the childs name after a few weeks of marriage. My mom was married for 2 years before we took the steps to change my name at 8 years old. Best thing we ever did. Again as I said before though, I never knew my father…so it’s alittle different. And my son has my last name and doesn’t see his father, so we may make that decision, but after a few years.


Patricia May 31, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Our situation is a little different, but it’s what worked for us. We knew we wanted more kids when we married and didn’t want Izzy to feel left out, so when I married I kept my maiden name and added my husband’s, and did the same with her. Her little sister also has both last names. I figured they can choose to keep their names as is (very long, though,) or they can just be “Davis” when they get older, if they choose. The difference is that izzy never had her paternal parent’s name since he was MIA and has never ever inquired or shown interest, and the hubs adopted her, to no protest of course.


Nataschia May 31, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Good luck with the turf wars. I’m sure you two are great parents and co-parents so I have faith in this problem improving. (I’m not sure any type of siblings ever get along 100% of the time.)
As for the names, a coworker and I have been talking about name-changing and adopting stepchildren a lot since I separated from my ex. His mother changed his name to her second husband’s last name, but later she divorced him because he was physically abusive. Although he still has that man’s last name, he doesn’t associate the name with his mom’s ex and says that he has spent his adult life making a name for himself. As for my opinion, I don’t think a child’s name has to change for everyone to know who is the man who does the real fathering and loving.


Leslie May 31, 2012 at 8:59 pm

As a stepkid myself I wanted to be formally adopted/name change at 7 or 8 etc but by the time we finally got the family permission (grandparents – out if courtesy, dad didn’t care) I was in middle school & it was too late IMO to change my name. As a kid it’s kind of easier to groe up with one name & frankly the one raising you is the name you want. But I still was known at church and to family friends – basically anything non school by my family name. It does feel nice to be the same, maybe if he’s serious in another year or two?

My own son has such a close relationship with my ex’s family I would never let him change it as I know that would hurt all of them too much. Though I doubt his dad would blink. I like your hyphen idea!

I love your support & acceptance thru it all. My mom is still bitter at me for not changing my name 20 yrs later, as if I asked for my parents to divorce & remarry & knew how to handle each situation with foresight lol …Y’all are doing a great job 🙂


ltk June 2, 2012 at 10:03 am

I wouldn’t get too involved in trying to negotiate whatever it is that they are fighting over when tempers are hot. Keep rules simple and clear–no name calling, no hitting or roughness. When they can’t resolve whatever they are arguing about in a few minutes they both need to separate and whatever activity they are involved in needs to be timed out. Keep a notebook for each of them to write down their grievance and talk about it at a later time when heads have cooled and see if they can come up with a solution. Expect that every attempt to work this problem out will only be at best 50% successful because siblings fight and it drives parents crazy and has since the beginning of time. If you have the time offer to read a book or do an activity with the child being left out (let them help cook dinner with you or something)–chances are the other two will want to join in with what you are doing. Time is probably your best friend in this area–they just are all in the getting used to each other phase and the honeymoon of living together, for them at least, is probably ending. Next year at this time they will probably all be much more settled in.


Kamila June 2, 2012 at 11:22 pm

I have read all the comments and thought about this for some time before I decided to post. I thought it would he important for you to have some input from someone who was in the same situation as Benjamin. My mother never changed my name and she never changed her name until I was 18 years old, therefore my step father and my brother had one name and I had another along with my mother. When I turned 18, my mother changed her name, but it seemed useless for me to change mine. I can’t be sure, however I feel that had my last name been changed I would have been part of the family, instead of someone on the outside always looking in. I am now a single mom in her thirties and if it was a decision I had to make for my daughter, I would definitely hyphenate her name. In the end, this is your decision and you have to do what feels right for you and your new family. All the best.


Rachel June 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm

What first comes to mind is is Benjamin asking to do this because your last name may change? Maybe there’s a desire to fit in. I’d be leary of him changing it at such a young age. Would the laws in your state require his approval of it?

So hard to know what to do in this case. Maybe open the diologue with your ex and at least get his thoughts. He may be more open to it than you think.


Carolina June 5, 2012 at 11:17 pm

I come from a blended family and often struggled with these same things as a child; what to really call my step-father, or how were me and my siblings different. Even as I got older, it was strange saying – “Dad, look…” – when they were both in the same room. However, as the post says, it’s about believing you could get through so many of those moments and being stronger, better, and more full of love. I say continue talking to your kids, validating their concerns and feeling them out. Approach your ex, as well, about what the kids are thinking. In a situation like this, I say dialogue is key. Good luck!


Alida June 5, 2012 at 11:42 pm

My father was hardly in my life growing up. My mother remarried when I was 4 and changed her last name. I went by my stepfather’s name for awhile at home, but at school still had my legal last name. It was confusing.

When I was 29, I changed my last name legally. I changed it to my mother’s maiden name because I wanted to belong to her family. My stepdad was no longer in our family and I was tired of seeing fathers come and go. I chose my last name as an adult and I’m glad I waited and that it was my choice.

Those are my thoughts for what they are worth.

I also want to say a belated congratulations to you and Seth. I know the growing pains will work themselves out if you model open communication with each other and your kids. I wish you all the best and it’s wonderful to see you so happy.


ExecutiveMomma June 6, 2012 at 10:14 am

As always – a great post about the hearts and minds of our children. The loss of a parent’s full-time involvement in their lives is hard. My son misses his dad every day and my prayer is that he stays involved as time rolls on… Who knows about that one.
I also want to thank Jen for the meal planning site – I just posted on my blog that I need help getting my finicky 5-year old to eat! This came just in time – any other advice is welcomed 🙂


Chris R June 7, 2012 at 12:05 am

Very good post! Kids are such an amazing inspiration. The pictures are so cute and I am so glad things are going so well!!

As far as the dad things.. Well being a father I would hope im the only dad in my daughters life right now… But I mean if the child feels comfortable… Its a tough call.. Changing his name, well again not sure my daughter is only 3 and I wouldn’t want her to change it as of now.. But she will get married and change it anyways so… I think as a single dad ide have a hard time hearing my daughter call someone else dad and want to change her name cause i already don’t see her that much and would just feel horrible…

As a single dad i really try my hardest to be a good dad and for someone to come in and have more time with her well i feel isn’t exactly fair… But. i just do my best and let the world sort it out… I don’t know your Ex so won’t say anything for that… I hope it works out though and i hope you two can still work together…



Sania Mirza June 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Hi Mssinglemama,
Very amazing impression and emotion has revealed in here, feeling the good and very close relation ship to all.

Thanks and have a very nice day


LINDA BONY June 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I love this advice good and very close relation ship i like this?


Pulkit June 13, 2012 at 4:01 am

Amazing positive attitude and impression. Kids are really a great inspiration sometimes.


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