Top 5 Tips for Successful Children's Consignment
Friday, April 15, 2011 By: Shannon Wilburn
Top Five Tips For Successful Children’s Consignment
by Michelle Wiginton
- As soon as your kids have outgrown or are no longer using items, resell them. Like everything else, clothes, toys, equipment, etc. lose their value over time.
- Learn how to get out stains. Magic Erasers are great for plastic toys. Goo-Gone is super for stains. Tide Stain Pens are handy for your purse or diaper bag.
- Don’t procrastinate when it comes to tagging. Everyone is busy, but moms who tag throughout the year are the ones who receive consignor checks for hundreds if not thousands of dollars each season.
- Look for great deals and share those with other local moms. A bargain is a bargain. If you find an excellent garage or clearance sale, purchase items for resale and you’ll earn some extra money for just being in the right place at the right time.
- Talk about saving money with other moms. Moms are smart. Talk to your friends and neighbors about ways you’ve found to save/make money and learn what they are doing to help increase their family’s bottom line.
Monday, February 14, 2011 By: Shannon Wilburn
Smart Moms Use Snow and Cold Days to do Spring Cleaning
Originally published on ConsignmentMommies.com
Hundreds of thousands of American moms across the United States are using this cold weather and unexpected snow days to clean out, organize and prepare their gently-used, outgrown and unused maternity and children’s items so they can cash in at an upcoming spring children’s consignment sales event. From strollers to Sketchers, from Gymboree to Johnny Jump-Ups, and from Little Tikes to Little People, children’s consignment events’ offer families the opportunity to buy and sell what their children need for next warmer weather. (and we could all use some sunny thoughts right now)
“Children’s consignment sales events bring moms together under one roof and give them the opportunity to sell their items and make great money for their family, while providing a venue where they can also shop for what they need for the next season,” said Michelle Wiginton, event coordinator for five Just Between Friends semi-annual community sales events in Missouri. “I have consignors who use their checks to buy the next season’s wardrobe, help pay the mortgage and even one mom who is funding a family trip to Disney World this summer on what she has made selling at our events.”
What’s great about consignment is that you can prepare and tag your items year round. This makes winter storms almost enjoyable because moms know they will make great money on their items that sell in spring. A few hours spent in preparation of their items will mean hundreds of dollars during the next sale.
“Our consignors know that we inspect all items, so we don’t waste their time on things that won’t sell and we don’t waste the time of our shoppers, who do not want to sort through stained and outdated clothing or dig through broken toys or games with missing pieces,” said Michelle Wiginton, who is also a Certified Meeting Planner, as well as being certified in Change Management and Business Process Reorganization. “Consignors say they save their “best stuff” for consignment because they can make more money than at a garage sale or traditional consignment store, they love to shop early and they don’t have to pick-up any items that don’t sell when they donate to a local children’s charity. We make it easy for smart moms to make money, save money, make new friends and have a ton of fun in the process.”
Spring will be here before you know it (even if it doesn’t feel like it under a foot of snow and ice) and the kids will need new bathing suits, shorts and outdoor play equipment. Cleanout closets, toy boxes, shelves and those bins in the garage. Consider selling DVDs, booster seats, books, toys, crib sheets, nursery décor, bunk beds, hair bows and anything else that has to do with raising a child that you no longer use or need.
“A mom’s first consignment sale experience can sometimes be the most overwhelming (and most financially rewarding), simply because they might have a ton of stuff to tag and bring from a couple of years,” said Wiginton. “After their first full year of events, including a spring/summer and then fall/winter sale, they will then just be prepping and tagging items for one season. Moms will still get a nice check, but have a lot less to store and try to keep up with. I hear all the time how great it is to have money for the items that were just taking up space in someone’s home and garage AND get great money for it, too.”
Snow Day Consignment Game
Make your first consignment experience a game! (you know, it really should be fun!)
1. Get your kids to help if they are old enough or have some fun while they are napping, if they are too young to help. Have them go through their own things…and bring you shoes that pinch their toes, tops that show their tummy and toys that only babies would play with.
2. Go through your home and gather all of the things you know are outgrown or unused and take them someplace in your home where you can sit down and sort (like a basement, living room or guest bedroom).
3. Next you are going to create three piles: Trash (for broken and anything beyond repair or reuse), Donate/Garage Sale (more than gently-worn clothing, toys that might be missing a couple of pieces but someone might purchase to compliment a set they already have, shoes that are scuffed, etc.) and Consignment (this is where all the really good stuff goes)!
4. Go through each item, talk with your kids about Halloween costumes and laugh about your items…these are your memories, enjoy them! Send your little ones off to find missing Little People, missing shoes and that cute matching hat and belt to last year’s Easter dress. Include your children so they learn that taking care of things is important and talk to them about the other kids who are going to enjoy their things next and what they might want you to look for at the sale to bring home for them.
5. Once you have your trash pile, set it out for Mr. Sanitation Engineer to pick up. Then, box/bag up your garage sale/donate items because those will be your second priority. Focus on your consignment items because that is where you will recoup your most investment in your children. Check all clothing items for broken snaps, buttons and zippers. Any stains? Head to the utility room.
6. Don’t worry if you don’t have fresh batteries, hangers, cardstock, safety pins, etc. You can prepare your items by cleaning them up, getting them all together and entering your items into the computer. Do as much as you can now. Then, when the sun clears the roadway, you’ll be half-way to a big, fat juicy consignor check.
TIP: If you can, invest in a couple of inexpensive plastic tubs and mark them “warm” and “cold” for your clothing. When your kiddos grow out of something, launder it and then just toss it into the bin, so it will be ready for tagging when you are! Remember, have fun. This is a great opportunity to enjoy some family time, earn some extra income and then shop with your friends!
Michelle Wiginton is a hard-working wife of a retired OK State Trooper and mom to three sons and is also the current Franchise of the Year for Just Between Friends, the nation’s largest maternity and children’s consignment sales event franchise. www.jbfsale.com She has a BA and Master’s Degree in International Human Relations and has worked with both ABC News and Good Morning America. Michelle coordinates five JBF semi-annual community children’s consignment sales events in Missouri and firmly believes you can have fun, laugh, serve others and get your work done at the same time.
Do You Re-Gift?
Saturday, July 17, 2010 By: Michelle Wiginton
Do you re-gift? I do!!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, it’s where you receive a gift and then turn around and “re-gift” it to someone else! I sound VERY EXCITED, don’t I? Well, I am…and here’s why.
Let me tell you about my latest re-gifting experiences…A couple of weeks ago had cervical artificial disc replacement surgery. As the name suggests, this is a very invasive and unpleasant experience. However, two beautiful bouquets of flowers were sent to the hospital for me and I was able to see those beautiful blossoms every time I was roused from my medicated state.
I LOVE flowers! I associate flowers with people and think of various friends and family members as the seasons change. Daffodils remind me of my Grandma Nonnie. Zinnias take me to my mom’s garden. Iris make me smile because of a Godly woman I love, named Margaret. Well, you get the picture. Flowers mean more to me than petals, stems and dirt.
For several years, I have not been physically able to garden, which makes my appreciation of them keener. So, when I received the flowers in the hospital, I wanted to admire them all that I could because flowers don’t last…at least with me. Before I left the hospital, two other patients who did not receive any floral hugs received beautiful bouquets from a “Secret Admirer”…ME!
Yep, I re-gifted them through the nurses to two patients who were not blessed with visitors, cards and flowers. I don’t know who they are, but I know they were blessed because I was blessed by them first!
Then, a couple of days ago, I was having a really bad day and the Lord reminded me that He allows “crap” (manure, call it what you will) to heap upon me sometimes because that is how He helps me grow into a beautiful blossom in His garden! I Facebooked about my revelation, but was not particularly happy about it…who is? Crap STINKS!
Then, the doorbell rang. I kid you not, it was MORE FLOWERS!!! Beautiful roses, asters and a fragrant profusion of blossoms that tickled my memory and my spirit in such a powerful way. God knew I was going to have a bad day. My precious friend, who was so generous to send them when she felt the inkling from Wisconsin, had no idea she would be used to send a special message from God. However, that is what happened. (thanks Terri!)
Today, my top priority is re-gifting this beautiful bouquet to someone else. Who will it be? I’m not sure…maybe a shut-in elderly widow, maybe a friend in the hospital, maybe my step-mom who is having us over for supper…it doesn’t really matter who they go to, because they will be a blessing. But, the cool thing about re-gifting is that I am blessed more than anyone else!!
Here is a "phone picture" of my special message flowers...
Cash vs Store Credit
Thursday, July 15, 2010 By: Michelle Wiginton
Did you ever get a gift certificate to a store where you looked and looked and could not find that magical item at a price you could afford? Did you have to walk by “the holy grail of cool things that you REALLY want” in order to get to the first store?
Well, I’m here to tell you Just Between Friends is all about the holy grail…or paying the mortgage or a summer vacation for you and the kids. We know that money does not make the world go round, but try to pay for your next tank of gas with store credit and you quickly realize that it is important on some basic levels.
I was recently asked by a die-hard traditional consignment store consignor what makes JBF so special? (that’s when the glimmer in my eyes started to shine) Well, we pay our consignors up to 70% on their sold items. (she was getting 45% at best) We also pay you, in cash, two weeks after the sale for everything you sold. (not small checks each month or in store credit)
I went on to tell her about volunteering and how you can shop EVERYONE’s items before the public and even other consignors if she just volunteers four hours or more at the sale. (since her store was continuously open, there was never a chance to shop first unless she was in the store when an item was put on the sales floor) Of course, I also mentioned that moms set their prices, so she will find name brand clothing, toys, baby equipment, etc. at up to 90% off retail!
Needless to say, that mom is now JBF consignor number 2569! I love that we never have to hard sell Just Between Friends because it just makes sense when you do the math. Up to 70% on your sold items, CA$H at one time, you get to shop everyone else’s stuff first, and there is a TON of stuff at one time that is PRICED TO SELL! What’s not to love? Have you told your mommy-friends about JBF? (they will love you for it!!)
Manuals = Money
Friday, June 25, 2010 By: Michelle Wiginton
As I become a seasoned consignment “seller” (I’ve always been a seasoned shopper), I have paid particular attention to what sells best and how to sell it. With that said, manuals and original packaging can significantly increase the value of an item…particularly those items that are electronic in nature, or that have to be put together, or that have accessories.
Take, for example, a Bumbo…there are a dozen on the table to be purchased…which do you think sells the fastest? You guessed it, the one in the box. It might look the same as all of the others, but the BOX sells…even if the item is few dollars more than the others. There is a feeling of security and confidence when something LOOKS new.
When you consider electronic games, think of how confused you are when you see all of the new-fad products your kids breeze through and you have trouble turning on. Manuals are also helpful to KNOW you have all of the pieces something is supposed to have and where to go if the item needs repairs or replacement in the future.
Did you know you can’t sell a car seat without a manual? And, don’t even get me started about how much fun you can have trying to put together a crib without directions and illustrations.
So, here is what I do…when I purchase an item, I have a “warranty and manuals” file folder that I use for everything we purchase…toasters…vSmiles…strollers…board games. One place for all manuals…so I go back there anytime I sell, donate or give-away an item. How easy is that?
If I purchase something that I know will have a short lifespan, I also will break down the box and put it in the closet. Then, I have it to repackage the item with when it’s time to find a new home. Again, easy and not a big space is required for short-term storage.
Too, if you have an item that is part of a recall, make sure to print off the information and include the “fix” or parts that make the item safe to resell. Otherwise, you might be keeping an item that is now safe...but not documented.
These are not rocket science ideas, but they are worth the time and effort it takes to do them…after all, an extra $5 in your pocket means a special day a the dollar movies, a relaxing cup of coffee and gourmet cookie, or just a warm fuzzy in the collection plate at church!
Thursday, May 20, 2010 By: Michelle Wiginton
Life is interrupted all the time...you start a job, you end a class, you have a child, a child moves out, someone dies, you move across the state, you make a new friend...well, you get the picture.
I was listening to a webcast from Disney this week, on change leadership, and it reminded me that WE are leaders of change in our family, in our circle of influence and in our own lives. One of the insightful things that was shared included, "Change, really, is the only constant in our lives. We cannot stop it and we cannot escape it. We can let it destroy us or we can embrace it."
Then, a "Walt Disney" quote summed it all up..."If you're coasting, you're going downhill." And that is SO true.
I grew up as a military brat...so change was normal for us. We moved around a bit, lived in different parts of the country and I, eventually, ended up in a broken home. Then, a grafted home, with steps, halfs and reals!
When things happen in our lives that are beyond our control, we have the opportunity to take a good look at ourselves and decide how we want to move forward. Is a job half-way across the country, with no family support, the best choice to make right now? What are some ways I can cut costs while my husband is deployed? What should I do with my time now that all of my children are in school?
I was always taught that you plan to fail if you fail to plan...so I have always tried to ponder solutions to interruptions that I know are going to happen. My children leaving the nest. Starting a new business. Medical issues that have changed my physical abilities. I don't just lie down and let life run me over, I allow myself time to pull over, change tires and then get back out on life's highway!
But, you cannot be prepared for everything...so I suggest taking time out to think about your options BEFORE making your next big decision. I like to talk to wise counselors, pray and consider all the things that are before me FIRST. Most decisions involve risk or we would already know what we should do...and that can be scary. However, it can also be exhilarating and set us free.
Maybe you've always wanted to return to school and finish a degree. You've just been laid off and have a severance package and the time. It might be the right time for you! Go for it!
No matter the interruption or the solution, you have choices. And, sometimes, the more you think about things, the more options you will have. Don't feel so rushed when life gets interrupted...remember, the road to "bitter" and "better" start with a single decision from you.
Here is Michelle...just pondering life with a cup of tea and her three canine confidants: Roly Poly, JJ and Dally.
Types of Moms
Monday, May 10, 2010 By: Michelle Wiginton
Motherhood, in all of its many forms, offers each woman the opportunity to embrace, encourage and enhance the future. Being a mother, however, is not always about giving birth.
My mother was given up for adoption by a 34-year old woman who had 32 brothers and sisters, as well as an 18-month old daughter that she kept. I believe that it was a mother’s love that gave a childless couple a baby of their own.
When my mom’s adopted mother died of ovarian cancer, “Mother Superior” stepped in. My mom was only nine years old when she went to live at her Catholic boarding school, but soon her best friend's mother took her in and made her part of the family...that woman also became my Godmother.
My father was in Vietnam when my mother gave birth my older sister, with the help of her new mother-in-law (my grandma), mother number five in her life.
Although my parents divorced when I was seven, I received my second mother second mother six months later. After all, my dad had four children to father and mother. My step-brother made five and then a half-sister years later completed our flock of six children.
Having two mothers was not what I had dreamed about as a child, but it has been a blessing to have two mothers to learn from and share with. I did not always take advantage of the blessings, but have learned to accept, grow and become a better person with the guidance and direction of two very different women...both of whom I call mom.
When I became a mother at the age 20, I started to see myself as a mother first and a woman second. Then I met my husband and was blessed with yet another mother, my mother-in-law. Kevin and I were unable to have a child together, but I embraced his two children and welcomed them into my heart as their “second” mom. I know it will only be a few years before I am a grandmother, yet another important role of mother.
Sadly, I lost my mom "Queen" last September, of AMML Leukemia. She was gone in less than a week after she was diagnosed at a regular doctor's appointment. This was my first Mother's Day without her. But, I am comforted knowing where she is and that we said all there was to say and do before her passing. In fact, I still think often of the last two things she said to me...as she drifted in and out of a coma..."Thank you for your goodness and kindness"...and, after trying to rouse her for hours, I leaned down and told her "I love you" one last time...she whispered back, without opening her eyes, "I love you, too." What else does a daughter need to know? What else does a mom need to say?
I can honestly say that being a mother is the best part of being…it makes you laugh, cry and pray…sometimes all at the same time. Mothers are simply women who open their hearts to others and love unconditionally and, yes, sometimes unconventionally. The manner of motherhood is less important than the method of motherhood.
Here is an impertinent and wonderful picture of my mom, horsing around with her camera-in-hand-so-she-doesn't-have-to-be-in-the-picture daughter!
Monday, April 12, 2010 By: Michelle Wiginton
Losing Hannah in a Sea of Cotton Balls
Hannah was the most beautiful baby that ever was or ever shall be for me. She had red ringlets of baby soft hair, sparkling blue eyes and alabaster skin with the slightest hint of freckles across her nose. Hannah was a very bright child whose intelligence was but a promise of the future ahead for her. She was kind, loving and her laughter was like bottled sunshine on a cloudy day. Hannah was perfect. But she was never real.
Hannah was the name that I had chosen for the child I would someday have with my husband. We talked about her daily, saw other children and took the best parts of them to make up our Hannah. We dreamed of what she would look like and of all the things we would do with our sweet girl. I loved Hannah, or at least the thought of her, almost as much as I loved real people. Hannah would be the child I “raised right” now that I was older, wiser and better able to afford a child. She would keep me young, as she grew and be a joy to her older half-brothers. She would join my husband and I together like an unshakable bond. But Hannah only lived in the recesses of our minds and I lost her for good one morning in a sea of cotton balls.
My husband’s doctor only gave him a 50/50 chance of ever being able to father a child, and that only if he underwent a costly surgery that insurance would not cover and that we could not afford. I was the last woman in my family who had not had a hysterectomy and my deteriorating health demanded that I go through with the surgery. I was angry when the nurse paraded me by the nursery on the way to my hospital room. I was mad at the pregnant girls I saw in the waiting room with loving hands on their protruding stomachs. I was hurt that God never saw fit to give me the baby girl I had always dreamed of having. Yet, God sent me a hug in the form of one very petite nurse who came to prep me for my early morning surgery.
I cannot remember her name, but a smiling face burst into my room of gloom and she acted as if this was not one of the darkest days of my life. She chatted about this and that and saw to my comfort as if I was her sole patient. Then, she asked me if I had children and I told her about my wonderful son. “You are so blessed,” she said. “I see so many girls in here every day, much younger than you are, who will never know what it feels like to hold their baby in their arms. You are lucky to have had the chance to raise a child of your own. I had to have a hysterectomy, too, but God used me to raise three adopted children and I would not change my experience for the world.”
Blessed? Me? I guess I had been blessed to have such a wonderful son in Halston and having him had brightened each day of my life. I could still look forward to blessing my grandchildren, my stepsons, Halston’s friends, and the host of other young people that come in and out of my life. God wasn’t punishing me by not letting me have a child; He just had another path in mind for me to take at this time. By the time I saw the inside of the operating room, I no longer felt sorry for myself and mad at God for taking Hannah from me. I was thankful for Halston and all the many years behind and in front of me that we would share. I know that the Lord held my hand as I drifted off into the anesthesia and He listened quietly as I told Him all about the girl that I had dreamed of for so many years. Then, as if looking through a sea of cotton balls, I gave Hannah to God and I let her go once and for all. Slowly blinking again, I saw an austere recovery room filled with doctors, nurses and a newly healed woman who was not going to hold onto what could never be, but who was thrusting her loving spirit around what should be in her world.
Being in God’s perfect will is not about getting everything you want, it is about taking everything you are given and using it to glorify the Giver. Living in God’s perfect will is not always fun, easy or where you might want to be, but it is where you will grow, mature and receive mighty blessings if you are willing to accept His direction for your life. God’s map for your life is not set in stone, with a strict list of directions to heaven. It is a perpetual, living pathway that leads where you need to go, when you need to be there. If you choose to take another path, you will be on someone else’s road that will lead you right back to where you left your own path…time and time again until you get back on the right path. If you decide not to go any further and stop on your path, then you will not receive all the blessings that God has in store for you on the way to your final destination. No, it is much easier to just keep putting one foot in front of the other on your own path and following where the Lord might lead you. He will show you flowers and scenery beyond comparison. He will hold your hand through the dense forests, rushing rivers and high mountain passes. He will take you where you need to be to become the best “You” you can be. What other map can promise you such great treasure?
Letting go of a dream that I had fostered and fed since childhood was not something that I wanted to do, because it meant letting go of the pain and loss that accompanied that memory as well. I had to release the fantasy and grasp reality to realize that my future lay in another direction and that I would miss what God had for me if I continued to live in a past that never really was in the first place. Giving Hannah to God allowed me to turn a corner in my life and start off in another direction full of promise. I know not where this path leads, but I know that I am not alone and I no longer feel the pain and loss that had previously come with thoughts of Hannah. She was at peace now and so was I. Looking back, I see no familiar or painful sights because of the bend in my road. Looking forward, I see all I ever wanted in new and exciting forms. I guess He really does know best. Are there things in your life you need to let go….and let God handle?
Monday, April 05, 2010 By: Michelle Wiginton
No matter who Sir Thomas Sean Connery portrays in the movies, he always comes off as a sexy, debonair and suave gentleman who reeks of romance. Blessed with a voice that could charm the pants of a saint, he need not do anything more than conjure up a bit of the Scottish brogue to incite swooning women and jealous men. However, it’s more than a look. It’s more than a sound. It’s the entire package. Strong. Striking. Mysterious. A bit of a rebel and a rouge.
Although the man is old enough to be my father, I can safely say that none of my dad’s cronies look anything like Connery. The epitome of an international man of mystery, he is also a bad boy, a hero and a heartbreaker with flowing gray hair, a full beard and strong, steady hands. When I see Sean Connery on television or in a movie, I have to physically stop myself from fantasizing about a man whom I have always considered as ruggedly and wildly handsome as his home country.
I think his appeal comes from never running away from a challenge, especially one wearing high heels, spandex and more than one concealed weapon. Sean Connery is intense when he speaks, directing his full attention to the person he is talking to. Every moment is slow, precise and never includes a hint of hurry or indecision.
I have never heard that Sir Connery is a fool and I am quite certain he has fully utilized and honed his natural persona, which has made him quite popular with the ladies and not-as-popular with the men. Is this an unfair advantage to the rest of mankind? Certainly not. Just strive for what Sean has managed to perfect—making every person important to you feel like they are a stunning supermodel, Prince Charming or a priceless treasure.
In order to accomplish this, let’s break down Sean’s sexy shell and see what’s inside. First of all, he always looks good in what he’s wearing. From khaki jungle garb, to cowboy attire, to a sleek tuxedo…or much less. Then you have that soft and sexy beard, but then again he looks just as great clean-shaven. That voice, strong and direct, always tinged with a bit of humor that makes you wonder what he’s thinking…and when he is going to get around to giving you a kiss!
His eyes reach out and grab you, demanding your full attention…even if you are watching a late night Connery movie on a tiny black and white TV screen. Those hands—strong like a warrior’s, not like a dandy’s—are the hands of a man who works for what he wants and doesn’t expect others to do it for him.
Now, even though Sean Connery is very male and exudes a masculinity that defies definition, there are many of his attributes that could easily be adopted and most assuredly would be appreciated by your sweetie. Start by being comfortable with who you are and what you wear. Don’t fight fashion, define your own personal style and set some of your own trends. Expound upon your personal assets and never underestimate the magnetism of a genuine smile.
Be kind in your speech and think about your words BEFORE you say them…and don’t always be in a rush (Boy, do I struggle with this one!). Slow down, savor the moments you spend with others and make every minute worth remembering. And, when you are talking with someone, give them the gift of your full attention and respect them enough to listen to what they are saying, so they FEEL valued, respected and special.
Don’t be afraid of hard work and remember that something made with your hands or your heart is better than anything money can buy. (Personally, I like hand-whittled diamonds, heartfelt checks with lots of zeros and two-hour massages…wink! Wink! Nudge! Nudge!)
Being a romantic is not something you can pull out of the closet like a tuxedo and put on for special occasions, it is a way of life that demands you be engaged in your most special relationships every day. Also, you don’t save your loving, thoughtful and generous nature for your spouse…extend your efforts to your friends, family and co-workers….more on that in a later blog!
I’m not saying you have to a candlelit dinner waiting every night (guys, this goes for you, too), but every once in a while is certainly nice. Likewise, a love note, sexy pager message or a lacy “welcome home” from a hard day at work can turn up the flame and keep the romance bubbling like a warm post of stew and cornbread on a cold, winter’s night.
Women, too, can learn a thing or two from Sir Sexy Sean. What man would not like a confident, collected and forthright woman who speaks kindly, works hard and could melt a cold heart with a hot look? (…only a stupid, close-minded chauvinist who is better off living alone in his RV behind his mom’s house, drinking warm beer and sitting around in his saggy underwear with his flea-infested dog, that’s who!)
Be proud of who you are, where you come from and what you have to offer the world. Utilize your strengths to surprise and delight others. Are you a great cook? Make her a wonderful dinner. Are you good with your hands? Make him a picture frame and put yourself inside. Are you a writer? Tell the world how wonderful your honey is with sweet words…you can always use Splenda, if you are a diabetic!
Divorce & Kids
Monday, March 29, 2010 By: Michelle Wiginton
The Girl Next Door
Trailers do not have soundproof walls or doors. But I did not need sounds to tell me something was going very wrong with my fairytale existence…for me, once upon a time would not end in happily ever after. I was just starting school, in Brownies and in the middle of a divorce. One day, my mom just wasn’t there…six months later, the girl next door, Jean, married my dad and we moved into her trailer with her son, Robert. The new marriage was not started before the old one ended, but it sure felt that way in my heart. I vowed to never marry anyone with children…never say “never” to God.
Twenty-four years after my dad married the girl next door, my husband did the same with me. We were neighbors, our children played together and spent the night together, and we became friends almost as an afterthought. How could my Dad marry someone other than my Mom? I found from personal experience that it was not that hard. Growing up with a “step monster” was almost too easy. If anything was wrong or bad about my life, I could blame her. “Her” could be my stepmom or my real Mom—whichever one would fit better in whatever situation I happened to be in at the time. I spent all my time blaming others for my problems and no time dealing with those problems—yes, I had it good.
Robert, my stepbrother who is a month or so younger than my younger sister Ann, was quiet and thoughtful…much like his mother. He was dark, we were light. He was silent, we could not shut up. He was different, we were the same. I didn’t want them in my life and I wasn’t shy about it. I wanted my Mom, my life and me back. How could I be a momma’s girl when I never saw my momma? How could I learn to be a good mother on our monthly weekend visits? How could someone leave me…I was special. It took me years to realize, it was not about me.
I spent a great deal of my time as a kid trying to figure out what I did to make my parents split and what I could do to get them back together. No matter what I tried, the pages on the calendar kept turning. Looking back, I now see that I could not appreciate what I had because all I saw and thought about was what I had lost. My mother lost her mother at nine, my Dad lost his father at 13…I believe they did the best they could with what they knew. I had looked around at other kid’s parents and wondered why mine could not be more like them. I talked with many friends years later who had looked at my parents and wondered why their parents had not been more like mine. How ironic…I guess the grass does look greener on the other side of the mountain.
Today, I am the daughter of two mothers and one father. Maryann gave birth to me, we shared a face, and we shared many stories, memories and a French heritage (she is now with the angels). Jean raised me, taught me how to keep house, cook and clean, and we share many triumphs, challenges and spiritual strong towers. I call them both “Mom” and, more importantly, my heart can no longer tell the difference. They are as different as night and day and I love them both, each for their unique qualities. Neither is/was perfect, but neither am I. Tom, my father, has still never told me, “I am proud of you,” but I had to stop holding back my love for him until I heard those words, because I may never hear them. I found that forgiveness is freedom, the past can haunt the present if you let it, and that parents just get you started in the race…it is up to you how you finish it.
Below (I'm the second tow-head from the right)!