She is one dedicated, hard working, and determined momma. I'm SO happy to feature her this month. She doesn't think she's deserving of this recognition, but I know even from knowing her via Facebook that she most DEFINITELY is!
A few of the coolest things I've learned about Jessica include: she's a super stepmom, who is also real and honest about her challenges along the way. She's gotten herself in the best shape of her life and feels great. Her family is her world. Love it.
Congrats, Jess, you're awesome, definitely someone other moms can look up to! I imagine your own mother would be very, very proud of you.
All photos from Jessica Bussey
1. Describe your children in 3-5 words.
Kaylee (step-daughter): caring, reserved, respectful, easy going, sensitive.
Candice: thoughtful, sassy, determined, talkative, bright.
Jack: loving, tough, loud, fearless, energetic
2. How old are your children?Kaylee 13, Candice 8, Jack 3
3. How would you describe your pregnancies?
Pregnancies were amazing. I loved being pregnant. I still say to this day that I would go through the pregnancies again but am all set with another child . I never had any random cravings, pains or anything. The only thing I didn't like was the comments I was getting starting at about 6 months along with my son. I was huge so I was constantly hearing "are you sure there's only 1?!" "You still have HOW long?!" "He's going to be a good 10lb plus baby."
4. Describe yourself as a mom in 3-5 words.
Softie, committed, grateful, loving, generous.
5. What type of mom do you hope your children think you were someday when they're old enough to tell you? Particularly, what type of stepmom do you hope your oldest thinks you are?I hope my children first and foremost realize that everything I did was for them. Not staying a stay at home mom, pushing them harder and spending more time on homework, those extra made up problems and 5 min. more of reading.
And FUN! That I did all I could whenever I could to make their days full of laughter and smiles.
I hope as a stepmom Kaylee thinks of me as a friend. I am not her mother, have never claimed to be and would never want to take that place. While I hope she respects me as a mother figure, I want her to be able to come to me for those times you're too scared or embarrassed to go to your parents. That adult figure you can trust and confide in.
6. What things have you done as a mom that you're most proud of?I've stepped outside my comfort zone for the sake of my children. My husband's schedule had been the complete opposite of mine. I never liked doing things "alone". I was always scared of the "what ifs", especially when it came to taking the kids out by myself. I couldn't sit around the house every evening and weekend anymore. I started doing more play dates and adventures alone with the kids. It was hard at first 1.) to not have the help of my husband and 2.) feeling somewhat guilty that we were out having fun while he was working hard to support us, but I quickly learned that this was part of MY job as a mother.
Also potty training! I potty trained my daughter completely on my own when my husband was away on a work trip to Mexico and my son kind of just did it on his own over night. But man what a feeling to stop changing diapers
7. What have been the most difficult parts to being a mom?
Difficulties of being a mom kind of go in hand with the previous question. Having an opposite schedule of my husband and trying to do nights alone... Homework, after school activities, dinner, bath, bed. I always felt guilty for being so tired while my husband was working overnight shifts. But I just couldn't find a rhythm, I needed that extra set of hands! I don't know how you single moms or those whose husbands are away longer do it. I got into a very low slump for a good year where I was just feeling like a single mom. Couldn't be happier to say that's all changes and my husband is finally home nights!
Another difficult part for me has been not having my own mother around to call for advice or have my children meet... When I lost her at 17 I didn't think this far into the future. I wish she was here to play with my kids and offer advice and tell me about the payback I'm receiving
8. What is your favorite child product(s) or must-have parenting item that makes your mom job easier?
Is wine an acceptable answer, or my iPad?! Haha but seriously, I don't really have a favorite product. A quiet glass of wine while the kids are on the iPad or outside playing has often helped me gain my sanity. just their good old fashioned toys (baby dolls and matchbox cars in particular) can get me through making dinner or folding laundry.
9. What advice would you give to someone who has become a stepmom for the first time? What worked for you, what challenges did you experience at first or even now?
This one is hard because every situation is different. I didn't exactly get along with my step-mom so I knew right from the get go I wanted to work hard at making my relationship with my step-daughter better than what I grew up with.
In my situation it definitely helped that my husband and stepdaughter's mother were never really together after she was born and I was there from a very early stage. After my husband and I got married my stepdaughter moved to FL with her mother, so when she would come for a couple weeks at a time I had jealousy issues. I was jealous of the time and money he was spending with her while I often felt "stuck" at home with my newborn. That all quickly passed thankfully, but it did put a strain on my marriage.
Now, I could write a book about the challenges now that she is almost 14! 2 years ago she chose to live with us, we are beyond thrilled! But there are still challenges, maybe even more difficult than before. She had a completely different upbringing and it's hard to change 12 years of habits (especially the cleaning up after herself!) We also are currently having a very difficult time with her mother. And now that she is older we are trying to have her be a little more involved in the conversations and choices. There is way more going on with that than any of us have time for me to go into, but again it puts a strain on my marriage. We don't always see eye to eye with how situations with Kaylee or her mother are dealt with and I have to try and remind myself to take a step back, that's it's not my "fight".
My advice to a new stepmom would be to just try and be a neutral ground. Be open minded to be there and listen and to give advice. And include them in your family as your own... I've had to ask myself many times "would I do this for Candice or Jack"? Then I should do it for Kaylee! "
10. What is a typical day like for you?
I'm up at about 5:30ish, shower and then make everyone's lunches. Wake Kaylee at 6:20 and finish getting myself ready. (Jack is usually up anywhere between 6-6:30 so there's always that meeting his needs thrown in there!) Wake Candice at 6:50, the next hour pretty much consists on constant nagging and yelling for Candice to eat her breakfast, get dressed, do hair and teeth and we are rushing out the door at 7:50 to wait for the bus. 8:15 Jack and I leave the house for work/school (yes I am lucky enough to work at my son's school!) I work until 4:30. So when I get home I make sure homework is done and start dinner. Now that my husband is home evenings that is now our new exercise time. We have all been going into our basement and working out/exercising together for a good half hour. Showers/baths by 7:00. I try to get Jack in bed by 8 (not always the case) and Candice & Kaylee reading. Girls go to bed at 9 and Adam and I go to our room after where we finally catch up on each other's days and are asleep around 10:30/11.
11. What 5 things would you like to do with your kids someday, if anything were possible and money no object?
Travel travel travel!!! West coast, islands, Europe, Disney, everywhere! I also would make sure they are given the best education. And this may sound silly but the girls have already been asking, concerts! I'd love to take them to front row, back stage pass concerts of their favorite artists.
12. What are 3 things you're thankful for right now? (Think Thanksgiving time!)
My family. They complete me. My life would be so boring without them.
My daddy. I will never take him for granted. He molded me into the woman I am today and I never would have made it without his tough love. My job. That allows me to put a roof over my children's head, food in their stomachs, clothes on their backs and some of the extras to help put smiles on their faces.
13. Tell us a time where you felt like you failed at parenting... but then realized you truly had not failed, things worked out fine.
I can't think of any one particular time, but in all honesty it's the times I get wrapped up in the arguments with my husband in front of my kids. I always feel like a horrible mom when this happens, that I should know better and pull myself together. The girls are both older now that I talk with them after things have calmed down and I get much needed hugs, Jack too actually. And although I can't say he completely understands I've seen that our silly arguments are the farthest from his mind 5 minutes after the fact.
14. You've recently gotten in shape, ran many races, and overall set a goal for yourself and reached it. How do you feel? What helped you to stay on track and focused on yourself, healthy? What is your advice to other moms who want to get in shape and make themselves a priority?
I feel amazing! I know I am in the best shape I have ever been! My sister in law was doing the same programs as me and I think we motivated each other... We never actually worked out together, but I thought of her as my workout partner. She held me accountable with daily texts of "how was your workout today?" Or a simple "that sucked" and even some sweaty selfies and my husband. He was my biggest motivator. He is my running partner and I never would have started or completed my first race if it wasn't for him pushing me. Having a partner of some sort to hold you accountable seem to really help me.
My advice is that you have to want it. I don't know how many times I said I was going to diet. All I can think is that I finally wanted it. I lost my mother at age 17 to heart disease, she was only 38. Once I hit 30 it just kind of hit me. I want to be around to see my children grow up and have kids of their own. It was time to make my health a priority and stop making excuses ("I just had a kid... Yeah 3 years ago!").
And while I am so proud of how I look, the greatest accomplishment is how I feel! I feel strong and healthy. I can go out and just run a 5k with my niece with only a week's notice. It just feels good and that makes it all worth it.