Meet Rhea Blasko
Interior Designer/Antique Dealer/Owner of Opal Interiors LLC
What is your story? How did you become a stepmom?
Jake and my cousin, Paul, have been best friends since high school, and after college they ended up living in Arizona. Every year, Paul came home for Popcorn Fest and one year he talked Jake into tagging along. Just so you know, Popcorn Fest in small town Valparaiso, Indiana, is a BIG DEAL! It’s a celebration that’s been around since the 70’s of our town’s biggest celebrity, Orville Redenbacher. (Yes, the popcorn guy!)
That day I was at Old Style Inn, with my mom and aunt Mary (Paul’s mom) when in walks my cousin and his super cute friend, Jake. I played it cool, but I had my eye on him. Throughout the day, we casually talked and found it funny how we had never met while going to the same high school and having so many mutual friends. But at the end of the night, we just kind of left it like that. The next day I woke up to a Facebook message from Jake asking if I’d like to see him again before he left, and I excitedly agreed. The instant we sat down for our date he blurted out, “I have a kid.” At the time, it didn’t really mean anything to me. But boy did that change!!
How has your relationship with your stepdaughter changed over the years?
The first time I met Rylin she was 3. I was visiting from Indiana and I was introduced as her dad’s friend. It was kind of just a test run to see how things went. By the end of the trip, she told me she loved me and I was mildly horrified. It was many months later when Jake and Rylin visited me again in Indiana. Things went well. I think she was more interested in playing with my cats, but she was young, so I understood.
Then in 2013 I made the big decision to move to Arizona with Jake and Rylin, and that year was probably the hardest of my life. I was no longer just some lady she saw once in a while or said hello to over the phone. I was there ALL THE TIME. It was hard on both of us, and Jake’s ex wife made sure not to make it any easier. It was a long road to adjusting. It’s something I still feel from time to time, but it was never anything we rushed. That is key: letting your relationship take its own time and shape.
We eventually found things we both enjoyed, like crafting, watching Goosebumps, collecting crystals, and letting her get away with a few things her dad didn’t. I could write a book on the ups and downs! They both begin and end on a daily basis. I think it will always be that way. The important things to remember are to have patience, always be yourself, focus on what’s best for your family, find time for yourself, and have a sturdy support group for the days when all these things fail.
What is the best thing about being a stepmom?
The best part of being a step mom is creating your own little world with this person. It takes a lot of time and patience but without knowing it, it eventually just happens. Sometimes it’s the little things that stay with you. The nights playing Uno for a hundred rounds, car rides to school with our dog, teaching her how to ride her bike, baking our own made up recipes to see how they turn out. All these little things add up and one day she spends a long weekend with her other parent and you find yourself missing something about her or wondering if she took her allergy pill and if her best friend is still mad at her. You can’t make it happen over night. She kind of just sneakily stuck to me.
Can you share a special time that you had with your stepdaughter?
This one is simple for me. It’s more my memory than hers, but the first time my name was included in her nightly prayers was a big moment for me. She wasn’t asked to do so and it took years to make it on that list but it happened and now it happens every night.
What is the hardest thing about being a stepmom? What has helped you get through the difficult times?
Honestly, there are so many hard parts to stepmommin’… the balance between love and discipline, the ever changing environment for the child and how that affects their mood, having your significant other’s ex still in the picture, getting your clothes back before she grows out of them. (My eyes are rolling out of my head right now.) Jake and I aren’t married, so explaining who I am in relation to Rylin to other parents, teachers, and the world can be difficult and painful when your position isn’t taken seriously even though it’s pretty darn serious. I’m sure I’ll be able to add 10 more by the end of the week!
Thank the Lord I have open lines of communication with Jake, a lot of venting to my mom, time alone, stepmom meetups, and knowing that the bad times pass and the good outweighs them. Jake, Rylin, Bodie (pup), and I are a family now. I guess it doesn’t really matter that I’m not her bio mom, or even her stepmom; we’ve decided we’re a family and families weather storms together. That’s just what we do.
What advice would you give to new stepmoms?
- Your relationship with your step child might suck in the beginning. It’s normal. Stay strong.
- Be patient, listen, and don’t try to change a child. Instead, help them become the best versions of themselves.
- You are the adult. You are to be respected. Make sure you and your step child know that.
- Be yourself.
- Never talk bad about the child’s other parent in front of the child.
- Give your relationship time to figure itself out. Don’t compare your family situation to anyone else’s.
- Find something you and your step child can share together.
- Always send the clothes and or belongings back to the other parent. Even if they are withholding yours.
- Remember it’s okay to need or want help. Find stepmom meetups, read books, and go to a therapist. Do them all– I do!
Connect with Rhea
Have any questions? Want to hangout with some cool stepmoms? Need a break? Want Rhea to design your new house? 😉 Great!! Find Rhea at East Valley stepmom meetups, email her at Rhea.OpalInteriors@gmail, or follow her on Instagram @miss_ray_ .
Rhea is also teaching a Shibori Pillowcase dyeing workshop at The Art House in downtown Gilbert on Sept 14th! Check out all the details and buy tickets HERE. Take a night off from stepmommin’, get your girlfriends together, and tell her your stepmom story!