Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


May 18, 2014

The things we do for children

BLUEFIELD — I thought I looked OK sitting on top of the horse in the middle of a field in Flat Top. My husband squashed any ideas I had about becoming a rookie equestrian when he said, “You look out of place.”

I swear I caught my stepdaughter, only 4-years-old, nod in agreement. She looked bored.

My outfit, capris and flip-flops, didn’t match my friend’s jeans and boots.

As I clumsily slid down the horse, I thought, ‘Yeah, this isn’t for me.”

My brief ride on reporter Anne Elgin’s horse Ariat convinced me I was no horsewoman. But I only rode the horse to convince a 4-year-old it wasn’t that scary. It didn’t work. She was too busy playing with the dog Madison. We left Anne’s without any more horse rides. But I was proud the stepdaughter petted the horse and fed the animal a carrot. (We held our breath when the horse bit down on the carrot.) On the way home, she said, “I want dogs and cats.”

The stepdaughter never mentioned the horse at all. At her request, I painted her nails before bed. She might not be a horsewoman, but least she likes her nail polish.


I have written a lot about my recent wedding — the colors of the bridesmaid dresses, the cake and the flowers. I have written about all the fun details and funny stories of newlywed life. But I have never written about my role as a stepmom. Right now, it seems sacred, too personal to share with words and paragraph. I am amazed how my prioritizes have changed without any resistance from my former single self. I am happy to watch “Frozen.” I don’t mind sharing my cucumbers out of a salad. I like spending a day off work playing at the park instead of the mall. I guess that is how I found myself riding a horse, something I would have never done before her.


One time, more than a year ago, someone sent me an anonymous email about my column. They wanted me write about the deeper, philosophical aspects of life. The anonymous writer wanted advice and words to live by. Those were the only kind statements. I won’t reveal the rest. But in this business, you learn to shake those comments off and keep writing. Lifestyles is a happy place in the newspaper. Yes, my horse story is silly. So is dancing in the living room, blowing bubbles off the front porch and making funny faces in the mirror. Silly, but they reveal the desire to build a foundation with my stepdaughter. As for advice? I have none. I am learning as I go, praying that God will see my heart and bless our blended family.


I never know who will read this column and relate to the words on the page. But today, I am hoping another stepmom will read and be able to relate. With hope, a timid horse rider will remember his or her own awkward ride around the ring. More importantly, parents, friends and family will recall their own bouts of silliness — dancing, funny faces and songs — with the small children in their lives. During the last year, I have discovered what most parents already know — the joy of having a child in their life. I am learning very quickly that little children want puppies, kittens, ice cream on a cone and a lot of milk. But, in return, they give plenty of love and smiles.


My friend Leslie’s grandmother passed away this week. She cut out my column each week and kept them in a safe place. She loved to talk about them with Leslie. I am sad Betty Jo Sanders won’t be reading this week’s column. She was a spunky lady and will be greatly missed.

Jamie Null is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at

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