The Office Mommy: Navigating the Ups and Downs of Parenting

A Canal Winchester resident shares her thoughts on child rearing, positive tactics and time management.

Michele Cuthbert
T.J. Frazee, Ben Frazee and Morgan Bushman

Morgan Bushman of Canal Winchester refers to herself as a “bonus” mom, a term she coined for her role helping her fiancé, T.J., raise his 4-year-old son, Ben. In this second installment of “The Office Mommy” series, which highlights all types of moms and their perspectives on the trials and triumphs of motherhood, Bushman talks about the joy T.J. and Ben bring to her life, as well as the coordination involved in working an opposite shift from her first-responder fiancé.

What surprised you most as a mom?

“What has surprised me the most has been the amount of love that a child has to give and the amount of love I had for a child I did not birth. Also, there is the dependency of a child on you. It’s not just about you anymore.”

What are your top three challenges and how do you deal with them?

  • “No matter how sick I am feeling, I need to take care of him, and it’s hard to take care of a child when you’re not feeling well yourself."
  • “Being a stepparent, I’m not his ‘real’ mom and I’m being constantly reminded of that, but I feel very strongly that I’m making an impact on his life and can be equal and can call him my son. He learns by example and is constantly watching me."
  • “I have the constant worry of, ‘Am I doing enough as his stepmom?’ Worrying about his health and what he needs and the financial aspect of having a child. Nothing is bad, just different. I’ve only missed 10 months of his life.”

How do you practice kind and firm positive parenting?

“I definitely don’t like yelling at a toddler. He learns at his own level. Getting at his eye level and coaching him and asking him what he learned from the mistake helps. I try to be calm and reassuring that it’s OK and we’ll clean it up. I believe you should treat others the way you want to be treated. My fiancé and I don’t yell in our relationship, so why would we have that with him?”

How do you deal with tantrums?

“He is a very sensitive soul. I have to excuse myself and check my feelings before I react. I give him a few minutes to cry it out and then we talk about what he needs to feel better. We have to convince him TV is not the only way to have fun. He can sit in a corner for a bit and then rejoin us when he’s ready.”

What family traditions will you integrate in raising Ben?

“We go to the zoo lights every year, but there are not set traditions right now. We do something fun once a week.”

How has your parenting approach differed from how you grew up? Why?

“I definitely have a more calm approach. My dad pushed us to be more than average. I’m more carefree versus having a strict schedule and just go with the flow. My parents were a lot more strict.”

Who is your support system?

“My fiancé is definitely a huge supporter and reassuring. My parents have taken on an amazing role. They love that kid to death and don’t treat him any differently than if he came from my own body. My brother has also been a huge supporter. They’ve been amazing and T.J.’s parents have been great. It’s so heartwarming.”

Michele Cuthbert

Do you have any time management tips you can share with others?

“I have a very weird [work] schedule of 4-12 Monday through Friday and then it’s going to be [switching to] 6 p.m. to 4 a.m., so time management is huge. Always make time for yourself, whether it is 30 minutes on Facebook or coffee on the porch so you don’t get stressed. Leave early because you know if you or the child will forget something. Enjoy the moment; don’t be so focused on the time. Make time for you and your spouse to have time alone and have your moments. It’s a huge role in your partner’s life and Ben’s become more affectionate with us from seeing how we interact with each other.”

Michele Cuthbert is a working mom and the founder of marketing and public relations agency Baker Creative and The Office Mommy blog.