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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

New Blog

I have a new blog, oh faithful readers.  Yes, I do have a select few of those – faithful readers 😉 .  Thank you to my faithfuls for sticking with me through thick pain and thin blogging.  You know who you are 😉  I know who you are.  I follow you faithfully in return, not commenting much, but always there.

My new blog is about my quest for a baby.  The quest is about to get scary and I figured a new blog would do it justice.

May I present to you…..To the Womb and Back – One Woman’s Quest to Have a Baby.

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Life is THRILLING!

Soooooo…..she finally writes a post (I hear you mumble)….

It’s actually a bit of a “nothing” post though, just a quick catch-me-up type.

Life is just so THRILLING right now!

New house – closing by end January, moved in by end February.
New baby – well, not quite yet, but in the making.  And am also thinking of starting a new blog to document the progress.
New job – shhhhhh….it’s supposed to be very quiet.  And, well it is.  More to come on this by the end of this week.

I just wanted to record this wonderful feeling of bursting out of my skin with excitement!

And say that even though I am not blogging very much, I am still reading your blogs.  Those that celebrate the December holidays, hope you had a great time.  And a very Happy & Prosperous 2009 to everyone!

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Jenty did this meme today inviting those inspired to join in.  No, she didn’t tag me, but something my step-daughter said a few days ago, inspired me to write and to jump on the band-wagon.

Apparently it’s about mutation?!

“Proponents of memes suggest that memes evolve via natural selection – in a way very similar to Charles Darwin’s ideas concerning biological evolution – on the premise that variation, mutation, competition, and “inheritance” influence their replicative success. For example, while one idea may become extinct, other ideas will survive, spread and mutate – for better or for worse – through modification.”

So we’re all about mutation and propagation here, people. As we’ve all already subdivided and had kids, let’s mutate! Add yours to the list.

1. Real Moms don’t flinch when they talk about boobs. They do make you laugh your brains out.

2. Real moms go on vacation. Real moms go on vacation and learn to play traffic cop.

3. Real moms brag about their kids

3. Real moms do not mince words when they present the truth.

4. Real moms juggle

5. Real moms “resist the guilt and embrace the journey”

6. Real moms don’t give a damn to media generated Mommy Wars

7. Real moms have kids with potty mouths

8.  Real moms sometimes forget about toddler-proofing

And mine….

9. Real moms can be step-moms

The rules:

  • Copy the above text to your blog, leaving all links in tact and add in who tagged you.
  • Add your ‘real mom’ contribution to the list.
  • Tag as many moms as you can.
  • And meme-ify!

I hate tagging!  So here is my mutation (along with any grammer errors I might have found)…if you feel inspired, join in.

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With all the innocence of a 7 year old, my step-daughter said recently “One day soon you will be a real mom!”, excitedly referring to her Dad’s upcoming vasectomy reversal.  She soooooo badly wants a baby in the family, preferably a sister, sharing her room.

I looked at her and said “Honey, I’m a REAL MOM already!  Being a step-mom to you and your brother is as real to me and you as your real mom is”.

Of course I understood what she was saying…one day soon, god(s) willing…I will be a biological mom.

But I wanted her to know that the mothering I do for them is just as important as what their “real” mom does.  When the kids are with us, if I am not mothering with all my heart and soul (mistakes and all)  I am doing them and myself a disservice.  How much more “real” can you get than that?  I mean, really!

The words coming out of my mouth surprised me as much as her.

Wow.  I’m impressed with where we are now in this complicated “blended family” business, compared to where we were 18 months ago.

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Today is a date to remember.

SD called me on the kid’s cell phone. Of her own free will. That is the first time ever.

Yay!

The kids are on vacation 8 hours away with their BM and Mom-Mom (or grandmother for all you non-US folks). SD called to say they are having fun, arrived in daylight yesterday, had time for a swim before bed time and will probably go to the amusement park today or tomorrow.

I am touched beyond belief. Not only did she call. But she just called to chat and to share some of her happiness.

While the kids hardly ever call their Dad when they are not with us, they certainly they NEVER call me. Wow. I guess we are making progress…little itty bitty steps.

Abbreviation descriptions can be found here.

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Wow, I guess the Universe really does work in miraculous ways.

Through my blog stats, I discovered the CNN.com link and then I actually read the article.

I had been feeling confused and unsure about whether B did the right thing in telling the kids a bit about what happened between him and his ex. The cardinal rule in divorced families is never to bad-mouth the other parent. But what happens when the kids blame themselves or others inappropriately for the breakup? What happens when the truth is bad? And to tell it, you have to ‘bad-mouth’ the other parent?

Do you perpetuate the untruth in the name of protecting the kids? Or do you give them the truth, in the most unbiased way possible?

After a series of happenings in our house…(M thinking she had to stay with her Mom and not come to us because her Mom had no one and was lonely…M not understanding why Daddy, Mommy, Mommy’s friend and me could not all live under one roof – happily…both kids blaming me for the fact that their parents were not together, when it was their Mom who took another lover during the marriage, and them acting out with me severely because of that belief…the kids thinking ‘Daddy left them and their life’, when yes Daddy did leave but that was because Mommy was living with her lover under the same roof and he decided the healthier option was for him to leave)…B decided that the kids needed to learn some of the facts (as much as you can explain to a 6 and 8 year old anyway).

And so he told them:

  • How Mommy decided to love another woman and not Daddy anymore.
  • How Daddy moved to the basement to give Mommy and her new ‘friend’ some space and yet still be their Dad in every way possible.
  • How Dad eventually realised what a half existance that really was and that he needed to move on and start his own life.
  • How Daddy was paying for them and their Mommy all the time (while she played stay-at-home-mom) even though they didn’t know it.
  • How Dad found and met me – after Mommy and Daddy split and Mommy found her ‘friend’.
  • How we got married and moved closer to them so that he could be as much of a Dad to them as he could possibly be (he now has 50/50 custody).
  • How Mommy then decided that her new ‘friend’ was not good enough either (after the kids formed really strong bonds with her and were calling Mommy’s friend ‘Step-Mom’) and started loving another woman.
  • How first ‘friend’ moved to the basement (seeing a pattern yet?) and then finally moved out of the house.
  • How if Mommy was alone, it was through her own choosing. And how in fact she wasn’t as alone as they thought she was.

I think the kids were amazed. They had all sorts of questions about Mommy’s ‘friendships’ and we had to explain that although it doesn’t happen in all families that 2 Mommy’s can love each other the same way that husbands and wives can love each other. They wanted to know why their Mommy did not marry if she loved second ‘friend’ so much. So then we had to explain that marriage between 2 woman in our State was illegal. Things kids shouldn’t have to know about at such young ages.

All really tough stuff. The kids were ok though. I sensed relief from them that Daddy did not abandon them like they’d been allowed to believe.

I think he made one crucial mistake though. One of the kids asked him if he still liked Mommy. And he said no. They asked why. At that point he should have explained (IMO anyway) that sometimes people no longer like each other and relate it to their changing childhood relationships. But instead he said that he thinks she makes bad decisions. They latched onto that and threw that one specific statement back into their Mother’s face the next time they saw her.

Anyway, the point of this post was to say that in the CNN/Oprah article, Gary Neuman says there are times the cardinal rule HAS to be broken:

Gary says a parent needs to break the cardinal rule. “Children in these circumstances, we cannot have them feeling that they are somewhat responsible for the rejection from the parent who has abandoned them. So that’s the time when we have to say to our children, ‘It is wrong as a parent not to be there for your child.'”

I now see that in our case, the cardinal rule had to be broken. There were just too many misconceptions that were being perpetuated into the kid’s belief systems. I believe that healing can only happen in truth.

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Let me apologize in advance as not all my readers will know of my back story and so this post might not make sense all the way.

Today I came across the poem by Kahlil Gibran from The Prophet called “Speak to us of Children”. And I listened as he spoke. And I was inspired.

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,
– Speak to us of children!

And he said:
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come trough you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of to-narrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

And now I find myself in terrifying waters! I just made tentative moves to break the tension between B’s ex and myself, agreeing to a meeting with the 3 of us, with the goal of talking through our issues. This is not because I like her and am secretly missing her (as if!). It’s because I think we will all parent more effectively in a cooperative environment instead of in a conflicting one and I think the kids will ultimately benefit from a united parental front (and so will the parents!). However, I am terrified that all I’ve worked for over the last year or so will just slip through my fingers in the name of ‘playing nice’. And I DO NOT want that to happen. But I also know how I can get. At my heart, I am a people pleaser and I often tend to forget all about my own needs. I then either burn out or grow more and more unconscious in my unhappiness and eventually explode with suppressed anger. Over the last year I have worked really hard to figure out what I want and to stand up for it, in spite of ‘politeness’. And I have really pissed her off in the process. And lived through it (gasp! Imagine that!). I’m scared I will let myself down and just let it all go. And all in the name of ‘co-operation’.

I think I need to write/blog/journal on this some more. Before we meet, I need to have figured out and written down:

  • What I want for myself out of my relationship with her (ie. I don’t want one with her, other than a kid-centric one. I want to be co-parents with her, not her buddy. I want respect for my role in her children’s lives.)
  • What I want for myself out of my relationship with the kids (ie. I do not want to be their Mom. I want to be a loved and respected, influential adult (maybe like a favored aunt) in their lives who can bring my own individual life’s experience to them – formal education, global cultures.)
  • What I want for my family (ie. B and the kids. That I want one. Which cannot happen if she interferes every few hours. She has been really good at this over the last 2 months and I’ve hardly heard a peep from her. I like it like this.)
  • What I want for the kids (ie. safety, stability, security – but most of all LOVE. And to make her understand that sometimes I will fight for it. Even if it means against her.)

I also want to say:

  • That I know and understand what she has given up – full time mothering. And that I know how hard it must be for her to watch another woman care for and love her children. And that I appreciate her life choices, which whilst I do not support them, have allowed me the opportunity to mother and that I realize what a gift that is.

I’m sure there is A LOT more I need to figure out before sitting down with her, but this is a good start.

Here’s the real question in all of this, how do I do this all? Without loosing ground? When I don’t trust her and most likely never will?

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Yesterday I stumbled across a step-mommy blog (how refreshing, amongst all the many mommy blogs!) – The Ommy Diaries – and Rhonda there asked me how I like my own situation, specifically the 50/50 custody arrangement. I started replying there, then my comment turned into a mini-novel, so I thought I’d post it here instead.

How do I like the 50/50 custody arrangement?

Simply….? I don’t.

I thought I would….I thought I would have the best of best worlds, you know. Be a full-time mommy for a week and then a carefree spirit for the next. But it doesn’t work like that, does it.

I will never be the kids mom…they have one of those already. It took me a few months to really understand what that meant. So the week we have them, I feel like a detested babysitter at worst and a favored aunt at best. The emotional turmoil of wanting to be a mommy, and not being able to, tears me apart. Then I pull away from them, but that tears me apart too. I want to love. I need to love.

My hubby and his ex both have “rights of first refusal”, so if he’s at work and one of the kids are sick or off school for vacation or whatever, she can come whenever she likes and just take them. Even though my hubby and I made very specific life decisions to enable us always to be able to take care of the kids when they were here with us. I even arranged a telecommuting job so that I can be there for them after school and on vacation time. I hate this “right of first refusal” – it tears our little family apart. Yet I totally recognise her rights as a mother.

Then the kids leave for a week and both my husband and I mope forlornly around the house, like something’s missing. We close their bedroom doors, so we don’t have to see them when they’re not there (make sense?). It just hurts too much to see their empty bedrooms.

The kids don’t like it either. They hate having 2 homes and cannot understand why their mom, them and us cannot all live happily in the house together. They miss their mom terribly. She used to be a full-time stay-at-home mome. So not only are they having to get used to me, but they are having to adjust to their mom not being there as much as she once was. And even when they’re supposed to be with her, on her weeks, she works such odd days and times, that she is forever handing them off to sitters. This missing of her, aggravates their time with us too. I think they miss her so terribly when they are with us, because she doesn’t spend much time with them when she is supposed to. This angers me, because I resent her issues causing issues in our home.

My husband could enact his own right of first refusal in these cases, but he refuses to because we don’t agree with the concept in principle. He sees what it does to me when she does it and he refuses to support it.

In addition, our weeks with them are so geared up to them, that the weeks without them we catch up on work hours and chores etc, so there is not much free time anyway.

Furthermore, as was custom in their marriage, my hubby’s ex sees his role as primarly a provider and “back up” parent and sees nothing wrong with dumping the kids on him, when it’s convinient for her. Which it frequently was (and is). So his parenting seemed to be contigent upon her deciding when it was fit to happen. Now he is learning to parent on his terms, not her’s.

It is our belief that structure and routine are what the kids need more than anything else (after love and affection – which they get plenty of). So we are trying to provide that for them during the weeks we have them. However, she doesn’t share that belief and cannot understand why we do not take the kids during her week, when she is otherwise engaged. She doesn’t see how that messes up routines and schedules.

It’s a mess, to be honest.

So why don’t we change it?

Give her full custody? No, my hubby does not want to do this, because he doesn’t trust her parenting ability. She has made some really poor decsions and has some really wacky views on the world. He wants to try and minimize the long term effect that might have on the kids. On my bad days, I wish he would just do this. Suck up the massive child support payments and give her the kids. We’ll see them every other weekend and my heart will be protected from the “mommy bug”. But then I see reason and realize this would give the kids the worst possbile start in life and would mean my hubby would not get to be the dad he wants to be.

Him go for full custody? He has thought long and hard about this…even spoken to his attorney about it. But he decided against it. Apparantly she is not a bad enough mother for the courts to award him custody. The courts are still favoring mothers and unless they are terrible, father’s stand very little chance. Perhaps she has to murder someone first…

So for now, we make the best of a bad situation, which is probably the best situation, all things considered.

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I have a situation on the home front I’m not sure how to handle.

The kids have a cell phone.  Yes!  A freaking cell phone!  Remember, they are only 6 and 8.

In my opinion, they are too young to handle the responsibility of a cell phone.  It makes me really uncomfortable that they have it.  It worries me what we are teaching them.  It makes me feel like I am not in control of them when they are in my care (like I should be).

The 6 year old thinks it’s a toy, even though she has been told it’s not and is only for calling specific family members when they are missing them.  So far today, she has called:-

  • me – even though I was in the same house as her
  • her dad – whilst he was at work, to ask him a question that her brother had for homework
  • her mom – just to chat
  • her mom’s girlfriend – who knows for what
  • her mom’s ex-girlfriend – again, who knows for what

Oh yes, I didn’t mention that the approved list now includes some people who definitely do not classify as “family”, as evidenced by the girlfriend calls above.  Also, all the calls occurred in privacy because she only wants to talk in private.  She could be calling anyone for all I know.  Or anyone could be calling her.

Their mom got the phone for them, to apparently “give them more control over their lives”.  That seems really odd to me.  What 6 and 8 year old kid has control over their lives?  Or should need to have that control?  To me control and responsibilty go hand in hand.  And 6 and 8 are definitely too young for responsibilty.  Surely what they need more is stability and security?  Not control?

It’s tricky.

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Online Security

Following on from my previous post, my friend Mr David W. Boles has given me lots to think about again in terms of internet security and anonymity.  This is a fascinating – and scary article – he wrote about parents unwittingly exposing their kids to online predators.  A few of the commenters disagree with Mr Boles, but I have to say that when it comes to kids, I’d rather be safe than sorry

So yes, while you can be found on the net, I guess there’s no good reason to make it really easy for anyone either.  Especially in light of the fact that there are children involved here.

So I have taken out the bio-facts from my About Me page and any real names.  And am thinking about what to do about any photographs I do publish.

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Kiddie Love

This week is our week with the kids. And it’s started off wonderfully!

Yesterday at 5pm S dropped the kids off. Polite conversation ensued between her and myself about the kid’s schooling needs for the week…kids have bathed today, haven’t eaten dinner yet, N needs to finish the book he is reading for his school report. N then tries to drag his mom into the house to come and look at something or another. She extracts himself from his grip and makes an excuse why she has to leave. I say we are going out right now anyway. She goes and the kids jump right into “Nat this and Nat that”…all chatty and cheerful. Yay! No tears, no drama! Yay! They actually seem pleased to see me. Yay!

We always try to do something special with them for when they first come to us. Just a little something to mark the transition, to catch up and reconnect. So as B was working a bit later last night, I do it myself anyway and take the kids to Boston Market for some scrummy chicken dinner. And they’re typical mischievous kids playing tricks on each other with terrible table manners. But they’re happy and playful. Yay! And they don’t protest when I try to take them for hair cuts (ended up leaving because the wait was too long) and then love it when we browse through the toy store. Even my request that they don’t ask me for anything because I’m not buying tonight, is generally heeded.

Later in the evening M is getting ready for bed and she calls me into the bathroom, with a cheeky glint in her eye. She climbs up on the loo seat (toilet seat for the non-UK folk) and says “You know you want it, you know you do” and proceeds to launch herself into my arms. Wow! She has never, ever done that before. She then proceeds to plant little 6 year old kisses all over my face! Oh god, my heart is just melting all over the place!

And then this morning, N brings me breakfast in bed, an omelet that his Dad made for me. All shy and sweet…awwww.

I asked myself a rhetorical question in an earlier post…”Why exactly am I doing this?”. Why am I trying so hard to be a step-mom when it just seems like it’s not wanted or needed?

Well, I guess that weeks like this are why I am doing it. Yay!

Like Brian says, I need to remember these times, when we have other more challenging times. I need to hold onto the good times.

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Cat & Mouse

This week the children are with their mother. And today the schools are closed. So we get a voicemail at 8am this morning from B’s ex asking if I can look after the kids today. Ummm….luckily I decided to call in an inclement weather day for myself. So I say yes, bring them over (I’m declining to drive in icy conditions). Next thing we get a text message from her saying “Nevermind” and then another saying “When I told the kids they might have to go over to Nat (that’s me), they didn’t want to. And I don’t want to force them.”

So my question to you all is this, what in heaven’s name am I to make of all that?

Why bother asking me in the first place? If she’s got another plan anyway? And then to be dropped and turned down…and she doesn’t want to force them. I want to puke. ❗

I’m trying hard not to take any of this personally, but I think it is personal. I think I am being toyed with, the same way a cat will play with a mouse, chasing it, tormenting it, biting, clawing it, slowly peeling bits of skin off it’s most vulnerable parts, it’s throat, it’s belly. And simply toss it aside when the mouse is too exhausted to struggle anymore. And leave it to die a slow, painful death. That is how I feel.

Like I said to B last night. I get flack over his screwed up life from all angles….from his ex, from the kids. And for what?

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Frozen Hamster Anyone?

Yes, as you might have guessed (or not!) from the title of today’s ramblings, we have a dead hamster in our freezer!

My dear step-daughter M’s hamster died over the weekend and my dear darling husband has promised her we would take him to nearby woods and bury him.  Well, it hasn’t happened yet.  And so in order to not have a smelly decaying hamster, we decided to freeze him.  He looks delightful nestled amongst the frozen veggies and the bags of cooked up ground beef!  And before you freak out about the hygienic aspects of our homemade morgue, he is well sealed in a non-porous plastic bag and container.  Still, every time I open the freezer I get a slight shudder down my spine.  What we do for the munchkins….sigh….

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Being a Step-Mom

My role as step-mom to my husband’s two kids…it’s a toughy. Where does it define what a step-mom’s role is? Because I have no freaking idea what it should be! I know what I want it to be. But no idea if it’s appropriate or not.

I want to be a real mom, someone the kids come to for comfort, love, affection and guidance. I want to care for, nurture, love and protect them with all the fierceness of a mother tiger. But I cannot force this on the kids. And, they have a mother who loves them dearly and is heavily involved in their lives already. What they don’t know is that she’s a screw up and is making crappy life decisions for them. But they don’t need to know that yet. Oh, but don’t get me wrong, I have a great relationship with the kids, but they don’t, and probably never will, see me as a mom.

At the moment I seem to be letting the kids decide what my role will be, but that kind of seems wrong, to let a kid decide such big things in my life. I don’t know what else to do though. Maybe this really is the only thing I can do.

B’s kids are M, his daughter, who is 6 and N, his son, who is 8, turning 9 very soon. Him and his ex have a 50/50 custodial and residency agreement. That means we have the kids one week in our house and she has them the next in her house. They go to the same school all the time (hopefully that would be obvious!) and for every other week, I get to do the “mom” stuff. But every now and then, reality rears it’s ugly head and I am reminded that not only am I not a “real” mom, but I have this undefined airy-fairy role of step-mom.

Like this week for example. It is our week with them. B and I (both – pretty much equally) will get them up in the mornings, feed them, make sure they are clean and dressed appropriately, do their homework with them, spend some leisurely time with them just hanging out, talk about any of the upteen bizare issues that come up and finally get them to bed in the evenings. In other words, invest my time, energy and heart in them. You know, be co-parents.

But tomorrow is a special movie day at M’s school. They get to take their stuffed animals to school, pillow and blanket and watch a movie snuggling with their parents, if their parents choose to come in. I didn’t even get to hear about this. And M organized for her mom to go with her. So her mom gets to go in – on “my” week – and share this special time with her at school – and I get nothing. To make things even worse, M asked if her dad could come too. So not only do I not get to go, but she wants her mom and dad to go – who are divorced. B starts his new job tomorrow, so he told her couldn’t go. Who knows what he would have said had this been a regular day for him.

I am hurting.  I feel rejected and neglected.  I know it’s riduclous.  M has done nothing wrong.  Her mom will always be her mom.  But where then do I fit in?  I thought I would get to go to these sorts of things on our week.  Guess I was wrong.  I feel myself withdrawing from the kids, not wanting to invest so that the hurt is less.  And doing that, feels wrong too.  It feels like I’m not doing right by the kids by withdrawing.  I feel so confused and torn by this.

At times like this, I want my own child. Even though I know it’s simply nuts to bring another child into our crazy lives.

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