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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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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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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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N is sick again

Sooooo….in a fascinating follow-up to yesterday’s post, N, my 8 year old stepson started throwing up last night at around 6pm.

Some back story first…

oops..I accidental deleted a long detailed description and history of the back story. So I will post this anyway and hope to get around to the back story at some point.

So N’s throwing up again and on the way to work this morning at 7:20am, I get a call on my cell phone. It’s B’s ex. Ho, ho, ho….I wonder what she wants. She only ever calls me when she wants something. I decline to take her call. After yesterday, do you blame me? I think she has a severe amount of cheek, even thinking she can call me now.

She then calls B and it turns out she wants someone to take M to school so that she doesn’t have to disturb N who is finally sleeping. And he does it.

I have really mixed feelings about this. And it’s the same reason she is so tricky. I’d feel petty not taking M to school, even though it is 40mins out of my way, because why should the kid suffer for her mother’s stupidity. However, the only person who is being helped out here, is the mother. And I sure as hell don’t want to be helping her out. And here my husband is helping her out. Hmmmmmm…another tricky S situation to figure out.

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The Lioness, she is me

So I’m thinking that in my previous Cat & Mouse post, I kind of likened myself to a mouse, just waiting for someone else to decide my future. Well, that is NOT who I am and it’s time to reclaim who I am. I searched long and hard to find an image that I felt was more me. And here she is….

Snarling LionessA lady who knows who she is and what she wants and will defend it and go for it, if need be. And let that darn cat come near her and she might find that she’s the one who is tormented and torn apart instead. Grrrrr….

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