~Welcome to my personal story as a first time wife and stepmom. I use this space to share real life happenings in a blended family, funny stories, my personal frustrations, failures, and occasional victories as I journey through this life with two beautiful and challenging stepdaughters. Thanks for reading, and I hope you find something to help you have a better day!~

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

And She Disappoints Again...

As sad as it is to admit, you would think the kids would be used to being hurt by their mother. But every time that wound is reopened, it seems to cut a little deeper and sting a little more. This time ended with Kate angry and crying all the way home from her dance recital. But it began a couple weeks before. First, her mom came to 10 minutes of her opening basketball game, but left to go out with friends. Next, she didn't show up at all to Kate's last Christmas program at school, and just sent a "Tell her I'm sorry" text. Then after 7 years of demanding that dance is "her thing", refused to do Kate's hair or makeup for her recital this year, and didn't even bother to go say hi backstage or even see her after the show. Left early to "go get ready for a party" that didn't start until 5 hours later! Usually the parent that doesn't bring her will get her flowers--but no flowers either. Again, the "tell Kate I'm sorry I had to go" text. She couldn't take any more. She broke down all the way home about how angry she is with her mother and needs to sit her down and talk about time management--actual words out of an 11-year-olds mouth. I just felt helpless and heartbroken. I would fix it if I could--but she needed her mother. Then to top it all off, hubby J gets a text 2 days later from bio mom that she really misses Kate and would like to have some of our winter break days with her. Wow... just classic! Use the time that you're given, lady! She doesn't want to see you. And count on it--there WILL BE over the top making up for her guilty conscience over New Years--but it will be things and not time.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

I really need to vent.

Do you ever get to a point where you sit back and look at your life and wonder, "How in the world did I, ME, get to a place in my life where THIS is the stuff that is consuming my energy and stressing me out?" I mean, if you told me 10 years ago that I would be hopping mad over how my husband's ex-wife treats our kids, I would probably run the other way as fast as I could! But this is where I am in life, and yes, I am hopping mad! Three things:

1. Okay, remember last year, how she pitched a HUGE ROYAL fit about me planning a spa day for Jane's 13th birthday, and how dare I overstep such a sacred mommy-daughter thing, etc? Well, fast-forward to this year. Jane is scheduled to be in her care on her 14th birthday. We did our celebration early when she was with us--but only cake and presents--nothing extravagant, so that she can do all the over-the-top special little mommy-daughter stuff she pleases. Imagine my surprise then (not really!) when I find out she left Jane FOR 3 STRAIGHT DAYS, BIRTHDAY INCLUDED with a new, not-so-close friend so bio mom could leave town, and come back to town her birthday night, but instead of seeing her daughter, go to a concert instead!! And I was out of line for actually spending her birthday WITH her? MIND-BLOWN! Need I say more?

2. The second thing getting my blood boiling is how she handled Kate's dance lessons for this year. There was a registration day every week starting back in June at the dance school Kate has attended since the age of 3. Guess who never went to one of them? Yeah. So school starts and Kate still can't tell me what day her dance lessons are this year, so I pick up the phone and ask. Here's what I get: "Well, I didn't register her because I wanted to look at a dance school that's closer to our new house. Well, also I didn't think she wanted to take dance any more. Well, I just haven't had time. And you know I had to wait to make sure it didn't interfere with volleyball, and ...... " Yeah, I've heard enough. Kate beside me started crying her eyes out. She couldn't believe she wasn't even signed up, and definitely would not want to change schools. So I offer to see if there are any openings on my days and I would just take her. Suddenly, OMG, NO WAY! She found an immediate opening on her day for the exact class Kate wanted. Just too flipping lazy to ever take initiative on these things.

3. Number three-- a really good one. She called my husband at work this week to say that I have been making Jane feel bad every time I make a comment about how far our drive to school is, and I really need to stop saying anything about it. WHAT?? I HAVE SO MANY PROBLEMS WITH THIS! First of all lady, you move an hour away from us last minute, and tell me not to say a word about it? Seriously, are you the one sitting in a car for 4 hours a day? Are you the one who has to make a 2 hour round trip just to see your kid sit on the bench at her volleyball game? Are you the one who is being forced to move into an area you don't even like? NO. Second, don't you dare EVER call MY husband to complain about me. If you have a problem with me, call me! You two are not on a team against me, EVER! And you never will be! Third, don't make this about Jane feeling bad. No. Jane doesn't feel bad--it's you who is just sick of feeling guilty for what you did to us. Oh, the nerve of some people! She is so consumed with herself, she can't see past her own nose!

If you're still reading, I apologize for all that negative energy. Just had to get it off my chest without annoying the hubby.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Stepdad vs. Stepmom

As I am out and about around other people, my ears always prick up when there is any talk of stepparents or blended family situations. These conversations, combined with movies, TV, and songs paint such a contrasting picture of how stepdads and stepmoms are perceived in this world. Here's my interpretations:

STEPDAD:

~How wonderful for this man to take on some dead-beat's kids and raise them as his own.

~Takes a great guy to be able to step in and love a woman AND her kid.

~Those kids really needed a guy like that in their lives.

~He's really doing the right thing by showing those kids what a father should be.

STEPMOM:

~Who does she think she is, taking over those kids? She's not their mom.

~That woman will never have a bond with those kids like their REAL mother does.

~She probably just married that guy for money and can't wait to get rid of the kids.

~She better check herself and not try to parent those kids. Her place is just to be friendly and no more.

Seriously, why is there such a difference in perceptions? "Stepdad" does not have the evil, wicked, dark cloud hanging over it's head like "Stepmom" does. Why are stepdads perceived as heroes while stepmoms are assumed gold-diggers with evil intentions? Is it all thanks to Cinderella and Snow White movies? Is it because kids pick up on mothers' jealousy and resentment towards the new woman, while men aren't quite as given to being emotional about the ex-wife's new partner? However it started, it is clearly an injustice. There are equal numbers of good and bad moms, dads, stepmoms, and stepdads. No one group is superior to the other, and it's up to us as individuals to prove that over time.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Family Vacations

As far as the kids were concerned, I felt like I may as well not even be there. Family vacations--not quite so glamorous as a stepparent. At times I felt like a tag-along fourth wheel this year. The girls were just constantly trying to one-up each other to get "daddy's" attention or to impress him with what they were doing. They constantly fought over who got to walk beside him or hold his hand or sit by him at dinner. Meanwhile, I'm like, "Hi. Nevermind. I'll just be over here." Then Jane was giving me major attitude any time I asked her to do anything. I couldn't say anything to her all week without her either correcting me, arguing, or being sarcastic. She was on a 3-hour daily phone limit all week, which may have contributed to her grumpiness. If her dad mentioned her time limit or checked up on her, she was all sweet and said "Okay, daddy." If heaven forbid I said something though, she exploded "Oh my gosh, I wasn't even on my phone. I was just checking the time. I'm just going to sit here and be on it for 3 hours right now then and not get ready to go." Maybe it's normal for a teenage girl and has nothing at all to do with ME. Maybe our hormones were just at odds all week. (Ughh--just wait until it's all three of us girls being hormonal!) But it really started wearing on me by the last 2 days. I told J I would rather not talk to her at all then to endure her responses. In my heart, I know she doesn't hate me, or even resent me. But when she's been snarling at me all evening, then goes and texts her mom all night--it hurts. I'm sure J enjoyed himself pretty well with all three of us girls just clamoring after him all week. We got to see and do some really cool things, and I'm sure when we look back on the pictures later, we'll all remember a good time, and none of this nonsense. Truth be told, I'm really glad they love their dad so much and try so hard to please him. We both realize they receive minimal attention at their mother's. They're largely just left on their own. (Jane gets a bit more time than Kate lately because she goes shopping with her mom ALL THE TIME and can call or text whenever. Kate hates shopping and therefore concludes her mother doesn't like spending time with her.) So I'm really thankful they got a full week of their dad's undivided attention, even if I had to be ignored for a while.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What I've learned...

I learned something this week--hopefully for the last time!

DON'T EVER EMAIL THE EX!

No matter what.

Even if you feel you need to be heard.

Even if you are just defending your husband.

No matter what she did.

No matter how bad it is.

No matter if you feel she needs to understand your hurt.

No matter if it kills you to keep quiet.

JUST DON'T EVER, EVER EMAIL HER TO SAY YOU'RE UPSET, TO GIVE YOUR OPINION, TO DISCUSS SOMETHING THAT BOTHERED YOU.

Just stop opening your mouth. Just drive the kids around and keep the house clean and food in their bellies. That's it.

It will just get turned around and explode in your face EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

You can't ever win with a manipulative narcissist.

DON'T DO IT.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Manipulation--Playing Dirty

Previously, I mentioned that there has been very little communication with bio mom and stepdad lately--since they moved. Well, the last few weeks of school, we had to see them and be pleasant and act like we're all great friends for 4 or 5 different events, recitals, etc. That caused some major stress! Still they carefully avoided me and spoke only to hubby J for whatever reason. Maybe he's less threatening than I am. And then the summer schedule began.

I made it very clear when distributing the calendars with camp and activity info that I could no longer do both drop off and pick up for the girls (as I have been taken advantage to do for the past 3 years because stepdad's mom is too lazy to ever come get them.) With the huge distance factor now, I wanted to stand up for myself and set boundaries. I'll pick up on our days. You pick up on your days--as it should be. Of course, I got no response.

So the first two times now that they should have come to pick up (once the grandma, once bio mom), they have called Jane and had her ask me to take them to meet half way. Seriously?? Why put Jane in the middle of this? Now if I say no, I look like the "mean, unwilling to be flexible and help out" person. And there's ALWAYS a sob story attached like "Well we just want to have time to eat lunch with your stepdad, and if I come all the way to get you, we won't have time." So if I say no, now I'm preventing them having lunch together. It's just outright low and dirty manipulation. Have the courage to call and ask me myself. Don't use your child to get your way. I feel as if Jane and I are just puppets on the ends of her strings. I want to scream "YOU'RE THE IDIOT THAT MOVED AN HOUR AWAY. I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR STUPID SOB STORIES OF WHY YOU CAN'T COME PICK UP YOUR KIDS! DON'T TRY TO GUILT TRIP ME INTO HELPING OUT WITH THE INCONVENIENCES THAT YOU CAUSED!!!!"

I need to figure out a way before next time to say no without looking bad to Jane and Kate. They see what I do for them. They know I've done all the driving for the past 3 years. I hope they will understand that I can't let people walk all over me, even when those are people they love.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I wish I just didn't care

Please understand that my husband J is VERY sweet and considerate and loving. He takes great care of me. He loves me so completely even when I'm awful and grumpy and annoying. He would do anything to make me happy. So this post is not an attack on him. There are some feelings we have that men just have absolutely NO IDEA about. There are some things that bother us that have never even crossed their minds. My hurt feelings were not directed towards him. Just at myself for caring.

So we passed another Mother's Day. Yay. The past few years J has gotten me a card from the dog or a little gift from himself, but he's never had the girls do anything for me. Kate has always made me a card or sign or picture. Jane has only ever sent me a text. In his mind, I'm not their mother, so that's that. Last year, I voiced my feelings a little--what I thought was enough of a hint for this year--and said, "I hope this isn't from the dog again, and you actually let the girls sign it." But I guess my message didn't get through. He took me on a trip last year over Mother's Day to get me away from all the fabricated hype, and we did that again this year. Our last night all together--Thursday before Mother's Day--I thought they may give me a card or something, but no. We went to bed that night and nothing. I finally said to him that I wished they would at least acknowledge me in some small way. Maybe a card or they can just write a note or something. I made it clear I'm not asking for a gift, just some acknowledgment that I do serve in the capacity of a mother to these girls. Well, of course he felt awful that they didn't do anything. Like I said, he just doesn't think about these things. So the next morning before we left on our trip, he secretly asked the girls to call me on Sunday. Well--we were out of the country, so that wouldn't exactly work. I kept waiting for Jane to at least text me, because we could get texts on wifi, but calls couldn't come through. Finally at 8pm Jane was texting J saying she tried to call me 12 times! He called her back on Skype to let me talk to them, but by that time I was a mess. It was the first year Kate didn't make me a card, and no text from Jane. I couldn't be upset at anyone other than myself though. They were trying.

Why do I care so much if I get acknowledged on Mother's Day? It shouldn't mean anything. It shouldn't be enough to make me cry while on vacation. I kept telling myself to get a grip and get over it. I started the day wishing every woman around me Happy Mother's Day, and that worked for a while, just to make other people smile. But I soon found out Mother's Day in Mexico wasn't until Tuesday--so really they were just laughing at me! Oh well. I got a picture and poem from Kate 3 days later, so I was fine then. I hope I handle it better next year.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Mother of the year

There is one weekend a year when bio mom and bio dad can be guaranteed to have their kids--Mother's Day and Father's Day. So then how in the world can bio mom possibly "forget" she would have them and schedule an out-of-town trip on Mother's Day? Are you kidding me? We've had a trip planned for months, because we knew we had no obligations that weekend. Then 2 weeks before, stepdad emails us to ask if we want the kids that weekend. I'm like, Seriously?? I would die to actually have them on Mother's Day! It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Too bad our Mexico trip is non-refundable. So they have to stay with friends or stepdad's mom--which they are not thrilled about. All the griping and whining that bio mom does that she misses her kids and doesn't see them enough--and then she plans to be away the one weekend a year that is set aside for moms to be with their kids. Unbelievable. Mother of the year award for her, please.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

And the Battles Continue...

There has been unspoken tension between our house and bio mom's house regarding Jane's high school choice for the past year. The "unspoken" part is really the main cause of the tension. No one would talk about it. Jane would tell us she wanted one thing and tell her mom she wanted something else because she thought those were the schools WE wanted instead of voicing what SHE wanted. The divorce decree states that public school district is decided by the mother's residence. If the child is to go to private school, the father must agree and pay for it. So, Jane went on all the high school tours with her 8th grade class, and would give us feedback from the schools, both public and private. Then we found out that bio mom was sending her to all these extra private school tours and signing her up for Charter school consideration without our knowledge. Over halfway through the 8th grade, bio mom had still never brought up the subject, voiced her opinion about high school, nothing. We were left in the total dark just relying on tiny bits of info Jane would give us. Other parents would ask us where she was going, and we never knew. So finally hubby J brought it up and made it clear he was not agreeing to or paying for private school, so she will be going to the public school in their district--Clark. Ok, so that was out there. Then they tried to move over to a different school district that is really close to Kate's school, so it wouldn't be a problem for us, but that fell through. So in March, we went to the parent meeting at Clark, filled out all the forms, signed Jane up for volleyball, sat through 3 hours of talking and info (which bio mom didn't even bother to show up to). Every time we mentioned high school to Jane though or brought up different programs they offered, or showed her the paperwork on theater and music and sports, she would act uncomfortable and walk away. We thought she may just be nervous.

Well, finally the bombshell dropped. With no communication or warning whatsoever, they sold their house and moved to a school district at least 30 miles away from us. It was already a done deal by the time they told us. Okay, I have so many problems with this--but first, the school district is not one of them. This high school is the smallest public high school in town, which is probably good for Jane. It is 1/4 the size of the one she would have gone to. They have good academic and sports programs--all of that is totally fine with us. The problem is how terribly inconsiderate it was to not even warn us. The second problem is that they obviously told the girls to keep it a secret. Hubby J has never, ever, EVER had them keep ANYTHING from their mother. They are free to tell her whatever they want about what we do, what we've done, what we're planning. I don't think any child should be asked to keep a secret from the parent. It's just not right. My third problem is that from where we live, in morning traffic, it will take at least an hour and a half to get to Jane's high school. Seriously! They will have to get up SO early! Every day she's at our house, she'll be that far away from new friends and start resenting staying with us.

So the obvious conclusion is we have to move too. We were planning to move soon anyway, but now we have to go in a completely different area than we wanted. And we can't get it done before the school year starts, so we'll have to deal with long commutes for probably the first half of her freshman year. It just doesn't seem fair, but life never is.

Want to hear the real kicker? Bio mom had a total FIT--and I do mean total dramatic immature FIT--when we mentioned once that Jane should at least just TOUR the high school in our district to see what she thought. Of course, they only lived 10 miles away, and she was so infuriated that we would even mention something that would be SO OUT OF THE WAY for her. Then she moves somewhere that makes me have a 3-hour round trip just for drop off or pick up? Un-freakin-believable!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"It Can't Hurt to Ask"...

Have you ever heard the phrase "It can't hurt to ask"? And it's typically followed up by "The worst that can happen is you get told no." Sound familiar? Well, I'm not so sure I agree anymore. We asked and it did hurt. Here's the situation:

By some strange fluke calendar situation, bio mom was going to end up with 4 weekends in a row because April is her 5th weekend this year, and Mother's Day lands on the 1st weekend of May (usually ours) instead of the 2nd (hers anyway.) So, we realized this and J knew there was no way he was okay with her having 4 in a row! She whines and complains anytime they are with us just 2 in a row! So he very courteously explained to her what we discovered and asked if she would be gracious enough to let him have the second weekend in May. After ignoring his 3 texts for 9 days (not surprising), she finally responded with, "Well what weekend are you going to give me for that?" Seriously!!?? We don't have ANY weekends--that was the whole point! There is nothing we have to give. I was so hurt that she can never, ever seem to put herself in J's shoes. EVER. Do you think for one second she would be fine with us having 4 weekends in a row and not ask for some time? PLEASE!! We've seen it happen way too much. She begged and cried and practically forced us to come home early from a trip one Thanksgiving just because it had been "too long" since she saw them and "would never do that to us." YEAH RIGHT! You're doing it now! Just last month she was playing the "Don't make me feel bad for asking to see my children" card, and now J asks for something WAY more reasonable, and she can't understand? I'm so sick of the games and her just using her children to get what she wants.

Forget we even asked. Forget their DAD would love to see his own kids. Forget that they will resent you for keeping them from him one day. Forget that when you have them, you're not even with them because your social calendar is always too full. Forget that when they learn your awful behavior, you're always asking us to help fix it. Forget it all. I'm so done being hurt by these things over and over. I need to be less involved with all the details so I don't get so worked up. J is always choosing the high road and being the bigger person. I just don't know how he keeps on and keeps on. I need to learn his secret. I would never be able to hold back or bite my tongue after 8 years of this like he does.

So maybe it's true that it doesn't hurt to ask....if you're dealing with a reasonable, non-manipulative, non-psycho, non-narcissistic normal, caring human being who doesn't have their entitled-princess-syndrome blinders to the world on. Then maybe it wouldn't hurt.