~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, April 30, 2013

Highlights with Kate

Let me go back and catch you up to the present. I'll just briefly touch on some highlights in my experience of learning to be a stepmom.

We'll start with Kate this time. Kate and I get along great. We've had several "talks" and she still cries almost every time she is "in trouble", but she recovers quickly. Five minutes later she'll be singing and dancing and saying "I love you" and "I'm sorry." She went through a phase of peeing accidents between 5 and 6 and that was a big obstacle for her to cross. I still don't know what the problem was, but even now at 7, she waits until it is an emergency to go. I have talked to her and talked to her until I'm blue in the face about going right away as soon as you feel it and not waiting so long. But I never get mad at her, because I remember being the exact same way when I was little. I remember having some accidents when I was embarrassingly too old for that. So I just send her as soon as I see a wiggle out of her and remind myself "She will grow out of it. It can't last forever." We've had to talk about grooming also. There was a long stretch of time when I picked them up from school on days they had been dropped off from their mother's house and she would just look so raggedy. Her hair would never be brushed. She would have on mismatched socks. She would be missing part of her uniform and have stains all over. A lot of those things, she can't do anything about. But I talked with her about at least brushing her hair and brushing her teeth and letting somebody fix her hair. It was getting so long, and she pitched a fit about getting it cut, but then she wouldn't let anyone fix it, so she looked like a homeless child. So we talked about taking some pride in how she looks, and that how you look is a reflection of who you are. Most of that went over her head, but she did start looking better when I picked her up.

In the summer that Kate was 6, J and I got engaged. Kate was so excited! She kept asking me how happy I was and telling everyone she had a new mom. (She already called me "mom" a lot before that, but started calling me "mom" even more now.) She kept saying that I better not say "no" to daddy when we get married. She would draw pictures of our family and daddy and I getting married. It made me so happy that she was that excited! If the girls weren't happy, I'm not sure it would have ever worked out. Kate asked me soon after that where I was going to put all my bigger clothes because my closet was already full. I asked her what she meant, and she said that I'm going to need pregnant clothes for when I get married. I told her I'm not going to get pregnant, but she insisted if you get married, you get pregnant, because she just knows.

I was worried for a while that Kate may not like me very much because I don't baby her like her mother does. Her mother still pushes her in the grocery cart and even a stroller to this day--and Kate is not a small girl! She is a 70 pound 7 year old! But because I have seen first hand and heard many shocking stories about the degree to which Kate is babied, it worried me a bit that maybe I treat her to the other extreme. Maybe I'm too hard on her or expect too much, or push her to be older than she is. But it has just proven over and over not to be true. She still loves me very much. She likes to be independent and do things for herself. And she never asks me to baby her. The only thing she likes to do that is sort of babyish is sit in my lap and cuddle while we watch TV or something. She'll realize one day that the way we make her behave at daddy's house is going to be much more beneficial to her in life than how she behaves at her mother's. So I'm not worried about that any more. She has told me on several different occassions that she wanted to stay with us and not go back to her mom's. Of course that breaks my heart and I just tell her I wish she could stay too.

Overall, our relationship is great. She accepts me unconditionally and says she is so glad "daddy picked you". We have a lot of fun together talking about her day and her friends, and everything her little mind thinks of. The biggest thing we still have to conquer and work on every day is the relationship between her and Jane. Kate gets so hurt, and used to just cry and cry. But now that she's gotten older, she has started retaliating and being mean right back. It is such a constant battle. Jane can be very mean, and pretty much a bully. So we tell Kate to stand up for herself and just not to let Jane treat her that way. But on the other hand, we don't want Kate to turn into a mean bully either. So it is a very fine line trying to advise her how to handle Jane. Don't get me wrong--they have some good moments, and even some good days where they play together nicely. It's not always bad. But when it starts, it seems like it never ends. Constant fighting and bickering and tattle telling and on and on. That is the stuff that will drive a parent crazy! I try to think of new and inventive ways to handle it, like I'm some genius parent, but so far, we're still not over that hurdle. So that pretty much catches you up with Kate. We'll catch you up on Jane in the next post.

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