~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!~

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Inflated ego one second...then deflated the next.

Is this a typical phenomena in parenting? One second your kid says something so genuinely sweet and kind, that it sends you walking on clouds, and the next second, they do something so horribly rude and disrespectful, you find yourself falling so hard and landing flat on your face? Well, it happened to me, and I get the feeling I'm not alone.

Yesterday after school, the subject of a parenting seminar offered at school came up. Jane asked if I was going.

Me: "No."

Jane: "Good."

Me: "Why good? Don't you think I should go learn how to be a better parent?"

Jane: "NO! I like you just the way you are. Don't change."

Ahhh! What sweet words to my little stepmom ego. "She actually likes the way I parent!! Who woulda thought?"

Well fast forward a couple hours, and POP goes my ego. Remember, she is still on electronics restrictions at our house. Well, I found on her phone this new game she had been playing at her mom's involving male and female characters with quests to become "romantically involved with three other characters" and "have babies"! WILL SHE EVER LEARN?? I'm literally pulling my hair out at this point. J and I are on the way to ask her mother to PLEASE downgrade her phone to an old kind that just texts and calls... no internet or games! We'll see how this goes over! You can bet we will not be making the same mistake of trusting Kate with internet privileges at too young of an age. Maybe in five years, we'll try again!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I'm so confused....

I received a twitter follower from a user a few days ago whose profile was all about "Step mothers". I thought that was interesting, so I followed her back, and found out she has an entire website, blog, book, etc. about the struggles of being a stepmom, practical advice, and so on. I never even knew that stuff existed! So I was reading through her blog, and now I'm afraid I have been going about the stepmom thing all wrong. I need to start over!

So I shouldn't discipline? I shouldn't try so hard to be a "parent"? Maybe I'm supposed to be just a fun, loving, non-authority figure? What? She has so many articles that hit so close to home for me. My kids have parents who can discipline them. It is NOT a contest to see who is a better Mom or who can get the most affection from the kids, or who the kids talk about more negatively... I realized all these things that circle through my head are NORMAL! Come to find out, all stepmoms struggle with that. All of us struggle to find our place in our family's life. Am I Mom? Am I like an Aunt? Am I a nanny? Am I dad's wife? Who am I and what is my role? Yes, I pick up from school, go to activities, do homework, cook, do laundry, buy them clothes... but where does it end? If I do all that, should I not also be able to correct when wrong is done? I should just stand by and let them mess up over and over? What about when their "Real parents" aren't around for any of the wrong-doing? Is it okay then to correct? Their was a phrase I read in one of the blog articles that stated "Connect, don't correct." That is actually a new concept for me. Yes, I feel connected to my stepkids, but I also correct them, and they take it well because of our connection. So, how do I handle all this new advice? I feel like I've been doing everything wrong, and I need a fresh start. I read so many helpful tips, but how do I digress to that silent, un-involved in anything other than "my business" partner? I am feeling like I have way overstepped my role in my new family. I have no answers right now... only questions. I encourage you to click on the link and check out her website. I may need to buy this book now!

Friday, September 20, 2013

So why should kids have internet access, again?

So this is when it all starts--the confrontations as your child gets older and the line between what is appropriate for their age and inappropriate is constantly being moved around. The "battle round" has begun already? We're going to be doing this for the next seven to ten years with Jane? UUggghhh! Here we go.

So we're having a good ol' time in Galveston with some friends for the weekend. Jane had just had a pretty bad week with grumpiness, bad grades, and snapping at adults, myself included. Now, I mentioned previously her mother had gotten her an iPhone for Christmas. (I still don't know why an iPhone, equipped with internet access was necessary! If she just wanted to be able to call and text her child, a regular non-smart phone would have served all the purposes of a 10 year old!) Okay, back to the point. So, yes, I will say it--I don't trust her with the internet! She is 11 now. She is a very curious child. She has been caught not once, or twice, but already three times since the age of 7 googling questions about sex. So, No, I don't trust her, and with good reason. I check her history from time to time to see what she's been up to. Well, I opened her history, and BOOM--like a ton of bricks, I knew right then my day was ruined. I became short of breath and started shaking uncontrollably, scrolling through pages and pages of you tube videos she had watched all night Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.... Well, no wonder she was so grumpy and getting bad grades! She hadn't slept. She took her phone with her to bed at her mother's (never would have been allowed at our house, by the way) and just went you tube crazy apparently. I guess the restriction settings are not strict enough on her phone, because she watched all sorts of "Nude scenes", "strippers" "hot girls private show", etc, etc... You get the point. I can't even type them all out, because it gets my blood boiling all over again.

Anyways, I called J in to see it, and Jane got into so much trouble. She has completely lost all electronics and privileges. She can only read and do schoolwork basically all day until she can gain our trust back. What makes me the saddest though, is that she can't "unsee" it. Her little immature 11-year-old mind is now forever filled with this garbage. When we talked about it after we both calmed down, and I was trying to get her to explain to me why she did it, I asked if she enjoyed what she saw. She said "NO." So I responded, "Well, then guess what? You should have hit the "Stop" button, or "Off" button, or anything except to KEEP watching these filthy things."

While she was back at school the next day, I sat down and wrote her a long "Lecture letter" like I used to get from my mom, and she got from her mom.... But I had Jane read it when she got home, and we were able to discuss a lot of things and talk calmly, knowing there would always be love between us, and that I'm not perfect and have made plenty of mistakes too, and that's why I'm here--is to help her through her mistakes. I had already had the sex talk with her about 6 months before, and we have discussed periods, and all that. So I reminded her again, if she's curious about something or has a question, come ask me. I've been very open with her. So, we're getting over that big event and she seems to be doing well with all the punishments.

Okay. Now for my BIGGEST frustration over the whole thing? GET THIS! You will not believe what you are about to read! Jane's mother, her own MOTHER says, "Oh, I can't take her phone away from her--she'll get mad at me." EXACT QUOTE!! Can you believe that? "Oh sure, I'd rather have my 11 year old girl watch porn on her phone, than to have her get upset with me." And you call yourself a mom? Get real. YOU ARE A JOKE! You are doing your daughter absolutely ZERO favors by being scared of her! You will have ZERO respect from her when she is older. Seriously??!! I have to stop. I'll go on and on. But I'm not out of line for that to bother me, am I?

Back in the groove...this time officially as a "parent"

Wow, what a summer! I haven't written in so long, because everything got crazy there in May with all the end of school year activities and recitals, and then of course June was our big wedding day. Summer got away from us so fast, and now we are back in another school year with a second and sixth grader!

Our wedding was beautiful. The girls walked their daddy down the aisle--it was so precious. They were both a big part of our day and we danced the night away together.

I had a great summer with the girls. They stayed home with me quite a bit in between camps. I prepared some lessons on character traits. So for about 30 minutes each day, we would sit down, learn a new trait, and review the old ones. We learned about Gratitude, Kindness, Diligence, Selflessness, Honesty, Patience, Self-control, Respect, and Obedience. We discussed the definitions of each, examples, benefits of possessing that trait, and the opposites of each. It really went over much better than I expected. I've never done anything like that before, and I thought they might just hate it. Jane ate it up...she loves learning things like this, loves chapel time at school, and sacred studies. Kate participated well, but it was a struggle to hold her attention at times and get her to remember definitions. So all summer long I was watching for them to show these traits themselves, and would write down their name each time they were "caught" showing good character traits. Then, they got treats on the last day of summer for how many times their names were written down. It was really fun, and Jane is already asking if we can do it again next summer. I have to admit, it felt like we were bonding even closer during those times, and it helped the girls get along better, because they wanted to have their names written down.

One really special thing that happened was Jane sent J and I a letter from camp one week, and addressed it "Dad and Mom". That was the first time she has referred to me as Mom. I loved it! Well, now they are back at school and we officially have a middle schooler! Scary. She has started wearing a little makeup to school, and cares about her appearance more and more. Their school has these little "dances" every few months, and it's really just a time for the kids to get together and have snacks in a completely safe, chaperoned atmosphere. Jane is excited and can't wait to get all dressed up for them.

Since school has started, I've been really bothered by the seeming lack of care they are receiving at their mother's house. It is actually breaking my heart. I picked them up on a Wednesday after school, and had last seen them when I dropped them off Monday at school. Both were wearing the exact same uniforms and undergarments! As I was picking up their clothes after showers that evening, I asked why they hadn't changed panties, and why they were wearing dirty clothes. They really didn't have an answer for me. Well, then this week when I picked them up, Kate's uniform dress was filthy and she didn't have any playground shorts on with it. So I asked again, and she told me she wore that dress 3 days in a row, and couldn't find any clean shorts to wear. So I asked if she could have her mom or grandma help her set out clothes the night before like we do, and she said "Mom's always too tired. She just sits on the couch and won't do anything because she's tired. Mary (the step-grandma) won't help me get ready in the mornings because she's too rushed and busy with Jack (their baby half-brother)." It killed me to hear that! I just held her and said "Oh Kate, I wish I could take care of you every morning. I know it's not your fault your clothes are all dirty. I just wish I could help." So now after this happening two weeks in a row, I'm really wondering if I should say something to the mother. I really, really want to, but I know she will probably take it wrong coming from me. J is worried about it too. He may be convinced to say something if it keeps happening. It's just so sad. Jane's school picture day is again on a day she's coming from her mother's, and she's really upset because no one will help fix her hair or make her look special for picture day. Kate's pictures have been on our days the last few years, and I always curl her hair and let her wear lip gloss, and special things like that. It just doesn't seem fair sometimes to only have them part-time! Other times, the break from kids is a God-send.... So I'm torn, but just have to keep loving and doing what I can.