For the last two weeks with us, 15 has been in the throes of teenage angst. Overall unhappiness. His voice is monotone, his body language is sluggish and un-enthused. Enough that both my Prince and I felt like he single-handedly tried to sabotage our last summer weekend at the zoo and an NFL pre-season game, where we also ordered take-out and had it delivered to our hotel room, splurged to get them a supreme suite with 2 rooms, bought tons of snacks and goodies for them to pig-out on as one last “hoo-rah” for the end of the year. He squashed it because he doesn’t like football and didn’t want to go. Squashed our weekend that cost me nearly $800. Because he was bored. It’s made me doubt everything we have gone through this year with custody and court. It made me doubt my worth and value as a wife and stepmom to these kids. It made me doubt it all. If I can’t even make it through a weekend that is kid-FOCUSED, intended for them, how can I make it through the normal days?
So I’ve started praying for him a little bit more. Praying for me, too. We butt heads a lot… or we’re very close, there is no in-between.
We picked them up on Monday at the court-ordered time of 4:30, instead of a little sooner to go school shopping, as we requested. Went to my in-law’s house for some hot dogs & burgers (traditional Labor Day cuisine) and then headed to the store to get some clothes for the week.
—-Prince is finally on my side with this: we’re no longer sending clothes back and forth. The hundreds of dollars we just spent on school clothes will stay at our house! (insert praise party GIF). It’s not the actual clothes I care about, but that they are covered. I want to know that when we purchase something, it goes to use and doesn’t get lost or laundered improperly or whathaveyou. I want to know my dollars were spent well, not just smooshed into a drawer somewhere.
15 grumbled the entire time. He was angry we had to shop, but he has complained for the last month that we haven’t taken them shopping. He wouldn’t try on pants, didn’t want to look for more. Didn’t have the energy. Didn’t have the care. Got mad that we had to shop and that would put us home right at bed time.. and then stayed up an hour after bed time. It’s too much.
Last night, we met at our carpool lot and piled in together. Grumbles ensue immediately, I can’t really remember why. This drives me bonkers- our day is really just beginning together- why does it have to be in complaint? The kids sleep on the way home and we arrive in our driveway, proudly displaying our new pool (for THEM) and a project my Prince worked on this weekend. The kids don’t care. Prince and I sat on the back porch for a while and talked together, we rarely do this. The kids were on their own. One had to pick the hose up from the ground and place it in the pool while his dad turned the hose on- that was the extent of the work they had to do. Then they were set free. Grumbles.
Prince suggests chicken and asparagus for dinner- the kids hate this. I like it, so I’m ready to make it. 11 asked for cheesy, pasta-goodness and I caved. So we had rotini, asparagus and some toast to go along with it. Seems easy, right? No. 15 can’t stand pasta sauce, so this becomes a game of “you like him better and listen to him on his requests.” The bickering continues. 15 is mad that the remaining 3 of us decided to use bowls instead of plates (easy pasta tricks!) and grumbles. He grumbles when he has to come downstairs. Grumbles when he has to rinse his dishes- that his sister will clean up later. Grumbles when he’s instructed to not hit his brother anymore (is this real?). Grumbles when he gets moved to another couch. Grumbles when, after being asked 4 times to brush his teeth, he still hasn’t. and then Grumbles one last time when it’s 9:45PM and he decides to pack his lunch. He should’ve been in bed 30 minutes ago. and I don’t like to push bed times.
So, i say “15, you can’t do this right now. you wasted your night, you can’t pack a lunch now.”
“IT’S ONLY GOING TO TAKE A MINUTE.”
nothing with 15 is ever ‘just a minute.’ so we know this is garbage.
“No. You cannot.”
15 slams fridge door. grumbles. Moves over to cabinets, grumbles.
We sort of bicker for a few minutes until I finally say, “15, what’s happening lately? you don’t even give me a chance to talk to you and you’re mad. it doesn’t matter WHAT we’re doing, you’re upset with me and i don’t understand it. what is happening.”
So he actually shared a little bit with me about how our house is versus his mom’s (surprise! we’re different!) and I remind him that unfortunately, he’s 15 and he doesn’t get to determine his schedule and his daily requirements. The parents do.
I said, “15 you have to bare with me. You have to remember that when you get overwhelmed thinking about how new it is to have another person in your life, I have that times 5. I’m new to this, too. I’m new to parenting (4 years now), new to this life together. It’s a challenge every day, but you can’t just keep a wall up with me. It’s not going to get us…….anywhere. and it’s going to make it more difficult. YOU are my biggest prayer right now. You and me. I WANT to have a good relationship with you. I don’t want to fight and argue. I want to enjoy our time together. Your dad hasn’t always had this schedule we have now- with you.. and we want to make the most of it. We ENJOY the time we have together and value it, so we’re going to spend our evenings together. That’s just how it’s going to be. You’ve got to be in this with me or life is going to be very difficult these next few years. But I’m not going to take your sh*t from you. Can you help me out?”
and he freaking nodded.
I can’t say it always goes this way, but I had to put my pride aside and un-puff my chest while he was making me batty and put on the mothering hat. and it felt like the air cleared, just a little bit. Like maybe, my obsessive listening to Jamie Scrimgeour is paying off. Or talking to my real-life friends about step-parenting is paying off, or i’m maybe finally understanding how to be the parent instead of being on the defense all the time? (probably not that one), or maybe, just maybe, the prayer is working. God hears me. He knows my heart and knows how deeply I want my family to succeed.
All I’m saying, mamas, is that your kids are worth it. Even when the days are long, the stares are cold, and the nights seem never-ending, it’s worth it. You were made to be in their lives. You have a purpose, even when it’s tough. You have a calling.
I’ve been thinking about my own little Step-Momma community and taking it to Facebook, where we can really interact with each other. Anyone in?