[up & down]

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Up & down

& side to side

This way and that.

Oh, how heart strings can be pulled.

A few weeks ago, I had finally started feeling like we had “it” figured out. Like our family was over the hump of learning these ‘new’ (3 + years old) dynamics. That we were finally a real family.

I was sorely wrong.

One of the kids is doing terribly in school (again) and I can’t mentally take it anymore. I hate that i am a parent of a student that is just like the kids i used to tutor in high school.
-we ask if there’s homework there never is any
-we assign extra study time it takes hours to finally convince him to sit down
-we assign reading time if he actually reads..

We have taken away tablets. we have taken away all forms of entertainment. We have given extra chores. we have threatened private school. we have removed phone privileges. we make him keep his electronics downstairs, away from him. we praise the other one, who is doing better. we give the other one perks. What else is there?

I feel so wrong in saying it, but i want this kid to get a beat down. Not punch-him-in-the-face kind of beat down, but enough to remind him that he’s the child who doesn’t make good decisions and we’re the parents who see what’s best for him.

Last time a spanking was threatened, my prince texted their mom and asked for permission (WHAT?). Who would grant permission? Especially in another house? Who would actually say “YEAH GET HIM!” and encourage it? So he didn’t.

I’ve sat down with 14 and told him i’m disappointed. that i know he is so capable of more. i’ve threatened to remove his door, screw by screw, because privacy is the only thing that’s left and the only thing i am capable of removing from his life. after all, he’s 14. privacy isn’t really a thing anyway.

Shortly after this conversation, on a ride home from work, kids in tow (while sound asleep), my Prince snuck in that he doesn’t want me to have any role in discipline anymore. That when we got married, i agreed to him as the disciplinarian. That’s how things should be.
No mind that two years ago, he told me it was okay for me to have a role.
Nor that my Prince frequently is outside, away from the kids- leaving me as the one to determine how things go.
No mind that we’ve been married almost four years now.

No mind at all.

So in the past few weeks I have moved from a mountain high- feeling as if we had it all. Feeling confident. Happy in our home. Happy in our space. Happy with our family

to a valley of lows

feeling insignificant. feeling worthless, useless, and completely unneeded. He also reminded me that he CAN do it on his own. Something he doesn’t usually forget to keep out of the conversation. So i am reminded that no, I’m not needed. He can do it. He is capable. i am actually not needed. I am actually extra space. i am actually an addition to the problem.
he’d rather they hate him

i’d rather be the hated step parent than be the wife of the father they hate. i’d rather they hate me and love the poop out of their dad.

no, i don’t want to be THE disciplinarian, of course not. but i want to be able to address situations as they come.

there is never time to discuss.
rather, the right time. it’s too late. the kids are home. it’s dinner time. the tv’s on. i want to work outside. i don’t want to sit here. you can’t force me to talk to you.
there is never time.

So here i am. an empty shell.
trying to turn my nights of feeling lost into nights that I dig into God’s word. This is a method I haven’t yet tried, though I know it’s the best. My church is doing nightly readings and they have a plan they’ve shared with us. I’m trying to commit to it and read the daily chapter. Trying to involve my prince. if i read, that’s more time i’m silent. if i read, that’s more time I get to know my savior. what bad could possibly come from this? i’m ashamed it’s taken me 28 years to carve out time to read even a mere chapter per night. now is better than any other time.

so here i am. an empty shell. waiting for His direction. He immediately told me to submit. to do what i’m being asked. not to be spiteful. so my tongue almost has holes in it from me biting my words. my head hangs a little lower. my insides are upside down. and now we’re learning a new journey.

here we go.

 

 

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[the weeks of on & off]

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Most of you will agree with me that step parenting is [hella] hard. it is challenging, it is defining. it is everything you never expected it to be.

Here we are, a few weeks into the new school year and “officially” doing week on/week off with the kids. This arrangement has been the norm for the past couple summers, but not for school days. This is new.

It is unreal how much of a roller coaster life can be.
One week, there are four to seven of us in one house. Screaming, chaos, babies, three dogs, video games, constant chatter. Another week, it is just my Prince and I. working silently in our own corners (because we both just need time to detox and feel like we can accomplish something without the kids being at our side.)

Mostly, I’m enjoying week on/week off. it feels like we have a chance to actually make an impact on these kids now. it feels like we have a chance to actually get to know them as they grow instead of brief visits. Like the sort you might have with your out-of-town grandmother. Come over for dinner and in bed no later than 9PM.But i’m back to transition days for myself. The monday after, I can’t hardly move. I need rest. I need fast food or non-laborous meals that don’t have dishes. I crave candy and sweets and every indulgence that will make me feel human again. A shower. And tv.

The weeks of off are odd, though. Because i am one who’s love language is absolutely, Time. I like just one night of us doing our own thing. I don’t like working on our own projects, i always want my husband to ask me to help. This week i’m sick, so i can’t help at all since his project is canning food. My husband craves time on his own and thrives when he is able to work in the yard for a few, uninterrupted hours. He comes back in the house smiling and joy-filled and ready to interact with me. If he works outside and i come to hang with him or help, there is so much less excitement and sometimes that kills me.

The weeks of off have consisted of TV and bad food. We eat like pigs when the kids aren’t around. We sit in front of the tv every evening ( i hate tv) and fend for ourselves for food.

The weeks of on have order. Come home, one of us cooks ( i try to when the kids are home so they can see dad). relax til dinner or do chores. Dinner. Homework. Someone get in the shower. Someone else get in the shower. SOmeone please please please help me put the dishes away. No one does. Someone else get in the shower. Kids: Read. Go to bed. Start over.

it is so weird for us to have these two lives. for things to bounce so drastically. for their to be this much change and for it to just be our normal.

we have a vacation every other week! we get time to breathe! we have relief!

why do i want a kid again? those things are constant.

 

 

[still here.bonus mama updates]

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hi friends

Sorry i have been so quiet.

I am someone who cannot handle a pause. I like to have my hands dripping in sweat because I’m involved in so many things, so here, in nutshell, is what life has looked like as of late:

-Slingin’ Makeup (Younique babies- if you need a refill lemmmme know!)
-Keeping up with the chickens
-Dog Mommin’
-Photographing everything and everything (9 sessions in June, 4 in July)
-Working full time
-Church/soul searching
-House Cleaning aka finally making sense to the boxes of our stuff that have wound up on shelves
-Beating the heat (or trying to)
-Loads and loads of laughs.

So last year, at the beginning of summer- you might remember me having a little bit of a meltdown about going week on/week off with the kids. I was terrified. It was daunting. Well, I had similar feelings this summer. In the midst of trying to acclimate myself to new scenery, churches, towns, I wasn’t ready to take on kids for that long. Selfish? Maybe. Self- Aware? Definitely.

I know that when I get overloaded, i either crack or i burst. When it’s with kids, it’s usually bursting. As in I burst my emotions all over everything, I yell, i cry, I fight, i everything -not- productive. So i was terrified to have this huge switch. This back and forth-ness that we experience. The drama, the headaches. i was terrified. I couldn’t do it again.

This summer has been different.

I’ve been telling my Prince that I have noticed some huge changes. Some weird little things that honestly, make my day.

Prince and i have stopped carpooling, due to overtime schedules and me not wanting to wake up at 4:30AM for my 7:30AM start time. No shame in my sleep game. So we get home at different times. Almost every day that I get home, 14 will stop what he’s doing and come to greet me. A few times, he’s been mowing the lawn and will wave at me from the moment I get in the driveway until I stop and can actually call out a “hi!” to him. Sometimes he even gets off the mower and comes to say hey.

WHAT?

10 isn’t as excited, but certainly does come to say hi and acknowledge that I’m home. They give me a recap of what chores they did and wait for their “good job!”s. or critiques, whatever there is.

Even more of a wow, 14 has been himself lately. He finally broke up with his crummy girlfriend that we are convinced was the reason he failed 7th grade and barely scraped by in 8th, even though she is a successful student. He laughs again and seems to have fun with his brother- which is so neat.

But most recently, the most amazing thing happened.
14 and i were standing in the toy aisle at Wal mart, they were shopping with their chore money, and he just looked at me and said “Stepmomma, I think we should keep doing the week on/week off thing.”

See, we mentioned it ONCE about 3 weeks ago. Just to get a feel for how they like this setup. there was no push back. They seemed fine with it. 14 suggested we do a ‘trial’ once school starts… little does he realize that the summer is the trial.

We haven’t talked to their mom about it. There is always some fear in approaching changing schedules. It has never gone our way.

Last year, my Prince wanted to take a course that was on Wednesday nights. I told him I’d handle the kids but it wouldn’t really be fair because they’d only get to see him to say goodnight, so we inquired with their mom if we could trade nights for just one semester. Her response? Find another class. and that was it.
No matter that this class was only available in this particular time slot and is required for graduation. That doesn’t matter. What mattered is that she has a beer league she plays for and didn’t want to change that up for us for 8 weeks.

Here’s the thing:

14 has failed school the last 2 years
10 isn’t required to read at all this summer, even though their mom enrolled him in a summer reading program.
They don’t have chores at her house
They don’t have responsibilities at her house
they cook for themselves most of the time and have no limit on sugars/sweets.
They don’t have a bed time
And they have a caring, supportive, involved dad who deserves more.

So as scary as it is to say, I think if she disagrees, there might be court to come.

Pretty soon, 14 will be driving and I’m certain we will see less of him. We want to take advantage of the time we have left before girls and cars become the most important things in his life.

When we were at the store on Sunday, we were teasing in the aisles, and he said “You’re a great step mom you know that?” sarcastically.
And I said, “Yeah. I know. Or you wouldn’t have made a replica of me out of legos for Mother’s day.”
His response was finger guns.
Which means “you’re right.”
At lunch on Sunday, which the kids prepared for US, 14 led us in prayer and thanked God for helping us to find a church, find a home, and for being where we are.

He has been warming my heart so much, lately. I surely hope this lasts.

For 14,

fcbecaea-303d-469f-9dd9-958e92c6b8b1_2.2fc7e919e989fd819bec92fce0b3e30c

love,

“bonus mom”
As he affectionately calls me.

[reblog: What It’s Time For You To Do]

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What It’s Time For You To Do

 

“Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22).

My daughter, hear the song in your heart for Me. Hear the song of longing, of beauty, of self-forgetfulness, for the sake of joy.

Surrender and receive more joy.

What is it you need to surrender? What is it you need to believe more deeply about Me? What is it, child?

Oh, come, be rescued.

Oh, come, hear the thunder in the distance, the rolling of the beat, my own heart speaking your name.

Lay down, my girl.

Lay down the future.

I’ve got you.

Lay down the past.

I’ve got you.

Believe I am for you, that I come for your heart in ways you don’t yet even know.

But you want to know, don’t you?

You want to see Me coming for you, running, my arms spread open. Daughter, turn it over again, that place in your heart that I touch, that I reach in and grasp and show you what it is you need to lay down.

Lay yourself down, my love.

It won’t hurt too much. I promise. And what is pain? Come—come deeper now.

Lay down.

Come closer.

It is only painful when the old self dies. Let it die again.

Oh, the thunder rolls. My heart beating still. Let that self be killed to receive more of Me. I promise—it’s worth any temporary pain.

[[[[time waster]]]]

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 What job would you be terrible at?
Anything that requires building experience. Like i’m the worst at home projects and can’t imagine being entrusted to build anything ever.

 When was the last time you climbed at tree?
Probably never. I have been deathly afraid of heights ever since i can remember

 What is the most annoying habit that other people have?
Faking interest. Just be real with me, please.

What job do you think you’d be really good at?
FULL TIME BOUDOIR PHOTOGRAPHER.
it’s a real dream right now

What skill would you like to master?
This is a loaded question because 1_ I don’t want to take the time to learn new things right now and 2_ Am I annoying if i say something vague like editing in lightroom or something like that? Because I’d love to be a pro editor.

What songs have you completely memorized?
I can’t even list them to you. So many.

Are you usually early or late?
If it’s just me arriving, i’m early. If you add my husband or children we are always, always late. -_-

What takes up too much of your time?
Cleaning up after other people

What do you wish you knew more about?

My family history

What’s the nicest thing someone has ever said to you?

One time, when I was having a day at work in the gas station I was formerly employed by- a regular customer told me that I had a purpose and was joyful and was meant for great things and he wished me a good day. I was blown away.

 Where did your name come from?

My mom wanted to name me Ariel and thank the Lord my sister went to school and heard of a girl named Emily, she saved my life. My hair is red.

How do you want to be remembered in life?

As someone who was passionate.

 What’s the one thing you cannot live without?

My husband.

What do you want your last words to be?

I love you.

 What is something that offends you?

When people deliberately reject others.

 What is something you are certain you’ll never experience?

Hell.

 Do you ask enough questions or do you settle for what you know?

I don’t ask enough questions but I don’t settle.

 Write a letter to your 5-year-old self.

Emily, you aren’t the queen. Don’t beat your sister with the poster that claims you are. Take time to learn to love yourself. Calm down. Don’t hate your mom. Let her love you through her weirdness. Call your grandpa. Play with the cats. Make more friends. Don’t cut your bangs and don’t shave your eyebrows.

[Motherhood Monologues]

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Here’s a teaser for my upcoming post that will be featured at JoeyHTracy.com.
A series about motherhood by moms of all different walks. I’m excited to hear from the other women who participated in this. If you’re looking forward to it, say hello below and I’ll be sure to reblog when the posts come out!
(The first one will be released today!)

perma-back burner.

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how do i change the way that i respond when other things take importance over me?

how do i not take it personally when my husband jumps in the car and doesn’t give me a hello kiss and instead jumps right into the stress of his day.
how do i not take it personally when the first 3 hours of our night together is spent talking about a kid. or the kids. or all the kids. ————————————————————-and i haven’t even been asked if my day was ok?

how can i act when i try hard to actively ask about the drama and try to be engaged, but the question or the statement is wrong or is not valid enough to not endure a 3 minute response explaining exactly what i just said.
how is it possible to not feel like i am the pot on the back burner that’s been overflowing and screaming for attention.

i don’t need ALL of the attention, just a few minutes. or an extra hug. or acknowledgement of there being a lack of attention.

we wake up to the drama of all these kids and we go to sleep to it, even on the days they’re not around. my head is full. my head is tired. i need a recoup day.