[petty thermometer]

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I’m testing the waters to see if I’m just being petty or if my feelings are valid:

My mother in law has always been known  for knitting and crocheting. She can whip up a new dish cloth in just a few minutes, if she’s motivated. They turn out flawlessly. Over the years, she has learned my favorite colors and patterns and makes them for me quite often (probably too often, but I’ll never tell her not to send them over!) I love them.

My parents, nor any of my grandparents, ever knitted, crocheted, or barely knew how to sew. My paternal grandma taught me to sew when I was 12, but she passed away and I’ve forgotten all of the tips she gave me. She’s the only one. So when people MAKE things for me, I treasure them. It’s a delicacy in our family.

I walked through our kitchen last night, picking up odds and ends before I ran the dishwasher (20 has been leaving her things everywhere..) and I noticed a dish rag that I hadn’t ever seen before. My mother in law had sent home one rag the day before, and I definitely do remember her saying to the kids, “Grab the rags!” plural S. but only seeing one. So I grabbed it and asked where it came from? It was nestled in with some of my Prince’s clothes that needed to be put away (yes……. in the kitchen.)

It’s for their mom.

She made a dish rag for my husband’s ex girlfriend. A woman who was denied the right to attend my father in law’s funeral because she has talked so poorly about my in-laws that it has mentally hindered my step kids from building a relationship with their grandparents. A woman who has tried to rip my husband down so many times for so many years. A woman who STILL speaks poorly about my mother in law and doesn’t see any fault in it.

My mother in law made her a dish rag. And I was furious. and Hurt.

I put it somewhere else and told them that I thought it was very strange. Very odd. 15 agreed, 11 tried talking me down “It’s JUST A RAG!” and Prince yelled saying he didn’t know anything about it. I got mad, mostly internally.

It made all of my previous dish rags feel like just that- rags. Dirt. Absent of value. I felt less than, again.

I hope my husband can understand my hurt and explain it to her. I don’t know how I would. She would scoff at me and tell me to get over it. It’s not my place to tell her who their mother is or what awful things she’s done. I doubt he’ll remember when he sees her today, but I hope he considers me when he does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[breaking through]

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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?

[no longer letting]

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blended tribe, if you’ve been following our journey- and i do say our journey, after all, i wouldn’t be in this if it weren’t for the other folks in my home, i’ve got some news for you.

you might know that we began pursuing 50/50 joint legal custody of my step kids at the beginning of this year, when babymama said she wouldn’t “let” my prince have the kids for some event one last time. and decided she deserved more time with them than he does, though there’s no reason on this earth he should be denied it.

we offered to do things out of court. to pay for filing the papers ourselves and just to meet on our own terms and not involve lawyers or judges. she didn’t comply. she got a very expensive lawyer and we called the one we’ve known for several years. so we spent thousands of dollars and made our relationships tense and tight for almost 6 months.

Saturday, the recommendation from the custody specialist came and she awarded 50/50 joint legal custody to my husband. i cannot explain the relief that we feel. i cannot explain the joy that man feels right now.

i know this is tough for some of you to hear, when custody cases have not gone your way. but every situation is different. every single one. every kid is different. every mom and every dad are different. we hoped and prayed that it would go this way and we are so relieved.
we anticipated the judge telling us that 15 was too old and to just let him choose, but they didn’t. and we anticipated what it would be like if they told us to go back to our old custody arrangement and that broke us, even thinking of it.
we’re so grateful.

so their mom is no longer “letting” us have them. no longer “letting” us see them for holidays. no longer “letting” them do this or that. she is doing. she cannot try to use her ‘power’ over my husband anymore and i am so grateful for that. for him to have the rights and access to his kids that he so truly, fully deserves.
i am happy to have pushed my prince this way.
He let me read the recommendation after he had finished (like, the paper was still warm and i had it in my hands haha!) and he said “Fyi you ARE mentioned and it IS petty…” like how their mom called me bratty and some other silly things.

i kept reading and he said “what’s not mentioned there is that you’re really the unsung hero here. it’s mentioned over and over that the past few years things have been better on my end and that’s really because of you.” 😭😭😭😭😭

and now i’m soaring.

i just want you to know it’s worth it.
it’s worth it to push for your kids and to fight for them, even when things don’t go your way. at least you AND they know that you tried.
we don’t all win. we don’t all get what we want. but i really believe that if we’re all trying our hardest and keeping our kids’ best interest in mind, they’ll come around some day and will see that. maybe not when they’re kids. but when they grow up and take their rose colored glasses off, they’ll see that they have two parents who love them unconditionally and they always have. and i think i’d rather be friends with my adult kid than friends with my kid as a kid, if i get the choice. we lose sometimes and that is crushing. but it doesn’t mean it’s over.

they’ve got a whole life in front of them- this time now does not define their infinite futures. keep pursuing them and loving them and keep yourself on your knees in prayer for them. keep on, mamas.

 

[our week.]

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last night, my prince and i went for a walk and then we went to celebrate national ice cream day appropriately. we came home and sat down at about 9:30, flipping through the channels as we started to wind down our weekend/week of just us. (it usually feels like a vacation coming to an end.)
He started with “well lets try to remember this week is the kids’ vacation. they’re on summer break. this is their childhood. let’s not get worked up when they leave their socks out or don’t do things correctly right away or just let them bug us. let’s try to remember that these times are short…” and continued on with this spell about the days being limited.
and i told him i wanted to.
and that it doesn’t always start because a sock is left out. it’s usually an accumulation of many things and the sock is what puts me over the edge.
when it’s Prince & I, he sees me and hears me and fully understands and honestly, usually agrees with my frustrations as a step mom.
When all four of us are together, he is defensive dad and has his armor on for his kids and his defense is up against ME. and i can’t get through to him or let him see what’s happening. it feels like i’m married to two people- he probably feels the same about me. that our lives flip flop so much that we are different people week on/week off. that is tough.
and the conversation stopped when i shared that this is how it feels. he didn’t have anything to add.

So here we are. Monday of a new week. still waiting for the referee’s recommendations on custody. still waiting for push back from their mom.

She wants to take them across the state camping this year, just like every other year. We always accommodate. we have driven FAR to accommodate this and help out. we give up our days and time, sacrifice the precious time we have with them to let them have fun. this year’s a little different.
my prince asked if we should get them for the 4th, since she is usually at a social event and she never responded to the two texts he sent asking this. so he acted the same way with her request. we told her that she could have them at 5 on sunday. we’re not giving up more of our time anymore.
her parents both wrote nasty things about him and i in their letters to the referee. nasty things that make us not want to accommodate, if they feel we are so awful and unpredictable. why would we? why should we? why try to be so flexible when we can’t ever have it reciprocated.
i’m so tired of the constant battle of being a blended family. whether it’s between the kids and i, my husband and i ABOUT the kids, their mom, the grandparents.. whatever it is that week. i’m just tired of it.
so here’s to this week.
i’m praying we have good temperaments. that we can enjoy our meals together and we can have some fun while we get through these days.
that’s the best i can do.

[july]

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Captain’s Log:
18 July
10 days post- custody interview
Kids were with us, which i think helped US. We don’t bash their mom or her family, plus we had the day before off of work, so we had some good, quality time together.

15 is back and forth. More than usual.
On Saturday, his sister came over with her son and he put on Netflix.
We don’t have Netflix. His mom does. We don’t allow her stuff at our house. Never have. We have fought this battle for 4 years and I’m certain we will do it until they move out. We do not want to use her accounts at our house. We have Hulu, Amazon and whatever comes in over the air. We have plenty.
I told him no. He threw his hands in the air. Slammed them back down onto the couch and tells me how unreasonable I am.
My prince asked him to help with something, his response was to take the waterbottle that was in his hands and throw it at the couch. stomping away.
I asked him to take his BLUE MOON ice cream- I use caps lock because it’s like the stainiest of all stainy ice creams in the world- and eat it at the table. THE KIDS AREN’T ALLOWED TO EAT ON THE FURNITURE. EVER. This isn’t an unjust rule. They are MESSY and I don’t want to ruin the only nice things we have. So they eat at the table or they don’t eat. Harsh? not really. Does the 15 year old think so? Yes.
He quit speaking to me. Told me I don’t even like him. IF we spoke, it was all attitude.

I’m so over it. It’s hard to say “Yes, let’s keep throwing money at this custody thing for these people who f*cking hate me.”

But

11 surprised me by buying me a pillow. “For my back and stuff.” One of those ones that has the little arms that you lean against on a bed or floor. He bought it with his own money.
and he made me a card.

so there’s that.

 

4

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Yesterday was our fourth wedding anniversary. i bought him a box of chocolates like these as a simple, easy gift. there’s too much going on right now to have time for real gifts, or to even enjoy them. chocolate is always good. there is always time for chocolate.

The kids find my box (oops, i bought two. they’re $10 and buy one get one! how can i not?) of chocolate and ask for some. and at first i say no, it’s an anniversary thing……. and it’s not even unwrapped yet.
and then seconds later i change my answer.
I say, well. today IS our anniversary, and that also means it’s the anniversary of us officially becoming a family……… so it’s kind of like your day, too. however.

mother’s day was just three days ago and i didn’t even get a wave, a hand written note, a text message. nothing. so it seems like you don’t really view me as your step mom…. so why should you get to partake in my anniversary goodies?

and then i say, YES. you can. because i care for you and want you to have good things.

but i’m also not shy enough to tell you when you hurt me.

 

 

 

and then 15 asked when Step Mother’s day is.

so we’ll see how Sunday, May 19 goes.

maybe this was wrong. maybe i shouldn’t have guilted them into it but…………… i dont really care. i don’t need a lot. i just wanted to be WISHED a happy mother’s day.

 

also, my father in law just passed away two days ago and our little fam could use some prayer.

mothers day hater.

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it’s no secret that Mother’s Day isn’t my favorite holiday. but i think i’m giving in and declaring it my least, this year. i’m over it. i’m tired of it. it wears me out, it puts my emotions on a rollercoaster and it isn’t fair to anyone involved.
i woke up yesterday with a half smile, thinking that even though the kids weren’t with us (this is the first year since we’ve been married that she’s had them for mother’s day), i might wake up to a flower on the counter or a small note. something. i quickly realized i was wrong and it was just another Sunday morning in our household. an added bonus of “happy mother’s day. i’m sorry my kids don’t appreciate you.”
after we crawled out of bed, let the dogs out and scurried to get ready, we headed down to see my Prince’s parents at about 9am. his dad is not well and his mother is practically living there with him, going on 9 weeks now. i remind him that she can’t really have flowers in a hospital room, so we need to find her something else. we find a unique candy store along the way and pick out some old candies she’d love. our drive in is slow. what is normally 90 minutes felt all of four hours, somehow. very slow. we stopped at the world’s worst Tim Horton’s & aimed for one of those “mom coffee’s” but they don’t serve almond milk. and their warmer was broken. and their credit card machine. and the drive thru line was out to the road. and they forgot my timbits. so $30 later, we finally hit the road again. we spot an antique festival on the way, my favorite, and vow to check it out on the way home. this week’s our anniversary and we decided that every year, we will commit to buying one trinket that represented our year or what we’re looking forward to in the next year. we have a type drawer that we use as a shelf to display them on. this is our anniversary date.
we pull up, jump out and walk up to the room. Prince and MIL spend some time in the hospital room. i haven’t gone in the last couple times- we have to be gowned up to go in his room and something has wigged me out by having to do that. so i sit in the waiting room and i pray. i always peek at him when the locked doors swing open, he’s the first bed you see. sort of on display. i only like it when i’m in the waiting room- i don’t like that he’s front and center.
the waiting room is full. too full to talk. so we meander downstairs again, i buy my husband and his mom a coffee to talk over. eventually we get bored of that and go on a walk around the entire hospital. lugging around mom’s candy and sodas. we bore of that and find lunch. it just feels like everything took so long. lunch was a shared salad, shared fruit and shared chicken salad- it took an hour. it’s already 3:30pm.
we go back up to see dad again and prince & mom go in the room for over an hour. the waiting room is still too full. i sat in the corner to avoid people. someone sat directly next to me. and across from me. and diagonal. yelling. kids are jumping off of chairs. i just want to be home. isn’t it my day, too? this is more important. definitely.

we get home at 720. my dogs have been in their room for 9 hours, they spent long days in there all weekend. most ending with messes. theyre mad at me for having too many busy days. i walk in and realize the house isn’t clean. the clothes are still dirty and i am exhausted. and i have a scheduled event at 8pm that i have to be camera ready for. so i run and sweep, shove laundry in, pull laundry out, fill the dish washer, change the trashes, prep for my live, and try to figure out what other chores are completely necessary to begin a new week. Sweep the porch- this is an important one.
Prince is reading a book on the couch, with his feet up.
I cried in the laundry room.

I am certain that the only way mother’s day will ever have anything to do with me, the step mother of his children, will be if i ever birth my own.  and that is quite scary.