Days off.

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I always feel like a monster when I tell people that I’m not excited for the kids to come back over yet. There’s a part of me that misses their smiles and their creativity, their energy. But there’s a bigger part that has not recouped from the last week long visit, and she’s not ready for more chaos.

I teeter on the line of being an introvert and an extrover, I’m what they call an ambivert. I really enjoy coming home to an empty house- but only for about 35 minutes and then I start getting anxious from being alone. I start to miss my husband. I don’t like the quiet. I don’t like the solitude. I get lonesome. I need to be surrounded.  But being surrounded by my husband is much different than being surrounded by kids.

Tonight, we are getting ready to have some Nigerian friends over. They’re amazing people. We’re on night 3 of our week off, except they were there on Monday when I got home- which is okay, but it’s not really quite like coming home to silence. And tonight they’ll be with us. And i’m not ready.

I’m not ready to entertain  and i’m not ready to hear the kids whine and complain about being there, we’re confident that 13 is going to cheat the rules we set for his grounding and do all the things he’s grounded from while his mom is at work.  i’m not ready to have them up after their regular bed time and to hear 9 cry if he stubs his toe. i’m just not ready.

i’m not sure how else to convey this to my Prince. I’ve told him time and time again that I think one of us is going to lose it if we do this week on/week off thing. I’m drained. HE spent most of the week with them, but i am still drained. When they nag at him and pull on him and irritate him, he gets weighed down and then that is put on me. Not intentionally of course, but that”s how it naturally goes.

i need recoup days. i need to have monday nights with no work. a night with my husband and me and thats it. but instead

Monday night I came home to kids lighting fireworks and my indoor candles being burned outside. I told them 17 times to clean their room and wash/fold/put away their clothes on Monday and my Prince gave them other chores, so i came home to a dirty room with no laundry done- except what was in the washer and what would be left for me to do. i was irritated. yes, they cleaned the countertops and behind all of the junk on the counter, they did the dishes and they cleaned the bathroom but there was a reason i wanted their rooms cleaned and it didn’t happen.

When they left, i walked in the house and there was a pile of boxed up goods. which meant we were going to the storage unit (a good thing but.. no relaxation). So we don’t get   home until after 8:00 and then finally sit down to watch my husband’s favorite show.  i fall asleep after 1 episode and can’t tell you what happened.

Tuesday, I came home and worked on my photos/videos from a wedding in May that needs to be sent out, washed the boys’ clothes, did the dishes, cleaned the counters, made our bed and tidied up the living room. a lot can happen in one night. i sat down to do more wedding work and my husband came home and started giving me chores to do. so i cleaned the entire living room area. it was a lot. i made us breakfast for dinner and then we left to go to his parents’ house to drop some stuff off. then we went to the store and didnt get home until 10:00. the night was over.

tonight, we’ll have 6 or 8 people in our home. my husband will rush around like a mad man until we are all sitting down to eat. the kids will be irritated that we aren’t spending time with them, though we have international guests here to see US and its a privilege for them to be in our home.

there is no break time. there is no down time. this is not a week off.

i’m starting to really feel like i’m not cut out for this kid life. how do i do it?

Teeter Totter summer update 2. [the one that you should read.]

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Okay my posts aren’t always going to be about a teeter totter summer, but this week it is because its week 1 and everything is upside down.

Last night was …dun dun duuuun.. report card night.
9’s is almost glowing, it’s so good. he has 2 areas he can improve on, but the teacher even said “I think he’ll figure it out. He’s a leader in our class. He is an example. He works well with others, etc.” Everything a parent wants to read about their kid. He is GIDDY with his end of year grades and the positive report his teacher gave him.

13 has had this impending doom hanging above his head for the entire last trimester- he’s known it was coming. Long story short, he barely passed his year at school and we’re searching for summer school as a sort of bonus punishment. He’s lost privileges like television, tablets, cell phones, video games- all of it. very strictly for 3 weeks.

We came to this agreement about 6 minutes after we got the letter in the mail. The kids’ mom came over and my Prince kept saying, before she arrived, that “We would all discuss this and figure it out.” and i questioned him- “You keep saying we. does that mean i get to be a part of this?”
“Unless she outright won’t meet and talk about this if you’re here, yes. I want you to be a part of this.”
*huge internal smile*
Immediately after, she arrives. We all gather on the porch and she even says hi to me before i get on the porch. that’s strange.
we have our discussion and she actually listens to my input, which i am mindful to not add unless i think its very important, since this is the first time i’ve been tolerated. this is going well…

she admits a lot of her own faults in why 13 didnt succeed this year. she admits to a lot and basically reaches her hands out asking for help.
Eventually the conversation is wrapped up. I sent the boys in the house to find a book that they  were playing with the other day, it was their mom’s and her sisters from when they were kids- we gave it back to her and she smiled so big! she said she really appreciated it and held it close. and then the  boys go off to swim.
She doesn’t run off the porch.
Instead she thanks me.

SHE THANKED ME.
and she apologized for the way the last two years have been and blamed it on “momma bear.” and i just told her i understood and i thanked her.
and i told her how much i love those boys. and how much i care for them and just want the best for them. and she just said “Stepmomma, i know. they love you. and care for you. and i’m just grateful to have a support system for them. Thank you for all that you do for them and all you have done. i think things are going to be a lot better from here on out.”

WHAT!

and once she left, i walked right out to the pool and told my prince what she said, and he hopped out like “Should we talk somewhere else?” like the boys shouldn’t hear. and i said no. i intentionally came here for them to hear that their mom came to me and apologized. there was a tangible tension between us the last two years and they have openly talked about her disdain for me. I think it’d be good for them to hear that things are better. and he just smiled, like “You’re right.”

And then we took the boys to Taco Bell as a little surprise, but also because it was hot and we didn’t want to cook.

and then we took them to play tennis and 13, the one who hates all physical activity and outdoors, LOVED IT. he had fun. he smiled and laughed and ran around and then i smoked him in a real game of tennis (PS it was his first day ever of tennis, but still i won.) and then i crushed my Prince in another game of tennis that he tried, so hard, to get me to redo, but i scored on him in all 3 redo rounds. and i won again.

we all giggled and we all smiled hugely and came home feeling good.

this was my favorite day in a very long time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here’s my mid-week update on life with summer kids.

Not as terrible as expected, definitely not great.

I get mad at my husband the first night because he has energy to entertain and hang out with the kids, but not me. 13 is sick, 9 gets slurpees.

The second night ended in me crying, 13 crying, and my prince being real irritated. 13 asked me if he can ever do anything right in my eyes. and well, that sucked. he’s been ticking me and both his mom and dad off so much lately that no, it’s hard to see anything good come from him. He’s crabby, he’s being lazy, he doesn’t care, and he doesn’t even try to respond if we talk to him. He’s doing poorly in school and gets mad if we try to check in. He gets mad if we try to have a spiritual check up with him. There’s a lot of anger and we don’t know how to deal with it because he won’t give us any idea of where he is at.

It gets to a point where the kids are messing around on the ground. Our house has an immediate rule that if there is rough housing, the dogs get in their crate immediately. If you want to play, i don’t care- play. but put the dogs away. They get hyper, they get excited and then they jump and try to protect and end up scratching or jumping on a person. Their nails are sharp and they are very protective. The dogs aren’t doing anything wrong, they just can’t really handle hyper situations.

So the kids mess around and i hear the dogs start to tap their toes. I start intervening and I make them put the dogs away. They want to play, they need to be responsible. It takes 15 minutes before I finally grab the dogs by their collar, after they’ve stepped on 13’s face and start howling. I put the dogs in their crate and end the horse play. It’s 10:00pm. Dad wants to watch a show. The dogs are wound up. The kids are pissed. HUFF.
HUGE HUFF.

HUFF SO BIG THAT 2/3 OF US CRY.

Huff so annoying it lasted til midnight.

Huff so much it makes me want to yell “I told you so!” in my Prince’s face.

I got to a point where I didn’t know what to do. I was crying and asking for help from my prince and i didn’t know what to do. i’m at my limit. so we eventually had a long talk with 13 and I reminded him that I’m a person and I’m a freaking wreck right now and can’t tell the days apart since my step dad died and i’m real broken. so i might be off. i might act different. i’m a person too. and it’s not okay to disrespect me. it’s not okay to blatantly ignore me. it’s not okay to hear my questions and stare at his dad instead of answering me. it’s not okay to walk away when we’re talking, even if you think that will keep you out of trouble. it’s not okay. i am an authority figure in our house and to these kids and the way i am treated is not okay. and i told him i was tired. and that his MOM has even been at wits end. she can’t do it anymore. she calls his dad for help and Lord knows that that never happens. she’s never admitted defeat or that my husband is a good dad. ever. so for her to call in reinforcements is very unlikely.

the angry responses we get hurt us, we tell him. when he punches walls because its time to wake up or screams at his brother for moving a fan. when he takes 45 minutes to put away 3 clothing items or pawns them off on his brother because he’s too lazy. it’s hurting him and that hurts us. and that we love him. and are sad that something is clearly happening with him and he feels like he can’t talk to any one of us. and he cried but didn’t say anything.

how do i keep doing this? i don’t know how to be a teenager parent. i just don’t know.

 

 

 

 

 

week on- week off, my life is a teeter totter

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Consistency, what does that word even mean? Constant. Never changing. Routine. Similar. Predictable. What I crave for every aspect of my life.

Now for someone who is very much a “Type A” personality, change is scary. And I don’t know how I ever thought that life as a step parent would fit into my clean, organized, well- scheduled life. Because it doesn’t. It so does not.

Our “Schedule” is typically 1 night per week and every other weekend. With some bonus days here and there, whenever my Prince invites the kids over or their mom can’t stand them anymore, which is often as of late.

I almost demand that Prince Charming tells me when they come over if it is an “off” day of ours. I cannot physically or mentally handle coming home to three people when I expected to come home to zero or 1 (if my prince is working.) And he hates it. He often thinks that I mean he needs my approval to have the kids over. While that would be real fun, since I do plan things on our nights off and sometimes really do need a day off from everyone, it is not the case.

I am just step mom. My needs come last, my sanity comes way last.
I have begged and pleaded for this summer to not come and alas, here it is. Week 1.
Where we get the boys for an entire week. They’ll go to their mom’s house for 14 sweet hours in the middle of the week, but still. My sanity is scared. My heart that still is aching since my step dad died. It’s terrifying to cry or have added stress. My sunburned skin is not looking forward to when 9 pulls me to go look at something or how the dogs get riled up while the kids are over and might jump & scratch my fresh burns. ouch.
I have told my Prince that if he were to pursue further custody of the children than what he/we have, I would support him. I would take the kids every day of their dang lives if that’s what he wanted and that’s what were best. But I am not prepared for week on, week off. At all.

I am not prepared for the arguments and my husband telling me that I’m fighting just like the thirteen year old.
I am not prepared to get walked on day in and day out every other week.
I am not prepared to be pushed aside for an entire week.
I am not prepared for the week long mental exhaustion and feeling like i am on the outskirts of my own home.
I am not prepared for the endless laundry that will accumulate or the swimsuits and towels that will hang forever on our porch rail.
I am not prepared for them to miss their mom and to hate every second of being with us. I cannot ever prepare for the “I miss mom” ‘s or the 25 minute phone calls to her, when we never get an “i miss you” phone call while they are away from us.

When my routines break, I turn into a monster. I can’t think straight, I can’t keep track of the days, I cannot handle it. I struggle when I come home to a full house instead of getting my 30 minutes of quiet, where I can pick up the pieces of the day before and get things back in order. Do the laundry, wash the dishes, sweep up the floors and tackle whatever large mess was left by my husband or skids. When I come home to a full house, I am already defeated. I cannot peel away from them to do housework or editing photos + videos from my side gig, I cannot find 5 minutes of quiet, I am exhausted.

Does it seem wrong to not want this week on/week off thing? Prince Charming keeps saying “We’re only adding three days/week and she gets them on our regular night!!”

Yes, but that’s three days of not seeing my husband.
Three days of doubt and worry and being shoved to the side.
Three days of arguments and fights over dinner or whether it’s actually 89 degrees out.
Three days of telling 13 that he cannot possibly have another pop and can’t have 4 bowls of ice cream, especially because he was a giant turd all day long.
Three days of not bike riding or walking because the kids are too lazy to go. (mainly 13)
Three days of sanity that I so badly need.

We’ve never done week on, week off.

I am honestly terrified for summer.

remembering marvin.

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i can’t begin to give you words to describe my marvin. if i do, i’ll cry. and i’m at work, so i can’t cry.

but i’m here to tell you that my beloved Marvin. my step dad of 20 years. he passed away on Sunday, very unexpectedly. his heart has stopped and mine feels like it’s going to. there’s a hole in our family and in all of our hearts. he was the best.

so here, today, i wrestled myself out of bed this morning to come to work. to put on a semi-decent face and the strength to drive 30 miles to work. it’s taking everything in me to stay up right and not to curl up under my desk and give in to the depression that is sinking in. he was more than a step dad. he was constant and joyful. he was silly and kind. he was full of life. his heart was gold. his smile was infectious. he wanted nothing from anyone. he made my family complete and now we are a little bit empty. he is already so missed.

 

 

Our new baby.

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This weekend, without explaining anything, was one of the most stressful, chaotic, emotional weekends we have had in a very long time. And I do say we.

There is extended family drama up the wazoo and we are the only trusted people who can handle the situation or be involved at all. Which is pretty neat, but also pretty exhausting.

I mentioned in my last post that we saved a baby racoon. and now we are syringe feeding it every few hours and i bathed it last night and it sits in my laundry room right now, while i am away.

We have named him Meeko.

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The photos I have of him are very blurry. but he is about 5 pounds and maybe 7 or 8 inches long. He is so tiny. His hands are so weird. His knuckles bend and wrap around things and they freak me out, but he is so incredibly cute.

He is a loner, so we have put a little baby Ty Beanie Baby Turtle with him.

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They only cuddle when he sleeps through the night. Not during nap time.

He also has a giant stick in his box and we will add leaves and acorns, pinecones as we go.

We’re trying to get him back to normal. Day 1 he was dizzy, he could hardly hold his head up and definitely couldn’t walk without stumbling. He ate very little and we think he was dehydrated, so I have syringe fed him some water (sparingly, since babies typically don’t drink water).

He’s been drinking 3-4 oz of puppy milk each day, with 1-2 tsp of water in there somewhere. Last night we mixed some squash into his milk, he seemed to like it. It’s hard to know what to do because we don’t know his age and don’t know what he is really capable of, since he was so off on Sunday.

Yesterday he climbed out of his box on his own. his strength is coming back and it’s so great to see! He chased me in the yard (I’m his mom now) and ran in circles with me until he got tired. Then I bathed him, he was covered in a lot of.. gunk, we’ll say, when we picked him up and I was scared to touch him. Fortunately I keep everything and still had some mild puppy shampoo that I bathed him in- I added the Blue Dawn Dish soap to the mix too, because that stuff is like magic in a bottle. Not all of the gunk came off, but he looks clean and isn’t covered today. I’ll probably bathe him again tonight just in warm water, with no chemicals. I think its good to let him move and walk around in a contained area, especially away from our dogs. They want to eat him.

We have been toying with the idea of training him to release when he is about 10 weeks old (give or take), or training him to an outdoor crate that we will feed him in and keep around. We plan to have a farm and think it might be neat to have an outdoor pet raccoon! Especially if he has lost his family. He will likely follow me around the yard even as an adult, he will likely click with me but not to a point that is dangerous. I’m okay with having more animal friends 🙂

I like feeding him and bathing him was fun to watch, too. I don’t like when he screams.

This is such a weird thing we are doing, but i think its great

 

 

 

 

 

 

The momster strikes again.

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I did that thing again.
Where I lose my cool and scream until I don’t even know what I’m screaming about.

We got a knock at our door at 8am Saturday morning and then proceeded to sit on the porch for an hour with an in law. Sleepy eyed, braless, uncaffeinated. Too much for 8am. My prince and the in law left to do some errands and to have some one on one time. I counted the minutes until I was supposed to leave for a baby shower 90 minutes away. Called my best friend to tell her i didn’t know if i could make it (which means I crushed her), and then rage cleaned the entire house before the kids even got out of bed.

My prince arrived promptly at the time the shower started. So I headed out and tried my darndest to make it on time. We all went separate ways on Saturday. I drove through some sketchy weather to make it before the event ended and, thankfully, i did.

I came home exhausted. Lots of people. Lots of rain. Getting lost in the boondocks. It’s not my thing. My prince and the kiddos spent all day filling the back of the truck with boxes and packing away our storage unit. They had to take things from the attic, to the floor, to the truck, to the unit. They worked hard. They got all but 2 boxes!  We were all pooped. We ate some pizza and then sat to watch a movie. somewhere in there, 13 jokingly told me i was crashing their boys night. my response was not much short of “tough shit, i live here.”

i told them I couldn’t make it through a movie and said I guess I could just sleep in my room instead of on the couch. Then i fell asleep on the couch. Next to my husband and with the kids playing nearby. That’s perfection to me. relaxing with my family.

But shortly after, my husband got up and changed seats. Wake up 1. Then can’t remember my code to my card to order a movie. Wake up 2. Then 9 decides to ask if i am going to sleep in my room instead of on the couch (Wake up 3)- which shouldn’t matter, only 2 people were watching the movie and there were more than 2 seats available. So i freaked.

Why can’t i sleep where i want.

Why can’t i sit by my husband.

Why can’t you just let me sleep.

Why does it matter where i sleep? Is this really a problem?

so i scream. i tell them they all have hurt me because i’m clearly not important enough to have warranted even a text message for Mother’s Day. That i am tired of feeling like an outsider and like i am unwelcome and unwanted. i tell them they hurt me and i’m tired of it. and i swore a few times. and 9 hid under his blanket.

and i felt this big.

i can’t sleep when i am mad at my husband. i can’t sleep when i have been a jerk. so i sat outside in the rain and tried to calm my nerves. finally went and sat with them to watch the weirdest kid movie. finally got my husband to talk to me and hear me ( i think).

it is exhausting being in this undefined position with undefined roles but very defined parameters.

I woke up on Sunday puffy eyed and a little relieved. We had a good day together.

We rescued a raccoon this weekend and encountered all sorts of family drama, but all of sunday with the kids was FUN. and i think they forgive me for being a monster.

13 back talked and sassed me and my response was, “THIS IS ALLOWED?” because PC was right next to him. and my prince finally defended me.

i guess there’s hope. it’s just really hard.