Stepmemo

A note to stepmoms everywhere


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Breaking News: I’m Still Alive!!

courtesy livefromtexas.tumblr.com

courtesy livefromtexas.tumblr.com

You know, it’s been a while. I haven’t meant for that to be the case, I just haven’t had much time. I’ve been doing the usual part time mom and full time job, and then I started going to school. I don’t know, maybe I’m a masochist and I abuse myself with taking time away. Not really sure what’s going on there. But school is going pretty awesome, and my job (which I didn’t want in the first place, Inside Sales) is turning into something pretty cool. I had a hard time, I knew it was a good job with good people, but I was bored out of my mind. When Jessie gets bored, bad things happen. I’ve been known to shoot rubber bands at people (got one guy right in the eye) sneak up on people and scare them. Rig up their desks, steal things from offices, hide important items… you get the idea. I run out of work and turn into a gremlin.

But there may be a promotion on the horizon and that is super fantastic.

The oldest child (now 15, gasp) has a boyfriend. He’s pretty awesome. He always wears those Adidas sandals with crazy pattern socks (like the universe, statue of Liberty, things like that) so I started calling him hot socks. The name stuck. Some family members just call him socks. It’s an initiation. You can’t be one of us without a name, a few of us have many.

The middle child graduated from 8th grade (eek!). During her graduation, we made faces at each other and she was trying not to laugh. We have stare downs and awkward offs, you know. Teenage weirdo stuff. I have no idea what lies ahead for her in high school. But she knows I’m on her side, I will always help her and I will always listen, so I hope that helps. She’s so pretty, I worry about boys, but I guess we’ll burn that bridge when we get there.

The youngest, while incredibly smart, is in that horrible tween phase. She’s too cool for everything, and then not old enough for everything else. She’s a little sassy, a little lippy, and not sure what she likes, so she acts like she doesn’t like anything. I have my work cut out for me this summer with Dennis the menace here. She is so smart, I just want her to see that she’s really got a gift, and that fitting in just makes her someone she’s not. That’s what I worry about, but I also know that middle school cures that. It’s a phase people, they all go through angry cat syndrome, it goes away. Just keep acting like nothing is wrong and they’ll come around.

I went on my first business trip. I missed the kids birthday party at my house (I’m such a turd!). All I can say about that is 1) don’t fly Spirit airlines 2) stay away from O’Hare airport (just ridiculous) 3) no matter where you travel for work, it’s still work. It’s not a vacation. That was the worst possible trip to Orlando I could ever have had. Gah.

So that’s all. I feel more and more like a real mom every day. The oldest has been staying at her mom’s house more for the summer and I keep forgetting. Like a piece is missing. I like these people. I think I’ll keep them, they’re kinda mine now anyway.

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Long Term Magic from Short Term Bad Plumbing (no, really)

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courtesy giphy.com

I had a little lull in the action for a while. There were a few weeks where I just chilled and got to watch tv and paint my nails. I got lots of sleep and rest, even if things were sort of busy. I could see there were a few things coming up, but the problem with planning 1 event, is that it always turns into 3.

My new job give quarterly bonuses. We have eagerly been awaiting this one. What will we do with it? Will we get a new couch that doesn’t smell like dirty dogs and kids’ butts? Will we get ahead with our bills? Buy a dog? Put a nice porch on the house (ours is literally rotting off, ugh). No, we will get a furnace. A shiny new furnace.

Don’t get me wrong, we needed a furnace and knew it. But we needed some other things too, and sometimes it’s nice to have something you can really experience and appreciate.  Like a new, not stinky couch. But we’ve been running space heaters on every floor, and it’s dying. Despite the fact that we are like 3 weeks away from not needing it, it’s dying.

Another fun project is the little creek that is running down the wall in our bedroom. Our room is in the basement, so all the problems literally roll downhill. It’s wet, it’s ruining our floor and the drop ceiling.  We have had to throw out a few tiles, leaving a gaping maw in the ceiling directly above my pillow. It’s not relaxing. We will be cutting a big hole in the dining room wall/doorway today or tomorrow in hopes of finding the spring that feeds our vertical creek. I can’t wait.

So the other day, the oldest went to the store with me to get a space heater for the upstairs. I was telling her about a dream I had where she was having such bad stomach pains, she stopped eating, stopped all the treatments we were trying and ran away from home. She started heroin to stop the pain. I told her about that, and she started crying. I asked why and she said “it’s so sad”. I said “yes, it’s sad for me, but why is it sad for you?”

She’s come a long way in her eating disorder, but she said that since there was so much turmoil at her mom’s and now she was conflicted with her decision to go over there less, she was tempted to not eat. We had a discussion about stress and addiction, and how when we have a lot going on, we tend to deal with it the only way we know how, even if it’s unhealthy. So we had some tissues and counseling in the fan/heater aisle of the Walmart, then went home to heat up the house. So there was some of that “Mom” stuff I’ve been so scared to try and handle. I hope I did well.

I also did my best to get all signed up for school this week. I got all of my financial documents taken care of, did most of my orientation, and did my best at a placement test. Lord help me, I suck at math. Like disgustingly, ridiculously suck. I suck at it so bad, there’s no logical reason for it. It’s depressing.  I was all proud of myself, thinking I was getting a lot done and staying on schedule, then I get emails and phone calls that I need to do more, and don’t forget about this… I hope it’s not always like this. It’s gonna be a LONG 2 years. But I’m still excited, despite the short term implications.

I want a job that’s fun. I can’t do this “just make money” crap forever. And I should probably teach the kids about that, too.


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Unicorns In Training

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Courtesy giphy.com

Yeah I fell off for a bit. Sorry, I just kind of quit life for a little while. I noticed a few things, gave everything I had to the kids and a side project or two, and tried to relax.
I’ve felt a lot better after my husband forced me to go shopping and get some nice new things for me. When I was a kid, my mom would get dressed up and go out. She didn’t have a lot, but she had nicer things than me. She also would take naps a lot (she was a single mom working full time, taking care of 2 kids and a mentally ill mother). I understood, naps were kind of a big deal. Both of my parents took them and we (the children) respected that.
Lots of women don’t give themselves time or nice things. They keep putting the kids first and making sure they have new clothes and new shoes so they aren’t singled out in school, and that teaches them a few bad lessons. First, it shows them they are more important in the world than you. They trump you. Some children will see and appreciate your sacrifice, but most of them won’t. They don’t understand the big picture, they just see you, giving them all and taking none for you.
Second, you are showing them how to parent, and that you take no time for yourself when you take care of little people. If this was healthy, this wouldn’t be the number one complaint among mothers.
Take some time, take some money. Not much, but do the basic stuff. Take care of you.
The kids were all very impressed that I bought new clothes, and they keep eyeballing my new boots. I have to guard them with my life!
The kids are proud of me when I finally give in and do stuff for me, but that’s not normal. At their mom’s house, she comes first, sometimes at the cost of everyone else. So the kids have a comparison. This isn’t a view most kids have. I try to show them a different way, that they can still be loving and take care of their families without sacrificing time and health, but I don’t do so well. When I have them by myself, I don’t even take the 20 minutes that I take when my husband is home. I give all to them because I’m taking the place of 2 people. I want to show them a balance, but that’s hard to remember when you have 3 young people all super excited to tell you about their day, and ask big ugly life questions, like “how did the holocaust happen?”. Yeah.
How could you turn that down?
But now that they are older, they see. They know I love them and would do anything for them, like switch jobs and work a second job. Shop at a second hand store and stop having date nights.
But I have to teach them how to be self respecting women who doesn’t need a man’s approval. And that is why I need to start doing a better job of keeping up with myself. I need to be am example of a woman proud to be in her own skin.
Seems easy enough, right? ;P


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Single Mom Time. What Could Go Wrong?

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My husband has left me to do the single mom dance with the kids again. It seems like they see me more than anyone else. It’s only for a few days this week, and I can’t have it action packed like my last single mom gig. I’m already tired.
This weekend was great, but I crammed too much in there and now I’m done. I finally got to go buy new clothes!! I went to a department store and bought new things! Everything was on clearance, but it’s all new. I get nice stuff from Goodwill, but it’s nice to get things that fit right and haven’t been stretched out by anyone else.
So after an epic battle with clothes, I was wiped. Yesterday I had to drag myself through the grocery store. I had to come home and sit down for 20 minutes before actually putting the food away.
Yes, I have to rest in the middle of mundane tasks. It is what it is.
My husband was playing The Doors last night, I’m not sure but I think he was trying to torture the children. Anyway, the youngest was standing next to him as he sang, and he got to the line “the men don’t know, but the little girls understand”. The youngest looks at him, like he knows a secret, and says ” I’m a little girl “. My husband made a face somewhere between disgust and disappointment and told her to go sit down.
If you live with kids, you surely have had a double entendre misunderstanding at some point. Or kids not realizing what they are saying. They might loudly talk about camel toe in public, they might excitedly insist that you spank them (without the birthday spankings context) there’s all sorts of things that can happen. They attend public school and aren’t always hip to the context of their comments.
I kind of feel like as long as they don’t really get it, I don’t make a big deal out of it. When they know what they are talking about, that’s when there’s a problem.


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Friday Ride On The Crazy Train

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From the youngest, the caption says it all...

This week has just vaporized, I swear. It’s fine so fast, I’m still not sure it’s Friday. We haven’t had the kids, so I’ve been trying to get caught up on things I didn’t do when they were here.
I guess the trip to the mall was a big hit with the kids. The oldest is still talking about her “exciting weekend” with me. I guess she was just tickled to hang with my mom and uncle. Super weird, a teenager that wants to hang out with adults all the time. But I won’t complain.
She had told me that she had to quit talking to some friends because she found out they were doing drugs and they were racist. She’s half Mexican, so that whole racist thing doesn’t fly, and she’s not a fan of drugs either. She felt like they were the only friends she had, so we had a talk about that.
I suppose high school isn’t the place for a girl with a big heart.
The middle child has secretly pierced a second hole in her ear, by herself. I’m just glad it didn’t happen at our house.
The youngest had her conferences last night. She had drawn a portrait (the pic at the top, supposed to be a self portrait but she’s blond) and her caption says. I swear, that girl makes me Facepalm twice a day.
But I never tell her to change. Only to be herself and not be afraid of it. Can’t stop a crazy train like that.


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What? No Spongebob?!

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Holy cows and chickens. What a week, and then a weekend. I was busy every day with the girls. It helped to wear me out so I slept better and helped to keep them from fighting.
Thursday they went to the gym with me, and I don’t remember Friday. Like, at all. I feel like we went somewhere, but it’s gone from my memory forever.
Saturday was insane. I ended my day by taking the kids to the mall. There was an entire day’s worth of activity, then I took a preteen and 2 teenagers to the mall.
Yes, I’m a bit slow.
We did have a good time. There were lots of sales and they were all very happy. We joked around and laughed, and they showed all of their new treasures to me. We were starting to leave, and the youngest asked if I could take her to the Spongebob movie.
No, there are no movies today. I was toast.
Then yesterday was so in insane, in not sure there’s room enough on here to go through it all. Lots of running around and cooking, and more running. My feet were killing me.
I need a nap people. I am NOT single mom material. I can obviously push through when needed, but that was rough.
I’ve decided that I might not cook anything this week. At all. I think I’m done. I hope my husband doesn’t mind.
I left my gogo at the mall.


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The Biweekly “I Need” Run

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It’s a Saturday with the kids. That always means the same thing; “hey Jessie, I need…” Every other Saturday when we have the kids, I spend the better part of the day running around like crazy for assorted child’s needs. Almost all of which I have been informed of the night before.
This week was nice in that I had a little more of a head’s up on what the kids needed, the oldest needed bras and wanted to use a gift card. Simple enough. The youngest has a concert and needs an outfit. We’ve been talking about this for weeks. She needed an outfit from any decade between the 50’s and the 80’s. I told her to narrow it down a bit. We had this talk several times. We get to the store today, and I asked what decade she wanted to be, and she gave her answer for everything, all the time; “I don’t know”. She doesn’t know what she wants to wear, what she wants to eat, where she wants to go, what she wants to do, but you can bet all of your money, she doesn’t want whatever it is you have planned.
Anyway, I facepalm in the store, and send her off to get some jeans while I collect several decades of outfits. Gah. At the dressing room, I only have her a few things on the hopes of speeding things along, and it did. She can’t have too much to choose from, her brain will overheat and then anything can happen, and it’s never anything good. She got a multi color polka dot skirt and striped sweater, she’s from the 80’s. Because I said so.
We dropped her off and the older two and I went bra shopping. While waiting for the oldest to try her stuff on, the middle child and I sat on little chairs in the dressing room. A man and a woman came in, and the woman insisted it was fine for her husband to try his stuff on in the women’s room. Sure, why not. I’m gonna try out a urinal, I hear it doesn’t matter.
We went to a makeup store so the oldest could use her gift card, and so I could get some makeup that won’t slide off my face 5 times a day. I look around for a few minutes and had a few ideas when a pretty woman with dark hair in a lab coat approached me. She asked in a very soft and polite voice if I needed any help. I said “yes, I’m greasy and I’m old. And when I say greasy, I mean slick!” Not a smile or look of confusion or anything, she was like a guard at Buckingham palace. Without missing a best she said she had just the thing for me. I hope she really did, but I can’t help but think she was only pushing a hot product. I hope I’m wrong, it seems like I got nice stuff, I finally got grown up makeup.
I guess that means I really am old, at least I want lying.


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Havin Fun and Flippin Out!

courtesy giphy.com

courtesy giphy.com

I’ve been having a lot of fun with the kids lately. I thought about it yesterday, and I realized how much we laugh in my house. We’re always joking, cracking up, making faces at each other at the dinner table, making fun of each other and ourselves. We laugh a lot. I feel kind of bad for my husband because he’s the only guy here and a lot of times it’s like a sleepover.

The middle child had a banquet for cheerleading the other day. I sat in the audience, and while she was up on stage we waved at each other and made faces at each other. I sat next to the oldest, and we watched all the cheerleaders and football players get their names called to go up and get a little award. We narrated the thoughts of the little kids as they walked across the stage “Yeah, that’s my name. I got this. Too cool to high five you.” And we giggled in our seats. Then I pointed to some of the little football players and told the oldest “that’s how old you were when I moved in.”

“No! I wasn’t that small! Was I? Was I really that little?”

It’s been a long road, people. But I think all of those years of what felt like me beating my head against a wall paid off. It seems like they are at an age where no one is really sure how to treat them, or how they should feel about them, and I can sit down and have a normal conversation with them about all sorts of uncomfortable things.

Like boys.

The older 2 both like boys. When you don’t know anything about “liking” someone, and you’re drowning in hormones, it’s an anxious time. They may not pay attention to you for one day and it’s the longest day ever. It seems like they don’t care about you anymore and just won’t tell you why!!  Why won’t they say anything!! AAAHHHH!!!

So, since I understand that, it’s nice that I can talk to them and say “maybe he had a bad day. Maybe there was something else he was thinking about. Why don’t you wait till tomorrow, and then just say ‘hey, what’s up’ like it’s no big deal, and see how he acts.” I’m hoping to prevent crazy girlfriend syndrome, and also promote the idea that their whole life isn’t hung up on one guy. They are more than just what some guy thinks about them, they are an entire person in themselves.

Dating is scary, and they are young. It’s easy to want to just tell them they can’t date, but they go to public school. It’s hard to let them be part of the experience and not let them be part of the experience. But I’ve already decided they can ONLY be in public places with these boys. I don’t have a time limit on that, that’s the rule. They can’t go anywhere that they will not be seen by adults in some way. No bedrooms, no houses without adults, nothing like that. Always in public or in front of parents.

Maybe that’s mean. But I know about boys.


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Endless Summer

From a trip a few years back

I am just so super excited for so many reasons, I think I may just blow up. There’s been a buzz of activity for a few reasons, the biggest one is we are going on the first camping trip of the year.

I grew up camping, and I loved it. Being outside, we didn’t need to do much. Ride our bikes around the campground, read books, sit for hours by the fire pondering the cosmos (seriously, I was a wierd kid). It was wonderful. Yeah there were a few weekends being trapped in your tent while it rained all day long, but it didn’t kill us and it showed us how to deal with that kind of stuff.  I wanted to introduce the kids to those kinds of things, so we all started going camping, and they really took to it.

There were a few bumps in the road. People got hurt, there was rain and everything got wet, I heard “I’m bored” a few times. But they really loved it and they told everyone about it. They’ve been asking since May “when are we going camping?”

This trip will be different. We are also introducing them to fishing. Being that they have matured a lot since we cut the cable (they read more, play better and have lots more patience) we felt they were ready.  We took them on Tuesday to go buy fishing poles and they were just besides themselves. It was great. They walked around grasping thier poles like they were stuffed animals, holding them tightly and displaying them proudly.  I also fished a lot as a kid, so this will be something else I get to share with them.

In preparation for the trip, they have made another expedition to the library for reading material, in case there’s a lull in activity (like if fishing isn’t exciting). This is the most they have read, just about EVER. Even during the school year they don’t read this much. I am so impressed. They really look forward to it, too! It’s so nice to have them excited about such simple things.

Finally, on an unrelated note, the middle child had learned to crochet a while back. I had seen a news story about a girl who crocheted hats for babies in the hospital, and thought that would be something good for the middle child to be involved with. The oldest child makes jams and pies in jars and sells them to support an orphanage in Uganda that she visited last year (I’m not kidding, this seriously goes on and she raises a lot of money) and the middle child wanted to get involved in a cause of her own. I asked her if crocheting for babies would be something she wanted to do, and she almost didn’t let me finish before she blurted out “Yes!”

I finally got a response from a hospital and we are going to get all signed up. We will start next month. She was so excited she said “when can we go get the stuff so I can get started? Can we go next week?” I had to tell her we needed to wait and see what the hospital wanted us to do.

I was worried at first about how this summer would turn out, but it seems like it’s taking a turn for the better the further we go. People are saying they notice a change in the kids, and I do too. The attitude and feel of the house is different.

It’s like it’s really summer, no messes, no complications, no fights. Just warm, fun, happy summer, with all the possibilities laid out before us, just like a lush lawn.


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A Little Light on a Dark and Irritating Day

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Apparently someone told the world that I’m an octopus. I’ve had people stop by my office today and even though I’m clearly in the middle of about 75 things, they ask “did you get to this yet? How about this?”  200 envelopes are sitting on my desk and I hear “Did you finish my mailer yet?” The look on my face was a cross between “are you nuts?” and “you can’t be serious”. I thought that the appearance of 200 envelopes was rather self-explanitory, but I appear to be wrong. Hmm.

When I got home from work yesterday, sweaty and tired and sick, I barely got in the door and was already asked if we could go somewhere. Ugh. After a slight fiasco, it turned into a meltdown and the final answer was “I can’t go anywhere today, I just can’t handle it. I can barely breathe.” Then there was moody crankiness. What are you going to do when you live with girls new to their hormones. I didn’t hold it against them. Their dad left for a trip and then it was single mom time. I’m not super fantastic at single mom time, it’s pretty tiring and I’m usually tired from just stepmom time.

When everyone came in from playing outside, we all started our girl talk. We were joking and they were asking questions about problems and telling me things about themselves and thier lives. Then the two older girls told the youngest that she switched personalities, sometimes she would act like the oldest child and sometimes she would act like the middle child.  She said “Well, I’m not really anybody. I don’t know who to be.” What!?!?!?! Not happening. Then my inner pep-rally coach came out. In moments like these I get loud and excited and use my hands, and it’s almost like I’m giving a sermon or a speech.

I said “What do you mean! No way! You guys are all very much your own people.” They looked confused and said “how?”  (I will be substituting names for place here) “Oldest child has a big heart. She always puts everyone else first and is very concerned about them. She notices when they are having a bad day or need help and she does what she can to help them right away. Middle child can make money off of anything. She’s going to me a millionare and own a business one day, she’s smart and she’s good at everthing she tries, even the first time. She can figure anything out. Then YOU! (looking at youngest child) Do you know what’s great about you?!” she shakes her head, smiling and all balled up in anticipation “You have the biggest imagination ever. You think of things that don’t even occur to anyone else all the time. And the best part is, it never occurs to you that other people don’t think that way. You do your own thing in your way and don’t worry that other people might not see it or think what you’re thinking. You will do things that no one even imagined you could do when you grow up.”

They were beaming. The middle child even blushed, and I seriously thought that was impossible.

There’s not always a time or place to tell people what you think of them in a positive way, but people need to hear it. Life goes too fast, and if you don’t tell them how you feel or that you look up to them, they may never know. They might really need to hear it. Find a spot in time and shine a light on part of a person they thought no one saw.