Stepmemo

A note to stepmoms everywhere


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One Woman Team (Just Don’t Check the Score!)

courtesy Giphy.com  Does anyone know what happened to this kid?

courtesy Giphy.com Does anyone know what happened to this kid?

Back to my old “single mom” routine. When my husband goes away, people will ask “you have the kids?” and I will always reply “I didn’t have them, but I got ’em!” Oh, I can’t stand myself, I’m so witty!

So the oldest child is generally exhausted, pale, cold and out of breath. I’ve been telling her for MONTHS she’s low on vitamin D and she’s either close to anemic or full blown anemic. I kept trying to keep her on vitamins, she didn’t seem to understand what a vitamin deficiency can do. When she insisted that she eat ice during all hours of consciousness, then I insisted that she needed a blood workup, but in the meantime I gave her multivitamins and iron tablets.

She finally got her blood test results. She says “they told me I’m anemic, I’m so glad I wasn’t just lazy!”

Facepalm.

Her boyfriend tells her “you should listen to Jessie, she seems to be right a lot”. Too bad the only kid that’s figured that out doesn’t live here.

That’s not entirely true. The middle child, the one who gave me the hardest time, the one who was just mean and hurtful to me, the one who cried every time I said anything at all to her for about 4 years, suddenly values my input. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand the logistics of that, but she listens to me, she talks to me, and she genuinely understands I have only her best interest at heart. I truly believed we would never be here!

Now, on to the youngest. I’m worried about her, and I’m worried in a way that I wasn’t worried about the middle child. The youngest doesn’t have the same support structure around her that the other 2 had, she also hasn’t received the same discipline, she’s been more spoiled, and is more entitled, rebellious and (sorry to say it) intelligent. People are always underestimating how smart she is. Sometimes she undermines her own intelligence with her sheer stubbornness, and that will also be to her detriment. I feel like if I can’t reach her when she hits that critical pre-teen realization, I’m not sure who will. I wanted her to get evaluated because she has crazy mood swings, and is constantly swinging between groups of friends, pitting them against each other. The youngest that comes through the door one day probably won’t be the same one the next day. You never know who you will be coming home to, a gremlin or interpretive dance queen. I thought if she were evaluated, we could find out if it’s hormones, if she’s just manipulative or if there’s something else that we need to be aware of during the stresses of her teen years.

But *one* of her parents doesn’t want people to think there’s something wrong with her, so they don’t want it done. The other parent doesn’t want to argue.

Part of me wants to throw my hands up and just tell them “good luck!!” I want them to see that their action or inaction led to problems.

And then I look at her, and I know it’s not fair.

I’ll be ready, because I can see what’s coming, and I’ve been where she’s going. I’ll know how to handle it, the depths of craziness and bad decisions. The highs of accomplishment and overcoming obstacles. I look around, at her options of who else is ready for the fastball pitch of her teenage years to come, and I’m the only one with the mitt.

Play ball!

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Why This Is

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The girls when i met them, and only one liked me.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this a few times over the course of my blogging, but maybe I haven’t. Or maybe you’re new here. But about a year ago, I had been talking with a fellow stepmom in my family, and she was having a hard time. Among second wives I’ve spoken to, the common sentiment is that it’s rough going.
I kept trying to put positive little things on Facebook to encourage these women, but I found I had more to say than a little post would allow. So I looked into blogging.
All I wanted to do was tell people that family life is hard, and it’s hard for all of us. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. I want you to be encouraged that this isn’t forever.
Yes, they will be your spouses children forever, but they won’t try to come between you forever. They won’t drag remnants of a former life into your home forever. The drama isn’t forever.
The hard part is standing on the sidelines, being the cleanup crew and support staff in the meantime. There were a lot of nights I went to bed hurt and frustrated, feeling like the maid. There were times I had angry outbursts and times I cried alone. But none of that was forever, even though at the time it sure felt like it.
The kids got older and they saw how I toughed it out. They saw I tried hard and made sacrifices. They saw how much I love their dad, and how much I put them first and really appreciate them. I cherish their hands made things, I have shoeboxes full of old homework, drawings and school pictures. I have kept every Christmas ornament they have made, and take time to talk about each one all over again every year.
But most of all, I listen to them. When they talk I listen to them. I sit down and look at them and respond just as I would any other human being. I answer all of their big ugly questions, I support the positive things they do and I listen to them without judgment.
That alone has made the biggest impact in my relationship with my family. I have seriously cut down on my cleaning time because I’m just talking to the kids all the time. I saw a need and I fulfilled it.
That’s all being a stepmom really is, filling the gaps. There’s not much else to do, and it’s not easy.


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

video games animated GIF

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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Zombies and Dudes

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Courtesy giphy.com

I accidentally inherited a gecko about 7 years ago. He’s been a mean little cuss. But he looks cool. Lately, though, he had decided he didn’t want to eat anymore. I didn’t want to force him because he had a rough life, and if he was done, I was going to let him be done.
This morning, he was done.
It was one of those days where I went ahead and turned off the alarm and went back to sleep. I was running around in a hurry, trying to not be even later, and I did my daily check on him, and he had obviously run out of gas. Forever.
I couldn’t deal with that at the moment, so I went to work.
It was just a weird day. I was cranky and unpleasant and gross. Then while cooking dinner, I began to feel like I had been hit by a bus, and I realized; the kids got me sick again!!! What the heck!! Bringing home their professional strength yuck. And the middle child is always leaning on me and rubbing her face on me (don’t ask, she’s 13, I don’t get it, but I don’t argue), and she looked half dead for church on Sunday. I told her she was going to become a walker by dawn.
Now I’m next for the zombie transformation. Radical.
The oldest went to the store with me to get medicine, and I was so out of it. All I could keep saying was “I can’t even think”. It was a mess.
So my husband took care of the gecko. I never really named him, I just called him ” the dude “. If anyone asked why, I would just say “because the dude abides”.
Indeed.
We are going to a water park this weekend, and I don’t care how sick I am, I’m going. Because I’m clearly losing my mind.


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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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Single Mom Time – Nailed It! (Sort Of)

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Courtesy parenting.com

I’m playing single mom for a few days this week. It’s just until Monday, while my husband is out of town. But a single mom gig is always a little much because, well, I’m not really a mom.
I take care of these people, and I’ve lived with them for years, but they are not my own. Although, I do love them that way, but somehow things seem exponentially more complicated when you are alone. Parenting math never makes sense.
I like to try to keep busy when I have the kids, because if we all sit in the house they will start to fight, and I will start to lose my mind. So last night we went to a craft store. The youngest had a gift card to Hobby Lobby, and she wanted to spend it, and everyone wanted to go.
We all walk in, and the youngest looks around, staring wide-eyed at everything. I ask “what do you want to look at?” She responds simply “craft stuff” and looks to me to show her the way. I lean in and say “you’ll have to be more specific, we are in a craft store“. She looks at me like I’m an idiot and says “you know, the stuff you make crafts out of”. Duh, of course. The other two are laughing to themselves at this point. The middle child says ” I know what she wants ” then takes her hand and leads her away. I decided to look around close to the registers so I would see them when they were done, and I wouldn’t have to hunt for anyone. The oldest stayed with me.
After a while, the middle child appeared and announced she’s lost the youngest. Oldest child says “you had one job!!”.
We found the youngest, went to another store and the rest of the night was uneventful.
This morning, I woke up, jumped out of bed and was sure I was 20 minutes late. I must have turned off the alarm in my sleep! Then I thought ” I better check the time “. It was 2:20. No, I was very early. I facepalmed and went back to bed.
Today is day 2 of single mommyness. It will be interesting.


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I Can’t Even

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Youngest with her duck fluff and "what are you doing" face

My fourth (I think) anniversary will be next month. In pretty sure it’s the fourth. I’m not very good at this stuff. Anyway, every year I get all nutty and want to do something nice for our anniversary. I want to get away, have a second honeymoon, a little vacation. I always want to go back to where we had our honeymoon. We had such a good time, even if it was stupid cold out the whole time.
So each year I get all amped up, and each year my hopes and dreams are destroyed. I’ve had to settle for a nice dinner. I love a nice dinner, but I love that on a regular basis, not as a special occasion like an anniversary. This year, the whole month seemed to get snatched up before I could even get excited. Our anniversary falls on a Friday this year, and it’s a weekend we have the kids.
I didn’t have the energy to try to plan around it. I just can’t. So when I suggested to my husband that the 5 of us just go to a water park together, he was a little surprised.
I just can’t care this year. I just can’t. I want to do things with my husband, I would love to get away, go somewhere, but I know that we are just not in that place right now. There’s too much going on, too many things come up. Maybe we can go to the art museum in Chicago sometime as a belated anniversary, but this year, we’re celebrating with the kids.
Why not, they are at least half of the marriage anyway. Just gonna go with it.
I think I’m gonna be doing that a lot this year. I just can’t. You know?


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Nice Jessies Finish Last

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Courtesy giphy.com

This week was very busy, in spite of the fact that there was no children or husband for most of it. I had somewhere to be every day, and a few of this things got rescheduled to new days. So it was crazy, and a little unpleasant.
For the past few weeks my office has been being remodeled, and I’ve been shoved, with a few other renovation victims, into the conference room. It’s freaking cold in there. It’s right next to the receiving door, so each time it opens, a chill breeze flows through the ceiling tiles.
I’ve been freezing my butt off. I come home from having my very frozen to the office floor and just want a shower to warm up.
This week, since there were no children, I tried a new approach; I stole their shoes. They have some really cute boots that just sit around for the whole week they aren’t here, and hey, I paid for them. So I wore them, and it was great.
Then I had that sad little moment where I realized that they have nicer things than me. I’m always pushing to give them what they need and not spoil them, and here they are with warm boots and new clothes, while Jessie is suffering mild frostbite and is a resident at goodwill.
I need to do better. It’s not a good example I’m setting of “neglect yourself for your family”. I’ve known a lot of women, and not one of them have done this without ruining their family in the end. At some point they will need to put themselves first, and if they wait too long to do it, they may be so traumatized that they never find the balance. They never pick the family back up.
I don’t want to be that girl, and I’ve been avoiding becoming her long before I ever thought I would get married.
I’m going to set a budget and make a calendar of days I can go shopping for what things, and then I will be able to decide how much I can spend. I need to get back to having a normal influx of new things.
I take care of these people, sometimes to my detriment. I deserve nice things too.
Darn it.