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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New Stuff Kinda Freakin Me Out

courtesy giphy.com

courtesy giphy.com

I haven’t blogged in a little while, and a lot has happened. Seems like everything has changed, or is just about to. We went on our entire family anniversary to the water park, and everyone had a good time. I had a little bit of tummy troubles, but recovered and hung out in the lazy river with the kids. I expected that since they are older, they might want to do their own thing, go off on their own, flirt with boys (middle child). But for at least 2 hours, the oldest hung out with me in a double inner tube, just floating around and talking about everything from the world history and politics, to her siblings and her recovery on her eating disorder. We also talked a lot about life at her mom’s house and problems that she has with her mom’s boyfriend. Namely his shouting, swearing, drinking and punching holes in walls. A healthy “normal” household, according to the adults in charge. Sure.

I was surprised that she would want to spend so much time with me. I keep hearing that she will be growing out of that soon. I haven’t seen it yet. The other two were just as excited to stay close to me and my husband.

The next day we all went to the mall and we had a really good time. And then we went home totally exhausted.

The week before, the oldest had told me in church that she was thinking about telling her mom that she wanted to stay with us. She wasn’t sure the details yet, and if she wanted to stay full time or part time, but she was thinking about it. This was coming on the heels of an argument where the mom’s boyfriend was throwing things (like towels or socks or something stupid like that) and punching holes in walls. The oldest tried to grab her little brother from him during all this, and he wouldn’t let go. So she told him he was acting like a b****. Yep. She said it. Ugh. I told her that she really needed to think and pray about it, and she should take her time making that decision.

The argument happened right at the begging of us having them for 2 weeks in a row. They got a little break and time to adjust themselves. Then, one day at dinner, the oldest looked at us and said “I want to tell mom that I want to stay over here”. It was like someone threw a brick into the middle of the table. There were some tears, but they all agreed that it was a lot less stressful at our house than at their mom’s. The middle child was upset because she wanted to do the same thing, but was very close with their little brother (who is like 5). The youngest was mad, because the oldest takes care of her, stops all the fights she starts and cleans up all of her messes at her mom’s house. She’s not held accountable for a whole lot over there.

She had the talk with her mom, and after some other little complications and tiffs, she stayed at our house this week while the other two were with their mom. She still went over there, just not till Thursday night. My husband was out of town, so the two of us hung out and talked a lot. It was pretty quiet.

During this, I had a lightbulb moment at work. I have a “new” job. It’s a really good job, the people are nice, it’s got great benefits, it’s not stressful or complicated, but I don’t like it. I couldn’t figure out what my problem was, I just didn’t like it. Then one day I was walking past the desk of a girl who works in marketing while she was cleaning up some product pictures to put on our website. I thought “aww, I wish I could be doing that right now”. Then I realized, maybe I should go to school for that.

So during the week my husband was out of town, I’m trying to look at schools and figure out how to afford it, and where I should go by myself. I also have had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that the oldest’s actions have voted for me to be her mom figure. I know I was acting the part, but now someone has said “well, you’re it”. I’m kinda freaked out.

So, some big crazy changes, I hope I handle all of it ok. We’ll see what happens with this so called “school” stuff.


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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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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.


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It’s 7:30, Aaaaannd… We’re Done Here!

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I’ve been hibernating. Well, sort of. I mean, I still go to work, pick up the kids, come home and make dinner, and a few other assorted tasks. But I shut off at about 7:30 every night. That’s it, no more gas. Jessie stops.
I just can’t do more. I still talk to the kids, spend time with the family, but I’m not even trying to keep up with the pace I kept a few months ago. I’ve decided I don’t care. If the kids aren’t here, I can’t even bring myself to make dinner!
I have had a few really good things work out. My car was quickly deteriorating into a death trap, and there was no way to drive in the show without sliding all over. We finally decided to go get a new car, and like a week later, there is a massive snow dump over the Midwest. The timing was epic! My new job is nice and pays better. The girl I work with is hilarious, and it seems like I’m doing well so far.
The greatest thing is that we are getting an awesome tax refund this year, and it looks like we will be getting out of our hole.
I will be having a busy weekend. One child wants to go bra shopping and another wants me to take her to the Sponge Bob movie. I dig on Sponge Bob, I might be down.
One funny little thing that happened this week (there were many, but I have a hard time remembering them all), the middle child was telling me about her friend at school who is in Italian club. I asked her what that was, and she said that they learn things about their culture. I asked “do they teach them to say ‘ey,yooz guyz’?” She didn’t miss a beat and said “no, he already speaks Italian”. And then didn’t understand what was so funny.
Freakin’ kids.


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Let’s Just Keep Still And Quiet.

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Courtesy giphy.com

Things are settling down “post-indecent” around the house. The kids are pretty quiet. That might have more to do with the fact that middle child is very obviously coming down with something and youngest child is still coughing something up (all over the rest of us, wonder how middle child got sick) but there still seems to be a subdued vibe in the house. I think we all are in recovery mode.
It was an emotionally charged moment, and after something like that and being shaken up, it takes a little bit to get settled back down.
The whole thing only further emphasized how complicated my role is. I live with these little people, I love them, take care of them, help them with their problems and laugh and sometimes cry with them, and here I had no authority. I could say NOTHING about one of my people being threatened or the fact that her advocate in this thing found fault in her for it. She goes over there and that’s it, hands off. Whatever happens, happens.
I started this blog as an encouragement to other stepmoms. This is a rough ride, and there’s no right way to take it. And no matter what, the adjustment period takes a long time, and sometimes it just sucks. I’ve worked hard to get close with the kids, and be whatever they need me to be. It took a long time, and I had to keep giving and trying, whether or not it seemed like anyone really gave a crap at the time. Now that there is a little more appreciation for the work I have put in, things are different, but I had to tough it out and just keep it up for a long time. It took persistence, it took patience that I didn’t always have.
I’ve gotten myself to the point now that when there is gum melted into the dryer, I just Facepalm and grab something to scrape it out. I suppose we’ve kind of worn each other down.
Even though I’ve transformed into some weird mommy-hybrid, and I love them as my own, I can’t protect them or help them here. I can’t do anything, even with my big bad mommy pants on.
So I will just check progress with my husband and hang out with the kids like usual.
Onward!