Tuesday, August 11, 2009
There were so many posts and responses to this discussion, and I wanted to share my response...
Depending on the day, I have different feelings towards the BM. The things I'm mostly jealous about revolve around her trying to control my fiance's life still and the money aspect. He pays close to $2K a month, and the kids are still always without the things they need. What makes me most mad is when he pays all that money, and then still has to pay more on top of that to make sure they have what they need because she doesn't take care of them. I'm glad because he's a good dad, and I know he would never disappoint them, but I feel bad for the kids because they will eventually realize that mom is a loser and can't be counted on. I hate to see that happening to them. They are already making comments about how mom can't follow through on anything and she's never there for them. It's sad, but the kids will always figure out who their parents are...but they are their parents and no matter what the kids will always love them.
Someone made a great point about how kids HAVE to love their BM's, but don't HAVE to love us. As frustrating as things can be, I have a great relationship with my stepkids. I am starting to realize all of the things I bring to their life that their mom never could, and it makes me see how I fit in...just in a different way. My SD needs a strong, independant, thoughtful woman in her life and I can be that for her because her mom is not. My SS is taking French this year, and I took French so he will be able to come to me for help. There are so many things that I bring into their lives, but that they also bring into my life. The fact of the matter is that it is not a competition with the BM. If we look at it that way we will always lose. Instead, we have to look at ourselves as someone different in their lives and realize what we bring to the table, and be proud of ourselves for that.
Something we don't think about enough. Is the BM jealous of us? You bet your ass she is. I know for a fact that the BM is jealous of me. The kids used to talk about me a lot at home, and she finally told them she doesn't want to hear about me anymore. Points scored for me :) She might be their mom, but there is another influential woman in their lives and I can guarantee she doesn't like it just as much as we don't like that the past woman is there.
We know all the frustrating things the kids tell us when they are at our house, and we have to imagine they do the same thing at home. I'm sure that at our house they tell us they don't like our rules, and I'm sure at home they say things like, "this isn't how it is at dad's house". Kids are smart little creatures and play everyone to their advantage and to get attention.
On the bright side...child support doesn't last forever, and although it feels like the BM will be involved in your daily life forever...she won't. Speaking as a child from divorce, my parents have been divorced for 20 years, and once my brother and I were out of school...the only times they have had to see or talk to each other have been and will be for big life events. Not on the regular basis we all deal with now.
My fiance told me this a few months ago when I was bitching about all the money that is going to the BM. He said, "I hate the fact that I have to pay her more than you ever will. I love my kids and have no problem taking care of them, but for the money to not go towards the kids that is what really pisses me off. However, she is not stopping us from moving on with our lives. We still travel when we can, we're getting married, and we can do things with the kids she doesn't. She has controlled my life long enough, and now I am marrying someone I truly love and want to be with. If it costs me $2K a month for 5 more years, it's still worth it to not have to be with her."
Whenever I feel pissed about everything, I think about how much worse it is for him to have to have gone through the whole thing to begin with and it helps me put it back into perspective.
- The cost for us to take a week long vacation with the kids = $700
- Vacation days taken off of work = 5
- Hours of driving = 12
- Pounds gained from a week of bad food = 3
- The BM doing nothing with the kids all summer = $0
- The BM's boyfriend taking them all to the Grand Canyon with his 6 year old = $50
- Having the BF's 6 year old (which they have only met 2 times) piss the kids off because she is calling the BM her "mommy" and the kids "brother" and "sissy" the whole time = PRICELESS
- Cooking dinner with the boy. One of the nights I was in charge of making dinner, and instead of sitting outside with everyone else and talking he stayed inside and helped me make dinner. We had some really nice time to talk about things. He said, "I really like hanging out with you guys. We have a lot of fun and laugh a lot." This is a major deal considering a year and a half ago he was trying to make up reasons not to come to dad's for the weekend. I feel like we've really turned a corner with the boy, and especially with him and I. His mom has always told him that I was the reason for their divorce (which is not true), but against all of the odds he has made his own opinions about me. This was one of those times that really made me realize that I am doing the right things, and that I'm on the right path with my relationship with him. We talked about the upcoming school year, girls, grades, his mom, her BF, and his sister. I was the oldest in my house, and he's the oldest and I think that we both share the same annoyances of having a younger sibling. I told him that if he ever needs anything I'm always there for him to talk to, and that I enjoy our talks. It was very sweet.
- The boy talking about living with us. On multiple occasions during the trip he kept bringing up how he thinks he might want to live with us some day. He said he's not happy at home, and how mom and the BF are never around. He's worried that his mom would feel betrayed. We discussed with him that it would be his decision, but that things are not always fun fun fun and cheery at our house. There are rules, chores, punishments, and bad grades will not be tolerated. The love of my life let him know that he is always welcome, but he wouldn't be allowed to move back and forth when he pleases. If he moved in with us it would be through the end of high school. His other main concern? Would he have his own room. Of course. We would make sure that he had his own space that would be his own, and his sister would need to sleep on the couch during her visits. Should be interesting to see what happens...
- The girl lost her cell phone. Do you ever get sick of a teenager with a cell phone stuck to her like glue? If you have never experienced this...be glad. It is annoying as hell! The worst part is this particular teenager uses it as her lifeline to the BM at all times. We have a rule about the phone. No phone after 10pm. This is reasonable given that she is 12 years old. So, we take it away at 10pm, but when she wakes up in the morning...before she even goes to the bathroom she is there to get it. God forbid she doesn't text her mom about some silly dream she had, or to let her know what color her poop is for the day. One of the days I had had enough and just really wanted some peace from the phone. So...I did what any other rational mature adult would do...I hid the phone. She was in a panic, and asked everyone if they had seen it. All the while I had it stowed away until the next day. I know it's bad, but I did get a sick pleasure out of her not having it. I mean, if we can't have one vacation day without the BM involved in it...what kind of vacation is it really? The good news is that she survived, and "found" her phone by the next day.
- The boy asking my uncle about his gay lifestyle. We stayed with my uncle and his husband during our trip. They have been together for about 18 years. To me, it's completely normal. For a couple of kids that have never really spent any time around a gay couple, this was something new for them. Now, I must say that the love of my life and the BM did raise them to be gay friendly and really just nice to all people equally. The boy asked us if he could ask questions if he had them. We told him that they are like any other couple, and he could ask questions, but he better be respectful. One morning my uncle tells us that the night before he had a question. #1.) Who would be the man and who would be the woman in the relationship? Answer: Um, we're equals. If one person wanted to be the "woman", that would be an entirely different kind of relationship. Kids are hilarious.
- The death of a cat. One of the kid's cats had gotten bit by a spider a few months back. Took some antibiotics, and seemed to be healed. 2 weeks ago the cat mysteriously ended up with a broken paw. The BM didn't want to take him to the vet again and told the kids that she would put him in a cage in the laundry room, and he would heal. (For the record...this is not at all how I would handle things.) While we were gone on vacation the boy was talking to his mom one night and comes in to talk to me afterwards. He's a little down. I ask what's wrong. He makes me promise not to tell his dad or sister. I agree, and he tells me that the cat died. I was shocked, and obviously he was too. I asked why his mom didn't tell his sister, and here is what he said. "Mom said that the girl didn't ask about the cat, and since she obviously didn't care...she didn't need to know." I'm sorry...WTF??!?!?! This is something you need to say, "honey, I have something to tell you" and then you tell her. Unfortunately, the girl ends up finding out in a random conversation with her brother the next day. Real nice mom...don't think you are winning any mother of the year awards anytime soon.
- Just another day at the beach. The day I've been looking forward to all week was finally here. The day we were going to the beach. I love the beach! I love the sound of the water, the laying on a blanket reading a book, and feeling the warm sun relax me. This was not that kind of day. It started off good. We found a spot, set up, and I went into relax mode. Until...the girl keeps shuffling her feet in the sand when she walks right in front of me kicking sand around which keeps getting in my eyes. The first time I asked her to stop. The second time I asked her to stop. The third time I started getting totally pissed. You are 12 years old! Walk around, pick up your feet, move your chair...anything to make you stop kicking sand in my eyes. Eventually I lost it when she threw the boogie board down by me doing it again. That time though she was just listening to her dad who told her to throw it there because he was trying to help the boy with what they thought might have been an injury. (It wasn't...just a cramp in some unused muscles.) By that time it was too late. I was so fed up with this unrelaxing day at the beach, and end up in a fight with the girl and the love of my life. I keep hoping we are leaving soon. I'm looking over at all of these other people relaxing and having fun. Then I realized...I'm no longer 18 hanging at the beach with my friends. The boys aren't looking at me like I'm hot. They are looking at me like a crazy old lady with teenage kids. Getting older sucks!
- My deodorant has cooties. I'm a clean person. I take good care of myself. But it turns out that all this time I didn't know it...my deodorant has cooties. No cooties that anyone else can see other than the girl. It has "your not my mom" cooties. The girl runs out of her own deodorant, and asks if I have a new one. I tell her no, but that she can use mine. She makes a face and says, "um, I think I'm ok." Really? You're ok? You'd rather smell than use MY deodorant? Is this rational? Of course not. Did she use it though...I know you want to know. Yes, she did use it. She just did it when she thought I wasn't looking. Do you think that makes it have less cooties if I don't know she's using it? Hmmmm...weird. This is exactly the kind of thing that reminds you that you are not the mom.
All in all, it was a great trip. Everyone had fun and the kids were thankful and appreciative. My uncle even said they were well behaved and welcome back again. That's a plus in my book!!!
So, the morning of our trip we set out for a 6 hour car ride. I was under the impression it was more like 5 hours, but who's counting? Surprisingly the kids were fairly bright-eyed and ready to go. It must be something to do with the excitement of vacation...because they are never awake and happy before 11am most times.
To be completely honest, I actually look forward to this kind of time with the love of my life and the kids. We do a lot of talking, laughing, and joking around. It's time where everyone gets to know each other even more, and we are bonding and building new memories together. Memories that include me, and us together as our new crazy family :)
During car rides we always end up discussing things we normally don't. With a 12 and 13 year old this can really mean anything! For one, the boy brings up when a woman's clock is ticking. What he doesn't realize is that he's talking about a woman's sexual peak. Here's how the conversation goes:
The boy, "so, I hear that a woman's clock starts ticking at about 35. You are 31 which means it's going to happen soon."
Me, "no, the clock should be ticking now. I thought you don't want us to have a baby...have you changed your mind?"
The boy, "no, I still don't want you to have a baby. But a guy's clock starts ticking at 18"
Me, "um...I think you are talking about something else...there is no way a guy wants to start having babies at 18".
At this point I realize what he is talking about, and I bust out laughing...
Me, "oh Boy, you are talking about sexual peak. Which is when men and woman most want to have sex. A clock ticking is about having babies."
The boy, "oh....(awkward silence)...so, when you are 35 I'm going to be 18."
EWWWWWWWWWWW EWWWWWWWW EWWWWWWWWWWWWW
Me, "um, that is correct, but you really shouldn't be thinking of me that way."
Did I say EEWWWWWWWWWWWW??????????
The boy, "yeah, my mom would really not be happy about that."
Me, "no shit, and neither would I or your dad."
The girl, "this is sick...I'm so embarrassed"
Better topics included gossip about the BM.
Supposedly she has all of these amazing things planned for the last week of summer before they go back to school. A trip to the Grand Canyon, paintballing, shopping, etc. We'll see how much of that happens. What's funny is all the new rules that have been put into action since the BM's boyfriend has moved in.
#1.) The new diet. So, we all know about how the BM put the girl on a Lemonade Detox Diet, but now the whole "family" is starting a fresh diet of nothing but organic meats and veggies. No snacks, no treats, nothing. Not ever. What's funny is how the kids talk about how horrible it is. I agree that they should be eating better, but we all know that a major radical change is not going to last. Plus, they are kids...they should have some treats here and there. When the love of my life points this out the girl says, "well, we do get a treat...we get to have a sweet potato once a week with brown sugar on it." Ahahahahahahahaha. He says, "yeah, that's the same thing as cake. Would you like a sweet potato for your birthday?" This became the new joke for the week. Anytime someone would mention getting ice cream or something, we would say, "would you like a sweet potato instead?" Funny that no sweet potatoes were eaten on vacation.
#2.) The new chores for allowance. At our house we have been offering the kids allowance on weekends and full weeks they are with us. They each have a few things on their list that are reasonable for the amount of time they are with us, and they get paid if they complete without being asked. At home they now have this new chart. They each have a very long list of chores that need to be done EVERY SINGLE DAY. Not weekends, but Monday through Friday. The only thing not on the list is cleaning the BM's bedroom and bathroom. Otherwise, all of the yard maintenance, full house dusting, taking care of pets, vacuuming, dishes, their rooms and bathroom, etc are all on the list. The chores all have to be done by 7pm and to the BM's satisfaction or they don't get paid. The pay is $5 a day. This would be a great deal for the kids ($100 a month per kid) if it wasn't for these few facts.
- The boy has an extracurricular activity on Monday nights. The girl is usually not home then either.
- Wednesday nights they spend with their dad.
- Every other Friday night they will be with their dad.
- The BM and the boyfriend are essentially doing nothing to take care of the house.
The best part is the boy tells us, "yeah, mom's BF told mom that if we didn't do one thing right we shouldn't get paid for the entire week. We were like..."shut up buddy". Then last week we started on Monday and on Thursday night mom says, "you know you aren't getting paid this week...it's just a trial week"...we were ripped off." So, of course they didn't do anything on Friday since they knew they weren't getting paid. Then the girl said, "well, they did take us to Olive Garden for dinner." The boy was like, "um, I wanted my $25, not a pasta dinner." The love of my life says, "well, that's nice...the $50 they should have paid you for chores actually took her and the BF out to dinner...good job guys." They are still bitter about it. I think it's funny that she's trying to pony up $200 a month for chores to the kids, but she can't even get the girl a $15 bathing suit. The only way she's offering that kind of money is because she knows she won't have to pay it. What a bitch...
Another great car ride moment:
A song the kids love: "Blinded by the Light" by Manfred Mann. They love to sing "wrapped up like a douche." What kid doesn't laugh at that? Actually, what adult doesn't still think he's saying douche? I've either been hanging around them too long, or I'm 13 also...I can't stop giggling.Thank god we finally made it to our destination. We stretched our legs, headed into my uncle's house, and hit the pool!
Stay tuned for some highlights and memorable moments from our first family vacation!
Monday, August 3, 2009
- dropping them off at the mall for a few hours in the afternoon
- standing outside of a small shop while they are looking at stuff inside
- having them run a bag to the car at at a store while he was in their vision
- letting them go next door to swim with the neighbor's granddaughter, because she thought it was just some 40 some year old guy living there alone that we sent the kids to play with.
Great communication by the kids...never trust that the kids are telling the full story of things to the BM, or that the BM is actually a rational human being.
She goes on and on about people getting raped in malls and how she's not letting them do stuff like that until they are 15. 15??? Are you kidding me? They are 12 and almost 14 now. The love of my life says "they have more of a chance of something happening walking to school alone and being alone at home all of the time". She's like "I can't help that...I can't change my job". Then she is freaking out about how she doesn't want us leaving the kids in the ocean alone during our vacation and stupid crap that would never happen. Where exactly is she most of the time with the kids? Not with them...yet, the love of my life is trying to give them a little bit of freedom here for their age and there and he's the horrible parent. Ok...
Then the detox and health stuff for the girl came up, and she says "I'm almost certified in nutrition, I know what I'm doing". Yeah, ok...almost would already be a problem, but she's not even "almost", and I don't think her little voodoo medicine to cure everything with tea tree oil counts. The girl had told us that the detox wasn't that bad, and she only drank it in the morning for 2 days. "It helped her start her diet." (Let me tell you what that diet consisted of while she was on vacation. Jack in the Box, pizza, ice cream, Mexican food, Starbucks, etc. I'm pretty sure it's all against the rules.) Then the love of my life asks the BM why she won't get the girl the HPV shot, and she goes on with this long dissertation of how HPV is made up by the dr's and pharm companies to make money and she is not going to give her a shot that could leave her unable to have kids. Even if it was a vaccine for HIV she wouldn't give it to them because it would cause them to get HIV. Ok... Then somehow she starts in about mammograms and how she never gets them or would never get them because they damage your breast tissue and can give you cancer. Is this chick for real?
So, let's just say that it was interesting to actually hear her crazy talk from sitting next to the love of my life. I really know he's not making this crap up.
We went and got the kids, and the love of my life has a conversation with the girl about why she's calling her mom instead of him. If she's too scared or something he had told her he would come get her. Instead...she calls her mom who is an hour away to say that dad abandoned us. He has a long talk with them about how they are getting older and they need to start taking on more responsibilities and additional freedom. How he doesn't want them living a scared and sheltered life like their mother, and at his house they are going to be allowed to do things they might not be allowed to do at home. He also tells him that if he gets another earful from their mother about the subject these freedoms will end. If they have any issues with anything at all they should discuss them with him first. Their mother is not his mother.
We go to the airport to get my bag (thank god it was there). Get home, do laundry, finally go to bed around 2am. Get up at 7am, get ready, and head out for a 6 hour drive.
Tune into my next installment... Long car rides = Too Much Information!