Monday, December 14, 2009

Stories from other step-parents!

I travel for my job sometimes, and have found over the past several months that I'm always sitting next to a step-parent. It's funny how it happens, but I do. I'm not much of a talker on planes. I really like to put my headphones on and read a book, sleep, or stare out the window. I use it as "me" time, but every once in awhile I get in a conversation with my seatmate. Somehow in conversation it comes up. Usually when I mention that I'm marrying someone with kids. Then they start with their stories. Here are a few I've wanted to share.

#1.) Woman about 48 years old. Didn't have her own kids, and had full custody of 2 kids that she came into the picture as teenagers. She said, "oh honey, you are going to have some really tough teenage years, but I promise you that it will get better. Always remember that. I have grandkids from them now and there is nothing more amazing than being their kid's grandma. The kids and I have wonderful relationships, and I wouldn't change it for the world. Don't ever let the kids tear you and your husband apart...they might try, and you will fight because of them. Don't give them the satisfaction. Have great girlfriends that you can talk to and vent to...they will be your life line sometimes." She had a lot of advice, but was really happy and optimistic. I like these stories. They remind me that things don't always have to be hard.

#2.) Man about 47-49 years old. In a second marriage with 2 kids of his own and 2 kids of hers. He took a job and moved out of the state his sons live in and is full time with his new wife and her 2 kids. He talked about major regrets about not being close to his own kids and how much it has damaged his relationship with them. As teenagers they don't even want to come visit for holidays or breaks because they feel like a stranger in their dad's life. They are also VERY jealous that he is raising "her" kids instead of them...his own. His stepsons and him don't get along very well, and he travels for work as much as possible to stay away. He was a very very nice man with what seemed like a lot of regrets. His advice was, "stay as close and as involved with the stepkids as possible. Don't let your husband give up on a relationship with them. The kids need him more than he might realize, and it will later hurt him. Things don't end at 18...only legal issues with the ex end at 18. 18 is when they will have more choices of the relationship they will have with you and their dad...make sure they still want that relationship. Fight for it. I didn't." I felt really sorry for him, and told him it's never too late and he should tell his kids how he feels. Apparently I'm an airplane step-parent at a time.

#3.) Man about 42 years old. He married an older woman (8 years older) who had a son. He came into the picture when the kid was about 9. Dad was a deadbeat and as a stepdad he had to step in. He said that he made bad mistakes with bad mouthing the dad too much and the stepson lost respect for him. He ran his mouth too much about, "your dad didn't care enough to do everything I do for you...he's not even need to listen to me". Eventually by teenage years stepdad and son were getting in physical fights. A lot of screaming and yelling and putting the son up against a wall. The man never had kids of his own and said he felt like it was up to him to do everything to put the kid in line. He later said that once he backed off a little and let mom be the primary disciplinarian things got easier. Today the son is about 21 I think he said, and they watch football and have a few drinks together. They talk about how crazy those times were and have a great relationship now.

So, from these stories it seems like if you do the right thing and love the kids eventually it all has a way of working itself out. Your own kids are hard enough, but stepkids can be impossible at times.

People who have been through it and come out the other side alive give me hope. 2 out of 3 stories have been good so far with some good lessons from the story not as positive. Odds aren't so bad!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


This year was our first official Thanksgiving with the kids since last year they were with their mom. We had them from Wednesday night until Sunday night AND my dad came in from out o town for the week as well. This was the first time that he met the kids. I was really happy that my dad made the effort to meet the kids and spend the holiday with us. It meant a lot to me and to the love of my life and the kids. None of my immediate family has made an effort to meet the kids over the past 2 years, and now that we are getting married it's even more important for the kids to see that my family cares about them too. I always worry that when we have a baby together that the kids will see my family ooohhh and aaaahhhh over their grandkid, but not treat them the same. It makes me a little sad for them that my friends and family will never really treat them the same as my "bio" kids, and I try to lessen the blow as much as possible.

We had a great day that started very early with doing a run/walk for a great cause, and I was so proud that the kids have really taken to doing things for charity and to help others. They never complain and they feel great after doing it. We got my dad in the mix too, and when we got home we all made a big breakfast together! We relaxed, and watched a movie during the day and then had dinner. Since I was doing the main cooking I asked the kids to pick something they would each like to make and contribute to the meal. They seemed to put a lot of thought and pride into making their dishes. The meal went off with almost no issues...until I left the pumpkin pie in the oven for an accidental 2 hours! They all teased me, but thank god it wasn't the turkey! I just bought a pie the next day and all was forgiven :)

The rest of the weekend we hung out, went to the movies, had a friend over, took a few drives, hiked, played games, went to the gym, and relaxed. I think my dad was REALLY bored at times because he's a very restless man who likes to be going going going all the time, but we all really wanted to spend quality time together for 4-5 solid days. By the end of the weekend the kids said they really liked my dad and that he was nice to them, and my dad said they were good kids and that he was glad he came.

I couldn't have asked for a better Thanksgiving!

Lots of time with the kids!

Sorry that I've been so lax in my posts lately! There has been so much mama drama with the BM, but it's all worked itself out at this point (as much as any BM drama can be worked out). She was constantly holding visitation time over the love of my life's head and him and the kids finally got fed up. The kids asked for a sit down meeting with them and both parents so that they could tell them the visitation they want and want everyone to stick to. It's 50/50 but now with set nights during the week and every other weekend. Before she was "letting" him see the kids when it worked for her, and the kids were sick of never knowing what was going on. This is what we wanted in a schedule, but she wouldn't agree and kept insisting to let the kids make the decision. Well, IN YOUR FACE!!!, the kids made their decision and it was exactly what we knew they would want...a more structured schedule. Not only did the love of my life and the kids get what they wanted, but the kids also listed some of their new rules for their parents. Mostly everything was about not bad mouthing each other or putting them in the middle (which the kids kept saying wasn't really aimed at dad but more at mom), and then they talked about wanting quality time spent with them when they are around. Again...not an issue with dad, but with mom. They told her how they were tired of hearing her excuses of being busy or tired, and that sitting around watching movies while she sleeps on the couch is not quality time. It seems like she was shocked that they finally spoke up and put her in her place. They also made many comments about her inability to be a mature adult and be nice to me and their dad. She rings the bell and runs to the car when she picks them up, she never says hello, and is always talking shit about us. The kids see that we are always nice to her and her BF even if she's rude to us. She's making herself look like crap and the kids are finally taking notice.

So, now we have a set schedule that is in the middle of being filed with the courts. The kids have told them both that if they can't make it happen, they will have no problem telling the courts what they want. I think we've turned a major corner here! The kids are finally sticking up for their dad and standing up for what they believe is right. Now that we know exactly what days we have them and he doesn't have to talk to the BM all the time and fight about it...things have calmed down considerably in our house. It's so great that he can now tell her to just shove it when she tries to punish him by not seeing the kids. No more caving to her every whim, and the kids seem more settled.

Right now...times are good!!