I haven't written in a while because I just can't seem to squeeze time in to do the "for myself" thing. When I'm not exhausted, I'm busy doing something else that doesn't involve sitting at my computer storytelling. Busy is good, I guess. Peace is better, I'm sure. I'll have to look into finding that balance. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall and you know how that turned out...........
I want to talk about being plunked into the Step-Mom Gap in this blog. The gap is my least favorite and most uncomfortable place to be because I feel lost, without, exposed and scared.
Sometimes I feel trapped in the gap-the past week... STUCK, couldn't get out of that place no matter how hard I tried, so confined by what was happening in the gap. I never feel like what I do in the gap is "right" because there is no "right" response. So, what exactly is "the gap?" Most days we are just living really normal and things flow as if they would had I been the person in the hospital delivering all of these children, everyone has adapted to living the way we live under our roof and all is well in the universe. Daddy does his daddy things, I do the momma things, the kids are kids and the dog is the dog - it's all very status quo. And then something happens that throws me from MY NORMAL LIFE into the gap that lies between MY NORMAL LIFE and A LIFE I DON'T WANT. Last week started off with the Skids (read that step-kids) being held for ransom kinda. During those conversations I didn't know whether I was supposed to be angry or scared for the kids. [My husband had been court ordered to make payments for an equity judgment on the home he retained when he divorced my Skid's mother, only last year she stole A LOT of money from her employer and so this year he was refusing to pay the money as he didn't want to help pay off what was stolen - the legal caveat of timely paying the house equity judgment on a yearly basis is that it is interest free, so in legal terms he could wait until the end of time to pay it and it would simply accrue interest. He wasn't committing any crime, he was adamant about his moral position "I am not paying this money to help her pay back that stolen money."] And so, his decision turned into my standing in the gap reading text messages being sent to him saying "you will not see the kids unless you give me money." Anybody out there who has decently co-parented with an ex-spouse knows this type of irrational event should spin a rational thinking person into thoughts of "something is really wrong here, this is an act of desperation." That's where my mind went. "Oh my gosh, what's happening, are the kids okay?" (My son's dad and I never behaved like this) It all worked out. When I explained to my husband I thought desperation was looming in the background and he could capitalize on it and save money - we threw a lump sum of money out there and guess what? No more money judgment on the house and we saved several thousand dollars. One more thing checked off. YAY. I took a step out of the gap and back into my normal life. Upon moving out of the gap (maybe the gap is like a stress zone but only regarding my Step Mom status), I was instantly sent back in due to 9 year olds having cell phones with Snap Chat installed on them. In our home, snap chat isn't allowed. In our home, 7 and 9 year old children don't have free reign of cellular devices-namely THE INTERNET, it isn't safe or logical and I don't want my kids exposed to any number of negaive things found on the internet. They can use the Ipad that has adequate parental controls installed WHEN WE SAY THEY CAN. That's what I call responsible parenting and my husband has never argued that topic with me, so I assume he agrees. When the Skids arrived and we saw the newly purchased (not by us) cell phone had Snap Chat installed, we talked and explained "not in our home, buddy." When mid week visitation came - you can believe all manner of venom was spat everywhere over the cell phone not being in the hands of the child.... "I bought it so I don't have to go through YOU" (ummm... like, it's too late for that, he's their FATHER). ALL manner of venom, up to and including the Skids telling us threats were made against my husband's safety by their mother's boyfriend. It is hard to be in this gap! I don't know who wins in the gap - except for the pharmaceutical companies that make medication for indigestion and ulcers. I don't know HOW to RESPOND when I'm in the gap. When I'm in MY NORMAL LIFE, I am solid and my response to mothering isn't something I question too much (I mean, I pretty much assume I'm doing it all wrong constantly because these boogers didn't come with instructions, but the kids are fed and watered and clean, so we are winning). Friday morning I was told by an angry Skid that the other parental figures told the children they would take Snap Chat off of the phones so they could have said phones while over here, but Snap Chat would be re-installed upon their departure from our home. (Let's all just pause for a while, please - because I didn't at that time and thought out loud "well let's just teach the kids not to respect the wishes of their parents").... You see, the gap is a place where you're running, it's scary, it's coming at you from all sides, you don't get the chance to think or feel - you have to respond out of instinct and for the sake of survival. I cannot think of one single time ever when we have encouraged the Skids to be shady or disrespectful to their mom or her man, but we do not receive the same courtesies-and we've come to EXPECT that. The gap is the place you go when you want to render justice in an ugly way - when you want to deliver equity in like kind. The gap is the place where the garbage lies - where the utter hatred one person has for another travels to. The gap is a place where children are hurt, mentally abused and incredibly confused.
When I married the love of my life, I didn't know that raising his children would be so hard, one moment we think we're strolling though the beautiful forest and then a plane dropping napalm appears from out of nowhere - it's not because the kids are bad kids and it's not because my husband is irrational or argumentative. When something ridiculous is placed before him (frequently... like, really often), most times he doesn't even play the game, he truly is a master of factual deflection. Usually, if he is good, I am good. I don't love fighting or arguing over stupidity, but because I have spent the better part of my adult life doing legal work - I am a formidable opponent in an argument if that becomes necessary... and because my nature is to compete, I usually won't stop until the guy from Mortal Kombat shouts "FINISH HIM," so I don't try to borrow trouble-if he's not mad, I'm cool. I have tried so hard to not hate anyone, to just go with the flow because life is short and I am the lucky one - had my husband's former spouse been made of sugar and spice and everything nice, I wouldn't have received the blessing of being his wife in the present. However, when a child delivers messages of "they said they're going to do X, Y and Z (insert any criminal act of violence for the variables) to you," it becomes tiring and is inexcusable and Mrs. Happy-Go-Lucky turns into Mrs. I'm-Gonna-Have-To-Poison-You-Now. These contentious messages sent via kids are designed specifically to crawl under your skin and fester into a bleeding, infected, painful wound - don't let it do that. That is the ONLY purpose those messages serve. Sometimes I wonder "why do they say this to the kids, why don't they say it to us?" My guess - there's nothing behind those threats and they're only scary to little kids - so that tells me how valuable, loved and respected the feelings of the Skids are within the confines of the other home.
Grace in the gap.
So, I guess I should also add that the Skids have learned they can manipulate things to get what they want out of a given situation. Maybe this is normal - I'm not sure. Co-parenting for me was different than it is for my love. I did all the work and had very disinterested co-parents, so my kids were very unsuccessful at playing both ends against the middle. I have asked myself so many times, "how do you handle this?" Grace. Remember the story of the virtuous woman? Even when my Skids are being little butt-babies and crying the victim to their mom because we are parenting (not being BFFs), I remember I love them, I speak matter-of-factly about things, but I'm never mean or spiteful toward them. My place as my husband's wife, like the virtuous woman, is to do him good and not evil all the days of my life. So, I have to choose my position carefully - and that's not always easy. I've lost it, and I mean grand scale lost it a few times. I've had to apologize. A strong person apologizes and learns - if we continue offending for the same thing we've apologized for, our apologies mean nothing. Just a day or so ago I had to apologize and explain my reaction to something was so explosive because I don't like lying, I don't like shady behavior but I LOVE my Skids. We are learning together and so, we are thankful for the abundance of grace abiding in our gap.
I chose Standing On Top Of the World because we continue climbing and some day we'll be standin' on top of the world, for a little while. I would like to think that Mominablender and Dadinablender are incredible climbers (he is my favorite and THE BEST teammate to have), but the truth is OUR WHOLE FAMILY climbs. The climb is not for nothing - the climb is for EVERYTHING. The climb is about learning to continue placing one foot in front of the other when we get stuck in the gap and think we'll never find ourselves standing on top of the world. Standing on top of the world requires effort from us - it requires us to learn from our mistakes. I sometimes really, truly, with all of my heart, DO NOT know what I'm doing as a mom or step mom, but they believe in me and they depend on me - and the song lyrics say "I know if you believe in me that's all I'll ever need, uh huh... no, no - nothin's gonna stop me, NOTHING will discourage me, OH NO!" So, you see, my friends - my loving moms and step moms (dads and step dads) who are stuck in the blender or stuck in the gap, we are thrown in that gap to see if we really want to stand on top of the world, with our beloved spouse and our children. The turmoil thrown at you from the other side is done so because they don't want you to make it - they WANT to cause problems - sometimes you MUST address material information related to the problems they're trying to create, but more often than not, you can let their tirades and hissy fits fall by the way-side. Their desire to cause problems is much smaller than your desire to stand on top of the world. I have been so guilty of letting the attacks, the constant, on-going, never-ending nonsense get me down - so I know it's hard. But YOU are smarter, so am I. You are tougher, so am I. YOU are a virtuous woman (or man) and I'm trying to be that - and while you are doing good, not evil in the life of your husband, you also open your mouth with wisdom and your tongue is the law of kindness. You got it goin' on! I can't wait to meet you all - on top of the world!
I was in the kitchen cooking. I decided to cook a turkey and lots of other yummy stuff for Sunday dinner because I have been down with Influenza A. Blah! BUT, alas I am feeling better so I was in the kitchen cooking. He called to me and showed me someone's Facebook post, trying to re-home a Great Dane. We have a 6 and a half month old Great Dane who has eaten every pair of my shoes that I ever loved (that is a highly dramatized statement, but I have now replaced work heels twice). I could see in his eyes where he was going with this, so I encouraged him to inquire further. I have a much more hardened, jaded heart than he does and instead of thinking of the unconditional love our dog has added to our family, I thought about my long lost shoes and the 27 trips I made to the burn pit with a full pooper scooper not so long ago and my head was screaming "NO NO NO!" He came into the kitchen and made me read a conversation that was a poor attempt at saying "umm yeah, don't want the dog" by the dog's owner without actually saying it (I hate when people beat around the bush - just BE WHAT YOU IS). I could see the pain in his eyes, the compassion for the helpless dog. That is singlehandedly what makes me love him so much. I knew I would marry him the day that we were in Walmart and a little lady was desperately trying to get a watermelon out of one of those gigantic boxes; he walked over and helped her, but not only did he help her, he told her not to feel obligated to take the fruit she had laid her hands upon, "now, you pick out the one you want." I told him to get an address for the unwanted canine and we set off to potentially become dog rescuers. Upon our arrival, we were soon to understand the dog was not a Great Dane, but some sort of pit bull mix and that it would probably kill our dog. We have since spoken many times about that poor dog. We love the defenseless.
Sometimes I am completely unreasonable. I get these ideas in my head - perfect plans set forth in a perfect way in perfect timing.... except I'm not perfect - they crucified that guy, if I recall correctly. I get myself so worked up over trivial things. He is patient. He is calm. He allows me to be me. He will smile at me, laugh at me. When he does, I know it's best to laugh at myself and choose peace. He is kind. He has the softest heart. He is super funny. He takes care of me, of us. He is constant. I have struggles with estrogen related illness. He hands me chocolate. He is my best friend. Together, we have worked ourselves silly to build a simple, clean life.
We both came into this with a lot of baggage. I'm not sure that ever really mattered because from the very beginning it has seemed as if we share a brain. He has always been so compassionate about life in the blender. Through my own frustrations, I often question how he has remained sane, but he has. It must be hard, to have children whose lives you feel powerless to affect in a positive way, every other week. I try my best to be comforting during those painful times, to always let him know I have his back and I will be equally as constant as he is to me. If acts of violence fixed things, I'd be on it, but that's not how this works - together we are regularly taking the high road on topics that are blatantly unacceptable in the course of raising children, but he does it with poise and eloquence. He is not a reactionary at all. We both are products of divorce. We both are twice divorced. Those factors have done nothing but help us understand each other - we spent so much time trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Everyone else might not get it, but we do. We are both trying to figure things out in the blender day by day and that is working for us, we are frequently tired though. Most days are so sweet, but there are days when we hit the pillow and breathlessly exclaim "this is my most favorite part of the day." Raising kids isn't for the faint of heart, but we're not. Sharing kids with someone who is essentially your polar opposite a la mental illness is also not for the faint of heart, again we don't host much fear. He's worth every bit of baggage he came into this with and I'm sure he would say the same about me. Together we have unpacked so much, made the load lighter, cleaned up what was once messy. We will forever be cleaning up messes - that's just how it is when you marry the wrong person, but share the right children. The best blessing is that we found each other, in a very big world and over a lot of distance. He was my neighbor when we were kids, now he's my husband and the love of my life.
I admire the kindness in his heart. He has given me a safe home and a warm bed on a quiet little street - that was once just a dream I kept tucked deeply inside my wounded heart. He is funny. He is sincere. He doesn't fit in anyone's box, he doesn't care what others think. He is his own man. He is loyal. He is my biggest fan. I am lucky.
My brother-in-law is a police officer, in fact he is a K-9 Officer. We back the blue around here. Last night the news came in - he's been trapped under his squad, being shot at. Instant mental paralysis for Mominablender. How can I help? My sister, my nieces, I want to help comfort, I want to dole out some equity on a gun toting mad-man and I'm a million miles away. Complete and utter helplessness fell upon me and it felt like I was the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz - the house just landed on me. Simultaneously with the incoming news, we had friends over to eat tacos and watch football. I had to stop - I had to be quiet and bow my head, I had to silently have a heart to heart conversation with my higher power. "Please, please God put a hedge of protection around my brother and his fellow officers, please...." My heart felt so desperate. My body doesn't handle heart-centered stress well, so I immediately began producing a plethora of snot, started sneezing, broke out in hives and went into bathroom-frequent-flyer mode. At 10:30 pm the all clear came in. Thank you, God!
Earlier in the day, while attempting to get everyone ready for church, I became increasingly angry at the total lack of cooperation from the kids. Remember Ren & Stimpy, how Stimpy's eyes would get blood shot and poke out of his eye sockets? That was me. Like, why can't you people just do what you're told? None of this is new information! The blood boils while a couple of them horse around and another gives attitude. Dadinablender sends me secret funny texts, which bring the smiles and self correction, but I'm angry so I have to laugh and respond, "I see what you're doing here but I'm still gonna act like I'm mad."
Non-compliance...... it is something parents deal with all the time in varying degrees. Picking your battles and all that stuff are preached to parents, but should getting your socks in the hamper be handled like a completely new expectation every.single.day? I don't think so and so the pebble of irritation enters my shoe and I'm prompted to send my mother a text, "I am sorry that I was a jerk off when I was a kid."
Why are your dirty clothes lying upon the bathroom floor? Did we just start picking those up post-shower TODAY? Why did you not brush your teeth? Did we just begin a dental hygiene regime TODAY? I see that your library books are on your dresser instead of in your backpack and you go back to Mommy's today, did we just begin placing the books in the backpack TODAY? It's like every day we wake up having forgotten all things we've been doing for the past 3 years or more and we (by that I don't mean me) don't really care - whatevah, where's my electronic device O' Wicked One?! Have you ever had a vision of yourself taking a hammer to every device in the house, while dancing as if you were Mary Poppins wearing a mildly psychotic smile?.... well, I have! I have also been known to cut the Wi-Fi due to willful and wanton disobedience on the part of my kiddos. Someone, call DFS STAT! I feel all yucky on the insides when my attitude gets off to the left like that, but there are times in life when it's warranted, for instance those times when mom feels like nobody gives a rats patoot that she doesn't enjoy living in filth. However, when these things do get remembered and the miniscule, yet incredibly helpful tasks are realized, we celebrate as if the baby has taken his first steps. It's AHH MAY ZING! But, yesterday morning was a morning of non-compliance for me.
We made it to church and things got better. Church concluded, Skids (this is a moniker another step mom uses in her writings to refer to her steps, and I lurve it, so I'm copying) went back to mom's and laundry was finished for the first time all week, bill checks were written and online payments were made, sweeping and swiffering completed. We washed the funk off of the truck and cleaned it out. I was gliding through like Nancy Kerrigan on ice. I was Aaron Rodgers delivering the hail mary... Killing it! My attitude was altogether better. My love bug and I have decided to do an extensive remodel on the house so we talked and planned, price checked some things. We were sorta pooped but we were doing what it takes for us to have what we call "The Good Life." Sing it now - I go for mine, I got to shine, now throw your hands up in the skyyyy!
Then, the lesson of the day came. The paralyzing text.... I felt like I did when I was the single, pregnant, young mother of a toddler watching a plane fly into the World Trade Center, acutely present from a distance in a situation beyond my control. Except this time someone I love is charged with the requirement of next-level bravery and selfless courage to keep people like us safe and to return home to other people that I love. What really is "The Good Life", Mominablender? An illustration of "The Good Life" was reading this, "he is okay, shaken up but he's home now."
Why are you getting upset over clothes on the bathroom floor? Tell them to pick their stuff up and move on to the next thing. Yes - you're frustrated because you want your expectations to be acknowledged, but in the bigger picture the clothes on the floor remind you that you have healthy little turd-heads scurrying about the house. It's OHHH KAAAYYY! Really - it's okay and the elevation of your blood pressure isn't, got it? The not-sharable texts you received from your hubba that bring you back down to earth - those little things are what constitutes The Good Life. The Good Life is not the same as The Perfect Life. The Perfect Life is an illusion, it's smoke and mirrors and you're not that girl! Keep on keepin' on, sista! Let them grow up, then go visit and make an abundance of messes - let it come full circle. The people who love you know that you have a bunch of busy kids and you work A LOT - they don't care about a towel on your bathroom floor. You're fortunate for the people who love you to know you bust your hump to take care of your home and sometimes the kids work against you - those people have lived it. You were one of those kids - remember the time you peed in the fridge? Everyone lived and loved and here we are! Relax.
I'm going to close by thanking the great humans who have jobs of service to other humans. I don't. I have a hard enough time taking care of what's going on over here in my yard-Lord have mercy on my soul I cannot carry a gun - I cannot be trusted with that pressure. I'd like to give a shout out to the Man Upstairs for bringing my loved one home safe last night, for directing bullets out of his path, for the miracle that my sister got to hug and kiss her husband and my nieces got to love their daddy one more day. Thank you-for dealing with the bad guys. Thank you for providing health care when we can't help ourselves. Thank you for fighting wars you didn't start. Thank you for being brave enough to enter a burning building to save people you don't know - to save the life of the person that could turn around and shoot at you on a different day. Thank you for helping all of us achieve The Good Life.
Magic is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can make anything happen. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I had a conversation with one of my kids yesterday. My little sweetie was evaluating in a kids' mind whether or not they wanted to play a certain sport this coming season.
As it pertains to anything involving some sort of skill, I've usually done whatever it takes to master said skill; I also suffer from a nasty character flaw known as "cockiness." (I haven't figured out if I can insert emoticons yet, there is a learning curve to this whole blog business - but insert the eye rolling one here - not the regular eye rolling one either - I need you to put the one rolling its eyes so hard it sees its own brain... mmmmkay... moving on). In shame I will admit that, on some fronts, I'm unreasonably and wildly competitive - and may or may not have spat on, tackled and/or been made to sit in a locker room at an entire tournament due to physical outburst in various times of my life. I am older now - and with age comes patience, so competition has become an incredible brain game for me - I can go toe to toe like no other in a verbal spar about most topics, I usually don't unless forced there because I believe there is a beauty in silence (I now blog it out, too)... with respect to physical competition, and I'm fat and old (did I mention I was old?) so I don't play many physical sports, but I am still an avid screamer at professional athletes by way of the television. People, I am flawed! [Places halo above her head] But, I am a work in progress.
So, back to the conversation with the kid... I can't really fathom why there'd be any doubt about participating in a sport, because in my mind I am in the Greek army and everyone else is Persian and I will be all like "SPARRRTAAA" in the end, but I am listening. "They are mean"...... hmmm who is mean? "There is a group of kids who are just mean and I don't know if it's worth it." YIKES. Yes, honey, it's worth it! It is SO worth it! You cannot let intimidation stop you! You're going to face those intimidating factors throughout life, smile at them, get to know them from all sides - ALWAYS study the thing you fear and then attack the weak spot, work from the weakest spot inside and move out! Get a strategy in place then execute. Are the words and behavior of this mean group more powerful than what you know to be true about yourself? NEVER! You cannot allow something that appears troubling stop you from doing the things you enjoy in your life, life is just too short for that! blah... blah... BLAAAAAAAHHHHHH I am puking out all of this inspirational fooleywang because I am the parent and that's my job, right? Mid sentence it hits me - a moment in high school when I was screaming like a banshee at teammates about sacrificing one's body to win because I felt as though the efforts of others were lesser than my own (and I hate losing, I'd rather eat a turd). OHHHH mominablender, this is like receiving a spanking as an adult-was I a mean kid? So, mominablender looks to the heavens and speaks, "I see what you're doing here!"
I will tell you this - I don't really know if confidence is a nature vs. nurture thing or something kids are born with. My loins have spat out not one, but two, gorgeous, intelligent human beings. I have 3 incredible, smart, beautiful children that I chose. Lots of kids and lots of personalities shuffle around me at various times and they're all just.so.different. I honestly can see bits and pieces of myself, my husband and their other parents in all of them. It's an observers paradise, really. ONE of our 5 children is competitive like me. ONE. Guess what - that child is our most challenging one, but the kid and I GET each other, we have an understanding. So, my hands are dabbling in the growth and development of four people who are pretty laid back, acutely hilarious (even though sometimes it makes you want to light them on fire because EVERYTHING around our house is ALWAYS a joke and sometimes it just can't be a joke all the time. Attention trolls: I do not set my children ablaze - I said that for dramatic flair, move along - middle finger for you!), and just really aren't interested in digging their claws in too deeply for too much. And, that's okay! And, I don't understand - so I struggle to teach them confidence, a belief in themselves that no one and nothing can shatter. (Side note: I do see the older ones digging the claws in as they grow up, mostly about things that really interest them but they're committing to things nonetheless)
Love isn't enough. Nobody will ever convince me of that. If you haven't figured it out already - I have a deep love of music - and one of my favorites is Layne Staley. He was the lead singer of Alice In Chains before he overdosed on heroin. So, you have this mega star guzillionaire with an emptiness comforted by an opiate. His mother speaks out about drug addiction, as a mom I've listened to her and unless she is some type of wicked genius of a poseur, the woman loved her kid. If you watched the video above, the musician, Jimi Hendrix, died of a drug overdose as well - he was loved and adored by many but without the confidence to overcome an addiction. Did his parents not love him? Love isn't enough to make a person believe in their own magic. I've had a couple childhood friends commit suicide. I knew these people and they were loved. I don't think that we can love our children out of a lack of self confidence, but I'm not sure. Love certainly doesn't hurt anything, so keep on loving because it's impossible not to for most of us.
I am not a parenting expert and I think the people reading my stuff are acutely aware that they aren't either. We don't have a clue - we're all just floating around here in the blender. That is my disclaimer primary to the few things I will say next: I believe that kids thrive with structure and a routine. I believe that kids need discipline, correction, and to know that they WILL follow the rules and there WILL be consequences if not (self control is taught in this manner). I think that these factors produce a sense of predictability/safety in their little souls, and from that they begin to understand who they are, what they can do and what they cannot do. I think when kids don't have the aforesaid, we find ourselves dealing with the entitled, narcissistic, lazy, shallow types of people we don't get on too well with in social settings. I also know that there are parents who work their faces off to provide structure, routines, love, discipline, reasonable consequences, etc. and they have kids who struggle in the self-confidence department. So, what's the secret ingredient? Is confidence just something you're born with, like mental illness? I don't know. I'm not a parenting expert or a psychiatrist.
The kids 'round here think I'm super strict. Maybe as compared to other parents, I am. I'm not sitting around trying to be like everyone else, that is not my thing. Perhaps I am overly confident in my approach to momming. I don't know about that either. There are books and studies that argue both sides of the spectrum. Popular opinion up in here will tell you I'm a ball buster. I've been privy to parenting strategies wherein the parents are deeply afraid of rejection from their children so nothing is off limits. We really don't struggle with that in our house, our kids are regularly pissed off at us for one thing or another and that's okay, it's all good. I get pissed off at them too! I've never viewed my parenting style as a confidence destroyer - but maybe it is. I don't know. I try to be an equal mix of Mary Poppins and Deadpool. It's called balance. I'm kidding..... Really, my heart is soft and understanding so when my kid was talking last night, while I couldn't really understand allowing someone in my mind to that end, my heart sank and I began studying how to build self confidence in your child. The information I gathered is conflicting, so here I am writing. Honestly, if I'm doing something wrong I need the light to be shined specifically on that very wrong thing, because I always feel like I'm getting it all wrong (I don't have a sense of bravado about EVERYTHING-just most =], there are things I totally suck at and I know it)-but I keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I will close by saying this - I hope we all can build the type of confidence in our children that prompts them to believe "well, I stand up next to a mountain, and I chop it down with the edge of my hand!" I hope our children learn compassion - that in their confidence they don't become shallow, vapid, narcissistic and self-consumed. I want them to participate in the things that interest them which will yield good juju, and I don't want them to be stopped by fears. I want them to be the solid people who help their fellow man rise up. I want them to believe in themselves. I want them to experience that magic. I need the blueprints, please!
I wanted to stay home today and play Wii bowling with the littles. I wished hard that it was a possibility. If wishes were fishes I'd be Queen of the Sea.
I am that person who has always been 100% about responsibility crushing and career growth - being like that helped me get places, make munty, hunty! (She works harrrd for the money, soooo hard for it, hunTy! hee hee) I am competitive and driven and hungry to learn everything from start to finish. I am a nerd! I love maps. I live for solving unsolvable problems. I am probably very weird to some. I have tried to back off of workaholicism as I've gotten older, and I'm not good at doing that - umm, and by that I mean I suck. I want to do my best, make few mistakes, climb and grow. So, there are days when I wake up and the idea of keeping the kids home, staying in pajamas and playing Wii bowling/baseball/golf, but I know responding irresponsibly isn't in my wheelhouse. In my mind it seems like SO MUCH FUN, though.
This thought sparked another thought in my head. What do we do to re-fuel and re-charge as moms? Before I was married to my husband, I was a fitness junkie on the daily. My girlfriends and I drank copious amounts of wine or margaritas while chatting and eating foods of indulgence on the Friday or Saturday nights when we were able. Those were the "me" things in my life 4'ish years ago. Then, I got married and moved away, doubling my family size in a snap. Along with doubling my family size (that is like, SOOO much laundry, indubitably ;) incidentally, I added the tango of co-parenting with exes - this task kept me mentally imprisoned for about 6 months and it's still something I observe like a pissed off king cobra trying to strike me, but trapped behind plexiglass. I started a job at a company in its infancy - this kept me very busy because I knew a lot about making it grow and I'm proud to say today I work for a successful company that has moved out of its infancy and is doing some pretty amazing things - and I manage the local office and work with terrific people. The one thing that hasn't changed is that my husband and I are still cuddle bugs and sickening love-struck idiots. I don't really do very much for ME though because I kind of don't feel like "me" without "him" - that thought might be psychologically unhealthy but it works for me, he is my shelter. This blog - that is a ME thing, but I make my husband proof read everything before I publish because I am talking about me (attached to US) and don't ever want to say things that could hurt him - our perceptions might be different when presented with the same situation, so I respect his position and I just think that's part of respecting your partner in an endeavor like this.
I have met a sweet, sweet person - she is one of my "people" in the town I moved to. She invited me to her church and bible study group this weekend. [You know who you are sweet friend - your gesture felt like love to me.] We have had other dear friends invite us to church - more love. My husband's grandma and grandpa regularly ask us to attend church, they are faithful people - even more love. A lot of mothers/people use their spirituality as fuel - soul food. So, why am I not doing this? I so badly miss the church I attended in the place I moved away from. The pastor there fed our hearts with the gospel - the good news. I always left feeling loved by a force stronger than myself. The lessons we were taught made us want to soak up more "being like Jesus and less being a jerk off." Today I was driving home and the guy behind me was riding my butt, my Irish temper said "slam on your brakes," and my conscience said, "stop being a dillhole." It is in these moments, when I'm cussing enough to embarrass a sailor that I know my soul is hungry. My spirit needs fuel. Some use church as a re-charger, re-fueler.
I mentioned my former fit ways. I have about 50 additonal pounds of the "happy fat" since I moved and married. We love to cuddle in the evenings, eat crap food and watch funny stuff on TV. We love to have friends over, hang with family, play games, eat crap food and enjoy the love of company on the weekends. We love to play games with the kids, swim in the pool, play tennis, ride bikes, and eat ice cream, Little Debbie Cakes, home made baked goods and more crap food. In the summer we bounce between baseball and softball fields like a ping-pong ball used in a Forrest Gump match, shoveling hot dogs, nachos, snow cones and crap food in our mouths most nights of the week. I clean my yard all the time - my landscape is important to me (if I won the powerball, I'd open a landscape company - just a little side note for ya) so I will literally spend all day working in my yard on a Saturday snacking on crap food while doing it. Why am I not devoting a little more time for fitness and kissing some crap food goodbye? Doubling your family size cuts down on time for fitness and I haven't made that a priority. I should... like, in my head I know what I'm capable of and my body says "hunty, this chair is so cozy." The struggle is real. =) Some use fitness as their re-charger and re-fueler.
I am an artsy person. I make some magnificent things. I love painting and creating. I am full of that artsy, creative stuff. I have a room in my basement that is just full of arts and crafts stuff. I haven't been in it in a while. Well, honestly I haven't been in it for months. Meryl Streep just said "take your broken heart and make it into art" and I so feel this statement in my being. Art has been therapeutic for me on multiple levels. Why am I not in my room when momming is tough? Why do I not whip out the brush and canvas and go to town when I am feeling broken? I use art to re-fuel and re-charge.
I started this blog. For many, many years I have had friends beg me to write books because I love words, words are so beautiful and can make the most bland vanilla pudding become a decadent dessert filled with depth enhanced by a smooth, creamy texture (let's hear it for crap food!!!). What type of book would I write? I'm not an expert at anything and the only things I really have a lot of experience with are being a mom and the practice of law. This blog has quickly become an outlet for me, and people liked it - there are almost two hundred people following my blog and that's mind blowing to me. As a mom with limited ways (and energy) to re-fuel, I was excited about this blog, feeling pumped that I could share loves and laughs and mom stuff with other moms. Face palm.... As I dipped my toes in the blog waters, I quickly learned that the butt hurt is strong in the world - people will assume stuff you didn't say is implied within your written thoughts and then there will be big, fat backlash for you. Oh, you also risk the internet trolls out there, informing you that you're miserable and they feel sorry for you, your kids and the things you say will come back to haunt you. Good hell, is there nothing a woman/mom can do right? Let your haters be your motivators and all that stuff... and pray that you don't walk around telling various people to F off and/or suck it because that's not good for your spirit! You are better than this, mominablender! Don't let go of your re-fuel mechanism, charge forward and do you! What I have learned - I CAN use this as my re-fuel and re-charge outlet. I CAN use my words creatively, telling interesting stories and sharing real, gutteral thoughts to others reading this for their own "me" time. I CAN (as I recently purchased the feature to do so) find out who the trolls are that judge me behind the screen (DOH - it is like being the Great and Powerful Oz!! DUDE! Awesomeness!) Tell the truth, be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove, right? As my sister might say - leave a space of grace. This is my way for fueling up and being 100% charged at this moment in time.
So, mommas, what are you doing on this Monday to re-fuel and re-charge? Are your kids standing around you in a huddle as you read this? My husband has had to ask my kids to "come here" at least 5 times as I've been writing. Patriarch's-of-your-Homes, what is it you do to feed your soul? I want to know. I am interested in these things on this run of the mill Monday. When you have a million things facing you, you feel pressure building, how do you twist the valve and release it?
Hi! I'm the mominablender and I am writing a blog about a mom in a blended family. I'm here to attempt giving readers something to laugh about, to help somebody maybe not feel so alone like I did , and to learn. I feel so happy for the chance to do this. I hope you have a nice Monday and feel so happy today as well!
First, a little note: I want to extend a note of sincere thanks to the readers of my blog. I have received a lot of feedback on my writing. I wasn't expecting to touch this many people so soon... I find this humbling, inspiring and motivational. I hope you know how I appreciate you taking the passenger seat on the road trip of my journey and that you can count on the mom in this blender to keep it real/honest/raw/comical, to write about her beautiful, chaotic, gratifying, stressful, loud, pleasant, mind-boggling, sweet and very educational exeperiences while swirling around in this mixed up world we call momming. You guys rock! I also have received two hater opinions from people that don't like my blog, both today. I respect the opinion of those peeps too. It takes all kinds of kinds to make the world go 'round and I, more than anyone, know my style of communication and story telling is an acquired taste. I don't like dry red wine, so I don't drink it. Know what I mean? At any rate, thanks for reading and pushing my numbers up. I honestly had no idea this blog would get the amount of traffic it's getting and it's mind boggling, so this is me hands in prayer position in front of me bowing at you all - lovers and haters. Thank you!
Today we got to celebrate the life of a friend. I consider this a privilge. Sometimes adulting couples with it an enormous weight. Sometimes it seems as if you're jumping over waters filled with starving crocodiles, you're not a very good distance jumper and the lands' edges are spread quite far apart, you're sure that you won't make it to the next birthday! Sometimes you feel like you're standing in the middle of the train tracks, you see the light and you hear the horn blasting through you, the thunderous roar of 900 million mega tons of out-of-controllness, certain death is facing you. But.... sometimes you watch your daughter's dance recital and you witness in real time the exhibition of hard work and dedication... Pride and hope. Sometimes, you pick up that little book your child made in kindergarten entitle "When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Lion Tamer."... Nostalgia and warm fuzzies.... Sometimes you face what feels like an impass in thinking between yourself and your child, but you communicate, and find that the unending love you have for your child and he for you is like a soothing balm for burned feelings... Gratitude and humility. Sometimes you stare down into a dark hole and when you're sure all you'll see is neverending darkness, out of nowhere a little light shines through and you're overcome with hope. Sometimes you celebrate the life of a friend. We realize how much good stuff we have by walking head on into the fires and making it out the other side - a little burned, a little scarred but filled with the realization that things could be so much worse. Without the struggles, there can be no growth. Don't blame me, I was given this world, I didn't make it! Yeah man, that's the good stuff....
Life here in the blender is full of chaos but also "the good stuff." It is a series of several spinning plates - you know, your good plates, your plates for presentation at family dinners... the plates you want to stay nice because they're your full set of eight. Sometimes things get so off balance you have to sit back and watch as those plates teeter, just barely making it back into balance, picking up a little momentum, leveling out. This is a depiction my friends and I talk about often. Thank God (and Madea =) for those of us who keep it real and don't act like everything is great, our kids are perfect children and everyone else sucks at life and is just an unhappy momster. Dude, I'm sorry, I am not worthy to sit on that mom throne and wear that crown! A life raising children is both exhausting and rewarding. There are times you're running ninety-to-nothing all day, then you get home and all you do is keep the plates spinning. Anyone who doesn't openly admit that they have been frustrated by, annoyed with, and/or dissappointed in their kid is lying - or they're high or heavily medicated while navigating the daily - or they're not parenting....... Parenting is tough. Parenting is not for pussies. Parenting is not for blamers. Inasmuch as any parent has been thrust into feelings of negativity toward their own children, the feelings they're having about themselves are usually mirrored and magnified ten-fold - this is my experience and the experience of so many parents I've had conversations with over time. I can promise that I am waaaayyy harder on me than I am on my kiddos and have far greater expectations of me than I do my kiddos - when they act cray cray, I say to myself "have you shown them this example, what can you be doing better?" Have you ever asked yourself, "do I know what I'm doing?" I have... I have also made this statement to myself, "I have no idea what I'm doing." If you've read my other blog posts, you know I'm catty, snarky, witty and keep it real, or as the kids would say - I keep it 100. Listen, I have had days and months where each and every day by negligence on my part, every.... single.... spinning.... plate fell and shattered! Moms - if this is what you're going through right now I am sending a hug. It's hard sometimes. I feel you - I do.
So, blendy mom, what does this have to do with good stuff???? You seem to bitch a lot about motherhood. I feel sorry for your kids! You must be a miserable person. And, to then put it all in public forum where all the world can see...... Pathetic!
There have been days in my life when my kids have disappointed me and motherhood sucked. Keeping it 100. There have been days in my kids' lives when I have disappointed them and I sucked. Keeping it 100. We have done unintentional things that have hurt each others' feelings. Keeping it 100. Bad stuff has happened. Keeping it 100. There have been tears, there has been screaming, there have been groundings and the revocation of privileges. Keeping it 100. There have been moments I have knelt beside my bed in the darkest times known to my heart and said, "Lord, I don't know what I'm doing, please help me. I feel like a bad mom. I don't want to be a bad mom. Please show me how I can do better. Please, please help my heart be what you want it to be. Please help me appreciate this more, I am tired Lord. I am worn out and I don't have answers or solutions for any of this. I AM SCARED! I feel like you chose the wrong person for this job and I need some guidance." Keeping it 100. Let me tell you something else to keep the trend of keeping it 100 - I LOVE these kids. I love them with a fierceness I cannot begin to describe. I love them because they will challenge my thinking in the same manner I challenge theirs. I love them because they screw up and I get to pick them up and say "you'll do better next time, baby and I know this hurts." I love them when they are flipping water bottles and throwing basketballs in my house and I want to beat them. I love them when my make-up has magically disappeared and I find it in their possession. I love them when my home furnishings get destroyed and I feel like crying because we just can't have nice things. I love them when I have found profolactics in their vehicles and my heart shattered but I was simultaneously glad they were being smart. I love them when they are so pissed off at me for parenting that they tell me they don't want to talk to me anymore, moments when I walk away with my tail between my legs because I feel incredibly disrespected and hurt beyond measure, only they can't see that because they only think of themselves. I love them when they are achieving and when they are slacking. I have loved them since the very first time I heard their little hearbeats on the fetal doppler and when I chose them. When you love someone, that opens up the door for them to hurt you. Kids don't know what the hell they're doing like 90% of the time and I'm guessing parents don't know like 95% of the time. Without a doubt this parenting gig is the hardest thing I've ever done. It seemed so much easier when they were little and I was the greatest thing on earth, man that seems like forever ago - when I'd go to daycare after work and scoop my little on in my arms and hear "I missed you momma." The teenage years have been an experiment with my sanity. I recently posted about my son who is away in school - how he hurt my feelings by blowing me and our family off at Christmas - and he let me know that it hurt his feelings. I hurt his girlfriend's feelings and I hurt her parents' feelings. Collectively they all think I'm a miserable, unhappy person due to my writing (I'm actually pretty happy and I do this to let off steam, laugh, bring it all back into focus and I hope you each have something you do that keeps your heart soft), and they think I've made assumptions and pointed assertations that I don't feel I have made. I didn't name any names, I didn't say I was 100% sure what happened, I didn't assert that anyone acted in malice. From my point of view I expressed I was upset and what played out in my mind, but my writing was taken personally. I'm putting this out there in my blog in the present - neither my son, nor his girlfriend nor her parents are bad people. They are people just like me - stuck in the blender trying to work hard and make a life, kids going to school and blindly trying to figure out what love is - I have been them. The kids aren't sex crazed idiots according to my son and he feels I made them appear as such. For all I know they have never even kissed and when he sleeps at her house he could be sleeping in his car, although he admitted to me once that he sleeps in her bed, quite possibly things have changed and what I wrote hurt them - they.are.mad.at.me. My catty depiction of that hurt some feelings - and I'm sorry for that. My blog was simply about the thoughts that swirl in my head without pointing fingers or naming names, and to my newly found knowledge without protecting anonymity diligently enough. To be considerate of all parties, I went back and re-read that blog trying to stand in the shoes of others. I stand by the thoughts that swirl in my head and my intention wasn't to hurt anyone but only to express myself in a raw, honest and real way-to let out the steam. A way which people stray from because for some reason we are so caught up with image - don't blame me, I was given this world, I didn't make it. Part of getting the good stuff is acknowledging this stuff- whether you meant to hurt someone or not, don't let it fester. You do it not because you expect for it to be reciprocated, but because you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror. You take responsibility for your actions - I have repeated this to my children time and again and so I now show the example. I don't feel like I should be an exception to rules or good moral behavior just because I started this blog. That doesn't mean I no longer stand by my personal beliefs - and this statement is NOT me saying, "sorry not sorry." When you're a parent, sometimes you will stand alone in the fire and face things - and YOU MUST FACE THEM because running and hiding will not help you level up. Some say that love means never having to say you're sorry, but I disagree. I would say that love forces you to say, "you know what - I didn't really mean it in the way you took it, I was letting off steam, I didn't think it through, I was wrong." When we show love in this way, it brings us together. We can look at one another and identify, "you know what, I have said things when I was blowing off steam before too, hurtful things and I didn't mean those things either." I care most about the relationship I share with my child - he is my first priority and the one I would jump through the hoops for - I am not as invested in the relationships with the others so take it or leave it. This type of love is the foundation for relationships that can grow and work, relationships wherein we are not playing games. I take great pride in saying that I am wrong often and I am SOOOOO not afraid to admit that. I would say that humility is one of my stronger character traits and that's why I have the long standing friendships and relationships I have.... but who knows, I could be wrong about all of this - maybe they all hate my guts and are faking it! At any rate, beyond this blog I have real life friends and tonight we celebrated the life of one. I was the recipient of a real, appreciation filled hug. I came home and went to thinking about the things that are so good, soft, soothing. I'm listening to my husband's breathing as he sleeps and one of my children was just sleep talking =).... Yeah man, that's the good stuff!
The act of looking at where we are today in contrast to where we were in the past - reflecting and examining the movement and momentum of the direction of your life, is that called self-reflection? I'm not sure if I'm the only one who does this with such a large microscope, but maybe I am. Most of my friends are analytical like me but I don't think they examine every minute detail in the fabric of their own lives - I do. This is what makes me gritty and I just won't apologize for that because grit has pushed me much farther than my talents.
I am fortunate to have a handful of super cool, forged-in-fire, loyal, awesome women who I call friends and these gals are my step-mom/mommy tribe. I have some friends who aren't even moms and I love them because they remind me I'm still a female, still relevant without connection to my offspring. These are my people. We talk about how things are now as we reflect upon where we've come from. We talk about where we want to go. We are all in the blender together.
When I initially became a step-mom, I had visions of white picket fences and bliss. I had this idea that my husband's exes would be like me and we would respect one another for the greater good of the kids. My idea was just that - an idea. Reality played out to be something drastically different from that idea. I'm not sure how I couldn't have know this - I mean, why was I twice divorced? Because the person I tethered myself to share life with turned out to be 1) a drug addict; and 2) sitting at the right hand of Satan. Why didn't I realize that my husband's story was going to be much the same - that if the baby momma's were like me, he wouldn't have chosen me and would still be married to either of them? Still, in the beginning I was positive, hopeful. Then one day, my sweet baby doll 3 year old "Baby-Step" turned around with the smiling face of a cherub, so precious, and said, "My mom said you're a whore." Mic drop.
So, let's slam the truck in reverse and drive back over this.... The 3 year old looked up at me smiling, rosy cheeks and all and said, "My mom said you're a whore." [I'm sure some of you veterans in the blender are just smiling and laughing. I'm sure my friends and the ones who know me and know this story are next to having asthma attacks from the hard forced laughs.]
I stood there frozen. In my head I said, "Jesus, Mary and Holy Saint Joseph that three year old just said WHORE and he said it about YOU because his MOTHER said this in front of him, she told him this. HOLY CRAP... BAZINGA... WOW. He doesn't know what that means. What the hell do you do with this?" My mouth said, "Ohhhhhhhhhhh" and my husband said, "that is a bad word, you don't say that." My "Baby-Step" is now seven. I've been lots of things over the course of time. I started out a whore. I have been a home-wrecker (umm, the "home" was "wrecked" long before "I" ever talked to her ex "husband" and they weren't "living" in the same "home", but "okay then" =). I have been a B#$!&. My Steps have said, "My mom is gonna kick your butt." No matter what I have done, in the opinion of the Steps' mom, it's always wrong, she is always a victim and there is no hesitation in telling them that. "You shouldn't like her becauuuuuuuusssss........... (insert 10 million fictitious things here)" Now, my husband has not been left out of this party..... but this blog is about the moms in the blender! MOMS! (insert scense of moms chest bumping and hi fiving here)
I have not always responded properly to the feedback (let's just call it feedback, why??? because everyone is allowed to have their own opinion, even if it is deflection of their own shitty behavior, so we're gonna call it feedback because we are awesome). It is hard sometimes to take the high road. Due to the negligence, laziness and selfishness of the Steps' MOTHER, we have been forced to take legal action and thereby paid out several thousands of dollars in legal fees. We have dealt with arrests, positive drug tests, evictions, you name it - and what once was every other weekend and paying a heaping ton of child support now looks like week on/week off, no exchange of child support (and it was a HARD road getting here but it's EQUAL which is still pretty unheard of where we live). We have done the lion's share as it pertains to school functions and the expenses associated therewith and we expect this trend to continue, making peace with it so there's no frustration. Recently, when the Steps' mom stole basically a yearly salary from her employer and was attached to a couple felony charges, due to job loss and the aftermath of that, we agreed to take the kids to school on her weeks to help her because we understand she needs an income, this has also turned into the Steps sleeping over here one to two nights on weeks that are not our weeks (we don't care, really, but the point here is: why you be talkin' bad about us when we be helpin' you so much??? perplexing, much?). The computations are something like 65%/35% at this point, my husband and I call this a privilege as its less time for us to worry about what the Steps are exposed to. Except, then things happen - like my gallbladder decided to die and make me very, very sick. On a week that wasn't our week, I had to text the Steps' mother and tell her I couldn't take them to school. I ended up having surgery and am fine now, but it wasn't just that easy. We don't have that common element called cooperation comingled into our Joint Parenting Plan. Each and every time we have had the kids extra nights because mom or her boyfriend are sick or preoccupied (translated: frequently), we haven't complained, but when we can't help-when parenting becomes WORK for her, all hell breaks loose. The kids sat at our dinner table and told me how lazy and selfish I was for not taking them to school the week after my surgery.
Remember how I said I don't always respond right? Here is where my epic failure happens.... Let me set the scene: we are all sitting at the dinner table and Big-Step says "You could have taken us to school," and Baby-Step adds, "yeah you are just lazy." Me: Ummm, whaaaa? Who said this, I didn't even take your sister to school, I didn't leave the house! Baby-Step "Momsboyfriend said that you weren't too sick to take us to school, you are just too lazy to take us to school," Big-Step, "my mom said you probably weren't that sick anyway and she's sick of you making her late to work." I'm pretty sure I saw Heaven's Light in that moment-Jesus, i--is that you?? My mind ran back all the way to "you're a whore" and all the unnecessary comments that I've released toward the sun struck me-HULKSMASH, a flash of lightening sliced its way through my mind's eye and the thunder cracked so loudly all the residents of my town could feel it in their being, although I tried to not talk, it was as if that scene from Alien was playing out where the alien crawls through her body - except it came out of my mouth. (If you can't handle scary and stupid, close your eyes now........)
Me: "Realllllllllllly, welllllllllll, I am sorry you had to hear that. Do you have any idea why Mom has to work the factory job? You know, that's why I have to take you to school on Mom's weeks, because she lost her other job and now she has to work the factory job. Mom has to do that because she stole thirtythousanddollarsandsheisveryluckyshe'snotinprison. (head is spinning now, Exorcist style) I think it's very NICE of me to do what I do. I think it should be considered GOING OUT OF MY WAY to HELP someone that got themselves in quite a quandry. I am sorry you have to hear bad things about me all the time. I know it's rough having split homes. I remember when I was a kid how much my parents hated each other. It was hard. I'm sorry that you guys are expected to not like me, but I'm tired of being talked about like this and never saying anything. It's not okay, NONE OF THIS IS OKAY." BAM. Shit-I mean fiddlesticks........ what did I just do? I left the room. I just breathed in my bedroom. I composed myself, came back out to the table and apologized. I apologized that my head was spinning and that I'm human. None of this is their fault, I failed and I felt guilty. While it's all true - in the end, who was hurt? Not us... not me - the whore home wrecker B$#&$ kick your butt Step Mom.... Not the theif. Not us.
I thought, after 4 years of this, that I had it whipped. I thought after all the reflection and thought I'd put into it, that I was above reacting like that. I beat myself up about it for a while. Then, the Steps' week with daddy came to an end and within 3 hours the text messages started rolling in - not from mom, but from her sister. We can now add EVIL to the list of adjectives explaining me. "Haven't you ever done something you're not proud of? we all have!" Ummm yeah, like-I've yelled at my kids, I've spent over my budget for some killer red platform heels, but I haven't stolen a years' salary and poo-poo'd it (well shucky darn it, would you just look what I did, aww heck and poopstains, I'm not proud of that...... NO, wrong comparison!). There is no harder critic to me than me, so save it with the "you've done things you're not proud of" bit. Stop minimizing what your nephews' mom is doing and placing me under a microscope, I screwed up, we all have, examine your sisters 4 years of behavior and then let's talk.... Oh yeah, that's something you can't do, because then your sister can't be the victim here - she would have to take responsibilty for her actions... and while we are talking about that, why is it wrong for me to tell the kids about a true event, but it's not wrong that for 4 years they've heard every freaking manner of negativiy about me and my husband (one time Baby Step told everyone at a family event that he was "terrifided of daddy" and so in front of them all I said "Baby Step, what is terrifided? Is it good or bad?" shoulder shrug... "where'd you hear that?"....... "Mommy" GASP....... SHOCKER!).... mmmmm hmmmm, that's right - you got some 'splainin' to do right about NOW..... tick tock, tick tock....... Then, she threatened to sue me - excuse me, I need to bend over and laugh for a moment again about that........... ahhhhhhhhh, that's right - she threatened to TALK TO HER ATTORNEY TOMORROW and sue me because of my big words, reminding me that while I might intimidate her sister, I don't intimidate her. So, I took a moment to remind her my education is in law and it would be a waste of time to talk to an attorney, but bring it on sista, BUH-RRRINNNG IT! And through all of it, the one thing that stayed with me was this: I let it beat me. I couldn't keep the lid on when it counted. Yes, I am human. But, not too much of this can go on. Over 4 years, the "situation" has continued to escalate to the point that I don't think I can bug my eyes out any further with reaction..... and then, something else happens. I have often sat with my finger over my pursed lips thinking, "wow, people really live like that...... YIKES!"
This is blended life, folks. If someone were selling it to you in the style of car sales, you'd be buying an Escalade with some strange, erratic and perplexing mechanical issues. You'd be getting a luxury ride with some "issues." This experience has forced me to level up as a woman, but I fail sometimes. (Let's draw a parallel here - have you seen that shirt that says "I love Jesus but I cuss a little"... yeah, it's like that y'all) There is little to nothing that can perpetrate the circle of trust between my husband and I, this is something we both agree on and pillow talk about on the regular. I'm going to give you some gurrrrfriend advice - when the Ex is doing this stuff, there is one agenda at play - and that is to make your life unhappy. Being unhappy is a CHOICE, step moms. Being intelligent, savvy, at one with your backbone, a truth seeker and a lover of humans is also a choice. Choose wisely. You will lose it sometimes, you'll pick yourself up and try harder next time. Trust me on this - the point of this life is to swim around in copious amounts of BS and acquire as little in your mouth as possible (a special thanks to my BFF of 26 years for that sentiment).
For those of you in blended families who put the kids FIRST and you don't have these issues, I truly applaud you. I'm envious. I want to have a situation where there's not a bunch of stuffed reactions and responses on my end- and on theirs: lies, insults, jealousy, corruption, illegal activity and so forth. I want to not be the whore and the home wrecker and B@$!* and evil.... I want to get there - I don't know if we will, but my hope is that one day when I'm deep in reflection I will remember that we've come a long way because at one time we were here....... For the girls I run around with, just know that you're not the only one with your head spinning sometimes.
Welcome to 2017. When I was younger, about 100% of the time I was caught up in the "New Year, New You" movement. I'm older and wiser now. I know that any day is a perfect day to redefine your moments, your life, your thoughts. There is something about January 1 that feels a bit cleansing though.
When it comes to life in a blended family, the challenges are numerous. In almost 4 years of being the mom in a blender, I can't begin to explain what I have been through. I could write a book - and so, my darlings, you find yourself reading this blog.
I'm the step mom of three boys, the bio-mom of a son and a daughter. The oldest son in our house, my oldest step-son, is not a minor anymore. He is, I think-if I choose to believe him, off living in a college town (not attending college - that is a blog for another day) attempting to get laid by any female-ish girl with a pulse. That's always his priority when he swings by the house (on a quarterly basis.... but predictably always BEFORE year-end, for that one special commercially driven holiday, if you get my drift) "hey, look at this chick I'm talking to." My head says, "ummmm okay, what do you want me to say about that? Is that a photo you copied from the world-wide-interwebz, because I don't really think your great conversational skills, nature prone to hard work and courage, and your transparent honesty netted you the Victoria's Secret model looking little gal you're showing me." Instead, my mouth says things like "oh wow, she's pretty." God love him, he has goodness to offer, but he's just not there yet. He too, was stuck in a blender, taught to undertake the hatred one parent had toward the other. That force-fed hate has manifested itself in turning my husband's first born into a pathological liar-not malicious, he just lies like a rug. He seriously will lie about the stupidest topics and you're just expected to sit there and act as if what you're being sold isn't a steaming, heaping mound of horse poo. Years of this have led me to dissect him - on a human level I love him and will do what is right for him always, but as an observer sharing space with him I have learned to listen and leave it at that. I pray that he overcomes, grows up and finds his greatness. At one point in time I felt I needed to actively attempt to clean out the blender. Time is a gracious and powerful teacher and I have learned that you cannot make someone be what they do not desire to be. One day, I hope this little blender gets dumped and wiped clean, but until then it will remain filled with a vomitous substance that I can't do much with beyond finding ways to appreciate its purpose in my life. I hope I'm around when dad gets to dump the crap out, fill it with some Dawn dish washing liquid and scalding hot water. In my head, a fresh, new start for that particular blender would feel so satisfying for my soul - not so much for me, but for my best friend - the beautiful man to whom I am married.
My oldest is driving back to school as I write. He has been in my general vicinity since Christmas Eve and I have seen him less than 24 hours, possibly less than 12. His girlfriend was home from school too. I am not the super-cool, hip mom that will allow my kids to bang their girl or boy friends like a screen door in a hurricaine under my roof. There will be only two people doing that up in here, up in here - me and the guy I am married to. Why? Because we pay the bills, we make the rules and when you little chirrens do all-o-dat, you can do whatever you want in your own house too - and it's my greatest hope and prayer that you find yourselves way too exhausted to do it, just like me and the dad in the blender! In recent history, my inability to bend on principal has cost me a huge amount of time with my grown up boy. Let me just say this as a mom of a daughter - I have examined this argument like a Rubik's Cube. I have poured buckets of tears from my eyes because I sometimes wonder if I'm not the idiot in this situation - it just seems so damn obvious to me that AS PARENTS we don't allow our young ladies to have their boyfriends overnight and allow them to screw in our homes. I am not providing the hotel of fornication for the fruit of my loins. Do we not have a responsibilty to our daughters to say "hey, look, if a dude is really that into you, he's going to RESPECT you... that means he's going to do what it takes to get to know you and consider providing a life for you, he will work and provide housing, transportation and food because he loves you and THEN after he has proven himself as a man, he gets the cookie. He doesn't get the cookie at MY HOUSE because (wearing my best Madea face) - HELL TO THE NO and I will cut his jugular!"?? But, I digress. Here I find myelf competing with that blender over there labeled "Teenagers and Sex and Little-to-no Self Control"... and I'm not even sure I'm competing, it feels more like pee wee league football versus NFL. In my calm moments of self examination, when I maturely choose not to make this about me, I remember a young girl named Me, and she was also stupid in pretty much the same ways..... except our parents weren't having it so we got jobs and got our own house and this is why I have my child, who is driving to school. I lived and learned and he will too. Things come full circle in the blender. I miss him, though. I also trust the landscape of our relationship will change over time because I am the momma and I worked my face off to raise the little man. I have faith one day these stories will be something we laugh about in our new, fresh, clean, MATURE relationship and during the here-and-now I will hope for the best and make the best of what I get.
The "blended littles" are our three still in school and under our roof. Because life in the blender is messy and knifes at the contents swirling around therein, our daughter is really OUR daughter. She was adopted by my husband when the other parent decided not to be a parent anymore, and as I stated above - you can't make people be what they don't want to be. We live in a time when, if you don't wanna be a parent you ain't gotta! So, in the blender we have a little bit of his-mine-and-ours and that's cool. The adjustments it took to get to "cool" were multiple and are ongoing, but here we are..... sh.. sh.. sh... shake it up baby! Our little lady is beautiful and smart and opinionated and directed toward greateness. Sometimes she is mouthy...... mmmmm.... I have to pray for direction for my pimp hand, for it is STRONG! Our babies are babies, they are under the double digits in age. We are fortunate enough to have a truly EQUAL parenting arrangement with their other parent, however getting there has been a series of combining diet coke and mentos into the blender, then adding gasoline and fire and then some charcoal lighter fluid.... and a small scale nuclear bomb. As I re-read what I just wrote I smile and shake my head because my husband and I both chose (I am lost for a word) people as our second spouses...... GO US! Cleaning up the blender known as "The Littles" is an ongoing process. It's a lot like taking care of a pool - the chemistry has to be on point to get maximum enjoyment, but you'll still find yourself splashing, playing, enjoying even on days when the water is cloudy. It consists of a myriad of factors related to work, courage, commitment, morality, consistency, support and stability. Don't get me wrong, we have a lot of fun around here - fun is our thing. However, for you other evil step moms out there - lean on my shoulder, I get it - it is HARD managing your home and running a smooth sailing ship when the lives of the little people bounce back-and-forth from a situation depicted as the polar opposite of that which you are feverishly working to create. This blender is sorta commercial grade, it's furious and it cuts the hell out of everything thrown in it. Survival is a challenge. You will find yourself deperately trying to slow down the pulse, the maxium speed, the liquification of yourself, your brain, your patience. You will be tossed into the blended mentos challenge mentioned above. You will make it because you decide that's precisely what you're going to do.
Not only will you make it, you will thrive. You will dunk the blender pitcher into the hot soapy water, wash it out - get the crap out - scrub brush that sucker! You'll do it. You'll clean it out, you'll dry it off and you'll start over tomorrow. It will be a fresh, new start.