Choose your happiness.

One of the things that I have noticed with most stepparents I talk to, is that their problems aren’t usually with the stepchild, per se.  Their problem is the way their significant other treats his/her biological child.  Often, they talk to them like they are infants.  In a non-blended family, I’m sure this also occurs, but isn’t as irritating, because hey, that’s your baby too!  When this infantilization is connected to a child that you are already trying to fit into your new lifestyle and adjust to, it can be annoying, frustrating, and for many new spouses, almost a deal breaker.  If you don’t recognize it, you can subconsciously internalize an animosity for the child that is truly not their fault.  There are a few ways to help with this:

1.  Take a deep breath and realize it’s a super small issue in the grand scheme of life.  

You are with the person you loved and wanted to spend your life with.  You went into this relationship willingly and presumably you knew the strings attached.  We all have strings attached.  So this blended family is a tremendous exercise in compromise.  It will be a struggle, but there are places for you to vent.  Like here!

2.  Spend time with the stepchild.

Spending time together will build a relationship that is lacking in the first place.  You are given an instant family without the parent bonding time you get to develop with your own child over the course of their lives.  Doing little things for the child will also connect you and make you start to feel differently about your relationship.  Make cupcakes for them for school.  Make their favorite food.  Wash their blanket in fabric softener all fresh and clean and have it all set up for them when they are ready for bed-whatever will make that child/teen happy.  Discover what they like and indulge them a bit.  For example, my stepson loves Angry Birds.  I made special Angry Bird magnets for Valentine’s Day to put in his special treat bags for his class.  I felt good about it, he was excited and it was a fun memory to share.  It’s not always easy…but it helps.  It’s part of what I call “creating the mindset you desire”.  I wish to be a sweet, loving stepmom…so I act accordingly.  The hardest part is that with your own child, you often can say what you feel.  You can punish them or redirect them.  With a stepchild, that is a very touchy issue.  In our home, I leave that to my husband.  I tell him if I think something needs to be addressed and he deals with it later in a way that we both see fit. A stepparent has a difficult enough role.  It’s best if they just get to be more of a confidante, friend, mentor, role model-rather than a disciplinarian.

3. Every single day, spend some time alone with your spouse.  

Even if it’s only twenty minutes watching a show before bed, make a routine that is yours.  As your kids get older, you can tell them that they need to be in their rooms by that time (for us it is 9 pm) and settled down.  They can be reading, watching TV, drawing or whatever, but they will also grow to respect that it is time for you two.  Your relationship being solid is good for everyone in the family.  No one wants turmoil, anger and tension.  A nice routine is to have a little glass of wine or cup of tea each night before bed and chat theneveryone goes to bed happy.  We always stop what we are doing and head to our great room with a small glass of wine and watch an episode of one of our favorite shows before heading up to bed.  It’s one of our favorite times of day.

Image

Photo from http://www.stepfamilyrochester.org/cartoons.html

Let’s see how far we’ve come…

I used to be all about drama.  I mean ALL about drama.

Any girl that went near my ex-husband was bait.  I didn’t want him, but I sure as hell did not want him to be with someone else.  I could…but he could not.  Selfish, yes.  Ridiculous, yes.  Irrational, yes.  Keep in mind, he was the reason our marriage ended-I was forced to make the choice I did..click here to start reading our story.

Fast forward to the present day, I recently loaned his live-in girlfriend my set of Twilight books.  This is no small prize friends.  I love those books.  They might be the only fiction, non classic literature books I truly do love.  But she’s enjoying them.  And it opened up a door to us texting casually.  Both about my daughters love of Pandora charms and about some more personal issues going on in her life.  My daughter loves that we’re chatting a bit more.  I love that I know this person who is present in my daughters life, if only a little bit better.  And I’m starting to wonder what on earth this girl is doing with my ex-husband?  We’ve come a long way baby, when I start feeling bad for the girlfriend.

August 17th.

This is the day that I married B’s Daddy.  Way back in 1996.  I don’t think I regret that.  Not exactly.  Except that I could have gotten this amazing little girl through a one night stand with him and spared myself all these years of rebuilding, healing and then regressing, only to rebuild again.  Permanent healing?  Does that exist?  I’m guessing not.  It would have been our 12 year anniversary.  And it’s…not.  Every year this day is remotely painful, no matter how fabulous my life is at that moment.  It still feels like exactly what it is-a failure.  

I’m not always as positive as some of you think…lately I’ve been a little more down and actually missing having my own home and my single mama days.  I like being alone a little more than I am, and not having anyone to “answer” to.  The new marriage still feels so, well, “new”.  Even though it’s to someone I’ve known for a long time.  I’ve never lived with anyone other than my ex-husband and that, well, it’s that part that takes getting used to.  It’s not just a new husband, it’s a stepson too.  Am I really cut out for this?  Stepson comes home today, until next Sunday, then he’ll go to his non-custodial mom again for a week.  It’s been very quiet this summer, with him visiting his mom so frequently.  Wondering how we’ll get used to it all again once school begins.  He’s a much, much different type of person than the rest of us.

Time to get moving and get some planning done for the new school year.  I’m hitting paranoia about the new job and the first day of school in front of a pile of high school kids, trying to teach them some subjects they don’t really want to partake in (Chemistry/Physics).  Thanks for listening.

Happy 9th Birthday Little B!

Though I suppose you aren’t so “little” anymore, we still continue to call you that.  

You have made my life exactly what it’s supposed to be.  

You are the kindest, most empathetic, compassionate person I’ve ever met.  You have more spunk in your one braid than most of us do in our entire body (could it be from watching Bring It On-All Or Nothing so many times?;)). 

I’m sorry it’s raining today.  I know you wanted a boating birthday, but we’ll do that another day.  I guess maybe it’s God crying happy too.  I know yesterday and today, I’ve been emotional.  Last night, when I “kissed eight goodbye” and you laughed at me, I was serious when I said you are halfway to college.  Unlike lots of people, it hasn’t flown by-it’s been AMAZING.  I’ve never had so much fun in my life and I’ve certainly never loved so much.  And “kissing nine” this morning, well that was pretty special.  I’m sure I’ll be a bigger wreck next year when you hit the double digits.  

It’s been you and me for so long, and this past year, when we moved in with the boys and got married, well it’s been a much harder adjustment for your mommy than for you.  I’ve never really been good at sharing you.  That’s why I didn’t give birth to you until the day they were scheduled to induce you to come out.  I like you being mine all mine.  I know that’s selfish, but I just enjoy so much about you.  That attitude is amazing.  Where did that come from?  You have so much of your Daddy too.  His creative side, the musical side, the laid back demeanor-that’s him.  The hyper, perky, childlike fun side…ha, ha, that’s your momma.  Silly faces and endless giggling to the point where we can’t breathe…oh yeah, momma again.   There are some days I miss our alone life so very much.  We still spend lots of alone time, but it’s very different.  You love being a “family”.  You love being surrounded by more people than I do.  B, you are going to do really great things.  Yes, even greater than showing your mommy what real love is.  

I of course, got you tons of presents.  But when I went to work yesterday, I played Tim McGraw’s song “My Little Girl” (the one we did a video of you with for your Daddy’s birthday this year), and I realized one thing.  This whole job decision has been so hard because of a comfort zone issue.  But I have the option now to choose the most important thing-time with you.  Thank you for being the one steady constant in the five years of single motherhood.  The reason I got up.  The person I crawled into bed with on all those long, lonely nights.  Your breath and warm skin soothed me more than you will ever know.  

I choose you baby.  I’m letting go of my fear of depending on someone financially and I’m jumping into a risky prospect because you won’t need any daycare or any summer care.  For the next nine years-I choose you.  I choose to spend time with you and love you and wake up with summers full of no obligation.  I may have to pull out all the stops someday and find another job or something, but for now, I’m going to take this one.  And choose…you.

What message am I sending?

I feel confused lately.  I try to teach my daughter that she’s perfect and beautiful just as she is.  Every day of her life, she has heard “You are a beautiful, amazing, creative girl, and your mommy loves you very much” (followed by three kisses and a huge hug and a sniff of her glorious scent and there you have B’s bedtime ritual-in a nutshell).  Yet, I took this beautiful child:

(at three years old)

(taking a photo of herself last Saturday-this is what happens when you let her take photos at a family event such as my Dad’s birthday)

About half an hour before going to the orthodontist on Monday.  Age 8.

And outside the orthodontists office, with palate expander and braces…headgear only for night.

My point is, every night, I have to turn the key on this thing:

(not hers, just a sample photo of the one similar to what she has)

…and I feel that I’m putting her through this pain and drama all so she can have “perfect” teeth.  Am I sending the girl mixed messages or what?  The orthodontist had me convinced that it was legitimate and would be better than doing it later in life.  And B actually wanted braces, so that was ok.  She likes the actual braces (and since the most common question is “what color did she get?”, I will answer that one now, she got pink, orange, dark purple and light purple).  The headgear is a pain at night, but she sleeps fine with it, so maybe it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.  And supposedly the headgear is only for about 6 months with the palate expander.  Braces are about a year for this first phase.  Later on she could need another phase, but it will be shorter than the traditional teenage years.  

I adore this child.  I wish I didn’t have to sit here at work and worry so much that she might be in pain.  But hey, last night she ate mac and cheese and a few small bites of pizza and a yogurt!!!  And not all that much got stuck in the expander!

She’s going on vacation with her Dad and family this weekend for a week about eleven hours away and I’m so sad.  I’ll miss my girl.  Every other weekend, both kids are at their other parents and we plan all the stuff we need to get out of the way for those times.  Her Dad told her last night that he could “let her stay with Mommy” on Friday night since she’d be gone.  Um, sure wish he’d asked me.  We had made appointments and plans for the whole weekend and how can I possibly say that to B?  She’ll always choose to be with me. The funny part is, he’s home that night.  And live in girlfriend will already be headed to the vacation house.  Hmmm, wonder why he wants to be “free” that night?  Could it be he’s still the same guy he was when  our marriage fell apart?  The zebra can’t change his stripes and all that. The sad part?  B was so excited to possibly get to spend the night alone with him.  She wanted him to lay with her while she fell asleep and talk.  😦  Jerk.  My husband said, “she can come with us.  We’ll drop her off at the marina before we head to VT.”  And he’s right.  And I’m grateful he loves being around her as much as I do.  But it still makes me sad.  For my girl especially…we’ll see how it plays out.

I slept HERE last night…

And it was so nice!  Except we aren’t in our normal dock space so we were really close to the restaurant/bar at the marina and it was Ladies Night.  Loud thumping music, but we fell asleep anyway.  😉

I snuggled up with my little princess and slept with her until she slugged me in the head with her sleep flailing.  Then I moved into the aft cabin with the hubby and slept until our alarm went off.  It was so sunny and gorgeous on the lake I SO did not want to come to work but…typical girl moment here, I have a hair appointment up here near work today and no way was I missing THAT!  😉

Sleeping on the boat all weekend with books and some work that I need to get done and hopefully getting a little sun on this pale Irish skin.  And I really, really need some time with New Husband.  🙂  We’ve been so busy and seeing each other at bedtime and breakfast just doesn’t really cut it!

And my little Sullivan dog is a good boater!  He slept all night!