Bonus Mom Belittling

f0bf10de1b2829ec29ae132b0aa0d974-brown-eyed-girls-step-daughters.jpg

The Bible says, “Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later.  Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.” (1Timothy 5:24-25)

I sometimes feel like that with my bonus children; like my good works are not seen by their mothers. I don’t need them to be seen, or a fuss made over it, but it seems like there is no consideration for my position in caring for their children.

I have a truly blended family. Three households are involved. Anthony’s mom has one child.  Tanya has two.  I have four!

My family dynamic changes with each addition of each child as they come. Currently, I have Anthony and Jazmine. A few days ago, I had Scott, Anthony, and Jazmine. A few days prior to that I had Bella, Scott, Anthony, and Jazmine. Each addition or subtraction adds a new dynamic. For example, if both boys are there, they will play mostly with each other. If one son is there, he will give more attention to Jazmine.

Each woman wants her will executed in my household. I am not a babysitter.  I do my best to make sure each bonus child is cared for in the ways that are needed for them as well as collectively for our household. That in itself is an undertaking and requires very delicate hands. To then hear talk that does not take any of that into account is belittling.

Praise God that He sees me!

(Originally penned 2012)

Advertisements

Something About Forgiveness

Forgiveness…freeing relief.

images-2

Forgive them even if they are not sorry

It was a hard weekend.  We had a full house. Our Bella is a few weeks shy of being adult. We also have two teenage boys, our seven-year old, and our infant. We had a lot of life in just a few days.

Our almost grown daughter is EXACTLY like her mother except even more so. In all the ways I can not stand Tanya, Bella is her twin. It was hard interacting with someone who’s character rubs me all the wrong way.  I excise those with similar character traits from my life but I cannot excise Bella. I wanted to.  I, truth be told, even tried to, but it was not the right thing to do. I couldn’t do it.

How to deal. How to deal…

I didn’t realize just how stressed I was until they, Bella, Anthony, and Scott, left. As soon as they left, I felt a heavy weight. I felt horrible. I felt so far away from God. I longed for fellowship with Him once more but couldn’t figure out what was blocking it. So, to try to fix things, I started confessing everything.  I thought maybe I had hardened my heart to being obedient in some of my other relationships so I began telling God that I would do whatever He wanted me to. I would call and initiate talks, whatever He wanted, I would be obedient to.  I wanted to be right with Him and I was desperate to do whatever He asks of me. After confessing things that I wasn’t even sure I was wrong for, nothing happened.  I still felt far from Him.  I thought I must have gotten something wrong.

I did.  I did get something wrong.

 

But it wasn’t what I thought it was. It wasn’t unconfessed deeds I had unknowingly committed. It wasn’t being hard-hearted. My sin, what was blocking me from being in fellowship with God was unforgiveness.

images-3

I had harbored EVERYTHING said or done by Bella, Anthony, Scott, and Tanya that was out-and-out wrong or rubbed me the wrong way.  I did not realize the weight unforgiveness carries. Immediately, I started forgiving.  I told God I forgave each person.  I went line item by line item of just plain wrongs, offenses, and perceived offensives, that I received from each person in the past five days. I said, “God, I forgive so-and-so for this specific offense. I hated that this was done towards me but I forgive them.” Heartfelt, total, complete forgiveness.

I was riding in the car at the time, my husband driving, my girls in the back seat. I’d closed my eyes and prayed, forgiving for a few miles. The peace! The sweet sweet peace! The washing refreshing of right fellowship with God. No more unseen but severely felt barrier between me and my Master. Bella, Anthony, Scott, or Tanya, I could see any one of them now and treat them with a clean slate. No mental playback. No harboring hurts.

images-1

I AM FREE!

 

 

Ugh. Feeling Some Kind Of Way.

Bella’s 16th birthday bash is going on as we speak.  I was never invited to go. My name was never specifically mentioned.  Jazmine was mentioned but not me.  No problem.  Didn’t bother me not one bit.

In the days preceding tonight, A LOT went on; so much so that if it were up to my husband and I, Ms. Bella would not have had a party tonight. However that is not my call and my decision to stay home was not a result of this.

My decision to stay home had everything to do with Tanya.  She was calling, passive aggressively, for all hands on deck to help serve and set up at the party.  By all hands on deck I mean my family and Brian’s extended family.  Anyone she could name that was local, she wanted to know if they were coming so they could help. I took immediate issue with that.  First, neither she nor Bella have a relationship with anyone of them. Yes, we are all family but no relationship has been cultivated.  Not because we have not tried but because our attempts have been blocked and, in recent years, Bella has not shown an interest either.  It is only when $omething is needed or the-more-people-we-have-the-better-we-look event comes up that folk want to rally the troops.  That is usury and I am not for that at all.  Second, my husband is Bella’s father; not just a pair of hands to be used at will.  Third, I don’t like the tone she takes on when speaking to my husband when it comes time to break down parties.  I have heard it before and never stepped in but now, I would step in and not hold back. Fourth, I would not be there to be an extra pair of hands.  I would purposefully not help because I don’t like disorganization nor do I like the you-are-family-only-when-I-need-you-attitude.  There have been enough digs toward my husband this week and I need not be around hearing any.

I was solid in my decision up until everybody left for the party.

Jazmine stayed with me. I have enough angst with her being in Bella’s environment as it is.  Not because I think her mother’s family would harm her but that their negative words and put-downs would reach her ears.  People tend to run in a very high gear when it’s event time and I have seen these folk in low tide and it’s still not peachy.

My husband took a trusted friend with him to help him set up and serve at the party. My mother-in-law, who up until the last 24hrs, wasn’t going decided to go.  We didn’t know the venue address until yesterday and only found out the date of the party two weeks ago; mind you Tanya has been planning this shindig since January. No joke.

Once everyone left, I started feeling, well, left out.  Once my husband called to say how nice it looked and how much I would have enjoyed it, I started feeling like I was really missing out.

I think I am feeling guilty. In my guilty state, I have made apple cake tatin, apple butter, kale chips, and I am about to make a sweetened condensed milk pound cake. No worries about me eating any.  I just want to busy myself with something productive.

I know I had my reasons to stay home.  I truly don’t think that my presence would have added to the party.  I am now wondering if Bella, who once used to enjoy my company, will look back and take issue that I wasn’t there.

I am the type to call a spade a spade.  I must call this what it is.  A stepmom fail.

 

Wants Vs. Needs

The wants versus needs debate knows no more of a fertile feuding ground then in a blended family.

I’ve listened to and been apart of these conversations with girlfriends, family, coworkers, acquaintances. It all comes down to defining a “thing” as a want or a need.

For Jazmine’s birthday, I started to hound after face painting supplies to paint the children’s faces after I saw the cost to have a professional come to the party. I started to get tunnel vision and used buzz words/phrases such as ‘need’, ‘have to’, and ‘must’ when speaking of those supplies.  It wasn’t until I took a moment and stepped back from planning to see what was really needed and what was a Mommy want that I was able to see things in perspective.

I remember another time when Jazmine was four or five months old, that I took her to the doctor for some bumps she had on her face.  I told the doctor that the bumps weren’t bothering her and she had no other symptoms of any kind but that I made the appointment due to Mommy paranoia. The physician was relieved to see my honesty  and eased my fears.

In blended families, each parent has to be  honest with what is a want vs. a need; Mommy/Daddy paranoia vs. real problems.

This want vs. need issue is not based on the physical distance of the child and their non-custodial parent as I originally thought.  I thought that if we lived closer (in the same school district) of our children, that the want vs. need issue would be solved. Ha! Wrong.

Organized sports, scented body wash/lotion, popular hair styles, current fashions, braces, extra curricular activities, the list goes on and on.  Those topics are hot buttons for parents in blended families and, more times than not, these issues are caught in the want vs need debate. Those topics remain the same regardless of the sex of the child. (Axe body care wants our sons y’all).  Each parent has a vision for their child. Each parent wants to see their thumbprint on their child.  When either parent has an idea (self-professed need) for their child that is not agreed on my the other, it is taken personally and leads to an all out war.  This war only comes if the ‘need’ requires time or money to back it.  If time or money weren’t an issue, there would never be a war because that parent would be able to accomplish their ‘need’ without assistance.  Required assistance is what drives the want vs. need debate.  When help is needed to accomplish something, a permission of sorts is sought. If permission is not granted, then the battle begins because no one wants to hear that their ‘need’ is really a want.

(sigh)…And such the life of a blended family.

 

 

 

 

You Can’t Take His Mother Out Of Him

I always thought Bella was the Tanya carrier. Her mother’s thumbprint is all over her (as it should be).  I did not occur to me that Scott would be her likeness as well.

Boy were my eyes opened these past two weeks.

Scott…..Scott.

The boy won’t answer a question directly regardless of how succinctly I ask it!  It’s always got to be extra!  Me – Scott, did you eat breakfast.  Scott – Well, sort of.  Me – Scott, what do you mean sort of?  Either you ate breakfast or you didn’t!  Scott – Well I started to eat breakfast but I didn’t get a chance to finish it because Jazmine asked me to get her something to eat and then Anthony was in the way (Anthony interjects that he was not in Scott’s way) so I couldn’t get back to my food.     Me – (I stand there with my mouth open looking completely exasperated).

Conversations like that went on for TWO WEEKS STRAIGHT! I finally said, “Boy! Why can’t you just answer a question with a straight answer?!!!!!? Why does it always have to be extra!!???!!!”  One of my husband’s cousins said that Scott was melodramatic.  She hit the nail right on the head.

The boy drained me.

I kept trying to figure out how to excise that melodramatic crap out of him. It wasn’t until I heard myself say to myself, ‘I’ve got to get that Tanya crap out of him’, that it dawned on me.  I can’t get his mother out of him!  That’s his Momma! My job is not to excise her from him! As much as I can’t stand her, she is not a terrible mother.  She loves that boy, cares for him, and raises him.  Trying to remove Tanya’s mark from Scott is a pointless job because it only leads to frustration and puts more of a strain on our (Scott and I) relationship.  Scott is Tanya’s son…not mine.

What makes this relationships so challenging is that I can’t stand Tanya’s personality and I do not associate with any hints of it from anyone.  Her children carry her traits and my immediate response of revulsion to those traits put me on the defensive.  I can’t keep that mess out of my circle because those traits are in her children and her children are in my circle.  That is so irksome but once I stopped trying to remove that bloody melodramatic crap from him, and stopped trying to guide (correct) him at every turn, I was much more at ease.  I still speak succinctly, but I do not engage in his melodramatic responses. Now, if I can just remember all of this the next time he comes…

 

 

Single Mother By Choice DOES NOT EQUAL Single Mother by default

A Facebook friend of mine, whom I have known since high school, wrote this as her status today.  I can surmise that this well said thought came to be in print after hearing another woman complain about her woes of single-motherhood.  My friend wrote,

Sometimes I wish people really understood what a single mother really is. Just being alone or separated or divorced does not make you a single mother!!! That make you a mother that’s single totally different. Don’t take title if you don’t know what one is. That’s an insult to US real single mothers who in MY definition is a mother who does not have help/assistance or even communications from the child’s father AT ALL she goes day in and day out doing for her child ALL ALONE. No one picks them up from school no alternate contact if the child is sick to take to the doctors or pick up from here or there. If you have a MAN who is there and wants to be a FATHER to his child then let him be. Because there are SINGLE mothers like myself that would love to have argument about who gets to spend time with the child and someone to help with the day in and day out discipline of a child. This is no title I EVER wanted but I have it and I carry this mf’er with HONOR! Check ya self boo and dry your tear… trust me it could be way HARDER!!!

I love this whole piece but I believe my most favorite part is when she says, “Just being alone or separated or divorced does not make you a single mother!!!” I am pretty sure I briefly mentioned the email and text Tanya sent my husband accusing him of being an absent father.  Tanya said she does everything on her own; takes Bella everywhere, buys all of her needs and wants, and defends my husband against Bella and Scott when they vent their anger to her expressing their displeasure about not having something when they perceive us as having more.   As I said before, I rejected that text and email immediately. I understood it to be a frustrated woman seeking to place blame with the only other person(s) available. Tanya has said several times in the past that she could not understand why she can do and it’s just her and we can’t and there are two of us.

Reading my friend’s status really hones in on what I know and what I’ve been saying. You can not excise a parent who wants to be involved out of a child’s life and then expect them to show up like gang busters when you need something. If a woman chooses to be a single mother (allowing the father limited access meaning allowing access that only fits in with what her wants are) then you get what you pay for.

We have been duped so many times by Tanya that for a few years now, we have received it as her common practice.  The real shame of it all is that Bella now does the same EXACT thing. One example; Tanya called to tell us Bella made the honor roll.  We rejoiced with Bella and planned a nice rewarding weekend for her. My husband asked her to bring her report card and she did.  Her report card had an “honor roll” stamp on it BUT Bella had a C and a D on there as well.  That is no honor roll in our books. Tanya saw the report card.  She knew the grades yet she said nothing about them; only stressing honor roll to us. We had already told Bella what her reward was going to be. We did express our thoughts on the C and D but honestly, we were both so stupefied by Tanya’s actions.

Things like that create an environment of mistrust.  Even when an adult needs real help, because the mistrust is so severe, it’s like the girl who cried wolf.  That is what I am dealing with.  I am dealing with a woman who is a single mother but chooses to label herself as a single mother with an absentee father when that is not the case.  I found it very affirming that my friend expressed the same thoughts but stated from a “real” single-mothers view.

 

Just Call Me StepMom

It happened over the course of time.

I want to explain how I got here but I don’t want to get in the habit of feeling that I have to defend myself.  For so long I’ve explained to every single person I’ve developed a relationship with what I’ve tried to do as a bonus mom and how desperately hard I’ve tried to avoid being labeled or seen as a step mom in every way.

I’m over it now.  Call me step-mom.  I certainly feel like one.

I barely ask my husband how the kids are doing.  I don’t ask him if they or when they are to come over.  I don’t plan anything with them in mind…and I don’t feel bad about it.  I know how I came to this place.  Well, to be completely honest, I was pushed here but I don’t need that explanation to shield myself from any negative comment made about how I operate as a stepmom now.

It occurred to me this evening as I was reading to Jazmine and thinking about tomorrows tasks that neither Bella, Scott, nor Anthony were on my radar. I don’t feel guilty.  Amazingly, I feel free!  I hold on no longer to thinking that if I think about my bonus children enough, I become a better bonus mom and thereby push myself even further away from being the dreaded step mom.

Nope.  No more.  Just call me step-mom.

Like Michal

I was reading 2 Samuel 21 when I came across verse 8 which reads,

“So the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, and the five sons of Michal[a] the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite;”.

I had to read that a few times (feel free to do so here) and look up the references listed in the footnotes below (at Biblegateway) to make sure I read this right.  To the best of my knowledge, from what I read and referenced, Michal, Saul’s daughter and one of David’s wives, was a step-mother!

Well blow me down!

Nothing is new under the sun and I know step mommyhood is not new but to find it blaring at me in the very Word of God surprised the heck out of me!  I often try to find myself in God’s Word; try to find my circumstance, my feelings, my thought process without much hope that I will find it.  Then, there are times like this when I find exactly who I am in the very pages of God’s precious Word!  There is such a stigma of being a step-mother that finding it in the very Word of God comforts me in a way I can’t fully express.  The Bible says Michal brought up (raised) five sons for Adirel.  Those were, in essence, her boys!  Michal, if you recall, had no children (2 Samuel 6:23) but she was able to raise sons.

This is so encouraging to me.  I hope it encourages you as well.

 

Blog Envy

I started this stinking blog March 25, 2010.  It was slow at first.  I published my first post and thought that because God had led me to do this blog that it was going to take off like wild-fire.  I expected at least 100 people I did not know to find this blog and subscribe to it.  (Please continue to read while you snicker).

I kept at it.  I reduced the frequency of the posts because at times, two posts a week was very taxing.  I also had to learn that I could not be as transparent as I’d like to be in order to protect my bonus children.   I know I had to grow through those rungs and, in my personal humble but correct opinion, I was succeeding and enjoyed the tri-weekly incremental growth in visits to this blog.

….that is until today.

I had blog envy.

When I publish quality, helpful information, I would like it to be seen and know that it did accomplish the goal I hoped it would.  Heck, I might even want to see a comment to attest to that fact.  I’ve gotten used to this not happening in an earth shattering number of views per day, but seeing the success of other blogs…its hard to not think, “when is it going to happen for me?”  It is hard to see such success when you (seemingly) work just as hard at blogging as another but under a lessor liberty.

A mom acquaintance of mine just started a blog recently. I was happy for her.  I know first hand how therapeutic blogging can be to provide an outlet for the non-wifommy* in us all.  I read her first post and, once it catches on, she is going places.  I experienced a flash in the pan jealousy that she could publish her blog on her personal Facebook page. Ah! I remember those days.  Talk about readership!

(Now, to those of you faithful few who read this blog, I want you to know that I appreciate you and thank you for thinking I have something of value to say.  I do not write this post to slight you but to, yet again, share my experience in hopes to help someone else.)

I confessed my jealously as sin as soon as I acknowledged the thought.  I will continue to confess it to Christ each and every time it raises its ugly head until it’s frequency decreases and, Lord willing, ceases altogether.  Until that day, I will continue to publish posts on this blog fledgling and watch God do what He do.

 

 

 

*Non-wifommy is not anti-wifommy (wifommy being wife and mother combined).  Non-wifommy is the part of you that is just you.  Non-wifommy Xara is just Xara; no hashtags attached (#marriedliferocks  #homeschool  #momofpreschooler)

Oh Yes She Did!!!

I practice what I believe.  I trust in God.  I did not succumb to the very likely subculture that was in its conception two weeks ago.  I trusted in God.

The following day, Brian received a phone call from Tanya.  She said she would rather my husband and Jazmine not enter her home.  I will admit, per my husband, she did it very tactfully.  She said she did not mean to be offensive but she would prefer they not enter her home.  Even if I had come along, I would not have entered her home.  I have no desire to be there. Brian and Jazmine have always entered her home when he’s gone to pick them up so this was new to hear.

My husband was not offended and told her as much.  He later told me he was concerned for how Bella and Scott would feel because this would be new for them. He did not desire a you-wait-outside-for-your-children pick up situation.  I was all for it but he had his concerns.  He is fine with it now though.  I told him that Tanya would address this with Bella and Scott because she has to explain the rules of her household to them.

My reaction???

HALLELUJAH!!!!!   Woohoo!!!!    YIPPEE!!!   I am so glad!!!!

She wouldn’t be coming in my house anyway and this way it’s even keel all across the board.  YAY!!!!  I might even go with them the next time 🙂