July Is Coming

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It seems like the more that happens in my life, the more I can’t talk about it.

I wish I could tell it all but, as I said in the very beginning, I write what I’m lead as I am led to.

July is coming fast.  I have been gearing up for it since May.  July is when I have my oldest son for the entire month.  It is also when we requested to have my daughter and youngest son spend as much time as they can with us this summer.  The thought always seems really good at the beginning but the closer July comes, the more anxious I get.

I have been on a journey to improve my home management skills.  I am not willing to go into detail about the specifics right now but it is quite an overhaul for me.  I’ve had to learn to think differently and do a better job at managing my time.  It hasn’t been easy. The more I try, the more I feel like I’m failing.  Each week is a new opportunity to learn from my mistakes but it has also proven to be a new week where I fall short in the very same areas I’ve been trying to improve.  By fall short, I mean, I am not even up to par with what used to be normal for me before I started to change!  It is quite exasperating.

Long story short, I already feel like I am walking on shaky ground while trying to find my legs in all of this and to add three children from two different households to the mix is starting to stress me out! It is one thing to fall short. It is another thing to fall short publicly. It is another thing entirely to fall short publicly in front of people who watch your mistakes with glasses on!

The audience itself is enough to make me not want to try; to know that my every movement is silently critiqued and discussed later. But try I must if I am to improve.  If I don’t keep my eye on the goal, I won’t get there. When I fall, because I am sure I will, I will fall forward. Praise God my husband has my back.

(Originally penned 2011)

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Bonus Mom Belittling

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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)

Bella’s Graduation

She’s finished!

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That’s it!

Part one of our state’s child support mandate has been completed. The second part, turning 18, won’t come into fruition until later this year.

I screamed and hollered at Bella’s graduation. I cheered as loud as I dared while wearing my 3 month old, however, I had to be honest as to why I was hollering and cheering so earnestly.  Although I was excited about it, it had little to do with celebrating her accomplishments and had the whole to do with the drama filled 18 year span (14 of which I was a part of) coming to a close.

No more birthday parties.  No more major holidays. No more Summer vacations. No more visitation. No more calls for money. No more using my husband.

NO MORE!

Will we see Bella for her birthday, holidays, vacations, on weekends?  Hopefully so but we don’t have to deal with her mother anymore. We don’t have to deal with her insults, put downs, condescending tone, or demeanor.  No more “change of plans” which was code for us having to do something different to accommodate her. No more last-minute calls about things Bella is involved in, expecting us to show up. No more cries for help in the form of a humble-brag (“I work too hard to have no breaks and no time to myself.”) never once asking for what you want. No more trips to court. No more fear that she might lie again and take my husband back for more money.  No more forced encounters. No more!

When I said goodbye to all adults present at her graduation dinner, it was a permanent goodbye.  I don’t have to see those people EVER again! There is no upcoming event on the horizon with which I (nor my husband) am obligated to be a part of.  We don’t have to share space with Tanya (Bella’s mom) any more! All communication about and with regards to Bella can come directly from Bella herself.

I have waited long for this day.  It seemed like it would never come.  At times, it seemed like it would be thwarted.  I am so grateful that it was not! LIBERATION! EMANCIPATION!

I feel so free!

I don’t have to put up with those adults any longer! They can miscommunicate all they want and it not affect me.  They can deflect all they want and it not effect me!  They can create all the drama in the world and it will not effect me!

If you, or someone you know, are still in the throes of the 18 year span, be encouraged.  The end will come.  I can not say that it won’t be paved with tears, heart ache, and unnecessarily hurt feelings, but the end will come!

I can’t even say it is a bitter-sweet end.  It’s just sweet.

Blending Family Tension

A loved one contacted me recently about a problem she was having in her home. She too has a blended family. She too has an older big kid and a baby of her own.  Her husband left her big kid in charge of the baby while he ran an errand.  My loved one was at work at the time. Later that evening, her big kid said that the baby was crying for her father when he left.  The big kid let the baby cry at the closed bedroom door.  The baby was lying on the floor at the closed bedroom door.  The big kid took a picture of the scene and showed her father and my loved one.

My loved one was understandably upset.  She didn’t understand why her big kid didn’t walk her baby downstairs and try to soothe her. She asked the big kid and her response was that she was trying to go back to sleep. My loved one was none pleased that her child was left to cry on the floor at the closed bedroom door while the 17 year old just laid there.

I understood all too well how she felt and what she was feeling. Neither of us raised our big kids.  They aren’t where we would like them to be in regards to caring for their younger siblings. Both of our big kids have younger siblings in their mother’s homes that they were allowed to treat and behave towards in ways we would not have allowed.  Our big kids now treat our babies the way they treated their in-house siblings.  I think they treat our babies even more undesirably.

As mother’s, we aim to protect our babies from ALL alarm. This includes our big kids if they display attitudes and behaviors that we deem unbecoming. Had her big kid’s behavior come from any other person, I believe her husband would have put his foot in their behind but because said behavior came from his teenage daughter, there is leeway given. We, wives and mothers of the baby, do not understand this leeway. We wives and mothers of the baby, have to temper how we respond to our husbands to keep peace with them. We want to implore that that behavior is unacceptable.  We want to prevent our big kids from EVER watching our littles again.We have identified a threat to our cubs and, as mothers, want to stomp it out but we have to balance this instinct with maintaining harmony with our husbands.

I have not found a resolution to this.  I have not found an effective way to communicate with my husband that produces the same urgency to address bad behaviors to my baby that occur when he is not home. As with my loved one, such infractions occur when he is not present. Big kids stay in line when Daddy is present but (can) show claws when he is not. I have not found a solution on how to change it so my big kid respects me in what is and isn’t acceptable behavior between siblings in our household. In my home, Bella doesn’t want anything to do with baby Grace and has limited her interactions with Jazmine. She doesn’t seem interested in my girls and I am fine with that.  I didn’t desire that.  I thought Bella would continue to care and want to be around Jazmine like she did 7 years ago but that didn’t happen. My Bella wants her father. Period.  I have no problem with that but her desire comes with her treating me and my girls marginally. She does not embrace the whole so we can all coexist.  She has created barriers and division under the “quality time with father” banner.

And there it is. That is the state of affairs. I hate that is is common in blended families.  I hate that their is no go-to solution to change it.  I think it will remain that way until the next season of Bella’s life. I wish there was a way to figure this out and make it right but….I have yet to come up with anything. So, as Mommy of Jazmine and baby Grace, I stand sentinel, protecting my cubs against all who would do them harm. Since the big sister position is a powerful one in a siblings life, I am WATCHFUL of Bella’s interactions; keeping eyes and ears open for her projecting her feelings about me or her father and I, verbally or even physically towards my girls.  Mama ain’t havin’ it.

 

 

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.

 

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 🙂