Distance Parenting and Selfishness

We had a heartbreaking conversation with my oldest stepson over the weekend. His mother told his father that he had been having some behavioral issues the past couple of weeks, and thus the topic came up with him.

He choked back tears and tried to bury his face as he explained to us that he frequently gets angry because he feels like he doesn’t get to see his dad enough. I feel you kid, I do. I felt the exact same way when I was a kid. Pair that with the fact that before my step kids will give me a hug goodbye when they have to leave us, they look over their shoulders to see if their mother is looking… It’s heartbreaking. They fear having a relationship with me out in the open because of her reactions, as could be seen by the first time my stepson gave me a hug in public in her presence at a hockey game.

This is not the first time the kids have complained that they miss dad, feel like they don’t see him enough, and have acted out in protest of leaving our home. My husband tried to raise these concerns, but was met with great resistance, per the usual. The suggestion to try to come up with a solution so that the kids would feel more balanced was denied. The kids’ concerns were passed off as attempts to pit one parent against the other. I feel like everything was just brushed off as if it were nothing, as if our home is treated as nothing more than miniature vacations for the kids.

Mom and Dad live about an hour’s distance from one another. While yes, that would make a week on / week off situation exceedingly difficult and stressful for the kids due to school and travel inconveniences, there are still ways to work around that. Unfortunately at the time of arrangements, our budget didn’t allow for an attorney to negotiate for the kids’ time to be more balanced between both of their parents. Because of that, they only get to spend every other weekend, some holidays, and two weeks in the summer, and two additional weeks upon request with their dad. (Only every other weekend because she stated she felt she couldn’t get enough quality time with them through the week while they’re in school, even though she hasn’t been back to work in a year and a half.) To date, all of aforementioned requests for extra days with the kids have been denied. The extra time they’re supposed to have here during Christmas and long weekends have cause many arguments between their biological parents thus far.

Why can’t something be arranged for the sake of the kids? Why? Because of anger and bitterness still? Because of jealousy? What is it? Why can’t they spend a few hours one evening each week with their dad? Why can’t they spend 3/4 of their weekends with their dad instead of once every two weeks? Why can’t they spend the majority of their time off from school with dad? I don’t understand it. Children are collateral damage when it comes to divorce. Divorce doesn’t mean that they have to suffer. Listen to your kids’ complaints and try to do something. Try to be there for them without making them feel like trash for loving someone in addition to you. Try to accommodate a balance in their lives instead of letting them continue to feel strung along.

I don’t understand selfish people.

Wind Down

Wow, it’s been a hell of a February. We had co-parenting conflicts, financial burden, immigration chaos, car problems, stomach viruses, a light case of depression, everything. If it could go wrong, it did go wrong.

I feel like I’ve hardly been able to keep my feet on the ground this past month. In turn, that made me take a step away from a lot of online presences in order to help recoup my sense of self. Car problems led to being cooped up in the house, which led to cabin fever, which led to feeling very bleh, like I had no sense of purpose at that moment. From there, I spent a couple weeks criticizing every little thing about myself, from the little bit weight I’ve gained to how gross my hair and skin feel from climate change, to . Which is peculiar because, well, I’m pretty awesome and since my early to mid 20’s, have always loved myself no matter my shape, size, mood, or anything. I rock!

Winding down and decompressing has been a priority. I took the liberty of prepping my bullet journal so that I can set myself up for success in journaling in March. After a multitude of different types and styles, I’ve finally found a hot tea that I enjoy and can wind down with. I’ve also gotten all of my crocheting and knitting projects competed (for the moment.) Spring cleaning has been a thing, getting everything organized and tidied up.

What things do you guys do to wind down and recoup?

Happiness

It’s half past midnight. I’m restless.

I’m laying in bed next to my husband, who is fast asleep. He’s not quite snoring, but I can hear by how he’s breathing that he’s deep in La La Land.

I hear the bubbling of our humidifier across the room. The scent of the sweet orange extract that I added to the water fills the air. It’s soothing and nice. Aside from my husband and humidifier, there’s silence. Oh wait. I think the dog is snoring too. I find myself quite relaxed.

My mind can’t help but to wander a little bit. The last 1/4 of a year, life has been a roller coaster. I was nearly hospitalized from mold in the walls of my home. I drove 1500 miles to stay with my now husband in Canada until it was sorted out, and ended up staying. I left a job of 10 years as a biproduct. Holidays were welcomed, but crazy, as I started navigating a special part of my step childrens’ lives. My grandfather passed away, which started a family fues. Then there was the wedding planning and the actual wedding. And throughout the whole process, turning around and going a completely different direction with becoming a legal permanent resident of Canada.

It was a lot.

Despite everything that’s gone on, I can’t help but to stop and be in complete awe. For the first time in a very long time (or if ever?) I am genuinely happy. Oddly, that’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes. It’s nice.

Which gets me thinking further. I have lived a hard life in my 30something years of being on this Earth. Happiness has never been on the front burner for me. Most of my life was spent in survival mode. I didn’t truly learn or feel that I was genuinely worthy of being loved or deserving of happiness until the relationship with my husband. It was something that I felt was very passive in my life. Now, I embrace and welcome it. I wake each morning with a smile. I love myself and allow myself to be happy. It sounds so simple, but it was a struggle for so many years.

So my readers, if you’re struggling, hang in there. Look within yourself. Find peace in the little things around you. And try to allow yourself to be happy. And then do it again. And again.

The Step Parent

My library card gives me the ability to check out e-books in lieu of going to the library. Which is convenient since I live 1500 miles from my home branch. So every week I check out a new book and give it a whirl.

I saw a book about how to be a better stepmom. Sold! Sign me up! I follow several blogs and social media accounts that are supportive of step-parents, so I figured a book would be pretty awesome. I’m not a mom by biology, I’m a mom by choice. I didn’t get 9 months to start a relationship with my kids before they got here. I didn’t have the ability to figure things out before they came into this world. I fell in love with a man that already had children and just have to figure it all out as I go. Thankfully I do an amazing job, (mostly because I lived with what NOT to do growing up,) and reading how to blend families and how to navigate this role is always helpful.

Except that book.

I mean sure, maybe it’s helpful to some folks, but holy negativity, Batman! I was reading about problems where men weren’t considering the feelings of their current wives. Issues where expectations were never clear, and the unit didn’t actually work together. Disagreements about parenting. Not standing up for their beliefs, not setting or respecting boundaries. A whole slew of problems that I couldn’t wrap my head around. If you’re not on the same page, why get married? I can understand friction if say 5 years in someone decides against having kids, but you went into the marriage understanding you were eventually going to have children together. But this book sorta focused on fairly new marriages and problems incurred as a step parent in said newer marriage.

I do think it’s unfair to tell a step parent that they shouldn’t complain because they knew what they were signing up for. Yes, I fell in love with a man with kids. Yes, I knew I’d have to be a step mom. Yes, I knew there would be times that we would struggle. I knew my life would have constraints of custody orders and parenting time schedules. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have room to complain when something is happening that isn’t in the best interest of the kids, something is unexpected, or something unfair. Life isn’t always lemonade and sunshine ya know?

Anywho, before you marry someone, before you make the choice to be a step parent, before you make life long commitments, do your homework. Have discussions about serious topics and hypothetical situations. Maybe even consider going to couples counseling beforehand. Find means to communicate together, understand your struggles and strengths. Learn how to be each other’s rock. Your relationship with your spouse that has children isn’t just about you.

I think I’ll skip this book and move forward to my selection about bullet journaling….

We Don’t Deserve Dogs

Today, a previous coworker of mine announced a heartbreaking tragedy. Her dog of 9 years passed away. They had been working with a vet to treat her for back pain, but turned out that she had cancer. Tears streamed down my face and into my coffee as I wept over the loss of a dog I hadn’t even met before.

My own dog jumped into my lap and licked my nose.

Alas, I should probably write an ode to Hannah, but I didn’t know her. I did, however, know her love. Because the love of a dog is like no other.

We don’t deserve dogs.

There are no words for how much I love my dog, Jack. He’s somewhere around 5 years old right now, and with any luck, I’ll won’t have to say goodbye for a decade. You see, this dog has literally saved my life.

“Do you want a dog?” I really didn’t at the time. I was close to graduating from college, life was a bit wishy-washy, and I felt like garbage all the time. But, out of pity, I asked if I could do a trial run to see if he would have been a good fit for my lifestyle. The moment Jack entered my arms, I knew I wasn’t going to let him go.

He smelled. Bad. His bath water was black by the time I was done washing him. He was barely 6 pounds and at over a year old, he still had baby teeth that had to be surgically removed. To say he was skittish was an understatement.

Jack and I took some puppy training classes together in order to get him to trust me. I got him into a vet to fix his teeth, remove a deformed dewclaw, and put some meat on his bones. Within a few weeks, I became this dog’s person.

Little did I know that his nose knows. I had a diabetic episode in the middle of the night. Jack did everything he could to alert me, despite being terrified of EVERYTHING. And thus a service dog was born. We expanded our obedience training into scent training as well. I applied what I knew from cadaver dog training and EMS into Jack. He became my new glucometer!

As years passed, Jack became my best friend and became my travel companion too. My husband was the first person he felt comfortable around aside from me, which in a way, helped seal our fates. Jack even moved to Canada with me. ❤️ And he extended his love to my husband’s kids too, becoming the greatest early morning babysitter in the world, spinning in circle chasing his tail endlessly, to make our youngest giggle.

So Hannah, rear easy dear girl. Though I didn’t know you, I’m glad to know that you’re no longer suffering. I’ll miss seeing your sweet face on social media. Thanks for reminder to show my dog a little extra love.

Mr. & Mrs.

We made it! I finally got to marry my best friend last week. (Hence the small hiatus.)

Ever want an adventure? Let your young step kids help plan your wedding. No, that’s not sarcasm. We let the kids have a huge say.

Why on Earth would I be do that? Well, back in October, my oldest stepson says to me, “Did you know you’ll be my stepmom soon?” It was something that he (and his younger sister) have put thought into, along with thoughts about their relationship with me. We wanted them to feel included and to let them feel like they have a voice. Like they had some control over something in their blended lives. This was a perfect opportunity to let them know that they are heard.

We knew we wanted a small private ceremony. I found a suitable wedding commissioner, private venue, and photographer. From there, we let the kids toss around their ideas. In lieu of a big reception, we wanted to take our guests out for supper. The kids’ first choice was Red Lobster. The thought of shrimp and cheddar biscuits was enticing to them. Dad and I wanted to keep things within a lower budget than Red Lobster, so we opted to give them a choice from a few different restaurants that would be more budget friendly for a party, but also had gluten free options for our family with sensitivities and Celiac’s. After great debate, the kids excitedly chose for everyone to get pizza after! The restaurant was kind enough to allow us to bring in our own cake and cupcakes as well.
The attire was easy. My husband opted for green as our accent color; the kids happily obliged. We showed them what Dad and I would be wearing, and let them take their pick of clothing options. The oldest step son wanted to look like Dad, choosing black pants, a white button up shirt, black sweater vest, and green bowtie. It went well with Dad’s black suit, white shirt, and green tie + pocket square. My step daughter didn’t have too much choice in dress, but did have a say in her hair and tights. When she saw my dress then saw hers, she was the most excited I’ve ever seen her. “WE’RE THE SAME!!!” she’d exclaim over and over. For the youngest, we chose a green shirt and matching black pants.

On the day of, you could see their joy. Small details, such as the ring box they helped paint, made them feel appreciated and acknowledged. During the ceremony, the commissioner included them as well, allowing me to make vows to them, not just to my husband.

I’m so thankful to have been accepted by them and can’t wait to be a part of their future ❤️

Tis the Season!

And I don’t mean the jolly kind.

Once upon a time, I used to pick on a friend of mine a little bit, encouraging her to try to lighten up. She’s a germophobe. With a household of four kids, I could understand some of her concerns. I used to think she was a little over the top, though. Now? Pass the can of Lysol, I’m on board!

My three stepkids have been sick. They’ve had snotty noses, been sneezing, and have crud in their chests. In addition to this, they’re been getting over a stomach virus. Before they came back to our house, we thought the stomach virus was over at least. Noooooope. I dodged the snots, but that stomach bug… It hit me, and it hit me hard. And of course, as soon as I start feeling a little less like death warmed over, the youngest starts shrieking from his bed. It’s round 2 for him. Odd though, he screamed through a bath, had a cup of Pedialyte, and a little bit of snuggles and he was smiling and giggling again. I wish I could have been the same.

And my poor husband to be. We are a week away from our wedding. He’s certainly proven the whole”in sickness and in health” thing, that’s for sure. He tackled household management like a champ, AND took care of me in the process without a single complaint. Bless his heart. I’d be lost without him.

Stay safe out there guys! Lots of vitamin c and hand washing!!