The Second Wife

I follow a few different stepmom support sites/Instagrams/groups in order to better myself so that I can be the best stepmom to the kids. I’m normally all for empowering other women, supporting their ideas and feelings, and advocating for special types of support. But sometimes, I can’t help but to wonder what in the world is wrong with some people.

I came across a post Saturday night that went on about how some women have insecurities about being a man’s second wife. While some of the insecurities I could see being valid, some of the topics brought up were complete garbage. So here I am, ranting, calling out those insecurities, and providing a different point of view. Because after all, life is about how you deal with it.

“I’m not his first….” You shouldn’t be insecure for being a man’s second (or seventh) wife on general principle. No, you’re not his first wife, possibly not his first partner in home buying, car buying, career change, college adventures, nor his first love, first kiss, first anything. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine. Stop letting the stigma of divorce cloud your here and now. I’m glad I’m not my husband’s first wife. I’m glad I didn’t marry him at 21. I’m glad we’re not young and dumb. I’m glad he figured out what went wrong the first time around, and therefore knows exactly what he wants, how to get it, and what to do to get there. And if your husband or fiance hasn’t figured all that out, you shouldn’t be marrying him in the first place.

“My mother in law / step kids / family by marriage treat me differently and still have a high regard for her.” So? Why are you letting somebody else’s opinion sway you? And what does somebody else’s opinion about somebody else have anything to do with you?? What somebody else thinks about you is none of your damn business. You keep putting one foot in front or the other and worry about your roof, not theirs. Kids are going to have a loyalty to their mom. Mother in laws are supposed to have a reputation for being a pain in the a…. except mine. She’s actually pretty amazing. Everyone else can take their opinions and shove it. You focus on you.

“He still loves his ex.” And I’m referring to this in terms of a man who has kids and he is trying to maintain a functional relationship with his ex in order to co-parent his kids. Because yes, apparently this is an insecurity. My thoughts? Well. Duh. He’s supposed to, to a certain degree, still care. She is the mother of his children. He needs to have a certain degree of care for that woman if he wants to be able to properly care for and about his children. And you need to get over that. While yeah I think the whole “stepmother needing to know her place” thing is a crock of crap, a stepmother DOES need to extend the same degree of tolerance for a mother that she wishes a mother would have for her. Period. Get your head out of your rectum and stop being self absorbed. Even if she does treat you like garbage.

“He had kids with her, but won’t with me.” “He won’t reverse his vasectomy for me.” “[insert choice he made before his remarriage] to/for/with me.” With me. With me. With me. Blah blah blah. You know what. If your husband had a vasectomy before he married you, and you’re not okay with that, that’s on you. You shouldn’t expect him to reverse it. It’s a painful process with a possibility of it not working anyways. And if you truly feel that he’s supposed to, then I hope that you never gripe or attempt to advocate for women’s rights. A man’s choice for a vasectomy or to not have more kids or whatever is no different than a woman making a choice to go on birth control, have her tubes tied, have implants, whatever. Their choice. It doesn’t have a damn thing to do with you, and you should respect that. And if you really wanted to have kids and he didn’t, then maybe you shouldn’t have married him in the first place. Stop being selfish. Not everything is about you. Stop railing on men for choices they made before marrying you.

Stop giving a crap if people look at you differently for not being the first wife. Over 40% of marriages in North America aren’t first marriages anyway, so stop with the stigma. Am I an advocate for divorce? Not entirely. I feel that folks need to put the work into something if they truly want to keep it long term. And if they don’t they don’t have any business making the commitment to begin with. But I feel like people highly underestimate what actually needs to go into a marriage, into a relationship, into the maintenance of compatibility in order to truly have their “happily ever after.”

So top letting stupid crap eat at you and have some confidence in yourself and your relationships.

Nutritional Consistency in Children

A year or two after I received a diagnosis of diabetes and had glucose stability issues, nutrition became a huge part of my life. At the start of my nutrition journey, I went into hardcore keto mode (I’m talking true keto, not just super low carb. I mean perfect macros, a ton of vitamina/supplements, fasting, baking soda in my water, full on anti inflammation insanity.) Why? Because it gave my pancreas time to rest. After some time, the ole girl did some significant healing and I’m much more stable than I was before. Now? Definitely not hardcore keto, but I definitely watch what I eat. I do stick to the lower end of the carbohydrate spectrum, try to eat as few processed foods as possible, and try to choke down a cup of hot tea when I remember to. I feel that just like when working in the medical field, no dietary idea is right for the same two people. Everyone is different. I feel that everyone could benefit from a gluten free, no added sugar, and minimally processed foods diet. Some folks need to follow a keto diet. Some folks need to follow Paleo. Some folks are blessed with amazing metabolism and genetics and don’t have to worry about what they put in their face holes.

But what about kids?
Specifically what about kids who bounce back and forth between more than one home? What of their diets, consistencies, and gut health?

When it comes to co-parenting, my husband had to set some boundaries due to conflicts in communication. We feel the need to live by a strict notion of “what happens in the opposing house is none of your business” (for both parties concerned.) Obviously within reason — for instance when our 7yo kid came home with a huge wound on his chin and said it was because he pulled something out of the oven and got burned, obviously some clarification will be sought out. Most other things like discipline, expectations, routine, diet, etc? None of our business, none of their mother’s business.

Despite it being none of my business, as I’m getting the kids’ room tidied up and the bathroom stocked with extra TP that they usually need, I can’t help but to wonder about the effect of the divorce on the kids’ gut health and how the dietary differences between their homes may have influence their health and well-being. If you ask my step kids about added sugars, they will tell you that at Dad’s house they only have it on special occasions and holidays. My oldest stepson constantly asks if different foods have sugar in them. I asked him why he wonders about it so much. His reply was “I want to make sure it won’t make you sick.” Be still, my beating heart. ❤️ But when the kids say that their desserts at Mom’s is usually ice cream every night, I take that with a grain of salt and chalk it up to trying to get more ice cream. (In which, HA-HAH! Joke’s on them. My husband got me an ice cream maker for Christmas so I can make my own healthy ice cream!) However when they state that a lot of their meals are from McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s, I tend to believe it since old fast food bags can be seen piled up and/or falling out when the kids get out of their mother’s SUV. Or when we are cooking together and they make comments about how they like learning how to make things and helping, that a lot of the things we make, Mom makes them from a box. It makes me cringe, but I take a deep breath and remind myself that it’s none of my business. Or is it?

At what point are dietary consistencies in children after a divorce concerning? The oldest has some attention issues, the middle child has constant UTIs and a chromosome condition in which her weight really needs to be watched. The youngest has eczema issues. And all three of my step kids have digestive issues when they come home here, starting with constipation, and ending with them being cleaned out by Saturday night. All of which could be remedied by dietary changes and consistencies. What does one do?? Do we keep introducing them to different types of whole foods and just deal with the blow outs from the fiber? Feed them probiotics? Because goodness, I don’t think I could bring myself to feed them an unhealthy diet. I’m not saying there’s not a bag of cereal in the closet just for them. Sometimes cereal is just more convenient at 6am when you’ve got to leave in 45 minutes in order to get to a hockey game nearly 3 hours away. But a diet overloaded with convenience foods?? I just can’t do it. I pride myself in meal creativity and food prep. Regardless, I just can’t seem to find much information on how kids fair with dietary inconsistencies or how to deal with them.

Time to stock up on more TP!

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?

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….

Christmas Conundrums

Parts of this past weekend were rough. At some points I wished that I could bring myself to participate in the idea of Nacho Parenting. I just can’t.

With kids, you have to take a lot of things at face value and sometimes get more information before forming an opinion or jumping the gun. My step childrens’ biological mother misunderstood part of their Christmas activities in our home and got upset about it before asking for clarification. And after clarification is still being pretty immature. It’s sad. It breaks my heart for them.

With being on one income + a budgeted savings, we are being frugal with Christmas this year. My fiance and I got each other a pre-discussed gift each, then purchased a modest, but meaningful, set of gifts for the kids. For friends and family, however, the kids have been making home made gifts. My step daughter has been “helping” me crochet mug cozies and stockings for weeks. All of the kids helped make a home made cocoa mix and filled Mason jars with it, along with pouches of marshmallows and crushed candy canes. After, they got to taste test their hard work. We’ve also made gift tags for them to color to pin to the cozies. It’s not much, but each was hand made with love, and the cozies + jars can be reused. The kids had a great time assembling them and it helps teach them that sometimes work goes into giving, that not everything has to come from a store. It also teaches the importance of spending time on something.

Anywho, even after some clarification, there was conflict. The kids wanted to make one for their mother as well. Even though I don’t particularly like the woman, I’m not going to stop them from making her a gift. He didn’t have to do this…. Her parents are taking the kids out to buy her a gift… She doesn’t have the money to get my fiance a gift…. She didn’t want one. It boils down to the kids get excited because we actually do things with them instead of just planting them in front of a screen. As they talk about those activities, she probably realizes that I spearhead a lot of them. Given that she hates me and wishes to have absolutely nothing to do with me whatsoever, not even a cordial hello for the sake of the kids…. Yeah. I can’t fathom not ever wanting a hand made gift from my children, no matter who helped make it.

Pair this Christmas Conundrum with hypocritical arguments about nutrition in addition to a fight about car seat safety, I’m just exhausted from standing up for what’s best for the kids and producing accurate and factual information to clear up misconstrued advice or misinformation. And I don’t even have to communicate with their mother.

Maturity is a thing. Maybe I’m being immature by venting on a public blog, however it’s my means of processing my disbelief and sorting my thoughts, but whatever. I can’t control or change other people, I can only control and change myself and how I react to things. I should do a better job at just letting the nonsense roll off of my back, but that’s SO hard to do when your stepkids sometimes mention things that have been done or said outside of your home that have really hurt their feelings. And while I want them to grow up being well rounded and cognizant that life sometimes isn’t fair and sometimes people can be hurtful, I want to put them in a warm bubble of protection and rip off anyone’s face that tries to hurt them.

I hope we can get through the rest of the Christmas season without any conflicts.

/sigh

Sailing Away

I’d like to think that I’m at a point beyond anger, but I’m not yet, and that’s okay.  Sometimes you need to just turn around and walk away.  Or sail.  Or fly.  Or whatever.  Sometimes you need to just say “You know what?  I’m done here.”  Then once you make that decision, sometimes it takes a little bit to process the emotions, the hurt, the anger.  And that’s okay.

I’d like to say that I’m past the point of anger, but I’m not.  Yet.  I’m getting there.  Most of my life has been spent keeping to myself for the most part.  I had a few years of chaos, where I spiraled out of control to get some kind of attention.  Even negative attention was at least something.  But I digress.  For the most part, I’ve done everything on my own.  I’ve not asked for much.  No one was there for me much either.  It created a monster of stubbornness and independence.

After the passing of my grandfather last month, my entire family has been treating each other like crap.  Or everyone is just against my father.  I’m not really sure.  I don’t really care.  Recently, they’ve tried to drag me into the mix.  I think they’re trying to get me on their side so that my father is completely isolated, but things don’t work that way.  The only side I will pick is the side that benefits my immediate surroundings…. myself, my fiance, my step children.  

Don’t get me wrong, my father is a piece of crap.  But he’s my piece of crap.  And while no, it doesn’t give him an excuse or hall pass to act like a piece of crap, at least my father admits to who he is and is open about his shortcomings.  What gets me is that the rest of my family is acting exactly like they expect him to act.  The difference is, they try to hide it and try to make it seem like they have the best intentions at heart.  No.  I’d rather deal with a wolf that knows he’s a wolf than to deal with a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  At least I can bop a wolf on the nose with a newspaper and tell it no.  The wolves in the sheep’s clothing don’t even realize they’re wolves.

So to the wolves with wool over their eyes: I’m not going to play your games.  I don’t care if you cut me out of the family because I was never truly a part of it to begin with.  I don’t need you.  I wanted you there, I wanted you in my life.  I tried to put forth effort into the relationships with all of you.  It was like bouncing a ball off of a brick wall.  I got nowhere.  And that’s okay.  I can’t expect everyone in this world to give back the efforts that I put into them.  So yes, I did give up.  I gave up on all of you.  It wasn’t for lack of trying though, I grew tired of the one-sided nonsense.  I got tired of hearing that you’re so disappointed in yourselves and that you were going to try to be a part of my life “because I deserve better,” then did nothing to act on that disappointment.  You did nothing to try to change your habits.  You didn’t try to be there for me at all.  And you know what?  That’s fine.  I can at least in good conscience say that I tried.  I called.  I wrote.  I sent Facebook messages and texts.  I rarely got the same.  In fact, out of all of you, I can count two occasions that any of you made attempts to contact me without me reaching out first.  Two.  Shame on you.  And what’s sad is that my narcissistic father, devoid of most emotion or ability to look beyond himself, is actually able to learn a lesson out of all of this.  

So by all means, try to isolate my father.  I will welcome him with open arms into my domain  of solitude.  While yes, it may be lonely from time to time, at least it’s peaceful.  At least my dark corner of the ocean isn’t filled with deception and lies.  And now that he, too, sees that blood isn’t always everything, I can mold him into a decent human being.  So…. thank you?  I’m able to show him a different light in life.  It’ll take time to undo decades of nonsense that you all created, encouraged, and enabled, but it is I who has the strength to redo it.  

You came to me in hopes that I will control and bend my father to your will.  Don’t knock on my proverbial door again.  Don’t worry, I’ll keep my old man on a leash.  It won’t be for you, though.  It’ll be for him.  It’ll be to show him that he doesn’t need you either.  That he, too, can be independent.  That he doesn’t need you.  That he doesn’t have to buy into your BS.  

I’ll teach him how to sail away.