Day Care Dilemma – The powerless step-parent?

It has taken me a little while to write about this because whenever I thought about it, I would get so charged and worked up.

My stepson’s mother informed us of her decision to go back to work almost two months ago. Although of course it would be ideal for The Boy to have a stay at home parent for as long as possible, we of course understood her decision, and had no problem with that part of the situation. Then we were informed that she had picked his daycare – and my partner was ‘welcome to go look at it’.

Well this immediately riled me up. Not only was it a direct violation of their parenting order (which clearly states that all parenting decisions are to be made jointly), in my opinion it was a massively disrespectful move on her part! Where does she get off, enrolling this child in a day care, where he will spend almost more time than he spends with his father, without discussing options!?

Of course we did go and have a look and do our own research. And compared to the other day care in the area (there are only two) it did seem to be the best. Our offers to look into home based care options or a day care a little further away though were flatly denied – her decision had been made, and apparently it was final. Grr. Strictly speaking we could have taken her to court – if she pulls something like that again though, we might make a different decision, but really that’s the last place we want to be, the parenting order was supposed to HELP the situation…

And then to make things even more enjoyable – she asks us to help pay for it. She text us saying that after paying his daycare costs, she was going to have an additional $100 a week. So now she’s got MORE money, and still wants us to pay more? excuse me. My problem with this doesn’t actually stem from the money at all – absolutely my partner should be liable for the costs of his son, and he pays his child support religiously, and if we truly felt that she wasn’t able to provide for him, we would do every thing we could to scrape the extra money to help. But it isn’t like we don’t have costs of our own… I’m a full time student, and my partner works a 60 hour week to support our family as best he can. Not to mention, if the Boy’s mother is so broke, how is she affording sky tv and a gym membership? doesn’t quite add up in my books.

Well. Day Two at Day Care, and our day to pick him up – only to pull into the car park to find two children loose, unattended, by the busy road. One of them was so distraught he wouldn’t leave my arms for a good twenty minutes after I picked him up to take inside…

I didn’t think it could get any worse. Let me just tell you, if he was my son, I never would have sent him back to that daycare… But of course he isn’t my son. How am I supposed to reconcile with this – I care for him and love him and want to protect him, but I’m not allowed a say. It got to the point where the Boy’s mother was all ‘ I’m confident they are doing everything they can that it wont happen again ‘ and my partner was just so sick of having to talk to her that he just agreed to keep him there cause it was easier. Ugh.

All other Stepmums out there – how do you cope when you feel powerless? what strategies have you got?


All Grown Up

Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is but today’s dream – Kahlil Gibran

My baby brother is turning ten tomorrow. A whole decade. I can’t remember what I ate for lunch last Monday, but those days in the hospital when he first arrived – those are vivid in my mind. The things we remember are so bizarre, especially when each moment feels like it is the MOST important…

This is a strange week for me. It is my birthday, my brothers birthday, my sisters birthday and my fiances birthday. What a way to feel old. (and broke!) I hadn’t really thought about how far we had all gotten in life until now – One sister married with a baby, the next one has a real job in the big wide world, me – engaged, the next sister old enough to drive and the littlest brother no longer in single digits. (It’s also bizarre that out of the five of us, only one of them is fully related. Oh my jumbled half siblings. Try explaining to someone that yes he is your brother and she is your sister, but no, the two of them are not related.)

And I bet in another 20 years I will read this post and laugh and laugh and laugh. We are all still babies.

Sometimes I feel like one day is longer than all of my life so far but the next day might pass so quickly. Why do we try and measure, collect, contain time? seems like a pretty fluid thing to me, it’d be easier to measure water in a sieve.

I used that website and emailed myself five years from now. That is a cool thing! What a great idea. I guess its a similar reason to why I write this blog – I guess I am guilty of trying to capture time too! or at least moments of it. I wonder where we learn this attachment from? This need to control. Maybe it’s just my culture? Maybe it’s just me?

What next.

The F Word…

The F Word...

Fiance. Friends. Family. Fiance’s Family. Fun.

I did promise myself I would capture the important moments, that the entire point of this blog was to remember those passing flashes of time.

The night we squeezed our closest friends and family into our tiny lounge and they all danced and danced and danced. These are the memories I will hold for ever. These are the people who are dancing through my heart.

…The state of the carpet the next morning did make me think of a different kind of F word.

Which Step-parent should I be?

The last couple of days this has been something that has really stuck in my mind. I always knew my relationship with a man who already had a child wouldn’t be an EASY path, but that doesn’t bother me – what doesn’t kill you make you stronger right? and the things my partner and I have gone through together… Well lets just say it’s enough to last us a lifetime.

But it’s not about what is easy or difficult for ME that has been bothering me – its about what my little stepson will have to endure, because of the decisions we, as his parents (step or otherwise) have made now. I don’t know whether it makes me ‘luckier’ than other step-parents since my own parents are separated, because I sure as hell know what I would have preferred in the same situation that funnily enough I find myself in now, too.

Let me lay this out for you:

Option One: My step mother always told me not to be in a relationship with someone who already had children. Oops. The thing about that piece of advice though, was that it hurt me quite personally – here was a woman who had been part of my life since I was four years old, who had helped toilet train me, taken me shopping, put me to bed and watched me grow – and hadn’t she just said she resented having step children? that’s what 12 year old me understood anyway.

Option Two: On the other side, my step father treats me like his own daughter. He is a man who I don’t remember not having in my life, who changed my nappies, read me bed time stories, told me to stop being a brat when I went through that awkward pre-teen stage and watched me grow – at times, he has been much more of a dad than my biological father.

Now here I am, engaged to a man I love and cherish and will happily spend the rest of my life with, playing house and building our world together, our family together. But the thing is, we already have a family. The mother of his child was three months pregnant with their son when we met and started seeing each other – they were never officially ‘In a relationship’ – which probably makes it easier for me to deal with, since they have very little history as a ‘together’.

From the beginning I told her that I didn’t want to be a ‘Mother’ to her son. And I don’t – I’m young, still studying and not ready to have children for a very long time. Here’s the catch – I AM his fathers partner, I AM here for him, I DO love him, I WILL support him, he WILL be the older brother of my own children – so what am I supposed to be to him?

While having this dilemma I searched other ‘step-parent’ blogs. One of them really stuck with me. Like the ‘bonus mom’ in that blog, I am taking Option Three: I am not his stepmother. I am not his mother. I am his Person. I’ve also realised it’s not my decision, or his fathers decision, or his mothers decision to make. It’s actually his decision, because the relationship between myself and this little boy is a private matter, his choice, his life, and all I can do is be the best I can be – not even for him, but for me.