To my own Stepmum

Dear Stepmum

I was having a think about the random path my life is going down and it has really woken me up to what you dealt with when you signed up for our dysfunctional instant-family.

I have never thanked you properly for everything you have ever done for me, and for my dad too.

I really appreciate the constant presence you are in my life, and I truly feel like you have been a very positive influence on me growing up – so thank you.

Thank you for giving me second chances. And for caring. And for our many long and random conversations in the kitchen – I loved those. Thank you for being there for dad since the beginning, even though it has been really really hard for you, too.

Thank you for being an amazing step mum and for bringing so many experiences into my life that I never would have had without you. I really respect your work ethic, and your commitment (or stubbornness, whatever you want to call it).

Thank you for being so funny! and for being honest with me, that’s important. I feel like I have always known where I stand with you.

Thank you for putting up with my crap and attitude when I was living in your home. Thank you for being so willing to open your home to me.

Thank you for my little brother. I cannot believe he is ten now. What a beautiful and thoughtful young man you have raised, I am so proud to call him my brother.

Thank you for taking such a big chance to come and be a part of our family. I love having you in my life.

I really appreciate you.

Thank you

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Powerless Step-parent – Take Two

So many expletives running through my mind. So much anger, indignation and fury. SO POWERLESS.

Maybe that’s the lesson I am learning, this trip on earth, to handle situations and create calm in amongst the turmoil of something that is so far outside of my control.

My stepson got conjunctivitis last week, poor kid, no fun for anyone! And so contagious of course, he really shouldn’t be at day care. That was Friday. On Sunday he went to the doctor and we find out he also has tonsillitis and ear infections in both ears. The real Tri-Fecta. But when you put that many kids in a melting pot of viruses and each others germs, what can you really expect, it’s Russian roulette and only a matter of time…

My partner immediately asked for the Monday off work – as any parent would do, no WAY should that boy be back in daycare at least until he has finished his antibiotics and his eyes have cleared up. You’d think. Unfortunately work was too busy for him to take off Monday, but my mother in law was able to take the day off and drive over (it’s about an hour) and my partner was able to finish a little earlier than normal – no worries.

Tuesday and Wednesday no drama either, my darling fiance, putting his son first, took a sick day, and another day without pay – but children first, right?

Thursday. The boy is still sick of course, and only half way through his antibiotics, definitely not well enough to go back to daycare. My partner has to go back to work – luckily the Boy has two parents right? You’d think.

My partners Grandparents offered to take him on Thursday while the boys mother was at work, it was only five hours – no trouble. The Boy loooves his great-grandad. And they live 2 minutes from where the Boy lives with his mother. Perfect solution!

Well. I just got this text from my partner. (I live far away while I’m studying, so unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do from here)

“apparently he was fine yesterday and last night and his mother made the call to send him to daycare (side note – without discussing it with my partner) the staff at day care said he was fine today and put himself to bed for a nice sleep”

Unfortunately, I don’t agree with this line of reasoning, so I told my partner that I felt angry that he wasn’t being looked after and indignant that the boys mother hadn’t either taken a day off herself, or left him with the Grandparents. If he is still on antibiotics and his eyes are still showing signs of conjunctivitis, I personally, don’t think he should be at daycare. I said to him, I would rather pay his mother out of my student allowance if she couldn’t afford the day off – I don’t think she is a bad mother, but I don’t agree with this choice at all, not when we have alternatives.

My partners response – “I don’t want to fight about this, I don’t have the energy. I know my son and think it was a bit soon for him to go back to daycare, but why must you put me in a position to fight about it, it’s not the end of the world.”

Well shit.

I told him we would have to agree to disagree and that I didn’t want to talk about it any more because I didn’t want to fight with him about it, I’m tired, have my own health issues, as well as trying to keep up with doing two degrees at the same time.

What am I supposed to do? Am I over reacting? I know I am exhausted from my own stuff and don’t have the same amount of clarity as usual, but still, what am I supposed to do with all the emotions…

All I want, is for that poor little Boy to have the chance for his immune system to recover. Is that so wrong?

My partner is accusing me of making him feel like a bad parent. Way to turn the whole situation around on me. We have so many options available so the Boy doesn’t have to be at daycare while he is unwell, we are so lucky there is family that close, even if he seems better, I can’t help but feel like that extra day would have done wonders helping his immune system get back on track.

I feel better for having had this vent.

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?

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.