Round and Round

Life is so cyclical. One minute everything’s great, and the next you’re sent back 5 steps. The tension slowly creeps back and you find yourself thinking and saying things you’ve said years ago and then swore never to say again.

Why is life like that? Sometimes I wonder if it’s just me. Sometimes I feel like something must be wrong with me because I keep falling back to the same place. Sometimes I wonder if it will ever get easier. 

One day we are beaching, clamming, laughing… The next there is tension, avoidance, confusion. Life is a beach one day, and a bitch the next.

Miscommunication. That’s what this all stems from, and we have to remember this. Didn’t you always hear, “what happens when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.”? Of course you have. 

I’m only 29 years old and I am raising five kids from the ages 2 to 16. I know I am growing wiser with age. Things that used to get to me have vanished, while other things still irritate me and I don’t know why I let it happen. I love my children, my stepchildren all as one. I will promise to try and break this cycle. 

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Don’t be a B

Be the bigger person. This will not only be beneficial to your sanity and integrity, but most importantly for the sake of the children. Nothing is worse than painting a picture that you’re “the evil stepmom.” As hard as it may be, sometimes you need to swallow your pride, bite your tongue, and just put a smile on your face. Believe me, it will pay off in the end.

My situation may be different than most. It’s not all the time you see the father having custody of the children. In a divorce and custody situation, the judge usually likes to place the children with the mother, but obviously that wasn’t the case here. We gained residential custody of the kids in 2009 when their mother decided to up and leave with my husband’s ex-best friend. Yeah, talk about being a great example to your children. Uncle Joey became step-dad overnight. It was not until my husband was done paying her alimony, that their free ride in Hawaii ended and they came back trying to take us to court for custody of the girls. Do you think that it’s a coincidence that as soon as the money stopped, she came back? She spoke to her kids no more than 10 times during the year she lived in Hawaii, but all of a sudden wanted them living with her full-time. It’s clear that she’s all about the money. Yet, for the five years that the girls have been living with us, she has not contributed in any way. No child support, no school supplies, no Christmas gifts. 

Sometimes you can get wrapped up in the frustration and you will definitely slip up at one point or another and say something negative about their bio mom. There’s no way around it. It’s going to happen. You just need to be conscious of it. DON’T SAY ANYTHING NEGATIVE TO THE KIDS. You can bitch to your hubby about it all you want, or even to your friends, but the kids shouldn’t have to hear that. Honestly, they’re going to love their mom no matter how big of a piece of crap she may be towards them. It’s that unconditional love. They don’t wanna see their mother in a negative light, and can you blame them? We thought for years that the oldest would realize her mother’s true character by the time she was 13, and here she is going on 14 years old and she is still to naive to see. You will only cause yourself more problems bad-mouthing. The stepchildren will go and tell their mom, and you’ll be looking like the idiot. Don’t sweat it, don’t stress it. That woman is not even worth your time if she can’t appreciate the things you are doing for her children.  

It has taken me years to realize this. Keep the peace, put on a happy face, and do everything you can to show your stepchildren that you want to have an amicable relationship with their bio mom, for their own sake. Believe me, there is nothing more I would love than for this woman to fall of the face of the planet, but I need to think of the kids first. They never asked for their parents to get divorced, and to top it off they have a mom who comes and goes when she pleases. I am the only constant in their life at this point, and I am going to do everything it takes to show them that they are in my best interest. 

My oldest stepdaughter just had her induction into the National Honor Society. Ironically the first event that my husband has ever had to miss, was the first event that her mother actually showed up to, but we know that we go backt o court this week so she has to be on her best behavior. At the end of the induction, I went with my stepdaughter to go find her mom and her mom’s boyfriend. When we found them I went up to them and said, “Hello, how are you?” They didn’t even answered, just looked away. How rude. What an example to your child. Way to make your daughter feel uncomfortable on this special day. 

My stepdaughter is starting to see. As long as you’re doing everything right by the kids, hang in there. They’ll notice eventually. It may take years.

Be true to yourself

Remember who you are. You’re always going to be the stepmom as long as the bio mom is around. I have done everything for my stepdaughters, and have put them before my own two children. I quit my job for them, I am in the PTA, I’m the class mom, I’m the soccer mom, chauffeur, chef, hair stylist, ATM and everything that goes along with being a mom. I have done more for these three girls than their mother ever has. I thought that by the time the oldest was 13 she would start to see all that I have done for them, and appreciate me more because of it. I’m not looking for a plaque with my name on it, I’m not looking for them to say, “Yes, you’ve done more for me than my own mom has.” I don’t want any of that. What I do feel that I deserve is a thank you. Maybe some appreciation, maybe a little help. I am 26 years old and am the parent to FIVE CHILDREN. Craziness. I get no help. I am the one driving everywhere, sitting at every single game, making sure they don’t miss a practice or religion. When they’re at their mom’s house there is no consistency. They don’t go to their games, they don’t do their homework. They come home and me husband and I are the bad guys. The parents. The disciplinarians. Do I have an attitude sometimes? Yes, of course I do. It’s frustrating when I know in my heart I have not done anything wrong by these kids. I don’t say anything about their mom, but when they are there it’s a bashing spree against me. When they come home from their visitation the girls are cold and distant. You feel the tension in the room and it’s upsetting.  The oldest of my stepdaughters has had a wall up since day one. As much as I try to open up to her, and have her open up to me, she stays distant. All I can do is to continue giving them the love I always have given. Maybe one day she will see that I’m not the evil stepmom that her mother makes me out to be. Maybe one day her mom will actually come up to me and say, thanks for all you did and continue to do for them. Until then I can only do what I have always done. It’s never going to be easy.

The beginning

It was summer of 2008. I had just turned 21 years old that past May, and was working as a waitress at my then job of five years. My aunt was a controller for a car dealership and needed some part-time help with filing in the office. I gladly accepted her offer. One thing my aunt told me was that whatever I do, don’t date Garry Leonard. He was recently divorced with three young girls. She knew he would try to persue me, but I assured her, he sounds like he has a situation more than I can handle.

Well, she was right. He did persue me, and to make a long story short, in December of that same year, we were living together. The girls were living with their mother at the time, and Garry was seeing them every Wednesday and every other weekend.

By the summer of 2009, I had graduated from college and left behind my waitressing job. I  became an Assistant Manager at a retail store in the outlets. Since Garry’s ex lived by my job, I would pick the girls up on his visitation on my way home from work, or drop them off home on my way to work. His ex would even swing by my job with the kids, and let them run in and say hi. Oh, the amicable days. They were nice, but they were short-lived.

That fall, Jill (the ex) had decided she wanted to move to Hawaii with Joe,Garry’s at-the-time best friend. She basically dropped the girls off on our doorstep with a notarized letter saying she grants him residential custody.

She was gone for over a year. Every now and then she would skype with Faith, the oldest daughter. Faith was nine years old at the time. We had even gotten Faith a cell phone at such a young age so that she could communicate with her mother regularly. That’s where we made our first mistake. The constant line of communication was the start of the downfall. Jill only kept in contact with Faith and even that was few and far between. She promised she’d be home for Thanksgiving, but she never came. Christmas passed, and they got a pack of skittles in the mail.

At such a difficult time in these girls’ lives, I decided to leave my job after only one year, and became a full-time mom to these girls. They needed a constant in their life, and with their father working around the clock to support his family, I made the life-changing decision to stay home.

It wasn’t until the alimony was fulfilled and Garry no longer had to pay that Jill and Joe decided to move back to New York. Who does that? Who leaves their three young children (ages 9, 7, and 4 at the time) and moves across the country for a year-long vacation with “Uncle Joey”, as the kids once called him.

Yeah, that whole f-ed up situation is how I stepped into stepmotherhood. Stay tuned, the story has barely gotten started.

 

It ain’t easy…

Being a stepmom can be the most rewarding, but also one of the most difficult jobs in the world. If you think being a mom is hard, you haven’t been a stepmom! Not only do you have to accept these children into your life, but you need to treat them as your own, love them, and deal with maybe a crazy ex-wife or girlfriend. On top of all that, some of us are actually the custodial parent and have to raise these children under these circumstances.

I am starting this blog to rant, vent, and also support all of you loving and devoted stepmoms. I became a stepmom long before I became a mother, and was the primary parent in my three stepdaughters’ lives.  This blog will touch on my past experiences, as well as my current ones… the heartaches, the laughter, and every situation in between.