Wednesday, 29 August 2012

What happens when your inner childs climbs into the blender...?

I was responding to a forum post from a lovely man with a blended family.

He was desperate because his second wife after nine years together had started to become a real control freak.

Maybe it just hit her that the years of togetherness had never really smoothed out the blending like she’d hoped. Maybe she was hoping for whipped, or frappe?

I think sometimes us step-moms hold on to a secret hope that the Evil-Ex will one day simply disappear and all matters of parenting will be mine!  (Insert evil laugh here)

When there are children and an ex-wife in the picture there is a constant reminder of my “place” on the periphery.

I will never have final say on what school they will attend or sports they play, or even all the clothes they wear or values they acquire.  

I got into a huge fight with DDILF one day because I wanted to clean the shit-show that was the childrens bedroom. DDILF got so territorial about it (probably because he didn’t want me to have ammunition for a future fights) that I became utterly indignant. My inner child reared her bitchy little head; dug in her heals and threw down a massive tantrum. “I am the woman” she said (just to clarify- She said it, I didnt) “This is my home and domain and if I want to help the children make their room livable that should be my prerogative! Why can’t you at least give me that??”

Now the irony in all of this is that I hate cleaning thus my grown up self-actualised self was left to question the motive of my inner child’s massive tantrum.

And so I realised that the “that”  in that statement really meant that I desperately wanted DDILF to relinquish some control to me. I wanted to clean the rooms and yes, use it against him at some future date when I might be feeling unappreciated or powerless…. wait…sorry… I just choked on some crow… gross.

Step-parenting can be so ambiguous that our efforts to stake out our turf and define ourselves and our place in our family’s lives can become an exercise in utter frustration. I am learning that I can try to pin myself up against the glass and resist the blender, or I can let go and roll around in the sweet sticky mess...Whatever the case may be, I do know that there is no room in here for a bitchy inner child and her tantrums.

Monday, 27 August 2012

The simulation of imminent death is good for family bonding

I just spent the weekend with a girlfriend that I have not seen in like 12 years…
Crystal was my bridesmaid at my wedding 16 years ago.  We have since lived in separate provinces and have scarcely been in touch. She had her first child at the ripe old age of 20 and I the age of 23.
Any single mom who devotes as much as Crystal has to giving her gifted-needs first born child everything available on the planet to succeed in life is a rock star in my eyes.  Now, she has had 3 more babies. All of whom are now under the age of 8. As if raising 4 children wasn’t a ridiculous endeavor, she has managed to simultaneously amass a small fortune, and by small I mean the likes of a feudal system Lord-ess.  She’s a little bit bad-ass.
Crystal rolled into Whistler village in her new Escalade and her little army in tow for the Wonderlust yoga and music festival last week.  DDILF, my 16 year old Toad and our German Exchange student Max, (because I need exchange students just to keep this old dingy afloat) rolled into our camp site with a trailer down by the river. DDILF is utterly thrilled that we have our own weekend retreat for $11 a night. Let me tell you it’s worth every penny, every penny and not a penny more.  No white trash here boy, no Sir-ee.  What are you looking at?
Crystal text messaged me from her resort hotel “Let’s take the kids white-water rafting or something totally obnoxious.  My treat! My 6 and 8 year olds are totally hard core and I want them to have fun”
Say no more… this is my town!  I am Adrienne La Montagne, fearless mountain guide and adventure seeker. I got this.
Within a couple of hours me and my entourage were barreling up a logging road to Whistler Bungee for lessons in scared shit-less.  Just to clarify, the kids weren’t scared shit-less, I was.
One after another every member of both families hurled themselves off  the 160ft bridge. We were secured only by a springy rope to a belt and then tied to a bridge. Not by some camouflaged clad marine that might have instilled a sense of safety and inspired heroic bravery but  by Josh, a 20 something dread-lock-haired dude who sounded eerily like Spicoli and  his English side-kick Wigglesworth, and by English I mean drunk. Well, probably not drunk at that moment but I was concerned. Sorry for stereotyping. I love Brits. They make great drinking buddies.
The 6 and 8 year old went off that bridge like they were freaking spawns of Spiderman.
Aleksandar’s arms and legs swam frantically as he fell like he was in an imminent death spiral. I laughed my ass off. 6 year old Savo smiled gleefully as he was gently dangled and dropped clear off the 160 ft. platform.  Then it was my turn… I nearly cried. I stood on that platform toes pointed out into the abyss of a massive river canyon and my life flashed before my eyes. I turned around slowly, I couldn’t look out, or down, I looked Dreadlock Josh straight in his mirrored sunglasses
Me: Um… no thanks, I am going to get off now.
 Josh : smiling apathetically
Me:  Gulp… turning pale
Josh:  “You are totally gonna do this is, it’s gonna be totally awesome, and you’re going to do this on the first count of one.  Ready…”
(“Ready” was a statement and not a question, so to imply that I better be fucking ready cause I have clients who want to jump)
Josh:  “and 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…”

White terror… Photos of my jump revealed my body position stiff as a fucking board with legs and toes pointed straight down like a an Olympic diver going into a pike. This was not the posture of the notorious mountain thrill seeker I am so infamous for being, but I do highly recommended the experience. There’s nothing like a simulated death experience to bring family and friends together.
Coming up next more thrilling adventures, (all in the same day) lessons on how to raise extremely fucking cool kids like these, and then later... the beneficial effect excessive swearing has on children…

Friday, 24 August 2012

Keeping in "check"

I think for the most part, most us are selective about whom we allow into our inner circles. The transparency of my personal life is reserved only for the most trusted of friends and family. The ones whom you know have only your highest best good in mind. If someone oversteps your boundaries, shows disloyalty or becomes a nuisance you simply send them on their way. When step children come into your life, it can be a mixed blessing. The "mixed" part happens because children are automatically in the fold. They are by default, intimately aware of the comings and goings of your personal life. When the step-child comes with a malicious parent who uses them to pry into your life, the infiltrators are no so easily rid of. This can result in a straining of the relationship you have with your step-children.

Recently we discovered that every week my step children are returned to their mother, and promptly interrogated as to what went goes on during their time with us.  Cheerfully talking to your kids about what they did, where they went and did they have fun would be perfectly normal. That line of questioning sends a healthy message that you hope they are having a good time and you want to hear all about it, right?

Recently my step-daughter let it slip that the first question the children are being asked upon returning home is “so, did anything bad happen?”  That line of question sends a not so healthy message to an already torn child who now thinks, “Am I in some kind of danger?” I mean, we had already surmised that the kids were being questioned about our personal relationship and life together. We chose not to press the children about it ourselves because we knew they were already being “pressed” enough by the Ex.

 At least pre-custody hearing, her motives were obvious. She wanted to control the children with fear, and slander DD with a variety of mental disorders that only a qualified insurance adjuster like herself could diagnose. All in the hopes of gaining full custody and a handsome support payment. But mostly, I suspect it was because she was just plain pissed about getting turfed out on her ass for cheating, and he was going to pay. Hell hath no fury and all. But why, after she lost her case and custody was settled couldn't she just let it go? I won’t even get into the kind of anxiety attacks that would afflict my step daughter on occasions where her mother dropped her off personally. Let’s just say it took months of deprogramming for the crying, shaking and hyperventilating to stop. Oddly, she seemed perfectly happy on days she was picked up by one of us at school or from friends. Was it all a performance? Who knows? But happily Jube has now fully returned to a normal, nosey, spastic, constantly bugging her brother and totally bored all the time 10 year old state of being.

2 years have passed since the separation and the kids are figuring it out.  Little by little, bits of information are creeping out of them that previously they would have been afraid to tell. As more and more the children confide in us, the more I have begun to feel that there is an intruder in my life. Not like an unwanted house guest who has overstayed their welcome, but infiltrator who can attain very private details of my life and will happily use it as fuel to gossip and undermined me.

I remember once, early in my relationship that I’d had a “client” in my salon. This client had obviously booked her appointment with me on behalf of EE for a little interrogation session. She made one comment that stuck with me. “This is a small town you know. It’s a good thing because it keeps you in check”

And I thought “And just who the fuck do I need to check with?”  This is just one of the reasons I don’t live in a commune.
At times my life feels a bit like I'm a character on a reality show. There are cameras you know about, and some that are hidden. With kids you never know what little spat over chores or very personal discussion about money or future plans they have overheard. And what about bedroom noises?! On a reality show, there is an audience to satiate and a cast who is compensated in some way. In my life, it’s not an audience; it’s more like a beast. The beast needs to be satiated and the children know it. (They are astute you know) They know mommy loves juicy personal and especially negative morsels to fuel her thirst for drama. I know there are times their version of events get a little glorified for the sake of ratings.
And so I am left to wonder… How do you keep from feeling resentful of the children when the Ex deploys them as her henchmen? And when a parent creates an atmosphere of alienation towards the other household, how do you minimise collateral damage?
I would like to have an open and loving relationship with my step-children. I know that out of fear and loyalty, they would throw me or DD under the bus in a heartbeat to satisfy their mother’s stalker-ish obsession. So when my shields are up, and I am on high alert its the children who will feel my guardedness and not the love they deserve.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Division of Assets & Underwear

 So my super cutie-pie Dream-DILF love- O-my life is a bit of a pack rat.

Not quite A & E Buried Alive status, but there are moments when I question the potential of that. Are we just one mild head injury from hoarders?

I am not an overly obsessive neat freak, nor am I the most organised person in the world.  That, in fact adds to my concern.  If, even I am overwhelmed with the clutter, could this be potentially serious?

I went on a campaign a couple of weeks ago to clear out the garage. DD has a habit of piling heavy and dangerous items on top of light and unstable items. (The other day I went to grab an empty cooler from high atop a pile of rubber maid bins and the cast iron Xmas tree stand he had so delicately set on top nearly took me out) The very decision to take on the garage is a death defying endeavour. I endeavoured to proceed with caution.

Lo and behold under the rubble somewhere between Xmas lights and linens, I came across some boxes. Boxes that I was sure were supposed to have been returned to the one who shall only be referred to as “Evil Ex”. I shuttered. I should have walked out right then and there. Regrettably my lower self-saboteur got the better of me and I peeked. Fuck.

Right on top of the very first box I open were (you guessed it) two large volumes of my beloved DILF and the Evil Ex’s wedding photos. Why?? Why do we let our glutton for punishment-self-defeating curiosity get the better of us? Prior to the move and post division of asset I distinctly and succinctly stated that I did not want any remnant of the former wife in our new home. Moving into the home that DD shared with her was creepy enough.  On one occasion, I had come across a pair of black polka dot G-string panties whilst cleaning under the bed. Barf.

I almost packed up right then and there and went back to my high rise apartment.  

And so after several melt downs and an attempted mutiny I was confident that I had assured myself safe and clear passage into our new home together sans Evil Ex.  How these boxes got past me during the move is stupefying. Now, there were some boxes with quite entertaining contents I must say. For example there was an entire box of EE’s high school annuals from the 1980’s. There was an entire photo album cover to cover of EE in 1980s style vanity shots. She had gigantic bangs and the photos had been taken with a soft light filter. The pout-y faces she was making I can only liken to that of a Madonna-wanna-be porn star. It was hilarious.  I am sure that had the contents of all the boxes been similar, or grandmas silverware I would not have been so upset. But it was the wedding photos that got to me. There are things that you just can’t un-see. Once your eyes have seen something so disturbing, it is burned into your brain forever . 

The next few hours were a blur. I do know that they involved some strongly worded text messages that resulted in the immediate arrival of my beloved home from work in the middle of the afternoon. I also recall that there was debris strewn down the driveway and onto the street. By debris I mean boxes and photo albums. (DD disposed of them immediately, thankfully) I don’t know how on earth the debris got all the way onto the street, but oh well. C'est la vie. This incident just illustrates my earlier point (see blog: “your place or mine”) regarding the co-habitation of the crime scene.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

I am a total freak

Speaking of our weekend getaway…

I really want my 16 year old son to come.

He is the apple of my eye and at 6’3 he’s a big hunky apple.

I love him. For those of you with younger children, please don’t take it for granted that you will forever be the apple of your little man’s eye.

I remember when the Toad was about 7 we often read “I love you forever” by Robert Munch before bed.  Every time, I bawled like a baby at the ending.  

On one occassion, the littleToad looked up at me with his big blue eyes and freckly nose, and in a very sarcastic tone said “really, mom?”  as in... "could you stop blubbering already you freak?"


There was a time I distinctly remember, when Shawn promised me that he would always want to live with me. I explained that one day he would grow up and get married and have a family of his own. I assured him that he would not always want to live with me. The little toad could not even fathom the words I was saying and his eyes welled with tears at the mere thought of it. Those were the days.

Getting Toad involved with any family activities these days  is akin to pulling teeth. That was, until Freckle Face came on the scene.

Freckle Face is my favourite person. She is 16 and pretty and smart and when FF is around The Toadactually resembles a human being. He showers, he brushes his teeth and he speaks to me in a tone that is just slightly less sarcastic than his usual one. Thank goodness she is around a lot!

I had the ingenious notion that is if FF would come camping, then Toad would come too. Maybe he would even hang out and go tubing down the creek, or biking on the trails with us. It was brilliant!  Convincing FF's mom that she should come away for the weekend with her boyfriend and his family was another story. Crap.

So here’s what I did… I called Freckle Faces mom. I was determined to convince her that we are responsible, and that of course they will be supervised and have separated tents etc.

The chat started out so well. We talked about how cute this teenage puppy love is between our kids and how much we both love the others child. I had her all buttered up. I thought “this is great I got this in the bag, no problem-o”.  Alas but, no. You know when a conversation is about to take a turn into disappointment -ville.  The tone of voice shifts from perky and optimistic to:  “listen, you people are great, but we just don’t think at 16 it’s appropriate…” “I know” I say ”I understand… sniff” Then I did what any desperate to have her only son come on a camping trip mother would do… I started to cry.  I started to blubber and cry on the phone to FF's mom like an utterly hormonal pre-empty nester “But... but... but…Toad won’t come if FF doesn’t come! he doesn’t want to hang out with me any more! He’s going to move out and we will never have had this weekend together and this is so unfair and it's all your fault!!!  Can she come PLEEEEAAAASE??? “

I didn’t win that fight.

Kiddies in the middle

Ironic that only last night I posted a tragic tale of bad parental behaviour and its toll on the innocent. Distpite everything I have witnessed over the past 18th months of my relationship with DD, I am still shocked and amazed when the Evil Ex's weapon of choice is her own the children.

Last week DD politely requested the Evil Ex send the passports along so we could head over the line and go camping in Anacortes Wa. for the weekend. We did not recieve a reply. Another polite reminder was sent this am. Here's how the conversation went, pretty much verabatum.

DD "Just reminding you that we need the childrens passports for our trip this weekend."

EE "I will not be sending the passports with the children"

DD "why are you punishing the children?"

EE "I will have them call you later to discuss"

DD "you will have them call to discuss? They are 10 and 8. Why are you putting the children in the middle?"

EE (silence)

DD "Your selfishness never ceases to amaze..."

EE (silence)

EE's inner monologue "Oh, I am so clever! I just totally screwed... uh-I mean saved my children from a horrible weekend by the seaside, swimming, riding bikes, hiking into waterfalls and roasting schmores over the campfire"

Seriously, who are these people?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Evil Ex

In my fantasy MILF meets DILF, they fall in love and live happily ever after. The MILF and DILF children all hold hands and sing Kumbaya to the universe for bringing two such deserving albeit broken families together. With all wounds healed, and the loneliness of single parenthood behind them, joy abounds, bonds are made and a new family emerges from the rubble. In retrospect I really should have been so much more specific in my MILF meets DILF manifesting visualization practices. I should have envisioned the ex-wife holding hands and singing Kumbaya along with everyone else. My bad!

The Ex’s cooperation in this little scenario was a lot more vital than I realized.

In my own childhood divorce drama the animosity primarily stayed between my mother and father. The new partners were, for the most part left out of the bickering or backstabbing.

Although my mother admitted later that even though she’d never wanted my father back, it stung a little to learn that he was the first to meet someone new.  Mostly because she was so mad at him by the time the divorce was done she just didn’t want to think of him as anything other than lonely and miserable.  

Anyhow, she did what any good mother would and she zipped it. She knew that whoever this poor unwitting soul was, she was going to play a vital role in the lives of her children.

She actually felt somewhat relieved to know that there would be a nurturing and stabilising influence around for us kids. Because she was a smarty like that, I was able to embrace my new step-mother and felt deep appreciation for her in my life. I also have a deep appreciation for my mother who put aside her own anguish for my sake.  I guess I expected that every other mother would do the same…wrong-o.

And so, naivete, blind love and good intentions completely skewed my better judgement.  I skipped happily out to the step child’s soccer games and school events holding hands with my yummy DILF early in our relationship. I made friends with the other moms. I set up play dates with friends at school. I was determined to be there for my DILF. Now these things are innocent enough and maybe I was under some delusion that my involvement would ease the ex's mind...wrong again.

Let’s face it, no woman signs up for motherhood with the intention of having another woman raise her children, even part time. These sorts of scenarios can make any ex jealous, angry even.

The angry ex is usually angry because she’s been hurt or betrayed and I get that.  Betrayal sucks, and anger is justified, but most good mothers get over it in time.
But sometimes the ex becomes angry because she is the betrayer, and been caught and turfed out on her butt. In this case, we are dealing with an Evil Ex. In the case of the Evil Ex, even well intentioned involvent such as watching a soccer game may trigger an alchemical reaction likened only to that of the making of a Marvel Comic Super Villain. Super Villains are dangerous. They might try to run over your DILF in her car. They might make a lot of noise in public places. They might attempt to have your DILF committed, or much, much worse, so much worse actually, I won’t even dare to blog it. But the WORST, worst thing a Super Villain Evil Ex will do is involve the children. Making a child choose between two parents and a bonus mom, who just wants to have fun with them and make them happy is... So Not Cool.

So here is my advice: When the Evil-Ex can’t keep her shit together for the well being of her own children, then you must.  You must become the super-stepmother heroin and dig deep into your chest and pull out a big fat chunk of empathy, because only your empathy can neutralize her super villain powers.

Empathy will serve to keep you neutral, and neutral is everything when it comes to your relationship and the well being of those kids. 

Empathy will serve you in the eyes of your partner, who only wants peace in his home and stability for his children who are grieving.  He will love you more for staying above any drama the Evil Ex tries to serve up.

It won’t be easy. Practicing empathy for an Evil Ex can feel about as easy as natural child birth.  I wish someone had told me, I would have gone to Buddhist boot camp for empathy sooner. Persevere.  You might need stiches from biting your tongue when you want to retaliate with some choice words of your own.  Alas, I have slipped.  But you will never trump the Evil Ex by playing her game. Transform.  Don your glossy cape and be the Super-Step-mom you were meant to be! OK, I’m being dramatic. Just swill down a big fat helping of suck it up butter-cup and be the peace you want to create in your new family.

Go ahead, hold hands and sing Kumbaya until it hurts.

Your step children will respect you for it and be happier and healthier for it, even if they aren’t allowed to love you for it…yet.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Your place or mine?

I have been pondering the possible causes for the litany of challenges my beloved (who we will refer to as Dream DILF or DD for short) and I have endured as a couple and a newly blended family. Over the weeks ahead I will be covering some of these causes and their effects. Things I didn't anticipate, but maybe should have? What could possibly go wrong when you are in love with a your Dream DILF and his two kids?
I mean, I love kids. I even have one myself.
DD obviously knew something I didn’t. The first 3 months of our relationship he repeatedly asked me “are you sure you want this?”  I thought he was being cute, however I realize now that he was referring to how I would adjust to life with children much younger than mine. Previously to meeting DD I had been living the single life of a ski bum and had a very independent 15 year old. This adjustment to my life will be the subject of another blog, I’m sure. Until then, we have more immediate drama to attend to. This is what I always wanted, after all, a real family and I was not going to let him deter me.
Despite DD only being out of his marriage for just a few short months, he must have considered the possible scenarios that might play out, given his already high drama divorce, should we choose to jump in with both feet and co-habitate. Had I known what he knew then, I might not have gotten on the divorce-coaster so eagerly. But was I was quite happy and oblivious in my love induced delusion thank you much.  And apparently so was he. Neither he nor I hit the brakes. We were too much in love for sensibility.
"Move in with you, really? Ok. Sigh." Clearly we didn’t think that one through all the way. 

“It will be great, we will all live together, and we’ll make illegitimate babies" Wink wink

Where was the practical headed nerd that I now know and love, then, huh?

So here’s my advice when the DILF of your dreams asks you to move into the home he shared with the Evil Ex:
 Do NOT move into the home DILF of your Dreams shared with the Evil-Ex. Gee, I wish someone had written this blog 18 months ago before I made that epic faux pas. Are those murmurs? Did someone say:  “Duh … is this blogger a complete idiot?”  You wait.  We are just scratching the surface of my awesome decision making.  Just keep reading my blog, you’ll see.
Yes, choosing the newly blended family home can be a real defining decision and is not to be made under the influence of a love induced delusion.  Just be patient, wait until the dust settles, the crime scene sells, and all of her Tupperware and underwear is packed up and out. Then you can move into a new place together.  Unless your life has become utterly boring and you want to add a little Evil Ex screaming and pounding at the front door to spice things up?  Forgive me if I sound callous, and I assure you we will be discussing empathy for the Evil Ex in a future blog. For now, this one’s laying in the extra-marital bed she made. Next week:  assets, underwear and Aww-kward!