At this time, I have decided to join my two blogs into one. I keep finding myself copying one post to the other because they both apply and I love the stepmoms out there. I would love it if you would follow me and update my blog on your bloglist to

www.erambling.net

Wrote a post called The Door, here is an exerpt –

I went outside to do something. At the moment, I can’t seem to recall why. Regardless, I am out here. I look around and there are dark clouds moving in, threatening to open up and unleash torrential rain. The ground is barren and rocky. It is bone chilling cold. And quiet. I take a deep staggering breath. I realize I am still outside.

I go back toward the house. The glass door stares back at me. My reflection doesn’t look like me. I walk up to it and press my face to the glass. My breath comes out and fogs the door. I can’t see anyone, but I know they are in there. I can hear the music. I smell the food. The lights are on and it feels like a party. Where is everyone?

I knock. I hear myself say, “Hello? Can you hear me?” But there is no one.

I remember my car keys are in my pocket. I could just walk around to the front. That would mean climbing over the fence. But I could do it. I know I could. I just keep hoping someone will open the door. Don’t they know I am out here? Don’t they realize that I am gone?

Thanks so much for being such great readers, listeners and my humble therapy group. The comedy and craziness continues at Eramlings (rainy days, randomness and my pursuit). I hope you will come along with me.

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We had to have the talk again this weekend. You know, the one about “what kind of person you want to be”? Here is a brief synopsis.

Life is full of choices.

Choose to behave and have a good attitude

Choose to do your work

Choose to be on time

Choose to tell the truth

No one can make these choices for you. I can do my best to point you in the right direction. I can help you understand the difference between right and wrong. But ultimately it is up to you to decide. I understand that you are a kid. You are going to struggle with staying focused, getting up in the morning, being prepared for school. I can help you, but I can’t do it for you. No one is perfect, we don’t expect you to be perfect. Everyone messes up. We understand that. We just want you to try your best.

SS: But you’re perfect.

ME: What? Uhm, thanks, but no. I am not perfect.

I found this incredibly funny. My kid thinks I am perfect. Hello! I love that kid. Good for the ego, but he is so wrong. I am not even close to being perfect.

It got me thinking, “What kind of people do our kids think we are? And where the hell do they get this from?”

I have a calendar on our fridge that denotes all the activities we have as a family. It helps keep us informed. (well, most of us anyway) I have devised a chore list that resides on our fridge and on the back of his door to help him know what chores he needs to do everyday. I have a note on the front of the door that says, LUNCH to remind him not to forget. Most mornings I wake everyone up in the house. I keep him focused in the morning with constant reminders of what chore his is on. At night, I usually make dinner while helping him with his homework. I also regulate his evening chores and get him to bed on time. It is kind of my purpose in life to keep this family on track and organized.

Is this what he defines as perfect?

I wonder where he got this from. On (many) more than one occasion I have been humbled by thinking the wrong thing, being too quick to accuse and oh so many wonderful motherly learning moments. Being a mom is oh so humbling. I have never had my foot in my mouth as often. I have never felt so stupid, so unprepared, so haphazard, so lost.

I am not sure if it is simply that I married in to a house where I don’t speak the language, know the code or if I really just never understood so many things. I hear my husband and stepson speak and yet I am completely purplexed as to what they are really saying. I repeat verbatim what they say and ask if I understand correctly.

No

Oh, let me try again.

Nope, wrong again.

Okay can you explain it to me another way?

No

Alrighty then. I am just stupid.

Stupid, but perfect. A complete conundrum.

I am also curious “Does he think his dad is perfect? Is biomom?” How does he define perfect?

I will have to ask him some day.

In the meantime, I am greatly pleased (and yet oh so horrified) to know my kid thinks I am perfect.

This morning I realized that maybe this year is another big step in growing up. And not just, hey yeah Heidi it is so another year, duh. But maybe another mile stone Okay so the kid is really changing and this may be one of those Dr Phil moments that will change how he sees the world.

My stepson is completely different than he was last year and the years before that. Not only physically, but mentally too. All the basics, he is taller, has more hair in well, places, he has body odor which I can smell from a mile away, he is much more aware of his body (and the mirror), he is blushing when we are around girls, he is decoding the parent talk (and paying attention). The list is endless, but the major changes I have noticed have been what i think are hormonal and mental. And maybe they are one in the same. What the heck do I know, this is my first kid. Kind of like a test kid. The next one will be a better prototype.

Since he started 4th grade I swear the kid doesn’t have a brain. Or maybe he just forgets it in bed everyday, I don’t know. Seriously, he can not remember anything after a second and he gets this dazed look (and I believe that look is real).

Me: Hey can you go wash  your hands for dinner?

SS: Sure (turns around and then stops, stands there for a minute and then looks at me dazed, like a zombie just took over his body and is viewing the outside world for the first time) What did you say?

Me: Can you go wash your hands for dinner?

SS: Oh yeah, that’s right. (and off he moseys)

20 minutes later . . .

He comes in and I notice his hands are still filthy.

Me: Hey did you wash your hands like I asked you to?

SS: When did you ask me that? (frustrated)

ME: Uhm a little while ago. What have you been doing the last 20 minutes?

SS: I don’t know.

Okay about this time I am ready to start pulling my hair out and drooling or a nice head bang on the wall would be good. I feel like I am losing my mind. I have never felt as stupid as I do being married to these two guys.

He is always tired and can’t wake up completely. He wanders around in a daze. Some nights we can’t get him through dinner before he is yawning and falling asleep. If we go on any car ride after we pick him up, he crashes like he was up til 2am the night before. He has been sleeping real late on the weekends, even when he goes to be at 9pm.

His hand is permanently attached to his crotch. And this has been going on for awhile, the whole exploring thing, but just recently it turned in to a permanent fixture. It has even gotten to the point of my husband asking him to go in his room if he needs to do that. (this is our way of dealing with the touching yourself thing – if you have to do that you need to do it in the privacy of your room) Which means hubby is definitely annoyed because he is always telling me guys just do that and to get over it.

He gets angry immediately with the littlest comment from myself or my husband. And it isn’t just anger, it is tears of frustration and clenched fists. He is struggling with controlling his anger. It is seething beneath the surface of his child-like smile all the time. And it boils over like the flip of a switch. And there are days I have no idea what set him off. Which is so unlike him. He has always been such a fun-loving, goofy happy kid.

Anyway so I was joking with a fellow at a local shop I frequent about my kid losing his mind. He asked me how old he was. He told me that bothhis boys lost their minds when they went from 4th to 5th grade. Same type of stuff I am dealing with.

I am wondering, does anyone else feel this is happening or has gone through something similar because I am so clueless as to what to expect. I would love insight or recommended reading.

Lost socks

Leftover gadgets that don’t go to anything

Flashlights

Receipts

Food – old food, empty wrappers

Cat toys

Screwdrivers (not the drink)

Bottle caps

One shoe

You name it, I have found it in my stepson’s room. No joke. The kid just picks things up as he is meadering through the house. And if you ask him if he has seen it? Nope. No idea what you are talking about.

Trolls in the house, taking things?

Nope

A 9 year old boy

Who apparently, without his own knowledge, picks things up at random and they end up lost for months until we clean his room. And most of them I find in his bed. Seriously this kid has to have bruises from lying on stuff. Not to mention the piles of sand that accumulate in his sheets.

astounds me

Okay reverse pyschology here.

Almost every single time we eat together I have to ask my stepson to use his fork, spoon and sometimes both at the same time (pasta, corn). So I was thinking just to help lighten the situation and maybe show him that there are times to eat with your fingers, I should host a mommy/son dinner night with only finger foods. AND it could be fun! I was even thinking of breaking the whole grounding thing and being the fun mom and renting a video and eating on the floor in the living room in front of the tv.

I know what you are thinking, whoa slow down there. I might get out of control with the being the fun parent. But seriously how often do I get the wim to go against the grains of rules and discipline. NEVER.

Feeling the time to party. Feeling the time to have fun. Break the rules. Maybe I will even wake up the next day and make him a breakfast, then go shopping and buy him something. Maybe a full weekend of fun. Hmmmm . . .

I know the usuals – chicken nuggets, fruit – BUT I was looking for some really different finger food ideas. Keep in mind I am no Susy homemaker or Martha Stewart.

What do you think?

Do you have any way cool, fun ideas for a weekend with just the two of us?

Hubby and I got in a HUGE argument last night, that ended with going to bed angry and not talking to each other. Sigh.

I am frustrated beyond belief and it has slowly been building over the last couple of weeks. I have tried talking to my husband on numerous occasions, but each time he tells me he doesn’t want to talk about it right now.

WHY do I care about a child whose own parents don’t even care? see quote on my other blog – perfect example of how I feel

His bm doesn’t call, doesn’t send cards, doesn’t call back, doesn’t visit, doesn’t pay child support. Nothing. Except when my husband offers to pay to get him there because he never wants to stand in the way of him seeing his mother. He won’t fill out the paperwork because she may go to jail. Meanwhile we struggle sometimes to pay our bills and we can’t do a lot of the extra stuff that my stepson wants to do. That money would be helpful, at least putting it in a trust fund for the kid. But NO he won’t do it.

His dad (my husband) doesn’t buy him pants during winter (he has 4 pairs), doesn’t sit down with him and work with him on his homework, doesn’t make sure he gets to bed ontime, doesn’t make sure he has his homework or lunch for school, doesn’t consistently let him know what is going on and how it will work, doesn’t spend quality time with him.

My stepson is really lucky too because each time he choses not to do something or gets in trouble he has a really good chance of not getting in trouble. If he does get in trouble, he has an even better chance of the punishment not sticking. Hubby just doesn’t want to be the bad guy. He doesn’t have the time or the attention. The kid can’t see past the afternoon and if he can play video games, he is happy whether or not he passes the 4th grade.

Then there is me. I think school should be #1 in this kids life. It is pretty much why he exists (according to me). If he is not doing well (which he isn’t) that means we need to spend more time with him actually doing homework, practicing and basically just supporting him when he is struggling.  The kid cannot remember anything after a minute or two. He needs a father who reminds him to bring his lunch, pack his bag, wear his jacket, get enough sleep, etc. And then attitude comes next. The disrespect and constant arguing is completely unacceptable to me. I am tired of it. We need to stop him immediately when he is rude or argumentative and ask him to soften his voice and if he doesn’t then we take other measures. But just CONSISTENTLY bringing the attitude and arguing to his attention should make it go away. And I bear the brunt of it. I am the easy target.

I think it is the parent’s job to help the child see the things he cannot. It is the parent’s job to help this child grow into a good adult. And the product of the parent’s effort is seen every day in the child.

And I am tired. I am tired of arguing with him and he doesn’t stop til you walk away or get in his face. I am tired of spending my time working on homework and schoolwork only to turn around and see my husband chosing to watch tv/play with his airplane while I work with his son. I am tired of spending my hard earned money to buy this kid clothes, lunch food and other stuff when his own mother and father won’t do the same. In fact, I want to tell my husband none of my income will go towards anything but me because tha is what is ex-wife is doing and he doesn’t care. Why would he care if his own wife would do the same?

WHAT AM I DOING THIS FOR???? Why am I driving myself nuts over helping this kid?

Which leads my heart and mind to wonder what the hell I doing with this man? And I hate it when I feel so defeated that I am questioning my marriage. It is a horrible feeling. But if this was my kid, things would be so different. BUT IT ISN’T.

I keep thinking that the only way I can survive in this house is to care less than my husband cares. And that is not me. I might as well kiss my marriage goodbye. In ten years, I wouldn’t recognize myself. I know I would not be true to myself.

I care way too much. And it hurts. And I allow myself to feel the anguish. It is so hard to be tough and not be affected by what goes on in my own home.

I am so frustrated right now. I don’t want to be the “wait til mom gets home” mother. I don’t want to be the “hurry she on the way we need to look like we did what she asked” mother. (which happened last Sunday) I don’t want to be the “if mom checks it I will have to do it correctly” mother. I don’t want to be the “eat your vegetables” mother.

Why can’t I be the fun one? Why can’t I be the break all the rules mom? Why? Why? Why?

Ugh, sorry. Kind of losing it.

Feels like I am living with a weekend dad, holiday mom and a kid who just doesn’t see reality. And I am the only adult in the house. And yet, I have no control, no say. I just have to sit back and bide my time while my husband and stepson do everything they can to slide through life.

bitching over

for now

SS: Heidi, why have you been grading my homework?

ME: Because your dad is busy.

SS: You’ve been checking it a lot.

ME: Yep

SS: Do you think dad can check it tomorrow?

ME: Don’t know honey.

This has been a daily conversation this week. He is frustrated because when I check his homework, I actually check it. Which means he has to go back and redo some of the math homework, actually finish the language and write the spelling words correctly. Most of the time hubby doesn’t even look at his homework. My husband just packs his bag after he goes to bed.

I am a mean mom.

wfmw.jpgThis is so easy for me.

I only shop at two places online.

The Bookstore – Barnes and Noble.com (free shipping on orders over $25) And if you get a friend or a family member who also needs a couple of things, you can combine your order and buy less books and still get the free shipping. Plus I am a member so I get an additional 10% off as well as additional coupons by mail.

Old Navy.com I shop here for all of my stepson’s needs and quite a few of mine. I can usually get most clothes on clearance and you cannot beat the $5 shipping. I also love the shopping cart feature that allows me to choose the size and length of all items (tops, pants, shoes, etc). This really cuts down on the time I spend shopping. And if I don’t like it or it is the wrong size I can send it back using the shipping label they provide in my order.

Head on over to Rocks in my Dryer for other great Online Shopping Tips.

Being that it was my day off, I pitched in and helped my stepson with his homework from the get go. Normally I come in after it is done or late in the process. He finished his math really quickly and then wrote the spelling words he missed 5 times. I had to find a map on the internet for his geography homework so he could fill it in and practice. I unfortunately do not know the states very well. Which was funny. Guess I will know them pretty soon. And then I decided to take a different approach on spelling.

I had him say the word out loud and then spell it. He missed a few and after about twenty words he started losing focus. He would jump up from the chair and dance around the room. I just waited patiently and gave him his space. When he realized I wasn’t going to yell at him to sit down he came back and continued. Boys are so different. He was sliding around, under and over his chair. He would crawl under the table. He just never sat still.I had to refrain from telling him to sit down or hold still. And he is funny. If he would forget to say the word first he would just keep spelling, so I would make him say it and then spell it again. At first this frustrated him, then he thought it was funny so mid spell he would stop and start over. I just felt like it was good practice and saying the word first helped him stop and focus on the word. My husband was no help, he kept making him laugh and distracting him. I finally had to tell him to be quiet or leave. lol

I really enjoyed working with him this afternoon. I kept thinking I wonder if he will remember this. Will he remember that we sat and practiced homework together, laughing and talking? Or will he just remember when I discipline him?

Tomorrow we will practice his multiplication tables out loud.

I like doing the homework out loud. It gives him attention and he is learning. Two for one.

And he has the best sense of humor.

I can’t get over some of the things he says either. He is SO smart. Way smarter than me.

The other night he was telling me all this stuff about the Superbowl. How he was rooting for the Giants. How he and his friends were talking about the quarterback, Tom Brady. He read all this stuff in the newspaper they get at school. Kudos. I told him our family is an AFC football team family, we root for the same guys that play the Broncos. He disagreed (lol) and we discussed the different teams and why we thought they would win. I think hubby will need to brush up on some sports which he doesn’t really like. I can’t wait til he starts playing football. It will be so great to go watch him play. I know that will be my bonding time with my stepson. I will be the sports influence and I love that.

But the real question every night is –

Are you smarter than a 4th Grader?

I seriously question that every day.

I realized recently what is so difficult about becoming a stepmom for me. It is the feel of being powerless. I have basically given up control of mothering. And the people who controls it is my husband, the father of my stepson and his ex-wife, the mother.

As a stepmom, I help raise my stepson. I clothe him, feed him, study with him, read with him, send him to summer camp, play at the part with him, do his laundry, clean his room (yikes), provide a safe and loving enviornment. I also provide a comforting shoulder when he is sad, bear the brunt of his anger when he is frustrated, help when he is confused, stand in the middle of a tornado when he is excited.

Along with the standard parenting, I also hold his hand when he is pleading to his mother or grandmother. I convince him that his mother loves and misses him dearly when she doesn’t call. I smile and reasure him that his mother is wonderful when he goes on and on about how she does so many thing better than me. I deal with the confusion of emotion for at least a week before and a couple weeks after he has visited his mom. I listen to the anger when he explains to me that his mother didn’t call him back. And I help him work through his frustration when she just won’t ship back things he has left at her house.

The enormity of what I have taken on will probably haunt me forever. And at the same time I love my stepson as if he were my own. When and if my husband and I do have children together, I will make sure he knows he is and always will be part of our family. Even go so far as to make sure he understands he was here first.

It is hard for me as a woman to watch my stepson go through the fluster of emotions when he realizes that his mother is getting married and his happiness turns to confusion when she has less affection for him. I watch as his amazement that he is an older brother turn to disgust as his mother shows less patience and gives less attention. I listen as he argues with his grandmother that she can come pick him up on her day off and why won’t she.

My heart bleeds for this boy. This boy who kind of fell in my lap after I fell in love with a man.

This boy is stuck between a mother who just recently got married and had a baby boy and his father who recently got married to a woman as well. His life is turned upside down, as mine has been. His mother has less time for him every year. His father is just plain busy. And there we are, him and me, kind of in the sidelines watching and waiting to see what will happen with the two parent figures. And yet, I am even more in the background. He is at least a middle ground between the two. I am not.

That is what I am as a stepmother, a visitor. A person on the sidelines watching, cheering, playing water mom, sponsoring, and doing all else, except coaching the team or playing in the game. And at the end of the game, win or lose I am left in the stands waving to the team as they congratulate the coach on a game well played. I don’t get the victory carry off the field. I don’t get the congratulatory pats on the back. I don’t even really get to participate in the after celebration. I go home in my own car, riding high on the victory of my team winning or struggling with the saddens of a loss. Either way, I never really got to get in the game. I didn’t get to experience the first hand comrodare. And I never will. I will have a sensation or even if I am lucky have a moment or two in the limelight, but that is all.

This is a hard reality for me. I am very much a team player. I never wanted to be a cheerleader. I was always the player or if not, the coach. And to be doing everything, but having a say in the matter is very frustrating and disheartening for me. I like being a part of the blood and guts of life. I am very hands on. Which is why it can be so shocking when I realize what I have chosen.

I try to talk to my husband, but I come across angry and demanding. Or I cry and scare him away. Either way, communicating the way I feel is very, very hard for me. And even harder for my husband to understand. On a rare occasion, my stepson gets it. Hears my voice, sees my pain and hugs me. I am learning to take it and be thankful someone notices, but it is very hard to quiet my heart when it is longing for my husband to rescue me and comfort me himself.

But a girl can always dream. Maybe one day, my husband will look at me and say, You are a great mom. I  know it is hard, but you are doing so well! I love the way you handled that situation. It must be tough living in a house with two guys.

Until then (if then), I will continue to pat myself on the back and tell myself I am doing a good job. I am doing the best job I know I can.

I was inspired to write this after reading the newsletter from Jacquelyn Fletcher, Becoming a Stepmom February 2008. I have also taken her advice and forwarded it to my husband. I felt her take on what a biological parent can do to ease some of the stepparent’s stress was right on. thanks Jackie!