Saturday, July 30, 2011

Someone Else

Do you know how I know I am a real parent? Because I feel completely taken for granted. If I was one of those stepmoms who wanted nothing to do with the kids, then everything I did for them would be noticed.

But my husband and the kids just assume I will always be around to take care of them, so why bother to acknowledge or say thank you, right?

I guess this is a good thing. I don't want the kids to feel like they have to earn my love or be afraid that I will leave someday. But...

I constantly feel inadequate, like I'm the wrong person for this job. Someone else would do it better. Someone else would keep up with the laundry and always have a clean house. Someone else would never get frustrated helping with homework. Someone else wouldn't say no so often. The list goes on and on.

Bottom line: someone else is better suited to raise these kids.

But here I am. I am who they ended up with. And I'm trying. And when I get something right, I'd just like some sort of reassurance that I'm headed in the right direction. Any kind of sign that I'm not doing more harm than good.

Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Oh Baby!

To conceive or not to conceive, that is the question.

There are about 4,012 reasons for us not to have more kids. Not the least of which is that my body doesn't seem to want to. Apparently, my uterus is as stubborn as I am. Who knew? But here are a few others.

1. We have 2 perfectly good kids. One boy, one girl. It's the family people spend years and 10s of thousands of dollars to get if they have to.

2. The kids are at a really good stage right now. Potty trained, relatively easy to entertain, independent. Why oh why would we want to start over? Diapers, up-all-nights and chasing a toddler are all well behind us.

3. The kids are already 5 1/2 and just about 11. Which means there would be a pretty significant gap between the stepmonkeys and any new kids. I said from the beginning that I didn't want them to be so far apart in age that it looks like my husband has 2 different "sets" of kids. I just wanted them all to blend together.

4. We have an every-other-day schedule. Perfect if you ask me. Don't get me wrong, I'd take those kids full time if it was an option. But it isn't, so let's focus on the positives of this arrangement. (I think this calls for sub categories)
a. My husband and I have time to ourselves.
b. If we'd like to travel, we have built-in arrangements for the kids.
c. Every other weekend, I have time to catch up on daytime courtroom dramas saved on my DVR cleaning and laundry.

In short, we have it good. And yet...

I want a baby. In fact, it's more than that. It's all I think about. I've been pregnant, and I can't get that feeling out of my head. To love someone who
you've never even seen or felt is just something that can't be duplicated.

So here we are. 4,012 reason why we should just give up and only one reason to keep trying.

And that one reason is all I need.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yes it is. No it's not. Yes it IS!

The arguing is Out. Of. Control. in our house. I can't stand it anymore. And I'm not even referring to the constant bickering between the kids.

Every time I say ANYTHING, someone argues with me.

It's mostly between me and Minnie. We're both so stubborn and always have to be right. My husband is so annoyed by our arguing at this point. He doesn't understand why I can't just let it go.

But I can't. Why? Because she is wrong, and I am RIGHT! Duh.

But seriously, why am I arguing with an (almost) 11 year old? Does it really matter if she thinks you don't have to go to college to become a lawyer? Or if she insists the library is open on Sundays?

It's a constant battle. And I think the key is to pick my battles because her attitude is growing as fast as she is. There are going to be important things to fight about over the next few years, I'm sure. So I guess I should just save my breath. I'm gonna need it.

But the worst part is that now Quiz is doing it too. He argues with me before he even hears all of what I'm saying. I actually had this argument with him:

"All of my friends are going to kindergarten with me."

"Yes, but there are two classes. So some will be in your class and some will be in the other class."

"No, I SAW them when we went there!" (the orientation)

"Yes, that was all the kindergartners, but there are two classes."

"No there isn't."

"Yes there is."

"Nu uh."

"Ya huh."

Really? I'm arguing with a 5 year old! Constantly actually. If I say the sky is blue, he'd say it's red. And I'd keep going until he agrees with me.

I think I need to embroider myself a little pillow that says "Pick your battles, Moron!" because I can't seem to remember.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Stepmom

Rants from Mommyland is running my post today. These girls are awesome! I'm glad that English degree I'm still paying for is finally paying off. Wait, I do this for free?! Oh well, still counts. :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Things I Should Stay Out Of

The list of Things I Should Stay Out Of continues to grow and now includes school registration.

I have a hard time giving up control of anything, but as a stepmom I am forced to. Except really, I have no control to give up in the first place.

School registration is today. As in TODAY. This day. The one happening right now.

This is not something I can handle being that I am "just" their stepmom. But First Wife doesn't seem very concerned that she hasn't received a registration packet in the mail.

I also have questions regarding the bus routes. The middle school says Minnie can't ride a bus because we are only a mile and a half away from the school, and you must live at least 2 miles away to qualify for bus transportation.

Really? The school thinks having an 11 year old walk a mile and a half unsupervised and in all kinds of Iowa weather is a good idea? Am I being overprotective here? Maybe. But I'd like to at least try to get her on a bus route. I'd like to argue my point with SOMEONE. There has to be a way around this. We live a few blocks from an elementary school. Can't she just catch a bus there?

My point is that I can't call anyone. I am not a parent (except when it comes to doing their laundry, driving them to their activities, or taking care of them when they're sick) but anyway...

The other issue is Minnie's last name. I've mentioned before that we are trying to get it legally changed to the name that I, my husband, Quiz AND First Wife share. Even though she's used our last name since she was barely a year old, the middle school is insisting she use the name on her birth certificate. Keep in mind this is the same school district that has let her register using our name for the past 6 years.

So, my husband and First Wife both agreed that this needs to get taken care of, once and for all. But the paperwork to change her name needs to be filled out and filed, and First Wife isn't exactly known for her timely response to these types of things.

Once again, my hands are tied. I can't go down to the courthouse and get the process started. And in this case, neither can my husband. And seeing that there is a waiting period for a new birth certificate even after the paperwork is filed and that registration is TODAY (did I mention that it's today? Because it is.), looks like Minnie will have to register with a different last name than she's ever used.

Getting in the middle of all this and nagging my husband for answers only causes fights. And I, being the control freak that I am, just need to get it through my thick skull that I'm better off staying out of it.

So to recap, the list of Things I Should Stay Out Of now includes registration, bus transportation, and the process of changing Minnie's name. Maybe I should make some type of spreadsheet to keep track of this growing list.

But everything will eventually work itself out, right? Even without me butting in?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


We are going camping this weekend.

Who ever decided this was a fun activity? Let's pack up all our crap, drive into the woods and spend a weekend with 2 monkeys who are covered in dirt, lake water, and bug spray. Then, to celebrate our survival, let's sleep on the ground!

Not my idea of a good time, but it involves beer and marshmallows so I suck it up and do it once a year.

This year, our little adventure conflicts with Minnie's Girl Scout camping trip. And she would rather hang out with her friends than us.

So it begins. It's hard enough to share her with her mom. But more and more lately, we are having to share her with her friends too.

As the years go by, (so fast! I don't think anyone ever warned me how FAST kids grow up. I need to know these things! Don't save all your parenting pearls of wisdom for moms of newborns!) Minnie is going to have a lot of choices. I'm guessing there comes a time, more than likely once she can drive, that she's going to have the option of which house she spends her time in.

We live by The Schedule. But how long does that last? I can't see telling a teenager "No. You have to come over here. It's OUR night!"

I don't want her to always take the easy route though. I hope she doesn't just choose to stay with whichever parent she hates the least on any given day. She really has the opportunity to manipulate this system in the future. Mad at Mom? Just go to Dad's. Dad says you're grounded? Right back to Mom's.

So, for now we just stick to The Schedule. Don't like our rules? Tough. It's our night and you have to deal with us.

Don't want to go camping with us? Too bad. Because we like spending time with you, and the years that we have left to make your decisions for you are slipping by quickly.

So Minnie, pack up your sleeping bag and your little tween attitude, cuz we're taking this show on the road!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

You know you're a mom when...

vomit sends you into action, not a frozen stupor.

Not ten full minutes into the kids' first swim lesson, and...disaster. A little boy threw up. In. The. Pool.

Ok, yuck. I agree puke is never fun, but all four teenage lifeguards FROZE. I'm talking deer in the headlights. No one moved. Finally one of them had the bright idea to get the kids out of the pool. Duh! Then, they all got suited up in their haz mat suits to get it cleaned up. One lifeguard held a bag out as far from his body as he could while another one (with gloves up to his WRISTS) used the skimmer to chase down the rest of the mess.

The whole thing was rather entertaining. 1. Because it was a VERY small amount of vomit in the first place, and most of it was on the side of the pool, not in the water and 2. Because it was very clear that none of these lifeguards had ever cleaned up vomit in their lives, let alone been puked ON.

So here are my rules for body fluid emergencies, for teenage babysitters/life guards/Target employees. Just for future reference.

1. Remove the child/ children from the area. Immediately. There is no negotiating this one.
2. Do not panic and freeze.
3. Do not scream and scare the poor child. He's having a bad enough day. He did just throw up, after all.
4. Clean up the aformentioned mess, and realize that this is a good reason to go to college to get a better job AND an even better reason to wait til you're 30 to have children.

I remember very clearly the first time I had concrete evidence of unconditional love. It was 3 am, and I was pulling vomit covered sheets off Quiz's bed when he threw up again. On my arm.


But he was so scared and sick and looked so pathetic, that I didn't even react. I picked him up, set him in front of the toilet and rubbed his back while he finished throwing up.

Then, I washed my arm.

THAT is love. And that is being a parent.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Best Dad Ever

I am married to The Best Dad Ever. A lot of women claim this, but I have proof.

First of all, he is in LOVE with his kids. The sun and the moon revolve around them, and he doesn't know what to do with himself when they aren't around. He's always down on the floor playing legos with Quiz or working on the computer with Minnie or planning special dad/son or dad/daughter outings. In short, they are his life.

That said, he can be impatient and tends to say "no" impulsively, without even thinking. But hey, no one's perfect.

Ok, so none of this is special or qualifies him for the Best Dad Ever. But I'm not done.

He NEVER mentions this, mostly because I think he honestly forgets. But I tell everyone, only because it proves how awesome he really is. So, here's the number one reason he's the Best Dad Ever.

Minnie is not biologically his daughter. First Wife had her at 19 and was raising her with the help of her grandparents when she met V. He was almost instantly "daddy" and has been ever since Minnie was a year old. He's never formally adopted her, but she's used his last name since she was a baby.

When First Wife and V decided to divorce, his main concern was losing Minnie. Legally, he had no right to her. But thankfully, it worked out so that he has the same custody arrangement with Minnie as he does with Quiz.

Legally, we still have no claim to Minnie which complicates things. For instance, the middle school will not let her register with our last name, and is insisting she use the name on her birth certificate, so we are in the process of trying to get her name legally changed.

But all that aside, Minnie is ours. She lives with us 50% of the time, just like her brother. We buy her clothes and shoes and pay for all her after school activities. We go to every play and soccer game. Mostly, we just ignore the technicalities.

We are thankful to First Wife for allowing for this arrangement. Because legally, she didn't have to.

So there it is. Evidence. I am married to the Best Dad Ever.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Meet the Stepmonkeys

Skinny Minnie* is 10, going on 17. She's into all things popular- vampire movies, teen heartthrobs, the "fashion" found in perfume-overloaded mall stores. If it's "in", she wants it. And it's SO NOT FAIR if she can't have it. ALL her friends have everything, and she has nothing. We are so mean!
Minnie is going into middle school next month and has dreams of completely reinventing herself. She wants new hair, contacts, new clothes, makeup, a new car for us to drive her around in, and possibly a few piercings, if it's not too much to ask. She talks daily about the new life she's planning. She has put a lot of thought into which group she plans to join in middle school. "Going Goth" is my least favorite of these options. She has mentioned dying her hair, wearing all black, and piercing her lip. Ugh.
I think mostly she just wants to be liked. She tends to smother people just wanting so badly to be their best friend. She gets her feelings hurt easily, and frankly sending her to middle school feels like feeding her to the wolves.
Minnie is one of the sweetest kids you'll ever meet. Always taking care of everyone and wanting everyone to be happy. I hope she doesn't lose that.

Skinny Minnie, at the beach and enjoying swimming

Quiz* is 5 and full of energy. The kid asks questions from the moment he wakes up and never takes a break. Sometimes I get so sucked into his line of questioning, that I don't even realize I've answered 57 questions in the span of 2 minutes. He's exhausting! I think I'd lose 50 lbs if I lived a day in his shoes.
He's starting Kindergarten in the fall and can NOT wait! How many more days? What's my teacher's name? Who's in my class? What bus am I riding? How many more days now?
He loved preschool, and I hope Kindergarten lives up to his expectations.
Quiz is funny, snuggly, energetic, stubborn, and has a slight speech impediment which entertains my husband and me to no end (we checked, it's nothing to be worried about at this point, so don't judge.)

Quiz, at church and playing soccer.

The stepmonkeys are my joy in life. Some days, they make me want to pull my hair out, but mostly they just make me laugh.

*These are not their real names, obviously. I've decided to protect their privacy. (Mostly because if Minnie or any of her friends ever found this, her life would be over. I. Am. So. Embarrassing.)

Introducing the (mostly not) Evil Stepmother

I decided to start this blog because I am addicted to mommy blogs, but feel somewhat unrepresented in this world. Where are the step mommy blogs? My life as a stepmom of 2 is just as crazy/hilarious/fun/frustrating as any "real" mom's. So here goes nothing. I have NO idea how to write a blog and even less of an idea of how to be a good stepmom, but I'll do the best I can.

I have lived with my 2 kids since May 2007 so it irritates me when someone asks me when I'm going to have "my own" kids. I've been helping to raise them for over 4 years. How long did it take you to fall in love with your kids? Less than 4 years? That's what I thought.

So, they ARE my kids. Even if I didn't give birth to them and they only live in my house 50% of the time.

This question is even more heartbreaking due to the fact that my husband and I have been trying to have a baby for 9 months. I carried one child for 7 weeks before I miscarried. Sad? Yes. Definitely. Devastating is a better word. But I was able to put the loss in perspective because of my 2 other kids. I'd rather lose a 7 week old fetus than either one of the other kids, even if they aren't my flesh and blood. I'd rather die myself than lose either one of them.

So, please stop asking me (or any other stepmom) when I am going to have "my own" kids. I already have 2, and my entire life revolves around them.