Speaking of puberty... boy did it rear it's ugly head here yesterday. We picked the kids up from the Momster's house at 10am, as Easter was our holiday this year. They got in the car and immediately told us how horrible the week had been. Apparently, the Momster was in fine form. It's so hard to bite your tongue and not agree with the kids when they say how mean and unfair she can be. We simply let them vent.
It's mostly my step-daughter (age 12) and younger step-son (age 10) who are the recipients of their mom's nastiness. For some reason, my older step-son (age 15) has escaped most of the unpleasantness. I think he's learned how to play her game, and he is a bit of a "yes ma'am" type of guy anyway (somewhat of a "noodle" if you will). The younger ones will complain and vent, and the older one will defend his mom. It's sad to see him lie as an attempt to make her look good. I guess that's the only way she can look good... 'cause the truth certainly ain't pretty!
Anyway, as a result of my step-daughter participating in her school talent show (against the Bio-Mom's wishes), her BM was furious with her. She is grounded from TV and phone indefinitely, and has taken up the duty of live-in maid for the foreseeable future. In addition, her younger brother has also fallen victim and had his TV privileges stripped. He was told to ask his sister if he wanted to know why he was being punished 'cause it's her fault.
Again, I'm very proud of my step-daughter for making the unpopular/difficult choice and deciding to do the talent show. However, at this point, I'm not sure the benefits outweigh the consequences. My oldest step-son was very upset with his dad last night for siding with her and allowing her to do the talent show. WHAT A MESS!!! The Momster has somehow twisted things around so much that it's now my husband's and step-daughter's fault that the children missed 7 hours of interaction with their cousins (on their mom's side) from Colorado.
The truth is that my husband and I were very generous, allowing the Momster to have the children during her non-custodial week, so they could attend a wedding for her side of the family. We gave up our time so that this could happen, and we knew it was in the kids best interest. In a perfect world, we would have a give-and-take relationship with the bio-mom, and this would not be such a big deal. With her, we know she will never ever reciprocate and allow us one minute of "extra" time with the kids.
However, my 15-year-old step-son was a bit emotional last night, and accused his dad and his sister of preventing the children from seeing their mom's family. Needless to say, it didn't go over very well. Jesse is the most patient, compassionate, understanding person I know. Last night I was glad that he was not manipulated or guilted by his son's emotions. After having a bit of an explosion regarding video games and the amount of time he's been playing them, he told Jesse, "It's your fault and [step-daughter's] fault that we didn't see our cousins last Friday!!!" To which Jesse reminded the children in no uncertain terms that:
- We gave up 2 days of our custodial time so they could see their mom's family last weekend. They attended the wedding and saw their aunts/uncles/cousins and spent time with them.
- We have previously given up nearly a weeks' worth of days so they could see their grandmother and aunts/uncles/cousins. Their mother has never once forfeited a single hour of her custodial time so the children could see their dad's side of the family when they have visited from out of town.
- If it is so important that her children interact with her family, perhaps she should take them to visit her family. That is what we do when we take the children to see Jesse's parents, siblings, and all their children. We manage to make that happen about twice a year while juggling full-time jobs and other responsibilities.
- The children were with their bio-mom for spring break this year, and she had an entire week to travel with them (something she made a big deal about earlier in the year), and yet they stayed home and did "nothing at all" during their spring break.
- We always advocate on the children's behalf when it comes to dealing with their bio-mom. Including activities such as track, soccer, speech and theater. None of which their bio-mom supports their involvement.
- Their bio-mom very rarely attends or participates in their activities, and refuses to provide transportation to/from auditions, rehearsals, practices, etc...
It's important to note that not once during the entire conversation was a bad word said about the children's mother. Jesse simply said that if the children do not like certain things that their mom or dad do, then they had better make sure they don't repeat those mistakes or bad behaviors when they have kids of their own.
Sometimes it frustrates me to no end that these kids can be so ungrateful about our commitment to them and our involvement in their activities. It's hard to take a step back and realize that it's not entirely their fault. They are being fed so many lies by their mom, and sometimes they start to believe what she says. I think open, candid conversations like the one last night are the only way to get them to open their eyes and start looking at the entire situation. I look forward to more of these conversations as they grow older and are able to digest more information.
We'll just keep jumping hurdles until we cross the finish line. If anyone has some suggestions about how to not spill my wine while jumping hurdles, I'd appreciate your input!