For the past several years, the children (my step-kids, age 15, 12 and 10) have gone to their biological mom's house during summer days. Their dad would drop them off in the morning on his way to work and pick them up on his way home from work. This was done for a few reasons:
- He was, at one time, a single dad who didn't have daycare.
- The biological mom (a.k.a. bio-mom, "BM", or "Momster") is a true stay-at-home mom. She doesn't have a job and therefore can devote her time to the children.
- The BM has a community pool in her neighborhood, and the children enjoy spending their summer days at the pool.
This year, however, is different. The first day of my husband's custodial week during summer vacation, the Momster mentioned to him that the children wish to spend their summer days at our house. I'm not exactly sure why this change took place - last year, the kids had no interest in staying here - mostly because there are no other kids their age in the neighborhood, we don't have a pool, and I work from home (which means they need to remain relatively quiet during the day).
My oldest step-son was upset at the prospect of staying here. He wanted to stay at his mom's house (we suspect this was so he could play World of Warcraft on the computer - a game he does not have at our home). My step-daughter and youngest step-son were all for staying at our house, thinking they were getting out of a summer of cleaning and general responsibility.
When my husband mentioned this change to me, I wasn't too pleased. First of all, the Momster made such a huge deal last year about the children staying at her home, and said she was advocating on the children's behalf by requesting they stay with her - why is this year all of a sudden different? Second, I work from home, which means I require a level of concentration and devotion to my job, in order to help provide food, clothing, and basic necessities for this family - I know these kids, and I know their (lack of) ability to "keep quiet". Third, what would they do all day - I explained that I was concerned about sleepovers and other kids being here and how it would be a disruption to my day. Fourth, having to pay for daily lunches for the kids will impact my budget, as I currently do the grocery shopping for our family.
I mentioned all these concerns to my husband, and was assured that they would all be addressed. The kids would be reminded to keep quiet during my work/office hours, they would be in charge of cleaning up their own messes, and they would not be allowed to have friends over during the week with the exception of special occasions when my husband can be home to maintain a level of order.
There - my concerns were addressed and things should work out fine.
Except... during the first week of the kids being home: I was interrupted several times (and have since reminded them that they need to knock before entering any closed door in our home); no messes were cleaned up (on Friday there were wet towels on the floor, food was all over the counter and two kids were sitting on our leather couch in wet swim trunks for a good part of the afternoon); no "be quiet" rules were followed (I had a horde of screaming, water-fighting kids right outside my office window for a good part of Friday's work-day); and the "no friends over" policy lasted all of 12 hours - three kids spent the night during my first week home with my step-kids.
To say I've been frustrated is a severe understatement. I'm not frustrated with the children; they are doing what they're allowed to do... break rules, disregard what I say/request, and have a fantastic fun summer break. I am, however, very frustrated with their dad, who it seems has allowed all of this to happen (at no consequence to him, I might add). He does not have to stay home with them and attempt to get work done; he does not have to listen to them fight and argue all day; and best of all, he gets to lessen his interaction with his former wife because he no longer needs to drop off and pick up the children on a daily basis. It all works out great for him.
When I've voiced my frustration to him this week, and said "I'm concerned about how this was all communicated to me and how it's turned out this week," his response was, "Well, I guess I'm not that cool."
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!?!
It certainly doesn't rectify my concerns or help me feel more like we're a team.
Ok, so I understand that all of this stems from me being a step-mom and not a bio-mom to these kids. However, even if I were their bio-mom, I doubt it would be considered ideal to have 3 rambunctious kids (AND their friends) in my work environment every day.
I have repeatedly quoted Frank Costanza this week: "Serenity NOW!"
I know (hope) it will get better, and that this frustration is just a part of me adjusting to my new routine and new responsibility. But let me tell you, the thought of running away (or at the minimum, getting in the car and driving in any one direction for a very very long time) has been very appealing!