Wednesday, March 24, 2010


As a step-mom, uncomfortable situations go with the territory. There are times I'm just plain unsure how to handle them.

In the early days of my relationship with my (now) husband, I was eager to get to know his former wife. After all, she couldn't be too bad of a person if he'd loved her and remained with her for nearly fifteen years, right? So, I dove in. Whenever I would see her, I would attempt to engage her in conversation. I love people; it doesn't matter who it is, most everyone has an interesting life story and I love to hear 'em all. So I tried to get to know her better at every opportunity.

It became increasingly obvious that she really wasn't interested in getting to know me. I didn't take it personally, but I was a bit saddened for her children that she didn't seem to care who I was or what I was about. I was spending so much time with her kids and she didn't seem concerned about who I was or what kind of influence I was on them.

Over the course of my relationship with my husband and his kids, I've had my fair share of trials and head-scratchers where the bio-mom/ex-wife was concerned. She's certainly a unique person and is as unpredictable as the weather. Regardless, it's really not my place to judge her or - at this point - regard her as anything more than my step-kids mom. She's just not my kind of people, if you know what I mean. Even if we didn't have all this "stuff" between us, I doubt very much we'd be friends who'd chat on the phone or go out for coffee.

There are times when mutual acquaintances (usually other parents) approach me and tell me how "weird" or "mean" or "odd" my step-kids biological mom is. No matter who it is approaching me, it always makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable. I know she's "weird". I know she's "mean". I'm painfully aware how "odd" she is. But it doesn't make me feel good to talk bad about her with other people. It certainly doesn't help anything, and I'm sure it only makes me seem catty and a bit "weird", "mean", and/or "odd" myself. There's just no winning in this situation; either I defend her or I agree with the statements made by others.

On the flip-side, there are some days when the bio-mom has done something so irrational or selfish or mean that I'm practically begging for someone to walk up to me and start a conversation that revolves entirely around how much she sucks. It never happens when I want it to.

For those of you in my position (or even those of you in the bio-mom position), has anyone found a way to combat this awkwardness? Short of moving out of our small-ish city, I'm out of ideas. Is there a tactful response I can use in these situations?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

...And They're Back!

We returned from our Cancun vacation late Monday night/early Tuesday morning. Although we all had a great time, we were ready to come home. My clothes were starting to fit tighter at the belly, and my liver was screaming for its own vacation; there's only so many fruity drinks ones liver can withstand.

All-in-all, the vacation was a success, and I'm glad we decided to take a trip with the kids. We spent a majority of our time at the resort - swimming in the ocean, drinking, lounging by the pool, eating, watching the entertainment/shows, drinking, eating... Did I mention we did a lot of eating and drinking?!?

We reserved two hotel rooms for our vacation; one for my husband and me, and one for his three kids (step-son age 16, step-daughter age 13 and step-son age 11). My step-daughter was none too pleased at the prospect of sharing a room with her brothers for a week, but she was even less pleased at the prospect of staying home in order to have her very own room at her mom's house. So... with no small amount of complaining, she decided to grace us with her presence. Lucky us.

Throughout the week, she made sure to tell us at every opportunity how unhappy she was with the sleeping arrangements. I was determined to ignore her complaining, and would often just break out into song whenever she started to whine. Trolololololololo....

My step-daughter is quite possibly the messiest/sloppiest person I've ever encountered. The state of her bedroom at her dad's and my house is a constant point of contention between us; she feels it's "her room" and she can therefore keep it in whatever state she would like. I (and often her dad) feel that she'll be forever sloppy if we don't help her change this soon. So far, she's won out and her room is a huge disaster at all times. On vacation, however; she took advantage of the room-sharing situation as a way to boss her brothers around. At one point, I actually heard her say, "There is a place for your shoes to be put away, and you need to put them in the appropriate place; this room is a disaster". Now, I'm all for her being neat and orderly and wanting her room to be clean - but COME ON! This is the same girl who leaves a trail of clothes and school items each and every day she walks through our door after school. Not only that, but I walked into the kids' hotel bathroom immediately after she delivered her cleanliness lecture, only to find HER clothes piled three feet tall under the bathroom vanity.

I think it bothers me so much because the kids' mom often delivers double-standard messages to my husband and myself, and I do not want my step-daughter to turn out like that.

Regardless, we were on vacation and I just wanted to hit the pool and read a good book. So I kept my comments to a brief "Wow, would you mind if I went to get my camera and got that statement on video?", to which I received the glare of all glares. No worries, though... it's nothing seventeen Strawberry Daiquiris couldn't fix for me. KIDDING, only kidding! It was only thirteen.

Really, it was a wonderful time. We managed to squeeze in a zip line adventure - something we all really enjoyed, and we swallowed enough saltwater to last until our next visit to the ocean. I'm very glad we went on this vacation as a family. We made memories that will last a lifetime, and as a step-parent who missed out on the early years of these kids' lives, I am glad to have these types of experiences that they can look fondly upon as they age.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

...And They're Off!

As a single gal, I loved nothing more than a good vacation. Sandy beaches, palm trees, fruity cocktails, and a good book were the keys to happiness. Since marrying my husband (and his three kids), vacations are fewer and farther between.

My husband is from a different state about sixteen hours away by car. Most of my "vacations" now involve the five of us driving cross-country to visit relatives. Not that I mind this - his family is wonderful and I really enjoy spending time with them. The down-side is that my frequent tropical vacations have gone to the wayside in favor of the dreaded road trip.

Three kids in the backseat of the car spells all sorts of fun: "Name That Smell" is at the top of the list, followed closely by "Stay in YOUR Space" and "Who Drools Most While Sleeping". Good times...

This year, though, I convinced my dear husband that I am desperately in need of a tropical vacation. After countless hours of research on locations and prices and packages, I found an incredible deal for the family; an eight-day/seven-night all-inclusive stay in sunny Cancun Mexico. This is truly the only way I can imagine traveling with my step-kids; having pay for restaurant meals for three (pre)teens is not my idea of great money management.

My husband is not necessarily excited about this trip (his idea of a vacation is an "adventure" - snowboarding, climbing, rafting). He does understand that sometimes I need to have a "win", so we compromised. I get my sunny vacation... but we bring the children, and include them in the experience. Not that I am against them coming along; but it does change the budget for our vacation.

As of Monday morning, the five of us will be headed out to Cancun for a week of relaxation. I have a stack of books, my iPhone is loaded with movies, and I couldn't be more excited for a vacation!!


Friday, March 5, 2010

"Where's My...!"

That's what I constantly find myself saying: "Where's my (fill in the blank)?!?!"

Ever since moving in with my husband and his children, over three years ago, I started to "lose" things. I'm used to having a stash of my favorite goodies to nosh on when the urge hits me. The urge, I'll admit, is a daily occurrence (sometimes several times a day), and I enjoy having a collection of sweets and treats to choose from. My weakness is chocolate, but in a pinch I'll settle for most anything sweet. Except for those weird Asian candies; have you ever tried those things?!?! BLECH!

Anyway, earlier this week, I went a-huntin' for some Hershey Kisses that I knew were in our pantry. My husband was out of town for work, which meant I got to raid the stash guilt-free and load up on sugar without him being there to remind me of the likelihood I'd end up diabetic... blah, blah, blah. So... I went to the pantry and *GASP* - no chocolate! Hmmm... maybe I'd eaten it all the night before during a sleep-walking quest for sugar. I'm not prone to sleep-walking, but maybe I'd done it...

So I decided to grab a few Twizzlers that were left over from a recent road trip. The bag of Twizzlers was there... but there were NO TWIZZLERS left in it. How is this possible?!?! I would never leave an empty bag/box/carton/container in the pantry. Throwing the empty bag is my means of getting rid of the evidence that I've eaten an entire bag of (insert diabetes-invoking sweet here). In desperation, I grabbed for the gummy bears (also a left-over from the road trip). Again... empty bag. Well, truthfully, the culprit left three or four gummies in the bag, perhaps thinking I wouldn't notice that the other two hundred went missing.

Angry - and with very low blood sugar - I sat on the kitchen floor and stewed. Those rascals ate my ENTIRE stash of sweets.

It's now a few days after the incident, and I'm still a bit ticked off. I know having kids means sacrifice. But I didn't know I'd have to share my candy!!!

Ok, ok, I think I'll live. But the thing that actually does bother me is that someone thought they could just take without asking. That is no ok with me; it never will be. Whether it's stealing money or clothes or personal items or - in this case - my prized candy stash, it's all the same to me; it's all done with the same intent. So how do we (my husband and I) teach this lesson?

I refuse to lock up my candy; in a critical situation, I don't have time to look for the keys!

Where's my sanity?!?!