Step-Parenting: Working as a Team

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I don’t think anyone really sets out to be a single parent. I know I didn’t. I had delusions of a wonderful husband, 2.5 kids, and white picket fence.. unfortunately the man who I chose to be my husband was actually too full of himself to treat my daughter and I right. So here I am, or was, a single parent.

As a mom, my kid comes first. She comes before me, she comes before my boyfriend, friends, wants and even needs. I will and have burned bridges for her, and have made sure she was cared for and happy even in my sickest days. My daughter is even the type to like to be tucked in at night, so even when I was in the hospital (if she wasn’t with me), I’d call just to say goodnight and sweet dreams. She is my first thought upon waking up, and last thought upon going to bed. I would cross the world for her, because, that’s what mother’s do!

So when I meet a man I’d like to have a relationship with, I make it known that my kid comes first. I make it damn well known that we are a packaged deal, and if he doesn’t want responsibility down the line, or to forge a relationship with my girl, then he knows to take a hike. I’m very up front about it.

(Jon’s and my first conversation went like this – on both sides: Hi, I have kid(s) and a chronic illness. If that’s a deal breaker.. bye.)

Now days, well, we’ve been dating for almost a year I think? We work as a team. He relies on me to help with his daughter, and I rely on him to help with mine. We may be step-parents to each other’s children, but we work as a team.  Our end goal, is two happy, well-adjusted kids in a stable home. Now that’s not to say that a child can’t live in a stable home and be happy with a single parent, (she did, trust me) that’s just our goal since we’re living together.

We’re a team in our love life, so we’re a team in our family life as well. The point of bringing someone into your home, is to envelope them into your family, so we both raise both children.

This came up recently because someone we know doesn’t feel that way. She’s in a long term relationship with someone, and she also has 2 kids with another on the way. She doesn’t feel like it’s responsibility to help care for the kids since he didn’t father them (oddly enough, she has another guy paying child support for a kid that isn’t his.. so that doesn’t make much sense to me). That baffles me, you have someone that you love and supposedly loves you back, that is living with you and your children, and you don’t expect him to help out with your kids? You don’t have your boyfriend care for them? Does he not pick them up from school? Comfort them when they have a fever? Does he not love your children as part of you? If not, then why be with him?

That baffles me. As a mother, I try to be there as much as possible, but with working full time, I’m not. What I can’t fit into my day, Jon does. He cooks meals, drives her places, picks her up, and has basically taken on a fatherly role for her. The love between those two makes me so happy it’s ridiculous. I know he would go to the end of the earth for not just his daughter, but for mine. I am so proud to have him in our lives, he’s a great dad (Noodle doesn’t call him dad, just Jon FYI).

To think that there is a child out there, with a step-“parent” that can’t be troubled to pick his girlfriend’s daughter up while she’s indisposed… disgusts me to be honest. It just continues the horrible step-parent stereotype! “That’s not my kid, so I’m not doing it”. The worst part is? It shows the child that she isn’t loved, it shows her an unhealthy relationship, which of course she will model as she gets older.

I don’t know, it just really confuses me. Why create a family with a man, but exempt your previous children from it? Why be with someone who you don’t trust to care for your kids, or who doesn’t WANT to? Why fail your children like that?

I’m just confused and disgusted.

 

I’m also grateful for the man I have, and that he and his daughter are part of my family. I will kick some ass for that little girl of his, she deserves the world, just like my Noodle.

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We are a Team, We are a Family.

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Snow Snow Rambling Snow Snow

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The first big snow of the season is supposed to come this weekend. Sure, we’ve had a dusting or two, maybe a couple of inches, but they are saying it could be 6-10 inches over the course of 48 hours.

As much as I hate Winter, I do look forward to the first snow storm. Something about it brings out something very childlike in me. I have so many memories attached with the first snow and getting excited for Christmas, that I can’t help but be a little bit thrilled when the first snow storm hits. Not to mention, we’ve had a handful of years where it didn’t snow until after January, so huzzah to snow for Santa.

I do have some things to do before the snow gets here. I decided against putting up Christmas lights on the outside of the house, (got the inside covered!) but I do need to move some things into the shed and pull out the snow shovels. Just generally clean up the yard so I don’t have to do quite as much in the spring. The snow is supposed to start tomorrow evening, so I know what my day plans are for tomorrow.

Thankfully I don’t have any plans for this weekend. I did most of my present – shopping online this year, so beyond one more day with a trip to a couple stores, I’m done. So while the snow is piling down, I’ll be at home with my tea, occasionally shoveling but mostly binge watching Netflix and random cleaning. Unfortunately the boyfriend, Jon has to work, so I’ll be worried about him driving, but I’m sure he’ll be fine. Hopefully the snow slows down by Monday so my own commute to work won’t be too bad.

Other than my excitement for the white shit that falls from the sky, things are.. okay. The short kid is excited for Christmas, I got her one big present and some smaller things, and of course Santa is coming to my house and Grandma and Grandpas.

I’m trying to share in her excitement but of course, for I assume all single parents, the holidays are a stressful time. Jon has helped out with some gifts, and has been helping me tackle some things around the house I haven’t had time for so that’s definitely been helping. Just trying to stay on top of all the household chores and the finances is kicking me when I’m already down.

Of course my FMLA for work had expired, and getting it renewed isn’t exactly easy. I’m trying to be patient and understanding, but it hasn’t been easy on the corporate side of things. Thankfully I have a couple of friends who either work in employment law or are very familiar with FMLA that are guiding me through it. Of course, all of that just adds stress on top of what I already am dealing with, plus being sick. That’s how it always works. When it rains, it pours. (Or in this case, SNOWS!)

Other than that, one thing I don’t have to worry about is my car. My lovely Rav4 hit 250,000 miles the other day. We rebuilt the transmission 2 summers ago, so that’s been good. However, my wheel bearing went out. I went to get that replaced, and also replaced the ball joint as well as finally getting new tires for it. It was time, I couldn’t put it off any longer as they were pretty bad and I was sliding on just wet pavement. Of course that set me back quite a bit, but it needed to be done, and thankfully it is done just before the big snow.

I am still reminding myself to think of the good things, because like anyone else under a lot of stress, it’s easy to take life for granted. I’m very lucky, even though I’m having a tough time with my health, I’ve also been much sicker. I may be stressing about finances, but I have my house, car and decent job. I may get overwhelmed, but I’ve got a smart cookie for a kid, and a very loving boyfriend (who brought me a chai at work today because I was having a rough day!). There’s an upside to everything, and I am very blessed to have the life I do and the people in my life.

Twas a 4 Day Weekend..

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So today was the first day back at work after 4 days off. The prior week we also had a long weekend, and only worked 2 days. Lets just say it was a lot more needed than I originally thought. The stress from work and every day stuff had really been building up, and I hadn’t noticed how bad. So it was bliss. I could tell the difference while I was driving into work this morning, (Stevie goes in before me.. haha) I wasn’t making a list of the things I’d need to take care of, and my shoulders weren’t up to my ears. It was very fun, and very laid back and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Thursday, my family came over for the short one’s birthday, in addition to two of her friends. It was so relaxing just to chit chat, have some beers and grill (the new grill rocks!) while the kids tore around the yard. Noodle LOVES her new bike, and is having conniption fits over all her other toys and clothes. She had the biggest smile on her face the whole day! Birthday Number 9 was a success!

Friday was for relaxing. Just took care of some things around the house, and then Steve and I sat outside and had some beers with the neighbors. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, I adore that family. They are like my second family, and if they end up moving this year, I don’t know what I’m going to do without them.

Saturday we had Steve’s uncle and aunt over for more grilling. Noodle went and played next door and got spoiled. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a long time. Seriously, it was one of those laughing fits where you know there’s a distinct possibility that you might pee yourself. I absolutely adore his family so far, which is a bonus!

Sunday, we worked on the yard and garden. I had already planted, but I wanted to weed again, thin the radishes and put my tomato cages up. We cleaned and organized the shed, put my AC units in, and finished up the house. The end of the weekend was spent sitting on the deck for dinner and enjoying the beautiful weather. My little Noodle was at a sleepover, so it was a kid free evening too!

Seriously, it was a wonderful weekend. Between my daughter making me smile, and Steve making me smile, I don’t think I got grumpy at all (well except before my morning coffee, that’s a given). I can’t wait until our mini vacation next month, it’s going to be great.

I do have to say that I’m really happy with the way things are going with everything. The house, work, Noodle, my relationship with Stevie. Everything’s pretty smooth. It’s been a while since I’ve been consistently happy. I’m glad life took this turn, it’s about time. :)

 

Growing Up and Getting Older

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My little minion is turning 9 years old tomorrow. She’s been counting down to her birthday for weeks now, and now it’s almost here. I just can’t believe it, this year just flew by! I mean the school year was a blur, and it seems like it was just last summer. She can’t possibly be another year older can she??

She’s been through a lot in her little life, and has come out of it all a wise little girl. She is beyond her years in common sense, and understands things that most people don’t even touch on until their early adult years. That wasn’t in the plan, but I’m amazed at how she handles every day life and problems. I can’t wait to see the woman she grows into, but I’m aware that it’ll all fly by in the blink of an eye. This past school year she excelled at everything, consistently scoring higher than the average as well as her school mates. I am so incredibly proud of her, it’s borderline ridiculous. All I know is I’m about to have one hell of a smart 9 year old, instead of a smart 8 year old.

It’s cliche but time really does fly. I remember people telling me to enjoy every moment because the baby/toddler years will be over in an instant. It’s definitely true. It seems like just yesterday I moved into my house, and Noodle’s best skill was hauling diaper around the backyard. She went from this little thing, carrying around her scrunchies (her word for puff-a-lumps) everywhere to this leggy, spunky kid listening to punk rock and metal and demanding her own band t-shirts.  Where in the world does the time go?

She’s turning out to be such a great kid, kind, caring, smart, beautiful, with one hell of a sense of humor. When I look at her, even when she’s mouthing off (which she obviously got from me), I’m just in awe of the great little girl I’ve raised. I couldn’t be happier.

 

So for her birthday, we’re having family come over for dinner, cake and presents. The plan is a bike, roller skates, and some smaller stuff. We’ll see what I come up with. She’s been needing a new bike, the hello kitty one I got her 2 years ago is just awkward for her to ride.. so that’s the biggest present. She’s so excited, I just want to make it the best I can. Now to find the perfect ice cream cake! She’s also requested my German Pancakes for breakfast, so she’s got a game plan. I hope it goes well. Happy Birthday Noodle!

Decency and favors. Love and Life Lessons. (Plus a realization)

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(I’ve refrained from writing about this on my public blog for two weeks now. Mostly keeping my comments to my private Facebook. However, I’ve neglected writing for some time now, and writing is how I heal. Sometimes journaling is not enough. So here we go. I’m taking back the things I care about, and my blog is one of them)

So I was informed today that I am not a decent person. Apparently because I got myself couches and moved my exes couch outside and asked him to pick it up.

I was informed that he was doing me a favor by letting me “keep the couch so you had a place to sit”.

Right. Because not putting it on the curb, along with the motorcycle and all the other shit in the shed isn’t decent. Because watching the dog that’s not mine until he finds a place to live isn’t decent. Because I didn’t do him a favor by standing by him for 4 years even though it put my family at risk. I didn’t do any favors supporting him financially and emotionally, through the toughest time in his life. Because it’s obviously my fault that he walked out, and can’t fathom that I’m not going to rearrange my plans so it’s convenient for him.

He did ME a favor by cheating, moving out and leaving us with next to nothing, just in time for Christmas? Taking all of not only his stuff, but stuff we bought together and things of mine? Just to put them in storage? He’s the decent person because he let me borrow a couch?

Right.

You know what? He did do me a favor. He taught me what love is, and what it isn’t. He taught me that I should never be dependant on someone else. He taught me that real men don’t cheat on someone they promised to love forever. He taught me that real men don’t break a child’s heart, then take even the toothpaste out of the cabinet on their way out. He taught me that I can do this all on my own, that I deserve better than all of that.

He DID indeed help me out, but it wasn’t letting me borrow his couch. It was teaching me that there are people will help us if we need it. People who love us and stepped in to give us a happy holiday. It was teaching me what commitment and devotion is. It was teaching me that someone who loves me won’t sleep around behind my back, putting my health at risk. It was teaching me what I want, how much more I deserve, and that there are good people in the world, in my world.. He taught me that he didn’t deserve to be part of it.

I hope on his quest for happiness, he finds what he’s looking for. I do. I just hope he stops hurting everyone who loves him along the way.

Is it Summer yet?

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I am home from the hospital, and currently relaxing on the couch with my two mutts, little one all tucked in for the night. I missed her quite a bit, even though I was only technically in the hospital for 3 days… she on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed her vacation from Mommy.  Usually if I have to go into the hospital she either goes with my Dad (where she is spoiled rotten) or she goes to one of her old teacher’s houses (a friend of mine who works at her daycare… who also spoils her rotten I’m convinced). When I got home I warned my friend, we’re chopped liver when she’s around, and to have fun prying her out of your house. Sure enough, she was a bit upset that her fun was over, but I got a super big hug and a kiss when she walked in the door.

Oddly enough, this little hospitalization timed itself perfectly as the munchkin’s got a bit of a head-cold and wouldn’t have been able to go to daycare anyway (spring break up here in the mid-west. So we got to spend the day lounging together and relaxing, with both of us asking each other how we’re feeling and if we the other needed anything.  Honestly, it was quite cute.  I don’t know what I’d do without my little minion, she’s one of a handful of things that keeps me moving, even when I don’t feel well or am down in the dumps.  Between her, the boyfriend, and all the pets, I get cuddles whenever I want and love, more than I can handle.

Sometimes though, it’s hard not to get down in the dumps. Especially in the winter, well, I guess now “Spring”. Lately in the mid-west, Spring has been colder than usual, so if you’re someone like me who gets the so-called “Winter Blues”, this time of year is wretched. Where we’ll get one warm day and then snow.  For instance, we already broke 70 degrees, and then it snowed about a week later. I’m definitely counting down until it starts to warm up. Hopefully my mood will improve on it’s own then.

Definitely looking forward to late Spring and Summer this year. We have a lot planned, from trips to the lake house, to farmer’s markets and such. The last few years were really busy, last summer especially with my working insane amounts of hours, both in the office and out. I feel like I missed out on a year, so I’m making sure that doesn’t happen again. The Short One has already been able to go roller skating outside and to ride her bike (she’s still doing great on it, although she still takes the occasional spill – the boyfriend taught her last summer) so pretty much anytime it’s warm enough to unzip your jacket just a tiiiiny bit, she’s asking to go outside. We can’t wait.

I know I’m probably looking at some health issues this summer, but hopefully we’ll be able to plan them out (surgery?) since Grandpa wants to take her if I do go in so they can do something fun together. To be completely honest though? I’m just looking forward to the kids all playing in the backyard and relaxing on the deck. Come on Summer! Get here already!

Strawberry Ale

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Saturday night, day one of a much needed three day weekend.  Monday, I am off work… initially it was out of necessity.  It’s Columbus Day (aka: lets-celebrate-genocide-day), so the kid doesn’t have school… and on the major school holidays, daycare is closed.  So I requested the day off, because being myself, I don’t have many other options for childcare.

Either way, as the days counted down to this weekend, work got more and more stressful.  Each day that inched by, the more depressed I got.  The more anxious, the more upset.  It’s just been… hellish, especially after working late nights for god knows how long.  Friday, I lost it.  I finally found out what burnt out feels like, I thought I had experienced it before, but quite honestly I hadn’t.  Every little thing was setting me off into tears, I felt like I was on the borderline of an anxiety attack all day.  (Hello, new prescription.)  It was one of those days where I had to go outside, and solidly convince myself that deep down I *do* like my job, and that while my paycheck is no longer 100% needed, I like having that income.

It was bound to happen.  I knew it was coming, and quite frankly, I’m surprised it came with tears instead of screaming and storming out.  Friday straight up blew.  However though, when I’m stressed I tend to say what I mean, instead of sugar coating it, so I got some of my thoughts off my chest.  Despite the tears, at the end of the day, I actually felt better.  On the drive home, I thought about what I wanted out of life, out of work and out of my home.  I put some priorities in order, and let me just tell you this: my family comes first.  Hearing my boyfriends views on it, and knowing I have his support regardless of what I do with work helps.

Cue: Weight off my shoulders.

So, this weekend, I’m taking for my family.  This Monday is a Noodle+Me day.  I’m enjoying every minute of it.  I know that I have some work I really should get to, especially with corporate coming in next week.  This weekend though?  I’m not doing it.  I’m not checking emails, faxes, lates or anything.  I need this, and I need time.

Today wasn’t quite fun filled with the morning dentist appointment, but watching scary movies with the short one this afternoon was nice.  Right now, I’m relaxing with a Strawberry Ale (mighty tasty I might add) and writing.. while fending off complaints from the child that she lost her charger for her tablet.  Tomorrow?  I don’t know what’s going on, but I know I’m spending my morning in bed until I feel ready to get up… and the day?  Relaxing.  Monday?  I think a bike ride with the kid, and lunch out.

Moral of the last week (year)… family and self comes first.