Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Who Wants to be a Step Mother?

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When I became a stepmother people said things like: “about time (step children) they get a real mother”  “You will be a mother to (step children)“

When I expressed my ambivalence I was told to “get over it and be a mother”.

When I stopped counselling, threw out my step parenting books and pulled my hair in frustration, I was told: “good thing you aren’t seeing that counsellor anymore . . . stop whining and go be a mother . . .” (how hard can it be?)

The thing is: counselling helped – a lot. The counsellor gave me kind insight. I didn’t feel so alone. But I had reached the end of my rope. I had to walk away, rebel. I was tired of being the only one in the family taking precious free time to do the emotional care giving, fixing and talking about a situation that seemed hopeless and with no end in sight.

When the step children walked through the door I was supposed to feel the love that a mother feels when meeting her own child. To smell their heads and welcome them in my all loving mother arms. Instead I was resentful that I was taking care of someone else's’ children. Angry at my husband who left the burden of parenting his children on my shoulders. I was bewildered and lost. How did this happen and why did I want to run away? Why couldn’t I just be the mother?   

Then I had the epiphany: Parents are not replaceable. No matter how horrible they may be. There is no such thing as a *step parent. If children have a parent that’s who the parent is. Families are not game boards with replaceable pieces. Out goes one parent bring in the new parent and kazam! The family is together again. If the original parent is missing get over it.

I was supposed to replace somebody. I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. Be the mother.

Try telling that to the children in the middle.

There is great loss in a step family. The loss of a child's own two parent family. The loss of a parent when he or she moves out. Loss and sadness that is expected to be magically repaired when the new family is glued together and shoved in a home. The door better be closed quick and locked up tight: because the loss will come spilling out and won’t be suppressed. First the crack and then the break and so follows the river of the step family and there is very little one can do to shore up the water and put it back on it’s rightful path to family togetherness with Donna Reid at the centre.

Great loss + New marriages + New siblings = One Big Happy Stepfamily.

Who says? Who’s rules am I trying to follow anyway? Who are “they”?

So here I sit. I screw up. The wicked is inserted (by me) in front of the ‘step’ more often than I want.  However I am Slowly falling in love . . .  and finding my way in this family following a complicated maze with walls that were built with their loss and hurt and the path that shows itself with kind words and patience.

Noah, our four year old, gave me a stack of pictures he had drawn that brought me a little further along in our family maze. 

Noah had drawn pictures of all six of us. Picture after picture of his family. He pointed at each figure and named us all over and over again.

Together and beautifully imperfect with lopsided smiles, big oval heads and sticks for arms and legs. His family. Our family. The step family


*That being said. I am not here to dishonour the word “step” in front of: parent/mother/father. I am called the step (mother). That is the accepted language and context.  

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Olympic Fever

The Olympic torch relay passed through Abbotsford today and we wanted to see the flame passing through our neighbourhood so we got dressed in our warm coats, packed the camera, and off we went. The moment we started walking towards the torch relay route I felt a little frisson of excitement. A part of history was passing by our town this evening and I couldn’t wait to see the Olympic flame.

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Waiting for the relay . .  L to R Sister, My love, Stepson, Grandma, Grandpa, wee Markus in the carrier and Noah in the yellow shirt.

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. . . . patiently hanging out in the drizzle

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Next Runner waiting  . . .

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Posing for pictures with Great Grandma . . .

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. . .  Waiting

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Here it comes !

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Passing the Flame

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I love the High Five!  The Joy on that woman's face is wonderful and oh so contagious. The Olympics are here how exciting is that?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dinner Table Cel Phone Etiquette


Dec 01 2009 054 Mmmmm foccacia dipped in balsamic and olive oil . . ., and no mom, that is not my phone ringing . . . I turned it off . . .

Dec 01 2009 058  . . . turning phone onto vibrate . . .

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Put your phone away before we get into trouble.

Dec 01 2009 061Trouble, Shmouble, Mom, Don’t you think my new ring tone is the coolest?

Dec 01 2009 062 Hmmm . . . gotta call the guys.

Dec 01 2009 063 Hey dudes! We’re Having dinner with the parents – so, where’s the party tonight?

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We can sneak out by ten – mom is usually crashed by then . . .

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sappy Sunday Morning

I woke up this morning . . . happy, warm and cozily tucked in with two guys: one big and the other small, and I thought to myself, I love my life. I wanted to stay in bed for most of the morning and that’s just what we did.

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I cooked up a breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, toast topped with cheese and tomatoes, and a strawberry or two on the side. We added lots of Baileys to our coffees, tucked back into bed, and ate up our breakfast while watching a movie. 

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I know, it’s sappy. But there is nothing better then Sunday morning in bed with food, my love and my sweet smelling child to make me feel, for a moment, that all is right in the world.

Eventually we got out of bed. The rambunctious child was insisting we get up and play with him. My love got up to watch football, small child found a pile of toys to throw about, I poked around in the fridge and found the apple pie I baked Friday night. The perfect dessert to munch on while blogging.

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mmmmmm apple pie held up in the perfect light by my ‘Eat Clean’ cookbook. All low fat, whole grain healthy food. No pie recipes. The cookbook encourages the use of organic produce and I used organic apples for the pie. . .  I’m happy to report that cookbook wasn’t a complete waste of money after all.

Have a sappy, happy Sunday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What a happy marriage looks like on a bad day

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Here is a recent conversation I had with the love of my life:

My sweetie: “I have to run some errands be back in a while”

Me:“Hey, can you stop by the grocery store and pick up a few things?”

The love of my life: “Sure, give me the list”

My loving man runs his errands, goes to the store for me and comes home. He gives me a beautiful smelling bunch of flowers and greets me with a kiss. I go through the grocery bags. I notice he has picked up some extra items that were not on my list.

Me, in a high pitched fishwife sounding voice: “Premium plus crackers? Why didn’t you buy the whole wheat? I told you to buy russet potatoes THESE are not russet potatoes. . .  soup? What did you buy soup for? We don’t need soup. I make soup all the time. Canned soup is the most sodium filled gross, tasteless, unhealthy stuff what’s wrong with you?”

Annoyed sweetie: “I like canned soup for lunch every once in a while what is your problem?”

Me,Crazy bitch: “Nothing! I just don’t know why you can’t stick to my list and   . . .“

I know I’m being unreasonable at this point but I can’t give it up. I was irritated earlier for a number of reasons and now the whole crappy day was coming to an end right then.

Bad day = blame husband

Later, as I’m baking chocolate chip cookies (butter, sugar and more butter with a touch of chocolate chips) I continue to fume to myself as I eat a freshly baked cookie (butter, sugar, butter . . )  I can’t believe that man could bring junk food into the house; he can’t even follow a simple grocery list. It’s his fault my jeans a too tight.

The next day, I serve my small child evil, unhealthy, not wholesome homemade chicken noodle soup, but canned soup – and he eats it like candy. My sweet child slurps the soup up like it’s the most delicious thing he has ever tasted. He never eats my homemade soup like that. (Little turncoat.) On the bright side, opening a can of soup and warming it up was so EASY.

Oh no,

It’s a slippery slope. Next I will be serving frozen entrees and stop cooking from scratch completely. That can’t be good. Doesn’t that mean I’m a bad mother because I don’t always serve homemade, perfect food with a smile on my face and a frilly apron? No, I’m not crazy, it’s my bad, bad, husband.

When I was a single parent I would scoff at all those ungrateful wives. They should be so lucky to have someone else to even ATTEMPT to empty the dishwasher, cook a meal or pick up some groceries.

Bad day = ungrateful wife

Bad days happen and there was mine. How’s your week going?

Friday, January 8, 2010

How I keep my New Years Resolutions

It’s Friday my favourite day of the week. One week into my new years resolutions and I’m doing great. Here’s my resolutions and why I’m doing so well:

1) Lose weight


I will start with the easiest one to keep. Lose weight until I’m supermodel thin. I know, it’s crazy and unrealistic, BUT it makes me feel better when I am eating chocolate cake because I KNOW that trying to achieve supermodel skinniness is a foolish endeavour and can only be accomplished with a muzzle and good diet drugs like cocaine or crystal meth. I don’t own a muzzle, the good drugs are illegal and in the end . . . I’m left with this really nice piece of cake. Look, it’s twisted logic but whatever it takes so I can eat chocolate cake while surfing the net for good celebrity gossip, guilt free, works in my world.

2) Work out more

I get my workouts in so I don’t even notice them. I workout with the occasional walk/cardio in my routine and some weight training. My walks from one end of the vast Costco parking lot from my car to the entrance and back again while pushing a heavy Costco cart with a broken wheel is my cardio. When the cart is full of *groceries I get points (in my book) for weight training. If I shopped at Costco more I would be in the best shape ever but there is only so much shopping a girl can do in a week which brings me to my next resolution.

*The crispy fries I buy at the concession are necessary energy for that walk.

3) Spend Less Money


I’m the mom. That means I spend 90% of our disposable income. I do all the shopping. I buy all the food, clothing, cleaning supplies, medication, car repairs, house repairs, wants and needs of the whole family. I have started to delegate all that spending. I give the occasional list to my hubby when he walks out the door. Now that my son drives he gets a list and some cash also. Online shopping is another wonderful way to delegate all that spending. I have accounts already set up so I’m not even pulling out my credit card. Context is everything. (or is it denial?) As long as I’m not spending or I am one step removed from actually touching cash or credit cards I am spending less. Next item:

4) Be a nicer person

I am a nice person. About 10 days out of the month I am very pleasant and nice. The rest of the month is divided up just so: I have about 7 days of  bitchy p.m.s.  and the other 14 days? I am a mother and stepmother of two teenagers  ‘nough said.

5) Be a ‘Better’ Parent

An acquaintance with grown kids once said to me, while we were lamenting how difficult it can be to raise kids: “in the end, you’re either paying for bail or tuition.” He had a point. Yes, my delusions of being in control of my children and their lives ended pretty quick the day my precious toddler screamed “NO” and had a full out tantrum in the middle of a public place full of old ladies tut tutting and on another lovely day *when the police showed up at my door to speak to my teenage son. That was the day I threw up my hands in surrender and started drinking more, which in the end, made me a much calmer, kinder parent.

*police incident was resolved with no jail time

6) Drink less

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See # 5