My Thoughts on Step Parenting

This blog is, like, weeks late. I read this blog where a blogger was asked to give her thoughts on step parenting. It stemmed from this post from another blogger, Drollgirl. I don’t want to re-hash what they said. I agree with points in both blogs. Just want to add my two cents, before Lailah wakes up from this catnap she’s taking. Her sleep schedule is a whole other blog in itself. LOL! Anywho…

Like Drollgirl, I grew up with my siblings and both my parents. There were no step parents and no step siblings. I had no direct exposure to the blended family, though some of my friends did.

One of the lines in Drollgirl’s post stuck out to me. She said that her boyfriend told her, “…I would never be a mother to his kids — they already had one.” That’s pretty much my approach. I’m not here to be CH’s mom. She is alive and well and very much a part of his life. He lives with us because he’s at the age where he needs his dad’s foot up his butt guidance.

I remember trading teen stories with a coworker who has a teenage son the same age as CH. At one point, he was basically telling me that I should refer to CH as my son. To which I politely told him, but he’s not. To me, referring to him as my stepson is ok, because he refers to me as his stepmom. We know our roles and assume them accordingly. I always love how people who have never experienced step parenting have the most advice. Not. LOL

CH calls me by my first name. I’m ok with that. If he’s talking to one of his friends on the phone, I’ve heard him refer to me as his “stepmom.” That’s what I am. I have no complaints. He comes to me to talk about relationship questions, same as he does to HH. We talk about school. When I direct or ask him to do something, he does it. We’ve never had that awful “you aren’t my mother!” moment. Does he get on my nerves? Yes. Do I get on his? Probably. But I think that happens in all parent/child relationships.

I do think it’s important that all the parents are on one accord. CH also has a stepdad, as his mom is remarried. I’ve never heard him say anything negative about him. If I could change one thing, it would be that his mom and I communicated with regard to him. I think that’s where Jada Pinkett Smith’s story is rare, and may have folks thinking that step parenting is a cake walk. Kind of like The Brady Bunch and Modern Family.

One thing I noticed at Thanksgiving, and even now when we’re talking about them, he refers to my mom as “Grandma” and he calls my siblings “Aunt” and “Uncle.” He refers to their kids as his cousins. I found out the other day that he called my niece to talk after he broke up with his girlfriend. To me, that means we’ve done a pretty good job with the “blended family” notion.

It still throws me off when he calls my mom “Grandma.” I always think he’s talking about my mother in law. Then I realize the context of the convo and figure out that he’s not. I think he does a little better job at the blended family than I do, at times.

Step parenting is up and down. One week it’s easy, and the next week you’re over it. That’s the best way I can sum it up.

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Teen Tales

CH’s bedroom was the only one without a ceiling fan when we moved in. We thought that was odd, and HH went out and bought one. Then when he took the light fixture out, he realized why. The structure wasn’t there to attach it. We had to have an electrician come out to check some other things, so we had him check on the fan. He had to go up into the crawl space, but now the teen has a ceiling fan.

Which he feels the need to leave on the high setting, even when he’s not in the room.

Uh, did Duk.e Energy announce that power was free this week? No? OK, then I’mma need you to turn the fan off when you are chillin’ in other parts of the house. Thanks!

On Thursday and Friday mornings, HH works first shift, so he leaves for work around the same time CH leaves for the bus. I heard him ask the teen had he turned the fan off in his room, and I heard the teen say yes. Matter of fact, he even went back into his room before he left for the bus stop.

So, imagine my surprise & chagrin, when following instincts, I went to check his room and the damn fan was on high, just a blowin’ away at nothing?!?

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Dude. Seriously? Seriously.

I am going to fight this kid!! LOL!

Headed into the Weekend

I’m glad to see this weekend. Today, I had a check up with my OB/GYN and HH was able to attend. I called him when I was en route, and I could tell by his voice that he forgot. *facepalm* LOL! By the time he got there, I was already in the exam room, and the nurse had already brought out the Doppler and found Baby H’s heartbeat. When he came in the room she turned it on again so he could hear it. It was 152 beats today.

This is the second time that they’ve had to search all over for the baby’s heartbeat. He/she likes to chill low and to the right. Perhaps that’s why my bladder always feels heavy. And then when she did find him/her, the baby moved away like, you are invading my space. Hilarious! Kid is already feisty.

HH and CH just left with a couple of his friends to go ride the go karts. HH is taking them to eat afterwards. That should be expensive fun.

Tomorrow, CH goes up to his school for four hours of EOC studying. We’re going to get up early (read: I will get up early and HH will struggle) to check out a neighborhood garage sale. I’m not sure what’s on tap for Sunday, but I’m glad HH took the weekend off.

CH will be 16 on Monday! He has made some strides while he has lived here, and I am happy with that. It’s a daunting task to take someone else’s child under your wings. His grades are a little better than last year. Hopefully, he will be more prepared for his junior year and understand expectations for home and school life. He and I talked for a couple of hours the other night and watched Mythbusters. He leaves for his summer in NY in a week.

I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend!

Who Dis Woman?

This morning, I jumped up early to get dinner in the crock lot. We’re having beef stew with sweet potatoes.

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I laughed to myself, because 10 years ago, this woman did not exist. Do you hear me? She did not exist. She had no crock pot. She barely cooked. This woman, at 38, is very different from the woman who existed at 28.

This time ten years ago:

  • I was 28. I lived in a one bedroom apartment on the south side. I had no one to be responsible for but me. Not even a pet. Wake up early? What’s that?
  • I had just broken up with a dude who could only seem to be committed to his mom, his daughter, and his job. (I stupidly gave him another chance 4 years later, but that’s another blog. I’m sure he’s still committed to those same things, except now he has a son, too. LOL)
  • I was the heaviest weight I had ever been. I went to visit my sis and bro in law in Germany that year. My bro in law told me (years later), that I “waddled” towards them in the airport. O_o LOL!
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    (me in Fall 2002…looked pretty much the same when I went to Germany)

  • I was still working in insurance, but at that point hadn’t gotten serious about it as a career. It was a job.
  • I wasn’t good with budgeting or anything remotely related to same.

So, “who dis woman” now? In no particular order, she’s a wife. A triathlete. A (step)mom. An insurance professional. A daughter who misses her father and loves her mother. A sister who loves her four siblings with all her heart and soul. An auntie who loves all 6 of her nieces and nephews with all her heart and soul. (Hopefully) a good friend who is there for her friends like they are there for her. A woman who is just trying to live life and figure out her way through this world, with each new challenge.

I like her. 🙂

Muddling Through

A few weeks ago, I read this article, which described step parenting as being a thankless job. When I was searching for the link to include in this blog, a lot of links came up that used those exact words: step parenting is a thankless job.

I don’t know that I’d say it’s thankless, but it is hard. Especially if you come into it not having any kids of your own. My frame of reference is how my parents raised me, how my siblings parent my nieces and nephews…which may be vastly different from how CH’s mom parents him or how HH wants to parent him.

I don’t consider myself a hugely nurturing type. My mom used to always tell me, when you have kids of your own, the instinct will kick in.” I guess…but since I have not actually given birth to any kids, I don’t know how true that theory is.

Last night, I was at dinner with Tazzee and Miss Mile High. We somehow started talking about how CH got sick a few weeks ago and threw up onto his comforter. I told him to clean it up and then put the comforter in the washing machine. He just threw it into the washing machine without cleaning up any of the, uh, food chunks. When he woke me up, it was like he really had no clue what to do, and I wondered if he was thinking that I was going to clean up his vomit. I said, “maybe if he was 5, but at 15 I feel like the statute of limitations on cleaning up your bodily fluids has expired.” Miss Mile High said, “but the way people raise kids today, maybe if you were his mom you would’ve actually cleaned it up. Kids are so coddled today.”

I distinctly remember thinking, “no ma’am.” Mainly because at 15, I wouldn’t have expected my mom to clean up after me like that. I was so much more independent than he is at this age. Is it a girl thing? Maybe so. But there it is again – expectations based on your own frame of reference.

As a step parent, I walk this line every day. Am I nurturing enough? Firm enough? Does this child respect me? Are his biological parents going to block me from parenting in a way I think is correct? You don’t want to step on their toes, but you need peace in your own house. I also recognize that we’re trying to get a boy ready to be a man in this world. I can’t stand to see kids who don’t know how to do anything for themselves. I’ve been washing clothes since I could reach the washing machine knobs. I mentioned to HH that I wanted to show CH how to start doing his own laundry. Mind you, his own laundry, not the household laundry, which is what I did as a teen. And he’s like, “well, I do laundry when I get home, there’s no need for him to do it…” Dude – will you be there to do his laundry in 2.5 years with him at college or in the military? What is the problem with him learning now? Would it kill him to wash his bed linens? Some towels? And then I recognize that if this was my own child that I gave birth to, this probably wouldn’t even be a discussion. It’s just one of the “little” things that I acquiesce on, because sometimes it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Like Valerie J. Lewis-Coleman said, sometimes “step parenting is like working at a late-night convenience store – all of the responsibility and none of the authority.”

I don’t like feeling lost. I feel lost when it comes to step parenting.

Saturday night, I was sitting around talking with my sisters and my cousin, and my cousin said, “Cass is a mom now!” We all laughed, but I remember thinking how foreign that sounded, and how I don’t feel like anyone’s mom. At best, I feel like a guardian. I feel like, he has a mom…he doesn’t need another one.

Parenting, in general, is a lot of little things that no one is going to thank you for, biological parent or not. It’s not a job where you keep a tally and say, “hey, I spent $105 on you this weekend” or, “hey, I took up this battle with this teacher on your son’s behalf!” When you marry someone with kids, that’s just what you’re going to be doing. The difference is, you don’t have that biological bond that makes you do these things. You have to actively choose to do it (or not do it). You have to fight the “evil step parent” syndrome. As a step parent, you have to hope that all of the adults in the equation will focus on what’s best for the child.

Thankless? Sometimes. Difficult? All the time. Who knows, maybe in a year, I’ll have a totally different mind set.

Ups and Downs

Of course, the one day I decide to go on the road, frickin’ Winter Storm Khan decides to roll through the area. Really?

CMS decided to let the schools out at noon. I spent the morning cuddled up with HH, until around 11:00. I was ready to hit the road at noon; my sisters had left VA that morning and had already made it through Charlotte.

HH had other plans. He wanted us to have lunch first. So the mad dash began. He ran to the school to get CH (the bus would’ve taken 45 mins to get him home), and I ran to the pizza place and to get gas.

By the time we left Charlotte it was about 1:30. I thought we might be ok because they claimed the storm was coming through at 12:00. Boy was I wrong!

It started raining by the time we hit Gastonia, and even harder when we crossed into SC. Around Gaffney, I realized the rain was freezing on my wipers.

Oh, crap.

I was trying not to be nervous since I had CH in the car. In Spartanburg, I started seeing cars off in the median and the roadside. Some were turned the wrong way. At one point, the traffic slowed because of one of the accidents. I wasn’t going that fast, but when I went to stop, I felt the Altima sliding. I was able to stop, and the guy behind me was quick enough to steer himself to the right.

At this point, my heart was in my throat. I was frustrated because we stayed for lunch and we could’ve been 1.5 hrs head of the storm. Ugh!

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I found a Comfort Inn off the highway and decided we might need to camp out. We ran into another traveler who apparently decided to do the same thing.

After a few minutes, I figured we should go get some snacks for the night. We headed out and I noticed it had stopped raining/sleeting. The roads looked better. We got back to the hotel, and the same traveler was outside with his family. His wife said they were told that GA was dry and if they could get to Anderson, SC they’d be ok.

My mind started clicking. Hmmm. Maybe we can make it. HH sent a text and said if we were going to do it, to get out before 5:00. I had to send my sisters to meet Tazzee to pick up our Battle of the Bands tickets (thanks, Tazzee!) because I didn’t think we’d make it. My sister told me if I was going to leave I had 10 minutes and if I wasn’t gone by then I needed to just stay. Did i mention she is my second mom? LOL!

We hit the road and it was still a but slushy through Greenville, but after that we were able to pick up the pace. We made it to my cousin’s hour safe and sound!

I got here and checked my email and I’ve been picked to be a Tri It For Life Mentor! I’m so excited. I can’t wait until training begins.

What started out as a downer (lemme tell ya, I was close to frustration tears but I refused to cry in front of the teen, LOL), quickly picked up towards the end of the day. I get to be with my family on my birthday weekend! Even my crazy niece:

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This chick has her own iPhone, but always has to grab mine and take crazy photos. 12, to be exact. Why?!? LOL!

Whew. I surely need a glass of wine! But I had to get here to see my oldest nephew play those quints. This is the second time I’ve had to fight some crazy traffic to see him. He better appreciate me! LOL

Out and About

Yesterday, HH surprised us and took the day off work. I think he decided that morning. He said he was tired and wanted to spend some time with me and CH.

I went to the gym while he caught up on some sleep, then I came back and we all got dressed and went bowling. It was super busy at the bowling alley, so we had a 1 hour wait.

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We sat and ate some over-priced bowling alley food while we waited for our lane. I saw a large group at a lane not too far from us. It looked like maybe they had a birthday celebration. There were a bunch of beer bottles on the table, and trash from all the food they had.

Of course, when they called us for a lane, that’s the one they gave us. I don’t know why those folks couldn’t clean up after themselves.

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Just trifling. (the woman sitting there was with a different group and not part of the Mess Makers)

Anywho, we hit the lanes and bowled two fun games. I won the first one, and HH got three strikes in a row and killed us in the second game (he’s D for Dad):

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When we got home last night, we could see the stars and started talking about the Big Dipper. HH told us where he thought the Little Dipper was, and I was like, yeah…NO. LOL!

I told CH that I had an astronomy app on the iPad. It’s one called GoSkyWatch (I’ve been told that SkyWalk is a good one as well). CH asked if we could take it outside, so we did. You point it at the sky and it identifies the stars based on your location.

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HH was totally wrong about the location of Ursa Minor/The Little Dipper. Ha!

We were out there laughing and cutting up, because HH kept saying,”I see Uranus!” repeatedly, which would send CH into laughing fits. I know the neighbors were probably like, what’s really going on? LOL! Especially the one that drove by as I had my iPad pointed to the sky.

It was a great night, and for the first time in a few weeks, it really felt like a cohesive family unit. 🙂