Thursday, January 29, 2009

At Odds

I am at odds with my struggle to detach from Maleficent.
To remain ambivalent to her presence in our lives.
I am finding it difficult to go about our lives, happily ignorant to her existence.
Night time is when this struggle becomes the hardest.

Cinderella is old enough to remember to call her biomom. IF she WANTS to call her.
(Though she has admitted to sometimes she simply forgets to call.)
Prince Charming is trying to take over the job of being the proverbial string around her finger.
The job I once had assigned myself but which began to feel as if I was FORCING her to carry out the task.
But Prince Charming sometimes forgets to remind Cinderella, as much as Cinderella sometimes forgets to call.
Maleficent called twice last night to talk to my stepdaughter.
Her calls were left for voice mail.
Call #1 occurred while we were eating dinner and I have a very strict rule of NOT interrupting family time for ANY phone calls.
(Cinderella usually asks if it's her biomom calling, but she didn't this time.)
Call #2 came while Cinderella was in the shower.
Last night was supposed to be one of Maleficent's visitation days. The snow storm that blanketed our area canceled that.
Cinderella had thought to call her biomom during the day. She even had the phone in her hand at one point but never dialed the number, instead turning to go back to whatever it was that she was doing at the time.
For the rest of the day and night, she did not think to call her biomom.

All evening I wrestled with breaking my vow to take care of myself and REMINDING Cinderella to make the call.
Or of reminding Prince Charming to remind her.
I felt guilty all night. And then angry for allowing myself to feel so guilty.
I was getting sucked back in and I didn't like it.
For as much as I trying my best at self-preservation, I can't help but feel I am also doing us a great disservice.


Marty, a.k.a. canape said...

I so understand, and yet I don't know what to say.

Anonymous said...

you're the better person that inside knows you need to take an active role in fostering her relationship with her mother. I've tried all hells bells to fly under the radar and stop being involved. It's never worked out like I’d planed I end up feeling worse so back in the game I go.

Anonymous said...

My two cents - the goal here is to create LESS stress in your life. If it is creating MORE stress for you - i.e. feeling guilty all night - it's not working for you. Sometimes it takes more effort NOT to do the right thing. I say if it feels right for you to gently remind her, then do so. But DON'T beat yourself up about it. You don't need to nag her. Just say to her "Hey, Cindy, your mom called." Once. Not Twice. Then you've done your part. Let it go. Be present with your family. Hard to do when you are beating yourself up - remind/don't remind. Relax. Enjoy. But don't do what feels uncomfortable. In this case I think it felt more uncomfortable for you not to remind. Be true to yourself. That doesn't mean being a doormat. I am not a vindictive or confrontational person by nature. A couple of summers ago I offended Biomom and have been playing this stupid game in my own head "I'm not going to share info about the children with her anymore then." I am the one being punished. What is the saying "Not forgiving someone is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die". Doesn't work that way. I took the long hard way to discover that and I'm now headed back to recovery. No One's The Bitch blog has inspired me to put all differences aside. Not just for my step-children's sake but for mine too! I'm not comfortable hating someone. So why am I doing it?! My situation is not the same as yours, but I think we are suffering together all the same. Hope this helps. Do what feels good and right. Don't force it, don't do what you are no comfortable doing. Let your conscious guide you. *Hugs*


Patti said...

I soooo know how you feel. My husband has custody of his two kids, a SS who is now 19, and my SD who is 14. At first I thought bio mom was reacting to the stark reality of life w/o her kids. I encouraged my husband to be the "good guy" and make sure the kids spent time with her (and selfishly, b/c it gave us time alone together ... I'm only human!). As her behavior escalated and it became more about trying to turn the kids against their father, I stopped. I couldn't do it anymore. Your daughter will find her voice. Ours has. Her mom says terrible things to her but SD has started to stand her ground and respectfully talk back. She talks to her mom on her terms and sees her mom on her terms. There have been set-backs and SD asked to see a counselor. She told her counselor in her own words her mother is a manipulator. She turns every situation around to make herself the victim and will blame her 14 year old daughter for her woes. Long story short, I will tell you what I tell her ... love your mother but you don't have to like her. Ask her 1x if she's called her mom, or remind her 1x that her mom called ... her response, or lack thereof, is your answer. Keep your chin up -- Patti

clevergirl said...

While I don't like to encourage constant communication with her mother, I will make sure my SD returns phone calls. It is less about communicating with someone (whoever it was that called, doesn't matter, really) and more about learning manners, respect and responsibility. If someone calls and leaves a voicemail, or is expecting her to call at a certain time, then my SD should have the common sense and respect for that person to call them back.

Maybe you should look at it more like teaching her responsibility and respect rather than having anything to do with Maleficent. Then, your reminders wouldn't be for Maleficent's benefit, they would be for your SD.

loonyhiker said...

I say you need to back away and let cinderella and maleficent develop their relationship on their own. I had to do this with mine and it was the best thing I ever did. Because I was conscientious, I wanted to help but in the long run, it was better to let it run its course.This way I could not be blamed for whatever happened. If your situation was like mine, you will eventually see it was the best thing you could have done! Now I have an even better relationship with my daughters and they saw mom for what she was no matter how much she tried to blame me.

Heather said...

On a totally practical note, my stepdaughters have a list spelling out the things they need to do before bed. When they haven't done something yet I can remind them without nagging by telling them to go check their list.

Anonymous said...

My random 2 cents: Why is it the childs responsability to call her monther. If my husbands ex wife wants to talk to her daughter she can call here.

Layne said...

We had an ice storm as well. I had my Cinderella call her mom 4 times. 3 of those times Cinderella left her mom a message. I had her call her grandparents 7 times with no answer and finally called her grandmother's cell and got ahold of her. We got our asses reamed anyway. They acted like we never called. There is no way to "win" in a situation like this... I try so hard and it is never good enough.

CoyoteLady said...

I too am a wicked step monster, I mean step mom, to 3 girls. Their biomom is not even a part of the girls life yet b/c of their biomom I am the one that is at fault for everything. It is not an easy road for us I understand but we have nothing to feel guilty about. We can only do our best. Prayers go out to you durning this time of stress.

I'm the Wicked Step Mom said...

I understand how you feel. It's completely in our mothering nature to want the children to stay in touch with BM-like returning calls and such. It just seems to never fail that no matter what we do; we are still considered the step monster!

Tracy Lee said...

Tough call, no pun intended, but I think you have gotten some good advice here. Anonymous hit the nail on the head when she said that feeling guilty is creating you more stress than just resolving the issue.

I like Heather's idea of having a check list that Cinderella can check off before bed. This way it becomes *her* responsibility and teaching responsibility is the greatest lesson we can teach children. I also like clevergirl's response, in that Maleficent did try twice to call (and YES! No calls taken during dinner!) and Cinderella should then have the responsibility and respect to return the phone calls. I suspect this is where your guilty feelings are seeping in. You know she did her part and the calls should be returned.

For your own sanity, take the emotion and personalization out of it and treat is no different than if you were asking her to pick up her things or make her bed. I think you will all be much happier that way.

Good Luck!! :)

Wicked Stepmom said...

It's hard to step back when you have ALWAYS been the one reminding, nagging, nudging - MAKING THE EFFORT.

I've found a balance, I think. :)

Coma Girl said...

I am also a custodial step-mom. And this is something I will never understand (because my step-son's bio mom would do the same thing "they don't call me!"). Why is it the child's responsibility to call the parent???

Yes, your step-daughter should return phone calls, but it should not be on a 12 year old to maintain contact with her own mother.

And how can a mother go to sleep at night and not call her child??

Makayla said...

I just happened upon your blog... I read this post and finally felt like someone else out there understood! My Stepson doesn't want to talk to his mom when he is here. He plugs his ears or screams he hates her when she calls and hangs up and then we get in trouble. I sometimes try to bribe him into talking to her, but even that only gets a sentence or two out of him and its not enough and she's so upset with us that she refuses to pick him up the next day. I've hit the point where I've decided I'm not going to coach him to talk to her or tell him that she misses him and that she loves him and that we love her too and so we should talk to her, but I feel guilty not trying... I go back and forth and no matter what I feel evil or irritated and stressed. She never even answers the phone when we call to talk to him and so part of me feels we shouldn't care, but deep down inside I know its good for him to have contact with his mom when he is here with us. I know we would love to talk to him when he is with her.