Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Moment of Clarity... and Dread

I'm a care taker.
I am inexplicably drawn to people in crisis.
Their problems become MY problems and I become hopelessly devoted to helping them through their crisis.
It's what initially drew me to Prince Charming.
And is what has caused me to spend the last several years trying to appease Maleficent.
"If I were in her shoes" became my mantra.
I became obsessed with tending to Maleficent's volatile emotional state desperately trying to keep her happy.
If she is happy then we ALL will be happy, is what I thought.
It seemed a logical assumption.
In my newly elected role, it became my job to act as Prince Charming's conscience. To make sure he did what was right by Cinderella's Mom. To help him overcome their past and go through the motions.
Urging him to call with her every bit of news that *I* felt she might want to know.
Be a team player. Do what we can to make this co-parenting situation a success. Make her feel as if she is part of the process so she feels less threatened and combative.
If it appeared to not be working then we weren't trying hard enough.
We've got to do more!
Eventually I took matters into my own hand and handled that side of communications.
If Cinderella had a routine doctor's appointment. I called Maleficent after wards to give her the update.
Homework assignments, drama rehearsal schedules, report cards all were copied, scanned or transcribed into email. No detail was too small for me.
Even the random birthday or first-day-of-school photos were happily shared.
If I were in her shoes, I'd want to know.
If I were in her shoes, I'd feel so isolated.
If I were in her shoes, I'd feel so humiliated, and embarrassed and resentful.
I put myself in her shoes every day and every day gave my ALL to make her feel less despondent and more a part of the process.
If I were in her shoes, *I'd* be grateful for all the effort that was being made by the custodial home.
The problem with being a care taker is it's exhausting. I eventually get tired of GIVING and of never RECEIVING anything in return.
The problem was... *I* was not in her shoes.
SHE was.
Maleficent's illness prevents her from GIVING back. From seeing things for what they really are.
From being appreciative for what we... no *I* was doing.

You cannot rationalize with an irrational person.
I've grown weary of trying to make things better FOR her and WITH her.
For in trying to do so, I have neglected my own family. She has drawn my attention away from taking care of my own, and of MYSELF.
I am working on taking a step back and LETTING GO.

Cinderella is starting rehearsals for her next drama production at school. Ordinarily, this would be the time when I would be transcribing her rehearsal schedule for Maleficent (mostly so she would know where to go to pick up Cinderella on her visitation days).
But I am not doing that anymore. It's now Prince Charming's responsibililty.
We've had the schedule for two days.
Today is Maleficent's visitation day. Cinderella is in rehearsals until 5:30 which means M needs to pick her at the school and NOT HERE.
I reminded Prince Charming of my need to step back. I told him I would NOT be taking care of sending the schedule to his ex.
And here I sit, hoping he's remembered to handle this situation.
Knowing that if he hasn't, she will not have her moment of clarity and realize all I have done to keep her informed and involved.
Oh, NO.
I feel like turning off the lights and shutting off the phone just so I can avoid all contact with her.
And that pisses me off.

Oh yeah, and just to add fuel to the fire, Prince Charming filed violation papers last week. Among other things, he is looking to change the visitation schedule in light of Cinderella's recent confessions (surpervised if not an immediate STOP until Maleficent starts seeking appropriate treatment). So we also sit waiting for a court date to be set and for Maleficent to be notified. That should be any day now. Maleficent has no idea this is coming.

Our fairy tale is turning into quite the page turner.


Dan Mosqueda said...

I have been there. From a different angle, but I think you should step back. If M fails to pick up the princess, well than you'll have to pick up the pieces no doubt, but let M fail, over and over if necessary.

I now get on well with both of my ex-wives. They had a volatile relationship. Ex#2 had a break through recently, and in tears, spoke of wanting to mend that relationship. Their sons are brothers after all.

In your case, I just wish you and the Prince could be allowed to live w/o the drama that being involved in the drama club involves!

Anonymous said...

I've been there too. It sounds like you've bent over backwards to make things easy for everyone but yourself. Don't parent the parents.

I am wife #3. Wife #1 was great about working out the details for the boys. Wife #2 was nuts and could barely function. But I found the more I got involved the more she resented me and my husband and took it out on her son (no physically. She'd deliberately mess with the schedule to get back at us). I stepped back and made sure I was there for my stepson in case he needed me, but I left it to my husband and his ex to sort things out.

Trust me, no good deed does unpunished.

Shannon said...

Hang in there. Focus on Hansel, Gretal, Cinderella & Prince Charming. They are your family.

I've had many a BF with exes and baby momma drama. Its never easy and I'm sure is 100% moreso in a marriage. Be strong, be tough and remember, a happy ending is awaiting.

Anonymous said...

A page turner for sure! Wow... I found your blog about 3 weeks ago and I have to admit I'm hooked. I truly enjoy reading your thoughts and angle on things as I can genuinely relate to your struggles. I am wife #3 and I am amazed each and every day at the lack of interest by the biomoms. I don't have any friends that are stepmoms that I can truly speak to about the daily dramas and know that they REALLY understand. Thanks for your wonderful blog and keep up the awesome work both online and with YOUR family.

Sprite said...

Hang in there, hon. I know it's not easy and don't envy you one bit for what you're having to go through. I totally understand when the word "wicked" truly describes the bio mother who is so full of her self hatred & pity she can't see the harm she's doing.

Being a care taker doesn't mean it's ok to enable another's bad habits or to set aside taking healthy care of you.

Deep breathes .. the hell w/ M will happens when it happens. It'll all be the same old drama routine you're used to. No sense holding your breath until she shows how ugly she is again & you observe that she's emotionally driving the slow bus. Hope you can detach from her negative energy & fill yourself up with positive ones. You've done her job for her! Time for her to find out how to be a mom or get out of dodge! lol *hugs*

sistermaryflanders said...

Thank you so much for this post. I've got the same personality traits, wanting to come in and join up and save and heal. I wonder how many stepmoms have that same tendency?

Layne said...

Holy shit. You make my BM problems seem like nothing. You and your family are in my heart.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. You cannot rationalize with an irrational person. You can't know what they want. You can't do anything that will make them happy. I could wrap up a gold bar in $100 bills and give it to the ex as a present and she would complain that it was already her money anyway because I stole it from her when I stole her husband.

My gripe about the arrangement you describe (which is where we are too now), is that it often interferes with our family plans at the last minute because my husband and his ex-wife are not communicating.

Rose said...

So many thoughts come to mind when I read your last few blog posts that it's hard to organize them.

1) She's not your responsibility. You can't make her happy, and frankly that's not your job. Your job is making Cinderella and your children happy and safe. As long as the communication with her was working towards that then it made sense, but clearly that's not working now, so cut your losses, walk away, and enjoy all the extra time and energy it gives you for your kids!

2) You aren't in her shoes, and you never would be. She makes decisions that you never, in a million years, would make. You can't compare yourself to an irrational person like that. It'll make you nuts! You can't know what it's like in her shoes because her mind works in such a different way than yours that there's just no comparison.

3) Lastly, and probably not so helpfully, my heart breaks for you and Cinderella. There's no winning for either of you until M gets evicted from your lives, and even then you'll possibly be haunted with the "what could have beens" and "what could we have dones."

I sincerely hope that you are successful in taking a huge step back and letting the communication lapse. I hope that it brings you and your family some much needed peace. hugs!

movin' down the road said...

You know what, most of what I did for my exhusband when we were married was because I was afraid he would drop the ball. And he always did. BUT, it is not only his responsibility but the Malif. responsibility to get the info in other ways that she may need. The worst is when it has an effect on you or your family, when she doesn't have all her info, for lack of responsibility in getting in or whatever. It isnt your problem but it turns out to be your problem because it has an impact on you. I photo copy stuff and throw it in the girls' bags. I send an email about appointments. I never follow up, If he doesn't communicate with me or drops the ball and doesn't show up, well, his loss.

Anonymous said...

Take care of yourself.....that will be the best and healthyest thing for Cinderella.

Meesha said...

You're so right--being the caretaker is exhausting, and being the caretaker in a stepfamily is doubly so. Sending good thoughts your way!

Wicked Steppie said...

Do you know, I recognise myself in what you said too...and many other stepmums I know as well. Don't forget to take care of yourself in all this - and don't lose yourself. You are important too.

Josh and Libby said...

As a fellow stepmom, I have to say that I hope writing this blog and reading our comments is as helpful and comforting to you, as reading what you write has been for me. It is a comfort to know that I am not alone and others have gone through similar circumstances and have dealt with hardship not unlike those in our lives.
Our Princess is 10. For the first few years I tried to mend an impossible situation and it wound up costing me too much. I had to step back and let go. I think we all do at some point. For the last year, my effort to keep everyone "in the loop" consists of writing, only the events and activities that are relevant to Princess, on a calendar in her school planner. She can look at it to keep track of when she has Scouts and other activities. If her Biomom wants to know, it is written down. I feel like I am helping Princess manage her own schedule and, so far, I haven't heard any complaints about this. Biomom has written on the calendar a couple of times, so I know that she looks at it. Every situation is different and I am sure not everyone would benefit from this type of system. This is something that works for us for now.

Mrs. H said...

Rose said it perfectly.

I see so much of myself in this last post.

The part that resinates the most with me is the "if I were in her shoes" part. To me, that is the heart of it all. We all live with our choices. This is not about maternal feelings, this is about choices and consequences.

In order to subscribe to the mindset that you need to help her because it must suck to be in her shoes, you have to believe on some level that she is a victim. While she is definitely a victim of her mental illness, she is still culpable for her choices.

Take care of yourself. You're the only mom your kids have----make sure they have one that's all there. While I lament some of the things my stepsons will miss out on, I will not sacrifice the lives my sons could have to make up for their mother's inadequacies.

Keep writing----we're all here to read!