Sunday, December 19, 2010

Slaying The (Rebound) Dragon

The Magic Mirror has broken.
Well... the truth is, I broke it.
As wonderful and magical as it was to have my own special someone to love me and who wanted to take care of me every minute of every day, it was something I had to do. For me.
Stepping from one co-dependent relationship into another could not last.
(I knew this from the beginning. But I went with it and enjoyed and learned a lot in the process.)
I'm Transforming. Growing. Changing.
Learning about myself and life and love and all the stuff a soon-to-be-divorced woman needs to go through.
It sucks sometimes. And it's been in those sometimes that I've been grateful to have a special someone to lean on and support me when I needed it.
But being in a full-time committed relationship with someone else proved too difficult while trying to re-establish a relationship with myself.
How can I love another, when I am trying to love myself?
I've spent my life taking care of other people's emotions, and never learning how to take care of my own. Putting everyone else first and sacrificing my own needs to keep others happy.
Now it's my turn. I'm stepping into my own power and have slayed the rebound dragon. In the process I'm learning that this damsel doesn't need a Prince to rescue her.
She can do a pretty good job of saving herself.

“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

She's 5

A daughter is a day brightener and a heart warmer.

Her birthday fell on her Dad's weekend. So our family celebration took place the weekend after, when she and her brother were home with me.
This was our first year of splitting the birthdays based on our custody schedule.
Some parents can pull-off combined celebrations. My Mom and Dad did. I remember every birthday, Dad and Stepmom #1 coming over to Mom's house for cake and presents.
Maybe one day, their Dad and I might be able to do that.
And maybe we won't.
The one thing I've learned in my years of being a StepMom, is that what works for some, doesn't always work for others. And that's ok.
As long as I continue to see that smile that outshines the candles on her cake, I know everything is ok.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Loaded Question

Gretel: Mom can you have a baby?

Me: *stares at her blankly* (Oh crap.)

Gretel: Mom can you have a baby so I can be the Big Sister?

Me: Honey, you need a Daddy to have a baby.

Gretel: Well, Hansel can carry it, Mom and we can drive over and then he can hand it to Daddy and then Daddy can take it and carry it into his house.

Me: Oh, you're talking about when you VISIT Daddy?

Gretel: Yeah!

(Why I didn't let this conversation die RIGHT HERE is beyond me.)

Me: Well baby, what I mean is that you need both a Mommy and a Daddy to MAKE a baby.

Gretel: You MADE me?

Me: Yes.

Gretel: Daddy and you MADE me?!

Me: Yes.

Gretel: Daddy helped you to MAKE me?!?!?!

Me: Yes.

Gretel: How?

(Oh crap.)

Me: Well there's a cell in Daddy's body and a cell in Mommy's body and they need to be put together so a baby can grow in my tummy.

(Crap!. Now she's going to ask me HOW do the cells come together and get into my tummy!!!! Shut up NOW woman and stop answering this kid!! Distract her with Halloween candy or something!)

Gretel: Mom, he can help! You can text Daddy and he can come over and help you.

***

So glad I didn't put an end this conversation prematurely. I haven't laughed that HARD in a long time.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An Election Day Disclaimer

 I don't do politics.
I don't discuss it. I don't participate in it. I don't whine about it.
No, I don't vote.
Why? Because that's my right. As much as it's my right as a woman living in America TO vote; why should it not also be my right NOT to vote?
I do not buy into the guilt/shame bullshit of obligatorily checking off a box to pick someone - ANYONE - because someone tells me it's my duty.
My duty is to live my life with integrity. My own. Not yours. Or yours.
So why should I take part in placing someone - ANYONE - that I don't believe in, into office?
I did the obligatory voting thing before. I voted for the person whom I felt was the lesser of two evils. Not because I believed in him.
That went against my own integrity and I won't do that again.
I don't buy into political rah-rah speeches or empty campaign promises because of MY beliefs that they aren't the ones running the show anyway. They are merely the puppets and scapegoats. And that's my RIGHT as a female living in America to choose to believe that.
So no, I did not vote today nor do I see myself voting any time soon.
And I will not debate my choice. Nor will I whine about who DOES get elected into office.
I never have.
America is where I live. America is the land of the free. Freedom to vote, freedom to decide for whom to vote, and freedom to decide not to...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Classic First

video

Some things you can watch over and over, like your kids experiencing "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" for the first time. (October 2007)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Magic Mirror

He is my very own Magic Mirror.
The one I have come to count on to tell me the truth, whether I want to hear it or not.
Who reflects back an image of myself that is more lovable (and more loving) than I ever thought.
Who will listen to me rant or sit with me in the silence of my own thoughts. Who takes none of it to heart and just says: "I'll be here when you come out the other side."
He's given Hansel & Gretel back their Mom. The Mom who used to laugh freely, danced in the living room with them for no reason, and saw the joy and wonder in their eyes as they learned and explored their worlds.
And he gives them friendship, guidance and tenderness, despite his tough rugged exterior.
She adores him completely...


And so do I.

Monday, September 6, 2010

First Day of School

Hansel, Gretel and Cinderella had their first day of school last week. I am now the parent of a highschooler, 3rd grader and kindergartner.
*sniff*
The beginning of their school year fell smack in the middle of their last summer vacation week with their Dad.
To his credit, to both of our credit really, PrinceCharming agreed to bring the little ones to my house so we could BOTH be there to see them BOTH onto the school bus for their first day. (Cinderella's highschool bus pickup was at her Dad's earlier that morning. I missed seeing her, but made the point of calling her that night so I could hear all about it!)
Hansel and Gretel both looked so big and yet still so little as they anxiously waited in my driveway, ping-ponging back and forth from their Dad (who stood at the curb) to me, and back again. I hope they were too excited to notice his continued awkwardness whenever he is around me. The tension emanating from him is always so palpable that it used to render me a tangled mess of anxiety-laden-emotional-breakdowns whenever I had to be near him for exchanges. But over the past several months, as I move into my new space as a single-independent-woman, I am less and less affected by his difficulty with being in the same room (or driveway) as me.  I've come to realize, and accept, that his challenges are his problem to face and overcome. Not mine. Not anymore.
We stood in my driveway with the kids for more than a half hour. I realized this was the first time we had BOTH been there to see any of our kids off to school together. For most years, it was me waiting with them at the bus. Last year, Gretel was taken to her first day of preschool by PrinceCharming.
But this year, all three of our kids have been given the gift of having their Dad with them on their first day. I am grateful for that and I hope they were as well.
I was also grateful that the bus was late that morning, for that meant I was able to pretend for a little bit longer that Gretel was still my baby...


And then I receive emails like this, from one of MY old elementary school classmates and remember how time marches on and repeats itself all at the same time:

First day of school: Mike Levine

Quick, before they leave this morning. Take a good look. Touch their faces, run your hands through their hair.

We got antsy with them last month, but now we want time to stand still. Like falling leaves and chilly mornings, some great force signals us today. We are aware of life passing.

See the kindergartner with a brave, bewildered smile watching her mother cry as the school bus pulls away. The high-school freshman with a lump in his throat hears his father whisper everything will be OK. Brothers and sisters who fought all summer now hold hands.

Today is proud, today is helpless, today is tomorrow. From Monticello to Monroe. From Marlborough to Matamoras, this is a special morning, wrenching and sacred.

As a young reporter, I'd wonder why. What's the big deal about the first day of school? I would write down quotes in my notebook and comprehend nothing.

Then I became a parent. I found out. We mark time by today.

On this morning, we remember our own parents and our own childhood. We are filled with the smell of old raincoats, the sticky bond of classroom glue, the childhood knot of worried excitement. We were so small and lost. (Secret: A part of us is still lost. We tell no one.)

Now we have children of our own. On this morning, we remember the holy moment of their birth.

We see this is all just a matter of time. Once, we thought our children were ours alone. Each September, on this day, we learn better. Nothing is ours to keep.

Time passes through our eyes this morning. We see our children as newborns, we picture them as grown-ups. We see them walking their own children to school.

Time passes in the beat of a heart. I have seen my first kindergarten boy walk into his dorm on his first day of college. A few days ago, my younger son left for college. I stood there, at once empty and full, as frightened and proud as the morning his first school bus pulled away.

Come on, it's getting late. The bus is coming up the road. I'll keep this short.

Make sure they have everything they need. Double check. Write their name on the book bag. Sweetheart, did you remember your lunch money? Dad, don't call me mushy stuff in front of the other kids.

They are right. Like the summer birds leaving us, our children know what to do. Like September leaves waving on the trees, we, too, give way to the winds of change.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fortune Teller

I'm ok with you and Daddy getting a divorce, Mom. Really. If you guys are happy then I am happy.
"You think Daddy & I are happier now?"
Oh, yes. Definitely happier.
"When were we not happy?"
When you were fighting.

It's been YEARS since we fought in front of the kids. Years since the door-slamming, plate/cup/remote control/engagement ring throwing, screaming matches that one time brought our neighbors to our front door to see if everything was ok.  Years since we vowed to stop subjecting our kids to that kind of emotional maelstrom that messes with their internal compasses.

My own True North was messed with as a young child as I witnessed my own parents' marriage fail and crumble into a million pieces before my eyes. Eyes which have now shut out memories of their own fighting but the disappointment over their inability to protect me from the harsh realities of life and who they really were as a couple remain. My insecurities about Love, Life and Marriage follow me like a dark cloud as a navigate the seas of this new life I am trying to create for myself and my kids.

Like Hansel, I was seven when my parents separated.
Like Hansel, I was equally as accepting of my parents' splitting.
Like Hansel, I *knew* it was the best choice for our family.

"History teaches everything including the future."
~ Lamartine
Like me, he is closed off to his true feelings and, like me, is seeing a therapist to help him move out of his head and more into his heart.
With any luck, we will rewrite our history and dive head first into a clear future.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Today I Believe...

I timed my morning drop off of Hansel & Gretel perfectly.
Cinderella was already at camp, dropped off by her Dad who chooses to handle her transportation himself, despite my offers to help out since I am there anyway with H & G.
She was radiant. Bubbly. Like the Cinderella I know and not the gloomy sour-puss I've seen the past few weeks.
I called her over. She spotted the small box in my hand that was wrapped in golden paper.
I got a present!?!?!?!?
"Happy Birthday. You look so beautiful today."
I hugged her, holding her tight and taking in the scent of her freshly shampoo'd hair, still damp because it's so thick. I cradled her face in my hands, wished her a happy birthday, and kissed her cheek that was pink and glowing from the smiling one should always do on their birthday.
She smiled broader, thanked me and skipped off with her gift and hand-written card in which I told her how much I loved and missed her. She plopped to the floor and opened them surrounded by her friends.
I didn't linger. Didn't wait for her reaction or additional thanks. I wanted her to have her space to process and digest the sentiments expressed in my card and the message of the bracelet.
I had done what I intended to do. I reached out and she accepted.
I sat in my car and shed a few tears. I was relieved. And realized how much I missed that kid.

Today I Believe ... there is hope for our relationship.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

14

Cinderella turns 14 tomorrow.
I have not seen or spoken much with her in two months since she and Prince Charming moved out, but I realized that I cannot will not let another milestone go by without acknowledging it in a way that lets her know I am still here for her.
I missed her graduation by my own choice. Driven by my own insecurities. Feeling like I was not wanted. It was a mistake that I don't plan on repeating.
A recent commenter reminded me that my presence in her life is necessary. And while I cannot control her reaction to me or our situation, I can control how I handle it. I can still reach out to her and let her know I am still here. I still love her.
I understand this is a confusing time for her. And so, even if she rejects my efforts, I will still hold out hope that I am reaching her in some way. Reassuring her that she has not lost me, and that she can still count on me to be there no matter what. Maybe one day she will reach back.
I plan to seek her out tomorrow at the camp she is going with her brother and sister, and give her a pewter bracelet for her birthday. The outside is inscribed "Today I Believe..."
On the inside: My possibilities are endless.

Today I Believe... that the possibilities for my relationship with Cinderella are endless, as is my determination.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

8

Eight years ago today I was being prepped for induction.
Hansel was 11 days late. The doctors had my due date set for July 4, 2002. (I disagreed, but what do I know. I'm just the Mom.)
After three rounds of pitocin, 12 hours of labor and an hour and a half of pushing, he was delivered at 10pm via c-section.
I took one look at him, and remember thinking how much he looked like Cinderella.
I experienced every possible method of labor and delivery with Hansel on his birth day. And that was how he was meant to come in to this world. I didn't complain or feel sad because his birth didn't happen the way I wanted. I had a healthy and beautiful baby boy. And that was all that matters. I wouldn't trade that scar on my belly for anything else. This is the story of his birth, and I'll keep it.


If that's one lesson I want to pass on to Hansel, that would be it...
Life doesn't always happen the way you want it to. It happens the way it needs to.

And sometimes, all you need in life, is to look at things with a different perspective.
Happy birthday, my Little Man.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A First...And An Unexpected Last.

Gretel started summer camp last week.
The same camp her brother has gone to for the past three summers and Cinderella for the past six.
She is the LAST of my children that will have their first ever day of camp. Another milestone ticked off the List of Firsts, never again to be repeated.
I packed her lunch and backpack Sunday night and laid it by the front door, next to her brother's.
I stood back and took in the sight of his Star Wars bag and her Tinkerbell bag and I couldn't help notice what was missing - a third backpack.
Cinderella's.
Hers would be packed by Prince Charming this year. My car would be quieter for the 30 minute drive each morning and afternoon, with one less voice singing and giggling in the back seat.

I wasn't prepared for the fact that LAST summer was the LAST time I packed Cinderella's lunch and backpack for camp.
 And I am definitely not prepared for my Little Pixie growing up so damn fast.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Man In My Life

Mom, are you going to get married again?

"I don't know. Maybe one day. Why do you ask?"

I want you to get married so you aren't alone when Gretel and I are at Dad's.

He worries too much. He gets that from me.
He's the Man of the House now and he's taking his role very seriously.
How lucky am I.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh, Bother.

You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.
~ Christopher Robin 


Cinderella's graduation from 8th grade was this past week. 
I did not attend.
It's been 5 weeks since she and Prince Charming moved out. I have not spoken with nor seen her (except in passing the few times I've picked up/drop off Hansel and Gretel from their Dad's house).
I feel I've let her down. I can't help but think even though she has not spoken with me, never gave me the Mother's Day gift her Dad took her to get (where it did go, is a mystery to me, but I do have a guess) and has not asked to come see me, that she might have searched the crowd for me that day only to be disappointed with the realization I was not there teary eyed and with camera in-hand just as I did for her sister the week before.
My guilt abounds as only a mother can inflict on herself for failing her children.
So... Christopher Robin, I feel neither brave, nor strong, nor smart right now.

***

In searching for an appropriate quote to end this post, I found the rest of the above quote:

...but the most important thing is, even if we're apart...I'll always be with you.


Yes, Cinderella. I was with you that day, even if you didn't see me. My thoughts and my heart were celebrating with you, surrounding you, bursting with pride for you. And I was teary eyed as I walked at your side as you accepted your diploma searching the crowd for your two other parents, who were there teary-eyed and with cameras in hand.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Moving Up!

Today Gretel had her very first graduation. She has completed preschool and is now ready for Kindergarten.

I still think Preschool graduations are dumb. But that didn't stop me from cheering her on as she walked in procession with her classmates and stumbled through the songs they've been rehearsing for weeks; from waving madly as she searched for us in the crowd; or from crying like a baby as I watched MY baby claim her diploma and cross a metaphorical bridge into the bright future that lays ahead of her.


I love you my little Pixie. And I couldn't be more proud.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

To Answer Your Question

I stumbled across this article not too long ago and it stopped me dead in my tracks.

This has been my life for the past 10+ years and sums up the answer to the question of "What happened?!?" quite nicely.

I never thought of myself as an abused spouse, but now I think otherwise...

Monday, May 24, 2010

And Then There Were Three...

I returned home on Friday to find the contents of Cinderella's room in the driveway.
She and Prince Charming officially moved out this weekend.
Cinderella had already left for her weekend visit with Maleficent and I was informed she would be returning to Prince Charming's cottage on Sunday evening. Not the castle.
This was it. She was gone from my life without warning. My days as a Stepmom have suddenly come to a screeching halt.
No preparation. No goodbyes. No chance for closure or reassurances.
They stopped in briefly on Sunday night to pick up some more of their belongings. She barely had much to say to anyone, let alone me. She swept through like a tornado grabbing what she could and then escaping to the car. Again, without any goodbyes.
Hansel and Gretel were saddened by the brevity of her "visit" here. The reality of what we've been preparing them for has suddenly hit home, again without warning.
I don't know why I continue to be surprised over things. Perhaps I am expecting too much. But is it too much to expect that feelings be taken into consideration and our relationships with Cinderella be treated with a little more respect?
She must be as confused and hurt as we are.

And now, Hansel, Gretel and I must fill the empty spaces left in our castle.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Slaying the Dragon



"Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."

(In this fairy tale, there is no knight in shining armor on a white steed. In my story, the damsel learns how to save herself.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

If There Was A Castle Bulletin Board

It'd let you know...

  • I am on the road to gaining some sort of financial independence. I have:
    - Started selling Avon. *ding! dong!*
    - Sold my first cake! I was commissioned to bake a birthday cake for a 6 year old birt bike rider. :)
    - Started working at a Holistic Wellness Center, which then led to two side jobs with some practitioners at said wellness center.  YAY!

  • I've signed up for a 16-week Women's Group as a way of figuring out this next chapter in my fairytale. I've defined myself over the past ten years as a Stepmom and Second Wife. I am much more than that. I just need a little help finding her.

  • Prince Charming and I have attended a few mediation meetings and they have gone pretty well. We seem to agree on the issues of custody/visitation and support. But our progress has come to a SCREECHING halt now that Maleficent is suing him for full custody of Cinderella. Yes, our pending divorce is being exploited and we are he is once more distracted by his ex. His preliminary court date is set for the end of this month. I am trying not to get sucked in emotionally and stay focused on what *I* need to do to get my life in order. It's hard not to be distracted when I've allowed so much of my life to be defined by Maleficent.

  • To that end, Prince Charming has informed me that he has secured a separate residence for he and Cinderella to live. Obviously, one can't argue that they are capable of taking care of their child full-time if said child is still being left with their stepparent half of the time. While the prospect of not having to commute back and forth between our home and my mother's is appealing, the reality of our current financial situation stops me from doing the happy dance just yet. We can barely afford the ONE house we live in now, it will take a fair amount of magic fairy dust to make a second home possible. He is moving out post haste and leaving me with a pile of unpaid bills.

  • I've seen a fair number of antagonistic and bitter anti-Stepmom comments lately.  And I am reaching the point of being fed up with them. But I am also mature enough to realize that BioMoms are probably equally as fed-up with whiny Stepmom blogs that drone on and on about BMs obnoxious and antagonistic behavior. So I guess we've proven the point as to WHY such blogs and comments persist, haven't we ladies? For what it's worth, I do advise that the haters out there take a little more time to learn about MY personal situation and get all of the facts before they fire off their virtual bitch slaps. I can take constructive criticism from those who take the time to read (reading IS fundamental, afterall)... but ignorant blasts do not deserve (nor will they get) a reply.

    (Why do the trolls always surface around Mother's Day? Could it be insecurities surrounding their children wanting to honor their Wicked Stepmom's on this day too, I wonder? Hmm... food for thought.)

  • While on the subject of Mother's Day, and in an ironic twist of fate, Cinderella did not acknowledge me in any way this year. For the first time in ten years neither she nor Prince Charming made the effort. Yes it hurt. And yes I can understand why this has come about. But no I do not think it deserving And I am sure the trolls from the above bullet point are doing their own little happy dance over this personal admission. I'm feeling as if I am being told I need to let go... but how does one let go of a child they have nurtured and cared for since they were a toddler?

This week's mantra: Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things that cannot be.

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    The Biology of Divorce REDUX

    Our 10-month in-house separation has been growing increasingly challenging, especially for Cinderella who is stuck in the middle of yet ANOTHER divorce.
    Torn between her desire to remain loyal to me (her primary care giver for the past 10 years) and her mother who is making every attempt to alienate my stepdaughter from me.
    Attempts are being made to undermine my authority. Trash talk continues.
    I noticed on her visitation days with Maleficent, Cinderella's mood towards me was colder and more defiant. It started in the mornings before she left for school, continued when she came home and rushed to do her homework before Maleficent was due to arrive. It followed her back home after being dropped off as she stomped around the house getting ready for school the next day.
    The next day, she was always fine.
    Her hostility fueled my own insecurities. I found myself becoming defensive and angry.
    (Yes, after ten years I still question my parenting abilities, take things personally and lay the mother guilt on myself nice and THICK.)
    It was time to have a (step)mother/daughter talk.
    I am sure you must be feeling anger towards Dad and me. You are probably hurt and confused because here you are going through ANOTHER divorce. And I am sure there is something going on when you are at Mom's but I don't want to make things worse by pressuring you to talk to me. It hurts me to see you suffering. I only hope that you will try to talk to someone about what's going on.
    As is par for the course, that's all she needed me to say. My suspicions were confirmed, her loyalities are being challenged and she is being torn apart by this.
    I reassured her as best as I know how. Mostly by example. Prince Charming and I struggle to find common ground, to get along for the kids' sake and make a point of making sure that they SEE it because it's one thing for us to tell them, but it's a whole other thing for them to LIVE it.
    While I can empathize with Maleficent and why she behaves where He is concerned, I don't agree that that's the answer. Not after all the pain I have seen it cause. Lord knows he doesn't always make it easy, but still...

    My mantra these days is: Love your kids more than you hate your ex.

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    What Do You Get...

    ... when you cross a teenager and an iPod Touch (with enabled wifi)?

    The start of a horror story you hear about on Dateline or Maury Povich complete with private chats of an inappropriate nature with strangers of questionable age (and even gender).
    I've been asked not to tweet or post about this because the Internet doesn't need to know about His daughter but I'm doing it anyway because ... well, it's *my* blog.
    But, that's not the real reason. I do so not to embarrass Cinderella, or to spite anyone. I post this now because it's important to remind ALL parents (steps AND bio) of the importance of monitoring your children's internet usage. No matter how insignificant you might think it is, it can be a recipe for disaster.
    Even the best parent needs a reminder every now and then.
    If you are not familiar with an iPod Touch and all of it's capabilities, it's basically a mini-computer. So when your otherwise good kid is locking him/herself in their room "playing games" on their "iPod" you need to know that they may be ON TEH INTERNETZ and that means people of ALL KINDS are also playing these games and therefore have access to your good kid. AND!!! that said games also have private chat capabilities (remember the early days of a/s/l checks? Umm...YEAH! 'nuff said.).

    BUT, if you are lucky (and YES there is also an upside to this otherwise craptastic and stomach turning experience) you might also get validation that you are doing a good job when, as you scour though the chat and email history, you happen across a statement made by your kid such as: "I'll [send it] tomorrow because my Dad is home then and he doesn't watch me."
    You bet your ASS I'm going to be watching you.

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Listening to the Stars

    New Month. New Horoscope.

    "Letting go of control is a challenge for you, but you are now beginning to see definite advantages to this tactic. It's not that you are giving up on your goals; it's just that you are admitting that you might not know the best way to achieve success. Mental Mercury's current visit to your 3rd House of Immediate Environment requires that you focus your thoughts on the present moment, so remove the unneeded pressure and don't try to look too far ahead."

    Do you think this is the universe's subtle way of letting me know I don't know what the fuck I am doing?


    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Reason #532 Why I Love Winter Recess

    Gretel: HEY... smell my fingers!

    *sniff*

    Hansel: EWW! Gross... I know that smell!

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    This Thing Called Love


    On this day of Love, 
    I've found myself  drawing upon the wisdom of Kahlil Gibran and his collection of essays from "The Prophet." 
    This particular excerpt, which pertains specifically to Marriage, has always been one of my favorites and rings more true these days than ever before:



    Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
    Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
    Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
    Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
    Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
    Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.


    Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
    For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
    And stand together yet not too near together:
    For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
    And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Worry



    Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere.


    Friday, February 5, 2010

    Modern Day Instrument of Torture

    Don't let the pretty lavender walls fool you.



    This was no day at the spa.
    I turned 40 last month and had my first mammogram to celebrate.
    (I prefer a big fuck-off piece of cake and maybe some sparkling to go with it. Silly, I know.)
    As much as it SUCKED, or SQUISHED, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought, even with the added worry that this monstrous piece of machinery would cause my implants to explode.
    (They didn't, as far as I can tell.)
    The technician was very informative, and sensitive to my status as a Mammo-Virgin. She explained what would happen BEFORE she started kneading, pulling and molding my Girls into shapes breasts should NEVER be molded into.
    As much as I would like to have expounded with witty prose about the rest of the experience from the mole and nipple markers that dotted my chest to the fact that I had the extreme pleasure of getting four scans of each boob (two in front of the implants and two behind them) all I can say is that I am glad it's over.

    My results came back normal.
    And while I personally like to think of them as spectacular, I will accept "normal" just this once.

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    Breaking Gender Stereotypes



    Showing his school spirit by wearing PINK, along with the rest of the 2nd Graders, for "Grade Color Day."
    Mommy's shirt. Gretel's hair gel. (He was especially psyched about that.)
    Chicks dig guys who aren't afraid to wear pink.
    My guy has no fear.

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    The Biology of Divorce (Post Script)

    The Law Guardian did see through Cinderella's smoke screen and knew she was also being coached by her mother, BUT, she was put in place to protect Cinderella and if Cindy said she was scared to come home, then the LG had no choice but to allow her to stay at Maleficent's for that one night.
    (Consequently, Cinderella did try the same crap a week later, again while at Maleficent's, but was told NO DICE by her LG.)

    Whatever his personal feelings were for (or against) me, Prince Charming at least agreed that he and I needed to talk to Cinderella's TOGETHER about what took place.
    For me, it was to show us as a continued united front and let her know that the issue of her disrespect was not acceptable.
    For him, it was to "get to the bottom of things."
    Three days later, the three of us sat in the living room after her return from her weekend visit with Maleficent. Cinderella on one couch, me on the other and Prince Charming on the floor between us.
    (Talk about a house divided. So much for a UNITED front.)
    He had very little to say, instead turning to Cinderella and I to drive the conversation.
    I took over. I was the other parent after all.
    I told her how I felt. She told me how she felt. She admitted to going a bit far by calling the LG and acknowledged that the real issues were her attitude and lack of accountability for not doing her chores.
    I apologized. She apologized.
    Tears were shed on both sides as I told her how much I loved her like she was one of my own and that we sometimes all say things in anger that we don't mean.
    (Like when she tells her brother and sister "I'LL KILL YOU" if you do this one more time or say that again.)
    His presence was quickly forgotten. This was between Cinderella and me anyway. It started with us, and it needed to end WITH US.

    It took me a while to realize this was NOT a Stepmother/Stepdaughter issue because yes, like so many others (some of whom have shared their opinions on this very blog), I am too quick to judge my actions and assume the worse of myself. I immediately jump to the conclusion that I truly *am* the Wicked Stepmom and how dare I show my HUMAN side and let this child who is not my own get the better of me. Surely if she were my biological child I would have reacted differently. Right? RIGHT???
    Umm... get real.
    This, my pretties, was a simple matter of parenting of a TEEN.
    Cinderella is my first teen. She is our oldest child. And like many other parents of teens know, there is no preparing for it, no filter strong enough to protect you from those first eye rolls and head shakes and snarky comments. Limits will be pushed, standoffs will occur, battles will ensue and eventually your skin thickens, your hearing becomes selective and you learn when to walk away, how to ignore and pick your battles.
    Our relationship will wax and wane like any parent/teenage relationship will, and with any luck, come full-circle again one day.

    (Parts I & II)

    Friday, January 22, 2010

    The Biology of Divorce II

    Continued from here.

    Maleficent eavesdropped on overheard Cinderella's call to her Law Guardian and, well, you can just IMAGINE her reaction.
    The law guardian called Prince Charming. He called me to find out what happened, but with our current "situation" he was less interested in hearing what I had to say.
    (He admitted his first reactions were "Who the fuck does she think she is." "Cinderella is MY daughter, not hers.")
    The law guardian allowed Cinderella to stay at Maleficent's that night because I was home with the kids and Prince Charming wasn't. (It was my "custody" day of our in-house separation.)
    The following week, school guidance counselors and social workers were involved thanks to persistent phone calls by a revenge-driven Maleficent. She wanted CPS called in to investigate.
    Prince Charming was overwhelmed with phone calls and battled his personal feelings towards me as he tried to reassure EVERYONE (mostly himself) that things had been blown out of proportion.
    In a single phone call, Cinderella became her mother, alienating and vilifying me.
    Prince Charming called the house for the days that followed asking Cinderella how she was while never ONCE asking ME if things had improved with HER behavior.
    A discipline problem with a teenager became something ugly and hurtful.
    Loyalites and lines were drawn left me feeling like it was THEM against ME.
    Thirteen years of struggling and fighting to do what's best for Cinderella seemed to have been tossed aside and meant nothing.
    Biology won out over the truth and fairness.
    I felt hurt and betrayed.

    But...so is Cinderella.
    She is going through yet another divorce. The family she has known for the past ten years is breaking up and changing.
    She feels her Dad doesn't want to be here.
    She thinks she will not see me again.
    She expects (though we keep reassuring her to the contrary) that her Dad and I will engage in daily battles like her mother has.
    And now she has to endure more of Maleficent's hatred of me as she does everything she can to make sure Cinderella has NOTHING to do with me after our divorce.

    She is thirteen.
    And all that that implies people.

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    The Biology of Divorce

    Cinderella is thirteen... and all that that implies people!
    That should be enough to explain the current challenges and changes to the dynamics of our relationship.
    (Oh and what changes there are! Someone should have warned me that the aliens would snatch her up in the middle of the night and replace her with a snarky, lazy drone with horrible B.O. matched only by her sense of fashion. GAH!)
    Our relationship has turned a corner. A blind corner that I am sure any BIOLOGICAL parent would have recognized but one that took me weeks to realize and stop second-guessing my parenting of her. (Yes, after 10+ years of being a Stepmom, I still do this. *sigh*)
    I am not Cindy's BioMom and the sad truth of that fact was recently (and quite cleverly) exploited by my darling as she turned weeks of her own idleness and disrespectfulness into a shitstorm nightmare that involved her law guardian, school counselor and threats of CPS being called.
    I SHIT YOU NOT.
    Weeks of asking her to "please do your chores" and "please don't speak to me that way" led to that straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back moment that every parent experiences at least once a MILLION times in their lifetime.
    (You know the one where you head spins around 360 degrees and your brain explodes and you say things like "wipe that smirk off your face or I will wipe it off for you" but in my case it was equating her sour-puss to a plate I knocked off the table and that subsequently broke?) (Oh YES. I. DID.)
    I'm not proud. I stumbled as we all do. And, as we all must do, I admitted my mistake, apologized and moved on.

    Did you know that Cinderella has a law guardian?
    Uh-huh. Yep. She does.
    This law guardian was put in place to protect her from visitation/custody issues between her mother and Dad. We've encouraged her frequently to call the LG if she felt she needed to and could not speak to any of us about it.
    Well...
    Guess what? SHE DID.
    Uh-huh. Yep.
    From her MOTHER'S the NEXT DAY during her scheduled 3 hour mid-week visitation. And she related the story of our exchange as only a thirteen year old drama queen can.
    "I'm afraid to go home, can I sleep over at Mom's?"

    Can you guess what happened next?

    Saturday, January 9, 2010

    Mixing It With Love

    Who can take tomorrow
    Dip it in a dream
    Separate the sorrow
    And collect up all the cream?

    The candyman can...



    The candyman can cause he mixes it with love
    And makes the world taste good.

    ***
    My world tastes better because of these faces.
    My dreams for tomorrow more vivid, yesterday's sorrows less painful.

    Friday, January 8, 2010

    Dichotomy Bites

    Hello, you've reached the Winter of my Discontent.

    The dichotomy of my life at present is starting to become monotonous.
    Prince Charming and I have worked out a temporary shared custody schedule while we try and sort out a formal separation agreement to file.
    (At the time of this writing, "sort out" means ignore all attempts to move towards this goal AT ALL COSTS. Whatever.)
    Living under the same roof wasn't doing me any good and only adding to the tension and resentment.
    (Several weeks of sleeping on the couch will have that affect even on the most wicked among us.)
    We've been living apart now since July. Each of us spending 2-3 days at home alone with the kids, while the other stays somewhere else.
    My somewhere else has been at my Mom's an hour away.
    And while I am grateful to have my Mom to lean on, I'm starting to feel displaced. Homeless.
    I'm tripping on my own two feet as I stumble through the sometimes-single-gal sometimes-estranged-wife dance.
    I feel energized and hopeful half the time. My mother's house offers me respite, down-time, unconditional love and support.
    But that is quickly washed away by the toxic environment of what has been our marital home.
    My kids jubilant personalities do little to combat the negative energies that live within these four walls.
    I struggle to get out of bed when I am here. Push myself to do the chores left behind, organize the disorder, remain the consistent parent my kids expect me to be.
    I feel like a ping pong ball being smacked back and forth across the lines of a hopeful future and a bitter past.