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.
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.
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.