Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Kids Hate Each Other

Cain and Abel, Romulus and Remus, Rachel and Leah. All infamous siblings whose relationships were riddled with competition, rivalry and jealousy and in two thirds of them, death. Sometimes I feel as though one day, people will be reading about my children on Wikipedia for similar reasons. 

Cain slaying Abel by Peter Paul Rubens

My kids hate each other. 

There, I said it. I have five; eleven-year-old twins, ten-year-old daughter, eight-year-old son and two-year-old daughter. We are a blended family. A sort of his, mine and ours.

They all hate each other, except maybe the two-year-old. She's too young to be a total shit head yet. I swear if they were in the Hunger Games arena, they would have no problem stabbing each other in the back to make it home alive.

How do I know they hate each other? Let me count the ways...

1. They never want to help each other. Ever. If K asks T to pass her something she's sitting next to, T will say "It's not mine. It isn't my job to give it to you." But then T is surprised when K doesn't want to help her when she needs something.

2. They're constantly racing each other. For everything. The favorite seat on the couch, the bowl with the most ice cream, the last piece of red construction paper. And forget about it if one of them "calls" something ahead of time. The others yell that they're not allowed to do that. No one ever says "Sure, I don't mind if you eat the last piece of chocolate." 

3. They tattle on each other. All the time.  They are constantly trying to get each other in trouble about the most stupid shit possible. "AJ said his room was clean but it isn't." "A glanced at me for a second as she was looking around the room." "K said she doesn't like my skirt." Gah! Who cares? 

4. They give each other nasty looks. We've all heard the phrase "If looks could kill." Well if looks really could kill, I would be childless. And I would be dead, and so would hubs and both our dogs.

5. They're always comparing what the other one has. Try as I might to make everything equal at birthdays and other holidays, someone always thinks the other got something better than them. As a result of this their hatred for that sibling increases exponentially. A thinks that K's clothes are cuter. T likes AJ's headphones better. For the love of god the headphones are the same except for the color!!

6. They can't keep their hands to themselves. Without fail, every time they are playing or swimming one of them tries to kill off another one. They either trip them when they're running, crash into each others bikes or try to drown them in the pool. They may claim it was an "accident" or that they "didn't mean to", but I know better. I see that little glint of evil in their eyes.

7. They hate sharing. It is said that sharing is caring. With most people this may be true, but all it tells me is I am right about my kids hating each other. They will hoard twenty-five Barbie outfits claiming they are playing with them, just so someone else can't have them. It is physically impossible to play with twenty-five outfits at one time, so why can't they let someone else use them? Because they hate each other.

Is there any hope for any of them? Or me? I feel like the only time I ever get relief is when I go for my morning jog

Please tell me I'm not the only one whose children despise each other!

Monday, June 29, 2015

My Road to Healthy - Week One

A few weeks ago hubs and I took all five kids to North Carolina to visit his brother and sister-in-law. It was an amazing week full of pontoon boat rides, tubing, hiking, waterfalls, mountains and lots of great food.

While we were there I found myself being inspired by my sister-in-law. She was waking up early and going out for a run, then coming home and eating a healthy breakfast. She looked amazing. Being in a bathing suit on the pontoon boat made me greatly aware that, while I have lost the weight from my last baby, I still have a lot of work to do firming everything back up.

Not only that, but I suffer from depression and anxiety and am currently on medication for both. I don't want to be on drugs forever, but they have been a godsend in helping me keep my sanity over the last year and a half.

So a couple of days after we got back from our trip I set my alarm for 6:15 am and decided I was going to go for a jog. I told myself it would be a jog because, lets face it, I haven't worked out in a really long time, so I knew there wouldn't be any real running going on.

Waking up that morning was tough. All I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep. What the hell was I thinking waking up so early, when the rest of my family was snoozing peacefully. Somehow I managed to drag my arse out of bed and put on my workout gear and ten-year-old sneakers. I got the dog on the leash and off we went.

I had my phone in my hand and no music to help push me through. We started out walking for a few minutes to warm up and then I started jogging.

And then I stopped jogging. Oh my god, I must have jogged for at least three minutes. *Checks phone* Thirty seconds? What the hell? 

I was more out of shape than I thought. So I spent the next thirty minutes alternating jogging and walking, willing the time away. 

At one point, I turned to look behind me and saw the incredible sky and I had to snap a picture. It looked like pink and blue cotton candy. It started to occur to me that, other than the health benefits, this is why people find joy in early morning running jogging walking. It was so peaceful and beautiful. 

That was it, I was hooked. I made up my mind to replace my decade old sneakers with new running shoes and decided to look into an armband thing to keep my phone in so I could have music with me. 

I knew I was going to need a little more motivation though, so I downloaded the C25K running app. The idea behind that app is that it trains you for a 5K in eight weeks. It alternates jogging and walking, gradually increasing the jogging and decreasing the walking until the very end where you're expected to jog three miles (or as much as you can in 30 minutes).

Thursday rolled around and up I got again at 6:15, tied up my new shoes, stole my son's headphones and headed out the door with the dog. That second day (first day using the C25K app) was much tougher than I expected. I grunted through all the 60 seconds of jogging and let out a sigh of relief each time the app said "begin walking", signaling the start of 90 seconds of walking. 

But I made it through and managed to snap another beautiful morning photo.

The next day my armband and new headphones were scheduled to arrive, which made me really excited about running on Saturday morning. I purchased a couple of running playlists from the iTunes store and loaded them onto my phone. Saturday came, alarm went off, and away I went.

My running toys - armband for my phone 
and noise canceling headphones.

Then it happened. During the first 60 second jogging spurt I felt pain on the inside of my thighs, up high, near my lady parts. Holy crap did it hurt. But I pushed through and finished my workout. I went home and did my stretching, spending a lot more time in a butterfly stretch trying to work out the tightness in my legs. For the rest of that day I walked like I had been riding a horse for six weeks. Every step was painful. 

Great, three days of exercise and I had already injured myself. Thankfully when I woke up on Sunday the pain had gone and I was walking normally again.

I had only gone out three times, but I was already feeling better about myself. I noticed that the days I jogged, I didn't have nearly as much anxiety during the day. Anxiety and depression are two things I have struggled with for quite some time. I am on medication for both, but my goal is to get to a point where I no longer have to rely on chemicals to get me through the day. I was also eating breakfast, something I had fallen out of the habit of doing a long time ago. Oatmeal or Greek yogurt and granola, with flax, chia seeds, honey and fresh berries.

Every day hubs tells me how proud of me he is that I am getting up and doing something for myself. I really appreciate hearing that and it is a huge motivator, but you know what else motivates me?

I am proud of myself.

Anyone who knows me knows I am not the most athletically inclined person. Sure, I went through my phase in college where I was working out every day and talking aerobics classes. And leading up to my first wedding when I was going to the gym in an effort to have even more of my dress taken in. But I didn't like sports in school and did pretty much whatever I could to get out of playing them. (My high school track coach used to call me and a couple of my friends the "Country Club" as we walked around the track during practice.)

I've had a few snarky comments from people questioning my sudden enthusiasm for running. I just smile and tell them the truth; I'm trying to get healthier, tone up, and do something for myself.

My life, although I love it, is totally dedicated to raising children and being married. I am lucky to have a true partner to share my journey with, but the majority of the responsibilities involving the children falls on me. Hubs works full time and I've been privileged to have been able to stay home since our youngest was born in February of 2013. But that means that all the doctor and dentist appointments, sick days, grocery shopping and the majority of the cooking, cleaning and laundry falls on me. While I in no way claim to be Suzy Homemaker, and I know my floors could stand to be mopped more regularly, it still doesn't leave too much time for me.

So I will keep setting my alarm for 6:15 and I will continue on my journey to get healthy, and sane.

Who knows, maybe this couch potato will sign herself up for her first 5K in the future...

...On second thought, let's just take it one day at a time and see how it goes.

Friday, June 26, 2015

I'm a Big, Fat Hypocrite

Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed the other day I came across an article a guy wrote after eating food marketed for women.

**Spoiler Alert**: Nothing happened. Other than him feeling hungry most of the time and craving fresh vegetables after two weeks of sugary, prepackaged foods.

While I was reading it I was struck with how cliche and downright awful the marketing is for these supposed healthy foods.

SkinnyGirl, Skinny Cow (that would be an insult where I'm from), Svelte Popcorn, Bombshell Jerky...all those names are focused on appearance and weight, not health.

I am always talking to my girls about the importance of being healthy, not skinny, and how the women in magazines and movies are photoshopped and work for hours exercising and eating healthy. I try to convey that appearance, while it is the first thing you notice, isn't what defines a person. A beautiful person can have an ugly heart and a nasty personality, which is far worse than not looking like a supermodel.

I notice my stepdaughters, one in particular, are very self conscious and aware of their appearance. They are identical twins and were always skinny as twigs and could eat anything they wanted. About three years ago one started gaining weight and we couldn't figure out why. We found out that she was eating two lunches at school, after her sister ratted her out. Since then it has become clear to me that she is an emotional eater.

She now has the better part of thirty pounds on her twin and stepsister, who is only a year younger than them. I die a little inside every time I see her covering her stomach when she's in a bikini, or when she is told she has to change because her outfit is too small or tight on her.

I cook nutritious meals with lean meat, vegetables and a starch. We don't go out to eat often, and we go for fast food even less. I keep fruit and yogurt in the house, but we also have ice cream, chips and cookies. I am trying to teach them that it is all about balance. They can have the treats as long as the majority of what they consume is the healthier stuff.

Here's where the hypocrisy comes in.

I want to look like one of those actresses or models. I want to be skinny, and beautiful and still be able to eat whatever I want and not have to work hard for it.

While I sit here and wax poetic about how life is about balance and health and how your clothes feel, not the size on the tag, I cringe every time I have to put a bathing suit on. I feel a rush of excitement when I fit back into a pair of pants I haven't been able to wear for a while and I hate myself a little when my pants start to get too tight again.

I constantly compare myself to other women. Strangers at the grocery store, friends who have had babies and look amazing and even people I know have let themselves go a little. I don't voice my comparisons or insecurities to my kids, I don't tell them when I go on a diet to drop a few pounds, or that I've taken up running to lose the jiggle. I tell them that I'm trying to be more healthy, and that running is good for my heart and overall health.

I tell my kids not to worry about what other people think about them, and that they are kids and don't need to diet, and that their thighs are supposed to jiggle a little. Meanwhile I'm wishing I had the body I did before kids, that my boobs would sit where they're supposed to without a bra like they used to and that my chin hadn't developed some weird adult acne issue once a month.

In a society that is so obsessed with appearance, is it possible to be truly happy with how we look? Are there people out there who are content with the body, skin and hair they have? If so, how do they get to that point? When I lost the weight from my last baby I felt awesome. I had a new lease on life. I enjoyed dressing and clothes shopping again.

Then the excitement wore off and I started judging myself again. My thighs have too much cellulite, my arms jiggle too much and my belly is still saggy. I know that the way I see myself when I'm naked isn't the same way my husband sees me. I know I'm too harsh on myself and that I should be happy I'm healthy and look at my saggy boobs and stomach as some kind of badge of honor for having carried and given life to three amazing children.

But I can't. I don't need my body to be a constant reminder of my kids, they are my reminder.

Is it just a case of do as I say, not as I do (or feel)? Am I just going to have to be a hypocrite for the rest of my life telling my kids to be one way and pretending to be that way myself? 

Maybe if I keep telling myself that appearance doesn't matter I will start believing it.

Funny Friday - June 2015

Today's post is this month's Funny Friday, a regular feature published on the last Friday of every month, hosted by Baking in a Tornado. Funny Friday is a collaborative project between a wide variety of bloggers. Each month one of the participants submits a picture and we all write 5 captions or thoughts inspired by that picture. Links to the other bloggers are below. Check them out to see what they came up with. Hopefully we bring a smile to your face to take you to the weekend!

baking in a tornado

Here is today's picture. It was submitted by The Momisodes.

1. "I knew the moon landing was staged!"

2. "Don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon." ~ Paul Brandt


4. "I don't care if we are on the moon. I will not look at the camera with everyone else!"

5. "You mean it isn't really made of cheese?"

Be sure to check out what all the other participants came up with this week:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

To The Preganant Woman Judging Me at Fresh Market

To the pregnant woman judging me at Fresh Market...

Yes, I'm talking to you with the long blonde hair in the black dress. Remember me? I was the one in line behind you with her five kids, the youngest in the shopping cart.

You know the kids I'm talking about. The youngest was the one who screamed at the top of her lungs for about fifteen seconds straight. The one whose mouth I covered with my hand in attempt to smother stop her, only to have her start again as soon as I removed my hand. The four older ones were getting samples of coffee.

I saw the look you gave me out of the corner of your eye when the baby yelled. I heard you mutter "wow" under your breath. I saw you eyeballing my other kids as my son accidentally dropped his coffee and spilled it all over the floor. I could tell what you were thinking as you put your hand on your pregnant belly and turned away; "My baby will never do that. She really should get control of her children. I can't believe she's letting them drink coffee, that's so unhealthy."

I know you were thinking those things because I was you once, pregnant with my first child, full of grand ideas of what I would and wouldn't allow my child(ren) to do. I used to tell myself my kids would never have sugar or anything other than fresh, homemade, organic foods. I knew for sure my kids would never act out in public, they would never scream or yell or argue with me. They certainly wouldn't drop coffee all over the floor, because they wouldn't drink coffee.

As soon as I took my first child out in public I gained a new sense of appreciation for all those parents I had judged in the past. 

I realized that a baby might be yelling because she was teething, hadn't napped and was overly tired. 

I learned that the woman giving her kid candy (or coffee) was giving him a treat for behaving so nicely the rest of the day. 

I realized that the child who dropped his drink on the floor could have found a rag and cleaned it up himself after I had walked away.

I concluded that the mother covering her child's mouth wasn't being abusive, she was thinking of the other people around her who didn't want to hear her kid screaming. She was embarrassed and trying to quiet the child before she went running out of the store leaving all her kids behind.

The most important lesson I learned is that I can't judge another parent based on fifteen seconds in a grocery store. 

Maybe her dog died, or a relative is sick. 

Maybe her husband left her or she's had a migraine for three days. 

Maybe the child yelling is special needs and can't control it.

You will come to this realization on your own one day (unless you're one of the 0.0003% of the population who actually has a perfect child who never eats sweets and never acts out). You'll realize it when that little angel growing inside you becomes possessed by satan himself because you won't let him have a cookie.

Until that day comes, maybe you could be a tad less judgmental. I promise that I don't enjoy it when my kids misbehave in public. 90% of the time they are very well behaved, but when they aren't it is humiliating. 

When I see you judging me sweat starts to drip between my boobs and down my back and I want the ground to open up and swallow me whole. 

So the next time you're out and someone's child acts out, try to ignore it. Look the other way, don't mutter anything under your breath or roll your eyes in disgust. 

Think about the fact that we are all human and none of us are perfect, but we're doing the best we can from one moment to the next.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

You Were Supposed to be My Friend

You were supposed to be my friend. 

You were my neighbor for two years. First in the building next to mine, then the apartment across the hall from me. Your girlfriend lived above me. 


We used to hang out. I used to run into you at the bars. You were always so nice, friendly and welcoming. You used to tease me about the crush I had on your roommate. 

You guys used to eat leftover spaghetti when I made giant pots of it. 

You always invited me to your parties, and vice versa. 

You used to make extra spicy chicken wings after a night out. 

It was one of those nights when it happened. 

I had been out with some girlfriends. My roommate and I went back to your place for wings. I had been drinking, I don't deny that. I remember most of everything … except for a chunk of time after my roommate left. 

She was going home across the hall to go to bed. I planned to follow right behind her once I'd finished my wings. 

...that's when it goes blank. There is a gap in my memory that I’ve never been able to get back. The fact that I don't remember details … well, that only makes it worse. 

The last thing I remember is you pouring me one more drink. My next memory is of me, banging on my apartment door in the early dawn light, crying silently. 

One of my other roommates finally opened the door, and when she saw me, her jaw practically hit the ground. 

For a few minutes, everything went hazy. I heard my roommate asking if I was okay, but her voice seemed to come from very far away. 

I went to step into the apartment and that is the first time I noticed the pain. I went slowly to my room, trying not to wince or limp. Don't let them see. They'll never believe you. They'll say you drank too much, that you asked for it being left alone with him. 

You were supposed to be my friend. You were supposed to look out for me. You were not supposed to violate me. 

What happened during those black hours that I can't remember? 

Afterward, I slept for two days. It was a while before I could walk comfortably. 

My roommates tiptoed around me for weeks. They knew something was wrong, but they eventually stopped asking what had happened. Things soon went back to normal. 

I still saw you from time to time. Sometimes with your roommates, sometimes with your girlfriend. And you would smile and wink at me. Did you find it enjoyable, remembering what I could not? 

I felt disgusting. How could I let such a thing happen? How could I have been so stupid? I shouldn't have trusted anyone, not even someone who was supposed to be my friend. 

Did I ask for it? Did I lead you on? I can never know, since I have no memory of what happened. 

I only remember the pain. The pain I felt was not that of consensual sex. The pain down there, and up my back and shoulders, the bruising on my buttocks. 

Those things are not normal. 

It would be years before I would tell anyone. My first husband was the first person I told, but even with him, I didn't give details. I haven't given details to anyone, until now. 

Some might say I should call you out. 

I'm not ready for that. I don't know if I will ever be ready for that. 

For now I will take comfort in knowing that you no longer haunt my dreams. I am in a place in my life where I can trust again. Although what you did to me has not made it easy for me to be in relationships, I am in a wonderful one now. You didn’t beat me. 

I hope you know, in your heart of hearts, that what you did was wrong. I hope you felt horribly guilty for a long time. I hope it affected your relationships with women. 

I hope you never allowed anything like that to happen again. 

I hope you have forgiven yourself.

Friday, June 12, 2015

It Isn't Rocket Science

I read an article today that left me wondering what the hell is wrong with people. The article was about a family in Florida whose lives were turned upside down by one phone call.

An 11-year-old boy returned home from school approximately 90 minutes earlier than his parents as they were stuck in traffic. Not having a key to the house he ate his snack and played some basketball outside until they arrived home. What happened next blew me away. The parents were arrested, strip-searched, handcuffed, fingerprinted and held overnight in jail. The charge? Negligence.

Are you fucking kidding me?

There are people filming parents stuffing their children the trunk of their car and uploading it to social media but not reporting it. Then there's this douchebag calling negligence on the parents of an 11-year-old who was in the front yard of their property, during daylight, in a state that has no minimum age restrictions for a child to be left alone. 

Here's what I want to know; if the neighbor was so damn concerned for the child, why didn't he/she go out there and ask if the child was okay? Maybe offer him a snack and a drink or let him watch TV in their house until his parents returned. And please don't say you wouldn't want your child sitting in a stranger's house without you there. This person called CPS on the child's parents because he was playing in the front yard. I'm going to go out on a limb and say they aren't pedophiles. That would have been the perfect opportunity for them.

I just don't understand how there can be two such opposite extremes. When I was a kid we always played outside. Sometimes by ourselves, sometimes with a group of friends. The streetlights came on and it was time to go home. We would walk to the local corner store to look at magazines and buy candy. We rollerbladed from one end of the neighborhood to the other. We babysat our younger siblings.

Look, I get that horror stories about kids being abducted, abused and murdered are all over the internet, TV and radio these days. That doesn't mean those things didn't happen when we were kids, or our parents were kids. All it means is they are more widely reported now. We are a society who is constantly plugged in. Where a news story is uploaded, viewed and shared within seconds of each other.

Are there more abduction/abuse cases today? Maybe. But there are also more people in the world. I appreciate neighbors looking out for our kids, I really do. But what this person did wasn't looking out for anyone. They have essentially ruined the lives of a family who did nothing wrong. The 11-year-old and his 4-year-old brother have been shuffled between foster care and relatives since this happened. Before they were allowed to go home, the parents had to go to therapy, parenting classes, promise it would never happen again and arrange daycare and day camps for the kids over summer break.

In my opinion the neighbor should be the one in therapy to figure out why he/she felt the need to call the authorities in the first place. How can these parents be ordered to arrange care for their kids in a state that has no restrictions regarding what age a child has to be to be left home alone? 

Do I really have to worry that if I let my kids play outside in the sprinkler while I'm inside doing laundry, I might get arrested? My kids are 11, 10 and 8-years-old. (I have a 2-year-old as well, but I'm obviously not going to let her run around outside without an adult.)

How do we draw the line and differentiate between true neglect and a misunderstanding? How do we judge if a child playing outside is the result of careless parents or if they are simply just playing outside, like we all used to do?

It certainly isn't right that the kid didn't have access to his own house, I'm not denying that. However, if the parents typically arrive home at the same time as him and this isn't usually an issue, I don't think it should be considered neglect. The first time it happens, make a key for the kid so it doesn't happen again. Simple.

At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with being concerned about a child. But let's think about how we react to certain situations. See a child outside their home? Ask if they're alright or if they need anything. See a kid being stuffed in a trunk, call the cops.

It's not rocket science, people.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Second Hardest Job I'll Ever Love

Being a parent is the hardest job I'll ever love.

Being a stepparent is a close second. If anyone tries to tell you being a stepparent isn't challenging, they're lying.

I am lucky to be a stepmother to two wonderful girls. They are sweet, caring and compassionate. They are also full of attitude and are constantly trying to assert themselves. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but they haven't quite figured out how to reign it in to an appropriate level.

Our situation isn't ideal because they live three hours away. We see them every other weekend, six weeks over the summer, every other Thanksgiving and spring break and a week every other Christmas. There is a lot of back-and-forth between their two homes. They have also been bounced around to various different schools and homes with their mother and it all just changed for them again.

Kids are extremely resilient, but it is still a lot for them to handle. They have one set of rules at their mother's house and a different set here. Unfortunately there is no communication with their mother in regards to being on the same page when it comes to rules and consequences.

Obviously the issues aren't just with my stepdaughters. My birth children present plenty of challenges as well. They live with us and we see them daily, even on the days they are with their dad. I pick them up from school on those days and keep them until he gets off work. Having them around on a daily basis means we have the daily issues we don't have with my stepdaughters. When we have them on the weekends, they tend to be on their best behavior, especially when their dad is around. When they are all here for weeks at a time over the summer, it is a different story.

Suddenly, my stepkids go from being the (mostly) better behaved of the four to being regular kids. They bicker just as much, give just as much attitude and generally behave just like the two that are with us full time.

Then their dad comes home from work and suddenly they're back to the "every other weekend" kids as far as their behavior goes. They are incredibly smart and know how to turn it on and off.

It is fascinating for me to watch. Neither of them can help but get involved in everyone else's arguments, just like my daughter does. One has figured out just the right time to step away to make it look like she wasn't involved, the others aren't quite there yet.

I actually take it as a compliment that they behave like "normal kids" when they are with me. To me it says they are comfortable with me, and are able to let down their guards. Some would say they don't fear me like they do their dad, and that I should be tougher on them. Maybe that is the case, but if it is, that is fine with me. I don't want any of my children to fear me.

I want them to know that they can come to me with anything as they get older, and I won't judge them. I want them to feel safe with me. When they are teens and they get drunk for the first time, I want to be the one they call to pick them up. It probably won't be their dad as they will be afraid of how he will react.

I don't mean that in a bad way. They love their dad more than anything. He is stern, but they know what to expect. They fear consequence with him, hence the change in behavior when he is around. But they also feel safe with him.

One of the girls is deathly afraid of thunderstorms. She freaks out to the point of shaking, crying and all but hiding under the bed. She doesn't do that when she is with us. Maybe it is because we don't feed into it. We acknowledge that the fear is real, but we don't make a big deal out of it. She was visiting some family recently and called us freaking out. When she was asked why she doesn't do that with us she said "because my daddy is there and I am comfortable with him". 

I adore my stepdaughters more than anything. I don't refer to them as my stepdaughters (aside from when I am writing). They are my kids. Just like my birth kids. Everyone says they look more like me than my own children. I know they love me, but sometimes I think they feel like they shouldn't, especially one of them. They are twins but they have totally different personalities. One is just like their dad, the other is just like their mom. One is laid back, go with the flow and sarcastic. The other is drama-filled, neurotic and easily upset.

"I not only have to worry about what I say or do 
having some long lasting, negative affect on them, 
but I have to worry about how they, and 
everyone else, perceives me."

I am constantly trying to find the balance between stepparent and parent. I am not their mother and never will be, nor do I want to be. They have a mother, they don't need another one. I do, however, want to be a positive mother-figure in their lives. I try my hardest not to come across as having favorites. And it isn't even that my birth children are my favorites, but the love between a parent and their biological child will always be different than that of their stepchild.

It isn't about how much I love them, or that I love one more than the other. It is just different. And that is natural and okay. I don't expect my husband to love my children the same way he loves his, but I do expect him to treat them the same. It isn't the children's fault that they are stepchildren. They deserve to be told they are loved just as much as the biological children. They also deserve to be disciplined the same as the biological children, and vice versa.

Recently I wrote a post to the woman who ends up marrying my ex husband. It was a set of guidelines on how I hope she will treat my children. I try to live by the same set of rules when it comes to my stepkids. I spend time with them, tell them I love them and don't force my personal beliefs on them. Unfortunately, my husband's ex is a woman who wants me to have no say and nothing to do with any of the decisions regarding my stepdaughters. She doesn't want me involved, that is, until she needs someone to watch them on spring break on her year, or for an extra day after our weekend because she is out of town.

I have given up trying to communicate with her. I leave that up to hubs. I am still involved with decisions, just not directly. Hubs still asks my opinion and discusses everything with me first. She doesn't like that I have a good relationship with her daughters. I have it on good authority that when they were younger and used to go home after a weekend with us they would tell her how much they loved me and how much fun they had, and she hated it. That is so sad to me. I dream of the day my ex settles down with someone who loves my children as much as I love my stepdaughters.

I never anticipated how challenging it would be raising stepchildren. I not only have to worry about what I say or do having some long lasting, negative affect on them, but I have to worry about how they, and everyone else, perceives me. I have to hope they take me seriously, not only when we're having fun, but also when I am having to discipline them. When they question me, the old "because I'm your mother" isn't applicable. 

All I can do is love them with all my heart, discipline them the way hubs and I have agreed is appropriate and hope that they know just how much they mean to me.

Friday, June 5, 2015

What I Wish I Had Learned in School

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 16 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Secret Subject Swap

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

http://www.BakingInATornado.com                 Baking In A Tornado
http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com           The Bergham’s Life Chronicles
http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com             Spatulas on Parade
http://dinoheromommy.com                           Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
http://themomisodes.com                               The Momisodes
http://stacysewsandschools.blogspot.com        Stacy Sews and Schools
http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com                      Sparkly Poetic Weirdo
http://thelieberfamily.com                               The Lieber Family
http://batteredhope.blogspot.com                    Battered Hope
http://www.southernbellecharm.com                Southern Belle Charm
http://www.someoneelsesgenius.com               Someone Else’s Genius
http://www.silenceofthemom.blogspot.com       Silence of the Mom
http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch                   Confessions of a Part-Time Working Mom
http://www.smalltalkmama.com                       Small Talk Mama
http://singlemumplusone.blogspot.com             Searching for Sanity
http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com                Climaxed

My subject is “I wish I had taken a/an                      class in high school so I could be better prepared for                      .”. It was submitted by http://dinoheromommy.com. Here goes:

I wish I had taken a 'Life as a Grown-Up' class in high school so I could be better prepared for adulthood. As a kid I couldn't wait to grow up. All I could think of was how wonderful it would be to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I wouldn't have to go to school. I could spend my money buying all the things my parents wouldn't let me have as a kid. I could live on my own and stay up as late as I wanted, eat as much candy as I wanted and wouldn't have to go to school!

What I didn't realize was that all that freedom comes at a price.

If I wanted to live alone and buy all the things I would have to have a job. I would most likely have to wake up just as early every morning as I did as a kid (there goes staying up as late as I wanted) and, instead of sitting in a classroom all day, I would be in a cubicle. Only I would bet there for 9 hours instead of 6 and I wouldn't get recess.

To live on my own I would have to have an apartment, or house. Those things cost money. I would have to budget that money I made at my cubicle job and pay bills. Rent, electric, water, cable, phone, car, insurance. There goes all that money I was going to use to buy all the things. 

At least I would be able to eat all the candy I wanted, right? Nope, wrong again. Sure, I could eat all the candy I wanted, if I didn't care about my weight, and skin and overall health. Call me vain, but I care about those things. I didn't realize that the metabolism I had as a kid would slow down more and more every year, and that I wouldn't actually be able to eat anything I wanted for the rest of my life.

Oh, and all those eye-rolls I used to give my parents when they would demand to know who I was going out with, or make me do my homework, or fold my laundry or clean my room? No one prepared me for the fact that I would be on the other side of those looks once I had kids of my own. 

Now I find myself telling my kids not to wish their childhood away. To enjoy being carefree and having someone else there to look after them. To play and have fun and not wish to grow up too soon.

Of course I tell them those things as they walk away rolling their eyes so hard, I'm convinced they can see their own brains.