Friday, January 22, 2016

Once Again... I Heart Karma

At what point does "adultery" become "his/her new relationship" and it's time to give up your emotional and legal attachments? I suppose there isn't a definitive answer; it's a choice we all have to make for ourselves. For me, it was within just a few months - from the day I realized MG was sleeping with the Wildebeest until the day I filed for divorce was less than three months. I went through some of those "Stages of Grief" you hear about a lot. In fact, I'm pretty sure I went through all of them... but I got to "acceptance" fairly quickly; probably faster than the average. Some people never get to that stage, and live their whole lives stuck in "anger", or even stage #1 - "denial".

It's one thing to try to get him back; keeping hope alive, for a little while anyway, is admirable. But, when you turn it all into a martyr complex, others start to wonder if you're completely delusional. Even worse? When you don't see that what is happening to you is EXACTLY what you did to someone else. When you were the mistress, it was "fine" because, as you saw it, you were "meant to be". But, now that he has another woman in his life, he's "cheating" on you? And, you're mad that his family is welcoming her? Why are you surprised? They did the same with you...

Refusing to get on with your own life, especially after so much time has passed & he *obviously* doesn't want you back, doesn't make you a "good wife" or even a "godly wife"; it makes you delusional. I *did* minor in psychology in college, so I do have quite a lot of education on the subject, and I'm fairly certain you have Delusional Disorder. The longer you live in your delusions, the harder it is to get out of them. You can lie to your friends, your family, even to yourself... but deep down, you know the truth is that he's not coming back. HE's moved on and has found happiness with someone else. I truly worry for you and your children... mostly your children, for you have brought this on yourself.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Warning... Rant Ahead (#1 of 5)

I was going to rant about all five topics in the same blog post, but decided they each should get their own...
Let's start with Planned Parenthood/Abortion -- First, I want to reiterate that abortions (a) are only a tiny percentage of what *some* Planned Parenthoods actually do, and most PP clinics are only medical health centers, (b) abortions are provided at other medical establishments, but cost a whole lot more, and (c) are COMPLETELY LEGAL, whether *you* agree with it or not (this is where that word CHOICE comes in... my choice to do what is best for me and your choice to do what is best for you). That said, here's a story I want you to think about and remember when you start thinking you need to bitch about PP. When I was 18yo, my employer at the time (Safeway) covered medical insurance for full time employees. Full time, at that time, was considered 40hrs. Since I was a new college student, I worked closer to 30hrs... no medical insurance for me. I was in that grey area where I made too much money to qualify for state assisted insurance but couldn't get traditional insurance; everything came out of my pocket.
So, I found places to take care of my health (eye doc, dentist, and Planned Parenthood) that would take payments based on my income (called "sliding scale cash payments"). I ended up using Planned Parenthood for the next 6 years (when I *intentionally, with PP's help* got pregnant with Princess, they helped get me on state assisted insurance, which I then qualified for) and after I gave birth, I continued to use them until 2004 (because even then, it was difficult to find a "regular doctor" who would take state medical coverage), when I got married for the second time and we got onto Ace's insurance plan. During the course of my (roughly) 10 years with them, I was able to get: complete physicals, pap smears, heart monitoring (I have a small murmur), nutritional advice, low-cost (*NOT FREE*) birth control pills, STD testing, colposcopy/biopsies (two or three of those, because of the results of my STD testing), and two pregnancy tests. NOT ONCE did anyone make me, or even try to make me, have an abortion... not ONCE! If I hadn't have used PP, I would be dead, or at least infertile, and my beautiful daughter, whom you all know and love, would never have been born. Planned Parenthood *literally* helped me PLAN my own PARENTHOOD! Of course, times have changed; medical insurance is now a legal requirement, although you KNOW a lot of people still don't have any; the fine they have to pay is cheaper than an insurance plan would cost them...
Contrary to uneducated belief, having insurance is not the same as having places to USE such insurance -- that is a constant comment I see... "But, insurance is required! Why do we need Planned Parenthood?". Because having insurance IS NOT THE SAME THING as having a place to USE that insurance, and some people still don't have insurance! Planned Parenthood not only accepts all insurance plans, but it also accepts those who don't have any (unlike your local doctor's office); you can pay based on your income (or lack thereof)... *VERY FEW* traditional doctor's offices will allow you to pay that way. One more thought on the subject - Please stop using the rhetoric about how "a lot" of women use abortions "as a form of birth control". While I will acknowledge that there are a small (tiny, really) minority who do, most of those do so only because hormonal birth control will make them sick or kill them.
That aside, no one I know, and very few if you want to play the percentage game, "use abortion as birth control" (and, even if they did, why does it matter so much to you?!?!). The majority of women who have an abortion either (a) can't afford a child, so the cost of an abortion is worth it (without insurance, they will cost between $300-$700... no one does that on a regular basis if they don't have to), (b) doesn't want a child and does not want to carry a child (her decision, not yours), or (c) wanted that child but the child will not have a good quality of life (may even die before natural birth or soon after). Regardless of *why* someone gets one, it is my belief that it is none of YOUR business unless YOU are the pregnant one. And, to be honest, even if all PP did was abortions, I'd still support them because IT'S NONE OF MY BUSINESS WHO GETS ONE OR WHY! Now, shut up and keep your ill-informed opinions to yourself.

**edit/add** I forgot to say, on a related note, STOP THE SLUT-SHAMING! No, a woman should not be told to "keep her legs shut", "you play you pay", or any of the other victim-blaming or slut-shaming verbage some people still think it's perfectly acceptable to use. Why, when it LITERALLY "takes two to tango" (except in a rape situation - obviously we need to put the blame solely on the RAPIST in that situation) would you ever blame or victimize ONE person but not the other?!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Rest of Santamas...

December 25th - After Ace got home from work, we had scalloped potatoes w/ham for dinner, and we opened our gifts to/from each other. My favorite was my custom Ducks jersey. It's black & silver, has my last name on the back, and #22 for my birthday date. Princess said her favorite was all the new clothes, and Ace said it was a tie between his new 'Papa' tee-shirt and the tablet I got for him.

December 26th - Ace worked the whole day and I worked the first half of the day, then Princess & I got our weekly chores done and watched a movie. When Ace got home, we opened our stockings. Princess was the only one with a winning lottery ticket.

December 27th - I watched the Titans game, then we packed up and went south... We met up with our son at Ace's sister's (& her husband's) house in Salem. We visited, gave GB his birthday gifts, opened our Santamas gifts to each other, and had dinner at Chang's (GB's choice). Squeeks was not able to join us; she was so sick, she lost her voice.

Dec 31/Jan 1 - I am no longer a "stay-up-past-midnight" person (because I *am* a "can't-sleep-in-past-7a" person), so we watched "Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve w/Ryan Seacrest", which was live from NYC, starting at 8pm. There were some good musical performances (Princess was amused that I knew most of the words to "her" songs), but at 9p (midnight on the east coast), Ryan and crew did not show the ball dropping (you could hear the crowd counting down in the background, though, so I assume the east coast *did* see it), so I flipped to the live feed on CNN for a few minutes. I then flipped back to ABC, watched a few more performances, and went to bed. Ace made it until a few minutes before midnight (and we were both awakened by the neighborhood fireworks), and I heard Princess go to bed at 1215a. I got my nails redone Jan 1, too.

Jan 3 - I was supposed to have lunch and exchange gifts with my bff, but with the snow/ice/wind all over the metro area, her driving down from Vancouver, & the fact that she doesn't have 4WD, we rescheduled. We were also supposed to meet up with Squeeks at her house in Troutdale, but we decided to reschedule that, as well. We spent the day doing very little... although I did get Princess' nails done.

Jan 4 - Snow/Ice day called at school (and Ace & I don't work Mondays), and I was supposed to have an oil change & tire swap (regular for Winter ones), which I rescheduled, so we took Santamas down, got groceries, and did some general cleaning.

Jan 5 - Icy morning, so 2hr delay at Princess' school; she slept in and I had a quiet morning where I finally got started on a new calendar for my studio. Both my clients rescheduled (they both live in icier/hillier areas than I do), so Ace & I ran a few errands and I got his nails redone.

Jan 7 - After work, I got my car appointment taken care of, then we all went up to Troutdale. Squeeks had the day off work (because she has a longer day at school), so we all went to dinner then exchanged the rest of our gifts at her house. It's been a few months since we'd been able to spend any time with her, so all the catch-up was good. She has her school plan in place, she loves her new car, work is going well, BF is no longer.

Jan 10 - Finally got to have lunch & exchange gifts with my bff. WHEW! Lots of catch-up, but she forgot my presents! She loved hers, though (lots of Hello Kitty stuff and a game she wanted), and will deliver mine to my work next week.

Only 350 days 'til the next Santamas...

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Parental Boundaries

I joined a group a few months ago on FB, dedicated to being a stepmom. For the most part, I love the group. As a seasoned SM, I feel I can contribute a lot to the newer SMs on the page. But there are a few things that have come up that irritate me, some of which are just plain wrong (and some of the ladies give BAD advice).
1. SM posted about taking kids to the doctor... made a funny observation that she takes both BKs and SKs to the doctor, and when asked if she was the mom (last doc appt, she took her own bio daughter), she had to think about which kid she had with her, and got a funny look from the nurse. Some of the comments advised her to just say yes; "they're all our kids, no matter who gave birth to them". While that is, on an emotional level, true, it is *not* true on a legal and biological level... and can get you into trouble with the judge. Case in point -- Princess was with MG & Wildebeest for MG's weekend parenting time. She had a rash, or a cough, or something (this was like 12 or 13 years ago, I think... so I don't remember exactly what was wrong with her), so Wildebeest took her to their local branch of the clinic system we were part of at the time. She "swears" she told them she was SM and "they must have mistakenly put 'mom' in the paperwork" (which, like so much of what's come out of her mouth over the years, turned out to be a lie). Long story short - I had to pay my attorney to send the doc's office proof that *I* was Princess' mother so that they would forward those records to her regular doctor.
2. Woman posted about an email she got from her ex's new wife, stating that the wife will now be doing "all communication with you, so you don't take advantage of him, and if you don't like it, we'll just take it to court and make it legal so you have no choice." Um, first of all, apparently BD has had nothing to do with DD for over three years; their last court appearance (which is what facilitated the nastygram from the new SM) was only redoing the child support. BM barely has contact with BD as it is; wtf is up with SM's attitude? And, second, in most circumstances, that wouldn't fly. SMs will only rarely be granted legal input into the child's life, the circumstances would have to be dire, and the process that would lead to that would be long, tedious, and very expensive (and involve attorneys, judges, and the overrun court system), not to mention that unless BM is proven unfit, SM will never win that one. However, that said, my advice to her was this - "You have two choices: ignore her & ONLY communicate with your ex, in writing & keep it business-like in tone (*you* can actually make this legal, if you want to push it... I did), or let her, but remember that *he* is legally responsible for everything she says/does." Starting with a nastygram from Wildebeest fairly early in their (now-failed) relationship, I got a multitude of emails, and a few texts and even letters, claiming that they were meant to be, that I was a horrible mother & wife, that she'll always be a better wife & mother than I was/am, that he only married me because he was settling, that I *tricked* him into getting pregnant, that she was in charge and everything that was communicated to me went through her, & so much more/worse. This, as you can imagine, only caused more problems... MG's refusal to tell her to back off, allowing her to continue her manipulation of situations & him, himself, are what led to MG losing all parenting time and eventually signing off on Princess' adoption by Ace.
3. This claim - "I love them like my own." or "I love them the same." No, you don't. You love them "as if they were..." your own, and you "love them equally". Don't let semantics fool you; these are different things. If you are completely honest with yourself and others, you would admit that it is impossible to love your step kids the same as you do your own, and none of your children (step, bio, adopted, whatever) are the same, so you cannot love them the same. And, maybe (speaking as the BM here for a minute), if you approached your new role and the BM of your SKs this way, instead of with anger, resentment, and the "I'm better than you" attitude, you and BM would get along much better. As a SM, I did everything I could to establish a good working relationship with my SKs' BM. I even tried to make it clear, in writing, that it was not my intention to replace her; only to assist Ace in raising them in our home (not my fault she's most likely bipolar and has behavioral disorder, among other things; she found a way to spin just about everything I said... which is why I stopped communicating with her at all; not my job/role). Step parents have to remember that, although they may not *like* the bio parents, or how they are raising their kids, those *ARE* their kids, not yours. Your role should only be one of support, secondary to the bios' roles.
4. SMs' general insistance that parenting time refers to "OUR" time with the child... Um, no. It's called "Parenting Time" for a reason; it's TIME for the bio-PARENT to spend with their child. Many statements like "Our parenting time order states..." or "Our custody arrangement is..." have come up. But, no... it is your HUSBAND'S parenting time order, your HUSBAND'S custody arrangement, etc. Again, we know you love your SKs as if they were your own, but they are not, and very little will change that. I am not stating that you can't do things as a family, but LEGALLY, it is not your time or time for your other kids; it is specifically worded that way in court orders on purpose.
5. The question of how old your SKs are and what they call you has come up a few times... some SMs even ask if it's okay that their SKs call them "mom/mommy". My response is always that it depends on your role, if BM is involved at all, and how old the kid is. When your house is not the primary one, the child(ren) has a BM that is involved, and the child(ren) is not of an age where they can understand certain things, no. This is completely unacceptable. It is (again) your role to SUPPORT, not TAKE OVER, the bio parents' position. Be the adult, and tell the child no. Gently correct... every time. In my case, when my SKs slipped & called me "Mama", I'd simply smile, say my name, & let them finish their thought. Wildebeest, on the other hand, not only did NOT correct Princess, but she insisted (forced) Princess call her "Mommy" and me "Mommy D***" while she was in their care. Allowing your young & impressionable SKs to call you and their BM both "mommy" is confusing and inappropriate. One side note to keep in mind, as well, is the "what if?" part... Second marriages have an even higher rate of divorce than do first marriages. If your first one didn't work out, what makes you think your second one is going to? Ours is 14+ years old, and we still acknowledge the possibility (although slim) that we could end up divorced. I know a lot of SMs (and SFs for that matter) truly believe that the second marriage is "the one". And, truly, it might be (my own stepmom and my dad have been happily married for 34 years!). But, as in MG & the Wildebeest's marriage, they sometimes don't work out, and you need to think about the children if & when that happens. Allowing a small child to call you "mom/mommy" when you aren't sets them up for potential emotional problems if/when you & their bio parent split up. Princess stopped most contact with MG when she was 8 years old, so that wasn't an issue for her... but can you imagine what she'd be going through if she was at all attached to Wildebeest "like a mom"?!?!

I guess the general advice here would be -- your stepchildren are not your children. I know you love them, but you CAN NOT legally (in most circumstances) make any decisions for them. I know some of you don't like it, but the BIO mom and BIO dad *must* be able to communicate without you in the middle. If they can't, hire a professional mediator. Most states have laws in place for free mediation for domestic issues. In my personal circumstances, I think life would have been a whole lot different had MG told Wildebeest to just back off, and done all the co-parenting with me.