Doctors Offices, and School Days, and Glasses, oh my! 

I can only use that joke once… I hope I used it well.

Co-Parenting is hard. Especially when your co-parent is difficult. What should have been a simple appointment turned into a whole bunch of ugly in front of the kids. The boys have two appointments today so Kim has elected to take them out of school for the day. And that’s her right, she’s the parent in custody of the kids today. Or, as she said when she picked them up (in front of them), “The kids are MINE as of 8:00am”. So far, we’ve had one lie about an appointment that didn’t exist, a non-response to whether or not they’re going to school, a lie about an appointment time (presumably so Curtis would miss it), and stress about benefits and who is paying for what for Reegan’s glasses. I just don’t understand why it has to be so hard and I wish I could fix it. Reegan was apparently clinging to Kim saying that he didn’t want to go to school, he wanted to go with her. It’s really like they’re different kids. Where is the gregarious kid we know? The kid who is independent and headstrong and wants to give his dad and “I Love You” pillow for Christmas. Why is he so different with her? Will they see what she’s like one day? Or when it comes down to it, do they really want to be with her? More questions than answers for sure. I try to remember that we’re in the thick of it all. A lot of people have been here and eventually found some peace. Today, we’re stressed. And trying not to let it affect the rest of our lives. It’s not always easy, and sometimes life can be deceiving. I’ll tell you one thing, it’s always better when we’re together.

I think about starting a Step-Parents group sometimes. Like maybe we could all help each other. Just a thought for right now.

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We had a nice family night last night. Well, minus the fighting and subsequent time outs. The tree is up, the house is decorated (the kids love it). And I was less grinchy than I expected. Even watched the Country Christmas special. I hope this year I can like Christmas more. I’m really trying. It’s all for the kids. Reegan saw our ornament from last year and he said oh… Katrina WAS in our family, lol. It was cute. We’re a family. 🙂

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Timing is everything

We have almost nothing planned this weekend. There’s a hockey tournament in town that cancelled all games at the arena. A hockey away game and rehearsal on Sunday, but a Friday night and a Saturday to do family things. I’m really looking forward to it. We’re going to put up the Christmas tree and Christmas lights, build the ice rink, bake cookies. I’m almost not grinchy about the winter/holiday season.

I actually had hopes that we could maybe trade Saturdays with their mom since we had nothing planned and next weekend is a slammed hockey weekend, but things are still, unfortunately, not great with Kim. I’m going to enjoy the time we have, anyway.

This is the boys’ Saturday next weekend.

8:30-9:20 – Nolan Hockey

9:30-9:50 – Nolan Hockey Photos

10:30-11:20 – Reegan Hockey

11:30-11:50 – Reegan Hockey Photos

12:10-12:30 – Taitum Hockey Photos

12:35-13:35 – Taitum Hockey

And they won’t be able to do any of it. Because they’re with their mom and she refuses to spend her time with the boys at the arena and letting Curtis take them as that would be more time with him. The boys want to get hockey pictures done. They want to play. If pictures weren’t scheduled on a day where they have hockey there’s the slightest chance she would have taken them. She took them last year, while telling them they weren’t allowed to talk to us.

I changed the time of the kids show that Curtis and I will be going to see so we could possibly last-minute pull this one out, but I don’t have high hopes. I suspect he won’t even ask her after the drama of this week. The worst part is that I WROTE this show with my friends and it’s on the wrong weekend so there’s no way I can swing that, either. I wrote a kids show and our kids won’t be able to see it. When I changed the tickets to Friday night, I told the woman it was for hockey pictures. She was talking to me strange and I realized that was it. I wrote a kids show and I’m not taking the kids… It’s complicated, lady! I suppose being without the boys has made it easier to plan the baseball Christmas party that night, but it’s so disheartening for everything else. I would so much rather the trouble of finding a babysitter. Oh, to have full parent problems.

All summer we dealt with things that they missed while on her time. They missed more than half of their baseball games because the timing didn’t work in our favour. If I could wish for one thing, I wish the kids activities could come first. And that there could be some conversation when things fall on the wrong day. I’m not sure they’ll ever get there.

These are the times where I’m extremely conscious of being a step-parent.

Simple Pleasures

After a day like yesterday, we found time for a nice family dinner and that made it all feel so much better. The kids were totally themselves and Reegan wants his turn to come to rehearsal with me on Sunday. That warms my heart. Reegan moved to sit next to me so I could help him colour and we had a really nice supper. While I was a little late for rehearsal, it was totally worth it. To add to the drama of the day, Kim clearly told the kids that their father is trying to change them. Nolan asked Curtis why they had to change dentists. They have verbiage built into their agreement to try and prevent them from having such adult (and negative) conversations with the kids… how do you make her stick to it? It’s definitely an on-going battle with her to make her follow their agreement as, to date, there have been no repercussions for any misbehaviour. So we can either give in, or batten down the hatches. And I can’t make Curtis do what I would do (Good advice that I received) and there’s nothing saying what I would do is even the right call. Sigh… we’re in the thick of it now.

Around and around we go

Curtis is fighting with his ex over which dentist to take the kids to. Or, rather, his ex is fighting with him, as he knew she would. He suggested they call a dentist in town rather than to do the 40 minute drive to her childhood dentist. And. She. Is. Pissed. He sends me the conversations so I can see the horror for myself. She’s calling her lawyer and accusing him of trying to change the kids, saying she has to speak for them. Her lawyer is a piece of work, too, so I expect that note to be nasty. As a bystander, I don’t see him ever try to change the kids, he’s always asking what THEY want. I suspect they’re fighting her over something – hockey, maybe – and she blames him. The whole thing makes me feel physically ill. I’m shaking. It’s such a helpless feeling to not be able to do anything to help him. It’s not my fight. So I listen, even though it makes me physically anxious. I don’t want to read the things she says to him, but I don’t want him to have to carry that burden alone. I want us to be a team, and he’s so strong… I can be strong for him. And I try to understand the impact it has on him, and how that impacts his feelings about having kids with someone else. All I can do is be supportive of him and as unlike her as possible. She is really, really awful. I see so many parents making divorce work, making it ok for their kids. I see other horror stories, too, and they eventually work themselves out. This doesn’t feel like it will every work itself out, although I suspect that a lot things feel like that in the thick of things. I had hoped things would calm down, but it doesn’t feel like it’s going to. We just try to be good people and hope the kids see that. And I hope he can see that about me. Remember to breathe…

United We Stand

Nothing brings people together like a standing up to someone else. For us it’s usually the ex-wife as she demands things or refuses to let Curtis know things. Like the code for his oldest son’s pictures… you know, because that’s rational. This time, it’s a neighbourhood issue and it makes me happy to say that Curtis and I were on the same page. It feels good to feel like we’re parenting together. We had a big conversation with two of our neighbours last night and, while we didn’t say everything we were thinking and everything we wanted to say, it felt like Curtis and I stood together and we made the neighbourhood relationship a little happier. I’d call that a win. So what do you do when you have trouble with your neighbour’s kid? They’ve asked us to tell them (and, to be honest, we don’t tell them as much as we should). How exactly do you tell your neighbour that their kid doesn’t listen? They already feel like the neighbourhood views them as bad parents because one guy likes to rant and rave about them… and I wish I could say that they were way off-base. I will say that all that ranting and raving does colour things – some of it deserved, and some of it not. I worry that we’re just as bad as that guy and bullied our other neighbours into going against their after school plan, so hopefully that’s not the case. Definitely feeling a little remorse today.

The hardest part of it is that the kids in our neighbourhood are the reason we bought that house, and one of the reasons the kids love coming to our place. In a battle of Mom vs Dad, it’s nice to have something they love. Mom spoils them, buys them all fancy brand-name clothes and toys that we have no hope of affording. We take them to hockey and we have their friends here. If we don’t have that… well, I worry that Mom will buy their allegiance in the “choose who to live with” game. And while we can’t make decisions based on convincing the kids not to choose to solely live with their mom, I want to foster the positive things we have. Like a 100ft ice rink. lol.

We’ll see where the dust settles, but right now it feels better. Hopefully our one neighbor doesn’t feel like the neighbourhood is against them… because we’re not. We’re frustrated with their little guy, but we haven’t been doing our part to help them parent him. It’s not productive to complain if we’re not going to tell him. We already learned that lesson. I’m going to try and be a better neighbour… and hopefully make our other neighbours see that we’re not trying to tell them what to do.

 

Don’t sweat the small stuff

I am learning how to not sweat the small stuff, which is hard to do in my 30s. I’m trying, anyway. I’ve always been a bit backwards that way. I tend to get stuck in the minutia but the big stuff I take in stride and handle like a rock. So for both Curtis and the kids I’m really trying to be better. My own parents were really strict – my dad was in the army and my mom is… Polish. lol. So they didn’t let that small stuff go, either. I don’t have a good example of how to be more easy-going. (Don’t tell my mom that, she believes she’s easy-going, lol). A good friend told me the other day that your kids are going to grow up to be who they are regardless of how strict you are or if they pick up their toys or do their homework… I’m not totally sure if I buy that, because my parents really shaped who I am,  but I do believe picking up their toys won’t make them a fundamentally good person so maybe I can let up a little on them. I am trying. I’m growing. I’m hoping leading by example will teach them something valuable.

I am also working hard trying to balance everything, I have rehearsal 3 times a week, I have a full-time job and a home business, I have friends, and I have my family (which includes the kids’ sports and Curtis’ sports and his other commitments). They’re all crashing together this weekend. I thought the kids’ hockey was cancelled so I could make plans with a friend. We all need a little friend time, right? Moms have lives, too, and all that. Turns out that Reegan still has a game that I will have to miss and Curtis is on call with the FD so he’s left without someone to watch the kids if he has a call. I thought I had fixed the on-call problem by asking a friend to be on standby and then my backup backed out last minute because her kids have hockey… Everything is intersecting this weekend and I feel awful about choosing to go to the movie premiere (not a negotiable date) with my friend. I feel like I’m letting Curtis down and letting the kids down. I feel sick about it. Is this what parenting is? Is part of being a parent feeling awful for having a life of your own?