New Year, fresh start??

It was really hard to watch the kids go back to Kim’s place after so short a holiday. All the time she had them for Christmas was technically our time so she gets the whole next week with them and we don’t get that time back. Taitum was so happy to go back to Mommy’s place, he didn’t even give Curtis a hug goodbye. It was really hard. Nolan, on the other hand, stands at the door and waves until we drive away. I miss them tonight. It’s going to be a really fun street party and they would have loved it. Skating, neighbours, friends. It should feel perfect. Without the boys and with the crappy holiday, life feels less than perfect. 

I am still really upset at everything that was said over the holidays. I’m not over it all. I am a firm believer in fresh starts in the new year, in fact, it’s one of my favourite times of year for that reason. So I can let it go, but I will not start this year with all of this negativity. I will not live another year where he talks to me like he did (in other words, I will not allow him to take his frustration at Kim out on me) and I will try for a baby this year, with or without him. This is our chance for a fresh start. We don’t have the boys so tonight so I would like to focus on us. So we can be a better family. Those are my resolutions. Forget losing weight, I will not be the punching bag for Kim’s crimes and I will try for a baby. Now I just need to find the balls to tell him that.

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A Fighting We Will Go

This Christmas has been, so far, one of the 3 worst Christmases I have ever had, behind the one after my dad died and the one where my family forgot about me and didn’t have a place for me to stay. We are constantly fighting, to the point where I have no idea if we will even survive the holidays. The kid thing might not even matter, we might be too different. Right now I don’t even know if I want to have a kid with him. We’re not at all a team and he cannot seem to properly process his emotions. It’s a really terrible feeling. And it’s not like it’s him and his family vs me and my family, it’s me vs him on the subject of family. And I have tried to compromise, and so has he. But we’re still worlds apart. Frankly, me and my Atavan have been better than expected with his family. We made coloured rice crispie shapes. I’m off to my family and relieved to be out of the house.

At the end of the day, I know that most of it has to do with his feelings with Kim and not me. Nolan just called him because he’s home alone and his ankle hurts and he doesn’t know where his mom is. That gets to him. And I know that my feelings and stress over the holidays contributes to this. But we do not help each other at all. The kids haven’t even come yet and we’re already a disaster. I used to wonder if he would ask me to marry him at Christmas. A bunch of people I know got engaged, including a friend of his, and I don’t think we’re anywhere near that. I don’t even know if I would say yes right now. Two weeks ago I was all in and now I’m taking anxiety pills to get through the day. Why I am I dealing with his vicious, selfish, awful ex-wife, why am I going through all this with his family, why am I giving my all to these kids, when we can’t even be a team at Christmas?

To Everyone with Shared Custody at Christmas

This is a really tough time of year for everyone and you need to put your kids first. Be nice to each other and put your kids first. For crying out loud. I feel like half the people I talk to are having custody issues because, of course, everyone wants their kids there for as much of the holidays as possible and something has to give. For us, as I’ve mentioned, we tried to swing it so the kids could come to my Christmas. When that didn’t work, we tried to swing it so that the kids could go to hockey. We even had something that Kim wanted, but she has a million (different and contradicting) reasons why we can’t have a chunk of time with the boys, she just wants what she wants with very little in return. So things are staying status quo. It all feels so petty on her part. I’m sure it will be equally petty next year, citing this year as an example. There appears to be no reason why she couldn’t have made the trade, especially for hockey, she just doesn’t want to give up her time to get some of his. And I’m positive she will blame Curtis for anything she can. None of that is good for the kids, and their happiness at Christmas is supposed to be the most important thing.

Curtis and I got into a really big fight last night over Christmas Eve. He is really struggling with how to deal with everything – her family, his family, and now my family. He was… really mean. I’m not sure he has ever been so hurtful toward me. He told me that he is a man who does not want a child with me and I think this hurt me more. He chose to sleep on the couch because I didn’t want to see him after that (his choice, I told him that I didn’t want that). I’m still really hurt and angry, but I’m glad he told me he was struggling with it, that at least helps me understand WHY he was so mean. It doesn’t make it ok, but I do accept his apology and I will try my best to support him and help him through what he’s struggling with, now that I know about it. Now it’s hella awkward to start out a holiday I’m already dreading.

Speaking of dreading the holiday… I wonder if our views on family might be our breaking point. We can’t even agree if his sister is a guest in our house or not (she totally is! she doesn’t live here! that doesn’t make her any less family!). And the one time of year I actually make a choice to go see my family while my 90-year old grandfather is still alive, well, he said the most hurtful thing anyone has ever said to me… and I dated a guy who called me a whore. The worst part of it is… when he signed those papers last year, I asked him if he realized it meant that they would never be able to go to my family Christmas. I told him the implications of what that decision meant. And somehow, he still treated me like some b*tch who was choosing not to spend Christmas Eve with his children.

I also wanted to give a little update on my post “Doubling Down”. After feeling like I was doubling down on this family by signing cards from everyone and sharing pictures, Curtis noticed that, on some of the cards, I put the return address just from me. It was mostly to people who wouldn’t know Curtis even exists and then I introduced him in the card… but that really upset him. He was really hurt by the fact that I didn’t put Moore-Vessie on it like I did on the ones who know both of us. (and I put Vessie-Moore for his family). It’s like it’s never enough… No matter what I do… it’s just never enough.

And, for the record, this is why I hate Christmas. No matter what you do, it’s never enough. Someone always wants more. December 23rd. 4 more days until I can breathe.

 

Family Matters

As I’ve said, I’m not a Christmas person. I try hard for the boys, but I’m sort of past the point where I can try any more. I’m anxious…mostly about the in-laws coming to stay. They’re now coming a full day early. 6 days of in-laws… Shoot. Me. Now.

As I’ve said before, my sister-in-law is a nice person and I like her very much. Please let me start with that. She also adores her family. She’s just someone with no boundaries and a need to comment on/be involved in everything. That’s how their family works and I’m not really allowed not to be ok with it. The way my family works doesn’t matter, I’ve moved in with Curtis and the boys, and I have to be ok with the way they do things. I’m getting better at managing it all. It’s hard, but I’ve come to accept that there is no limiting family when the boys are there. Unfortunately, with how it works out, more than half the time they’re here we don’t have the boys. It may make me a bad person to say this, but I resent her taking away my time… My time to get ready for her visit, to get ready for the holiday, my Christmas time alone with Curtis, my time to get ready for my family Christmas without her being underfoot (in a very nice and attempting-to-be-helpful way). What makes it harder is that I’m expected to act a certain way when she’s there. Excited to see her, welcoming, warm, involved, not fake… It’s really asking a lot. I’m not free to be myself and feel how I feel AND I can’t be fake. I’m exhausted already… I’ve told Curtis that’s a lot of family time for me and he has to be ok with me stepping away. I genuinely have a lot to get done for my show so they all need to be ok with me doing my thing. I will be out of the house or away from the action as much as possible without being (too) offensive.

I thought for a second that Kim might actually be willing to trade times and that would allows the kids to come to my family Christmas… I have to hand it to Curtis for trying. And, to be fair to him, that would alter the kids normal Christmas plans in favour of incorporating my family Christmas. I need to give him credit for that. Kim didn’t get her way so there’s no trade at all, which is fine, it is what it is. Again, being a terrible parent, part of me is relieved that I don’t have to worry about the kids going. My family Christmas is unlike anything Curtis or the boys have done. It’s pretty formal and I don’t even think they have appropriate clothes to wear (and they will fight wearing them). On top of that, they aren’t going to like 90% of the food and I’m sure someone will try to feed them something they don’t want to eat (there will be tears)… so I have mixed feelings. I’m sad they won’t be there. Furthermore, I’m sad I won’t see them Christmas Eve and, of course, I’ll bet it won’t matter to anyone that I’m not there. I suspect it’ll be a relief to some to have time without me and my rules. I think his sister bought the kids significantly more than us, more that Curtis’ parents, more than Santa. She might have as many presents as the rest of those combined. We had asked everyone to follow this thing where you get 4 presents (Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read). My own mother was a complete bitch about the whole thing, as I should have expected and I tried to explain it to his sister on a few occasions. I also tried to nicely say that we were sticking to one gift per category, not a box full of stuff per category. And yet… more gifts than the rest of us combined… overall it was a pretty big fail. Sigh… Yep, I’m stressed… Gotta find a smile soon… can’t be stressed, can’t be fake… can’t be stressed, can’t be fake…

Petty rant aside, I’m pretty lucky in the in-law department. I recognize this. There are worse in-laws out there. My mom on her own is worse than anything Curtis’ family can throw at me. But does anyone else struggle with feeling like the in-laws can’t accept the change of amalgamating two families? I suppose that’s not limited to step-parents. But why is it that what I want doesn’t matter? They don’t really listen to me or respect what I say in my own house, it has to come from Curtis. Is this a normal thing? I know my view of family isn’t always normal, I like a little more distance than most families… but is it normal for it not to matter how I feel about family? Why can’t I have boundaries? Is the one with the kids the one to make the rules? I am definitely struggling with this. I have a feeling there will be much wine and much Atavan this Christmas. The gift that keeps on giving.

 

I wanna wash my hands, my face, my hair with snow (That’s from White Christmas, I’m not just weird, lol)

Oh, snow days… We didn’t have many of those as a kids, but they were our favourite days. As I told the kids, it’s a free day so we should have as much fun as we can. And so we did.

Our snow adventures started when I made it just in time for Taitum’s concert on Wednesday night. Kim was there, but mercifully kept her distance. Curtis said she went to the classroom before the concert and he didn’t seem too happy that Reegan went over to her a few times during it, but we don’t want to be like her and keep the kids away. She didn’t come to the classroom after the concert and Curtis took it as a slight when Kim’s friend (Taitum’s EA) said that it was nice to see him out. He thinks they seem him like a lesser parent. And sometimes it feels like they do. She’s very present at the school, she makes a point of it. Frankly, I think he should, too. I think he should talk to the teachers about his issues and be more present – put a face to their relationship and make it a real person that she says terrible things about instead of the abstract concept of the ex husband. Oh well, it’s his choice, not mine. I can’t make that decision for him.

When we got home from the concert, I had stuff to do, so Curtis read with Reegan. It made me happy that Reegan wanted to read with me and that he wanted me to read to him at night. I told him I was glad because I like reading to him and he told me he likes me, too. It was a good moment, especially after seeing him so attached to his mom. I’m not his mom and it doesn’t have to be the same. I am happy with my own little place, and happy I have one.

It became pretty obvious yesterday early on that I wasn’t going to make it in to work. They pulled the plows until it was light and closed all the roads in and out of town. School was closed. So we hunkered down and we had a busy day making salt dough shapes and painting them (and making a mess). It was a busy, fun, day. I didn’t get a lot of rest and my feet hurt at the end of the day, but it was a really good day.

What I put on Facebook was “If you kids need a bath in the middle of the day is that a parenting win or fail?” And I almost didn’t post it like that because they’re not my kids and I feel awkward about it, but I did. I am mostly a parent… lol. As we previously established, I’m all in on this… img_2577

Curtis’ sister replied to my post with a picture of a time well before I was in the kids’ lives, when Nolan and Reegan had coloured on each other. And while I had been celebrating my choice to call them “my kids”, she really put a damper on that. She reminded me that they are not, in fact, my kids. Then, presumably when I didn’t like it, she REPOSTED IT so I could feel like that all over again. So I liked it, even though I didn’t mean it, so she would not ask me repeatedly if I had seen it or regale me with the tale of when that happened. She’s a nice girl, I really like her, but she stresses me out with her Facebook behaviour. Liking everything at record speeds and gushing over her brother and the kids. With his family is it always terribly obvious that I am not really a part of this family, as much as they say they see me that way. They really have a knack for making me feel bad about it, if unintentionally . Time for a Facebook break again, like the last time she stressed me out like this. I need some space from her. Especially with her coming to stay with me in a little over a week. I need some Karina-free time. (That’s right… Karina and Katrina, not confusing at all. lol)

I also have a confession to make… Because of the snow day I had to move my vacation day for Monday to yesterday. And I’m really sad about that. Sad and stressed. I had a wonderful day with the kids and I wouldn’t trade it. But I was so looking forward to a day for last-minute shopping and wrapping and pjs and Christmas movies. I am so stressed, I was really looking forward to that time. And now I have to get up extra early on Saturday, instead of actually having a day to sleep in, to do the rest of my shopping. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed this season, which is not unusual for me, being the grinch I am… but I’m struggling today. So every good has its consequences, I guess. Maybe not quite ready to consider myself a full parent right now… I’m sure Curtis would think I am selfish for feeling this way because he would give anything to have an extra day with the kids, and I am sad I don’t have that time. I think we all work differently, but I think he won’t understand. So let’s keep that between you and me. I even melted down on him today because I’m getting so stressed about the holidays. He’s so last minute and that does not work well for me. All I want is an answer for what he wants to do with our “family time” so I can make an appointment and he would rather do nothing then make a plan with me right now. It’s enough to bring me to tears at this time of year. Well, much like with everything, I have to accept him how he is. I’ll just have to suck it up. Sleep is overrated, isn’t it?

Doubling down

Apparently I am doubling down on this family. I wrote about 30 Christmas cards today and I signed them from all of us. Some of them even got a picture of all of us, to remember our little family by when this all blows up in my face. I think it’s what I do. What did I do when I wasn’t sure Mike and I would work? I married him. What do I do now? Send out family pics and cards signed from all of us. So it’ll be uber obvious if we end things and I can worry (again) about what everyone is thinking. Sigh… but in a vacuum, without all the worry, that’s what I want to do. This is my family and I need to believe this will work. 

I was with my mom today so I missed bedtime and Reegan apparently asked for me and made me promise I would rub his back when I got home. That means everything to me. Gonna carry these two little guys up to bed, reset the elf, and then head to bed myself. All in. You can’t say I didn’t try. 

I am feeling so helpless

Reegan had his Christmas concert tonight. My relief from Kim not being there when I went to the daytime concert has turned into anger and agony tonight. I WISH I had been there with her, maybe I could have done something. Curtis said he ended up sitting next to them, accidentally. He initially said the kids weren’t there then told me “Nolan was walking around the school and she wouldn’t let Taitum down. He only looked at me a couple times. Hugged Mike and sat with him. That really hurt”

Ugh. I wish there was some way to make that better. And the mature, wonderful man he is, he hurts, but he takes it in stride saying “I just smiled. I guess he knew I was there that’s about all I can do” and “Katrina it’s life he has a stepdad just like the boys have a stepmom”. I wish I was there to even hug him right now. He deserves better than that, and there’s no way for me to fix that for him. My heart aches for him and for those boys who get put in the middle by the person who is supposed to be protecting them. 

Work-Life Balance / Life-Life Balance

Reegan’s Christmas Concert is tomorrow and I can’t miss rehearsal. I also can’t miss his concert. So what’s a step-mom to do? Well, work is pretty stressful right now and I have a monster weather headache… all of that equals a me day. So I can go see his concert during the day and sleep off this headache. Work is the force that had to give. And I feel really guilty about it. My mother would not approve of me calling in sick when I could go to work. But I’m looking for balance. 

Who knows if he’ll even be happy I’m there. He was pretty mad at me this morning over a toy. I didn’t make Nolan give him back the toy that he took from Reegan, to give to Taitum, which Reegan took from Taitum and wasn’t giving back. If you follow that. But I’m going, because it’s important to me to support him. Getting them off to school was an adventure. I won’t lie, not having to deal with that gets me out of bed some mornings. Lol. Curtis thanked me for getting them ready this morning and my response was to say ‘that’s what family does’ (notice I did not call myself a parent), but I secretly appreciate that he thanks me. And I also want him to see me as a parent who doesn’t need thanking… it’s very complicated. 

I asked the boys last night to write something we could put on a pillow for Daddy for Christmas. Reegan wanted that for his birthday, but we ran out of time. This is what they came up with. Cathy (Curtis’ mom) was there and said they insisted. It made me cry. 

How will I ever walk away from these boys? I love those boys. I had an epic breakout, worst in over 10 years, so my mind automatically wondered if I was pregnant (I’m not, of course). I wanted to be so badly, even though I knew I wasn’t. I war with what I want and what to do all the time. But for today, I have two boys who may not be happy with me, but love me. Today I feel like a parent, even if I won’t call myself that. 

A Special Kind of Person

My chiropractor said to me last night that it takes a special kind of person to be a step-parent. She has a sister and a sister-in-law in the same situation. I suppose that’s true. I don’t know if I’m some special kind of person, though. I’m just as flawed as anyone else. I guess it does take the right kind of person, as flawed as we all are. You have to be open enough to loving someone else’s child. And then sometimes I wonder if I am the right person because I’m not ok with only being a step-parent, I want to know what it’s like to be a real parent. I do love those boys, though. I chose this morning to be a few minutes later coming into work so I could see the 1st Elf on the Shelf with them (I choose my start time so let’s not get too excited, lol). And I was exhausted last night and I could have just gone to bed, but we had to do the Elf and we had to make lunches. Those boys are important to me and so is being a part of the daily things. Yet, I struggle with it as much as anyone would, I think. Kim. Is. Awful. And it SUUUUUUCKS to know that she will always be awful where we are concerned, barring some kind of miracle. Everyone wants to believe they’re some kind of special person. I don’t know if I am. And even as I am self-deprecating and I say that, I know that not everyone would be willing to take on what I have. That’s pretty much my entire argument as to why he should stop believing that I’m going to be like Kim and see me for who I am (and have a baby with me, of course). This is my daily struggle. As I finally have a working picture frame on my desk (it took bringing my other frame!) and I watch pics of the kids at my cottage, my favourite place in the world… how will I ever let them go?

Chiropractor is right… this kind of person needs an outlet.