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#1 of 23 Old 05-10-2010, 09:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I would love some coping skills on dealing with an ex and his wife who I share about 65/35 custody with of my 3 older dd's. They have no children together and she has none. It has been a daily nightmare for the last 3 years. I don't know how it will ever get easier, but I need to figure it out. It's always a roller coaster. Anytime things start to get more than civil between us something rocks the boat and it sinks. I'm not looking to have a better relationship with them, I really don't think that's possible. We just don't see eye to eye on anything, and now I'm pregnant with my second child from my second marriage and they can't have children so there seems to be a lot of resentment coming from her. Even though I don't see the relationship with them changing, I would certainly like to create some different feelings in my mind so if you have some ideas, I would love to hear them. TIA

homebirth.jpgMama to 4 girls and forever missing Bright 6/12/10. Married to my best friend and dreaming of the day we leave the city for chicken3.gif
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#2 of 23 Old 05-11-2010, 01:48 PM
 
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We have weathered extreme conflict with my husband's ex. Although the winds are calm right now, history tells us we can't expect them to stay that way. I don't think there's anything to do about it. It is simply unnatural to share something as important as raising a child with a person who is so fundamentally different from you, or who seems to hate you or sabotage you. You can't get comfortable with it. I think the best you can do is try to distract yourself to other thoughts, when you find yourself spending too much time trying to reason out why the other person acts the way they do, or how you might change the dynamics. Think practically: Can I solve today's problem with the ex? Is it big enough to merit seeking outside help (like a counselor or a judge)? If not, do your best to put it out of your mind and accept: The upside of divorce is you don't have to try to live with the other person anymore. The downside is you no longer have 100% control over how your kids are raised or what they're exposed to.

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:  partners.gif  orfencing.gif... twin sons:lurk.giflurk.gif(HS juniors) ... step-son: guitar.gif (a freshman) ... our little man: kid.gif  (a kindergartener) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  ourdog2.gif. 
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#3 of 23 Old 05-11-2010, 05:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Jeannine, very eloquently put. The wife is probably my biggest problem these days, my ex is half ok to deal with on his own but she's holding the puppet strings so its pretty hard. Seems like this school year she just decided she was going to try to take over as mother to my children and it's really put a strain on things. I don't even feel like I can volunteer at MY daughters' school anymore because she's there all the time and I just can't be around her. She crosses a lot of boundaries but I don't know how to handle it and it uses so much of my energy. I think I'll go see my counselor and try to get a grip on things. Thanks for your input, it's very helpful.

homebirth.jpgMama to 4 girls and forever missing Bright 6/12/10. Married to my best friend and dreaming of the day we leave the city for chicken3.gif
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#4 of 23 Old 05-11-2010, 06:40 PM
 
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I don't even feel like I can volunteer at MY daughters' school anymore because she's there all the time and I just can't be around her.
Mmmm... That's one I'd try not to let her win. Women gossip. They always do. Don't let them say, "Gosh, I wonder why the kids' step-mom volunteers so much more than Voicegrrl does. Is step-mom raising the kids?" That kind of stuff will get back to you in bits and pieces and make you feel angrier and more frustrated. And at some point, your kids may start to wonder why she's at school more than you are. Instead, let the other moms at school say, "Wow. I admire Voicegrrl so much! I don't know if I could stand having my kids' step-mom around school so much. But it doesn't stop Voicegrrl from volunteering! Why is the step-mom here so much, anyway? Is she trying to compete with her? That's not right." Even if these things aren't said to your face, you will benefit from a general sense of support from the other women who volunteer. Simply by showing up and being bigger than your feelings. Then step-mom will probably start to scale things back.

It's great that she's willing to be involved, don't get me wrong. But it's subversive for her to try to out-Mom you. This isn't a case where you abandoned your kids and let her raise them and have just come back into the picture, after all!

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:  partners.gif  orfencing.gif... twin sons:lurk.giflurk.gif(HS juniors) ... step-son: guitar.gif (a freshman) ... our little man: kid.gif  (a kindergartener) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  ourdog2.gif. 
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#5 of 23 Old 05-11-2010, 07:40 PM
 
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I'd let the school thing go for this year, but come September, step on it HARD. Talk to your kids' teachers first thing, in an apologetic it's-too-bad-we-need-to-deal-with-this-awkwardness way, and say something like "my ex's new wife doesn't have kids and has some boundary issues, and she made my daughter really uncomfortable last year doing an excessive amount of parent volunteering in the classroom. I'd like to avoid that this year. What can I sign up for?" If they seem receptive, you might also request that papers come home with your DDs only on a day when they're with you.

If your ex is easier one to deal with, then deal with him, not her. Call him on his cell or work phone during the day to discuss parenting issues. If she calls, your response is "I'll talk about that with X" or (ideally) "I already spoke to X about that, we decided Y" and then click.

Don't fight, don't engage, don't retreat. Look right through her when she's being inappropriate, and be nice and polite when SHE is being nice and polite. Model the kind of behavior that you'd like your daughters to exhibit in her house.
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#6 of 23 Old 05-11-2010, 08:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just to give some clarity on the volunteering situation, our school relies heavily on parent support to run. There are very few families that don't pull their share, but since my older 3 started last year, I've put in a lot of time volunteering both on site and off. I've been a room parent both years, I created the school directory this year, amongst other smaller weekly jobs like reading buddies, etc. One of my favorite things to do last year was Thursday folders where a few moms come in and stuff folders with all the take home stuff and spend an hour or so in a room chatting while working. It really helped me to grow relationships with other parents and really feel like I was "in" on what was happening with my dds' education. My ex and his wife had zero involvement with the school last year. Skip to this year and she signed up for all kinds of stuff which really surprises me especially since she works. The first thing she started doing was Thursday folders which really bummed me out because hanging out in a small room with her for an hour or more chatting with my friends is not my idea of fun, but I stuck it out for a few months until I could no longer tolerate walking into a room and being completely ignored by a woman partially raising my children. I also felt like it was uncomfortable for everyone there, the tension was so high between us. I only get two mornings a week without my 2 year old. I don't want to spend those 4 hours with her feeling like crap and then stewing all day about it afterwards so I took up a class on Thursdays to a) do something fun for myself and b) get out of Thursday folders. I did think that if I kept going she would scale back but it didn't happen. I'm still a room parent and doing the directory and reading buddy stuff but not anything that involves dealing with her directly, like Book Fair which she's all kind of signed up for. But I still run into her at school like last week when I ran up to drop something off, she was finishing up with her volunteering, wouldn't even look at me, let alone say hello and then I realized that my dd must have told her that I'm pregnant again because the last time I saw her things seemed at least cordial and that's the only thing that's changed since then.

So what used to seem like a safe haven, the school, is now another place that I am worried I'll run into her and there really is little I can do about it besides tell her how I feel which I've put off doing all year because it has seemed inappropriate and petty. I have had friends at school wonder why she's there so much, they think its odd but leave it at that and other people think its so great that we all get along and can all work together which makes me want to barf. I'm having a new baby next year so I actually intend to take my volunteering time down a notch. With 4 kids, a new baby, a business, and a life, I don't have the time or interest in competing with her to be queen volunteer. It was something that was enjoyable when I did it, but it's done. Am I resentful? Certainly, but I have to deal with it on my end. I can't change her and I feel like going around school claiming territory will only make me look like the sore loser.

The one thing that infuriates me is that she was getting private info like my kids absentee records etc. I told the secretary that wasn't ok but I'm not sure its stopped and legally I don't know what the law is.

I just got this book about step-mom's and ex-wives so I'm really hoping it will help me deal with my stuff at least. If I can find some peace in some way then I can maybe move on from all this little stuff that's eating me alive.

homebirth.jpgMama to 4 girls and forever missing Bright 6/12/10. Married to my best friend and dreaming of the day we leave the city for chicken3.gif
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#7 of 23 Old 05-12-2010, 04:00 AM
 
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Ugh, My advice probably wont help much, but here it is from the point of view of the ex's wife....

Oh yes, she will be jealous you are pregnant, not only do you have the ultimate relationship with the kids she is trying to be a family with, but youve gone and got yourself another baby that you dont have to share! It may not sound rational, but its very hard when you cant have kids of your own. It hurts, alot. Give her a break with that one, ride the resentment. Nothing you can do about it, she actually probably IS crying every night. While still an overbearing Stepmother, she is still human.

As for her stepping over the boundaries... Wow... I would have LOVED to overstep my boundaries on several occassions (probably did, unawares), but really tried hard not too. From her pov, these kids of yours are her only family. Who CARES if she tries to be a good person to them? Her motives may be in the right place, they may be in the wrong place, but its a hard one to judge. You are both battling over ownership of very separate families when you dont need too. You, as mother, (and saying this as a hurting steppie) will always be Mom. The more you let natural relationships lie, the better it is for the kids, even if you end up crying every night doing so.

Try your hardest to find empathy for the woman who wont be able to rub her tummy like you can, talking to her soon-to-born child. I know it doesnt seem fair, or right, and you probably wish at times that she would *&*( OFF!

That aside, feel pride for yourself, youve put up with more than many mothers could or want to contend with, and dont give up. I never thought my relationship with biomom would get to the place where I can call her just to yak, and I doubt thats normal to be honest, but keep persevering if you can find the strength to do so, do all the school stuff anyway, she is obviously trying for whatever reason - once you find empathy in your heart, youd be surprised what happens afterwards. Even a coffee for her might change the way things are, with no expectations of a thanks. She might just throw it out, throw in your face, you might not WANT to do this, you might think.. well... whatever. But life will be easier once civillity starts, and unfortunately someone has to keep making the first steps over and over till the other one breaks.

Good luck, you sound like such a devoted mother who loves her kids with all her heart, and you CAN do this, you so can put it aside and be the bigger person, you can be there at school for the kids and trust me - I will always love my mother for dealing with my step mom the way she did. She was amazing, and you will never be forgotten by the children for being so damn awesome through a really hard situation!
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#8 of 23 Old 05-12-2010, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Zarie-I really appreciate your POV, it's very helpful to hear the other side. I'm working hard to get to my "happy, no make that peaceful place" with all of this. I started this book "No one's the b@*^h, A 10 Step Plan For The Mother and Stepmother Relationship" and it's already helping a ton.

homebirth.jpgMama to 4 girls and forever missing Bright 6/12/10. Married to my best friend and dreaming of the day we leave the city for chicken3.gif
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#9 of 23 Old 05-12-2010, 11:02 AM
 
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No problem at all, im sure ill need yours sometime in the near future!

Sorry if it was little to no help at all =/

If its any consolation, our kids biomom and myself had the most hateful, toxic relationship of anyone ive ever seen. Now, we're friends (still getting used to that I have to admit). Weirdly, it can be possible =/

Id love to read that book! Might see if I can find an e-book or something as it sounds fantastic!
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#10 of 23 Old 05-12-2010, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I downloaded it onto my kindle for iphone but it has a lot of workbook and journaling so make sure you have a notebook handy.

The funny thing is that she and I got along for a short time last summer. My dh and I initiated family nights with them where we would go to the other's house and have dinner and play games and our kids LOVED it, made them feel so secure. But once the boat rocked they threw that overboard. The kids still ask when the next family night is and it breaks my heart to tell them I don't know. She and I used to have great conversations when it was just us and my ex wasn't in the picture. The issue is that she holds the puppet strings. He's not the kind of guy that does a lot of thinking for himself and always needs a mommy figure around to take care of him. (Another reason why we're divorced, I already had enough children.) As soon as we would start to become friends and really enjoy each other some little thing would come in and sabotage it. The most recent thing was that I told her something about my daughter quitting dance trying to be friendly and involve her and apparently she thought I'd made the wrong decision when in reality it had nothing to do with her at all and I should have kept my mouth shut. She went to my ex and they orchestrated this whole dinner with my dd under false pretenses (which he later admitted to me) to try and see if she'd made this decision herself or if I'd made it for her. It was so inappropriate all around, it was sneaky and manipulative and made me see that I can't trust her not to run to my ex and stir stuff up just to get a leg in over me. That's not being a friend. Neither of them is ever clear with me, in fact my straightforwardness is a huge turn off to them. Definitely one of the reasons we're divorced. I believe in strong communication and they basically believe in none which makes co raising kids really difficult. The only time things have ever been resolved between any of us is when I'm the one that goes to them and forces them to be honest with me about their feelings. So frustrating!!! Not sure if this is anything like your situation. That one situation happened in October and since then she's tried to convince my ex to fight me to have the girls vaxxed on top of changing other important things that are in our agreement. That's what I mean by over stepping boundaries. It's just not ok to come into a situation and go changing everything that two parents agreed on together and even have in a legal document because she feels like she wants it done another way. I'll always go to whatever means are necessary to protect my kids and what I believe is right for them. Luckily they backed down when they realized this, but the whole thing has been nothing less than the worst thing I've ever had to go through. Ok, back to my peaceful place, haha!

homebirth.jpgMama to 4 girls and forever missing Bright 6/12/10. Married to my best friend and dreaming of the day we leave the city for chicken3.gif
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#11 of 23 Old 05-12-2010, 12:20 PM
 
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Wow, are you sure you and I dont have the same family? Very similar in some ways!!!!!!!

Yeah me and biomom used to be friendly too, then again it was all sabotaged, generally by one of us reading too much into what the other one was saying. I suppose the difference lies in that I never wanted to be our kids mother, just someone special to them who they knew loved them JUST AS MUCH as their biological parents. I do love the kids, and I *LOVE* being involved in decisions with the kids, but I see that as a privilege, not a right!

The Steppie does need to tone herself down, I suspect right now she is just competing with you in order to feel special. Days like mothers make things really hard because deep down inside you know you arent mom and never will be, no matter what. Sometimes we as stepparents (not all of us!) grasp at the few things we have been allowed to do and run them into the ground with overuse and overbearance because at the end of the day - Thats all we have sometimes. Its those little things that sometimes stop us from feeling 'invisible'.

I know this probably isnt helping much!!!!!!

Maybe... one of the other girls in another thread suggested doing a summer time day where the kids could recognize how much their stepmoms love them etc etc, like mothers day, only NOT near mothers day so the kids dont feel they need to protect you (because they will!), and so steppie gets her special day without removing the one day of the year that celebrates the mother that gave birth. Perhaps talk to your kids, see if they want to do that, help them glitter up an invitation to her, send it in the mail, drop the kids off there, and let her drop them home after the picnic or whatever at her leisure to show some trust - obviously she loves them and isnt going to hurt them so give her what she is due. If you give her what she is due, she may just slide a little on the area's where she is obviously forgetting that the kids she loves already has a perfectly capable and loving mother of their own.

You probably will never trust her again (In my situation I did... somehow=/ we both decided to understand each others grief at having to share and the loss we both experience on a daily basis), but things can be made easier=/

Im a bit lost at what else to suggest except that what your doing right now with finding peace is EXACTLY the words our kids biomom used when she said how she came to accept me and be friends with me, so it sounds youre on th track, if not for her then for YOU. You need to feel the weight of the world has left your shoulders, and until you can walk without waiting to be stabbed in the back... be the nice person you want your kids to revere! As the horribly jealous stepmother myself, thats what turned me around. Seeing no matter what, biomom put them first, even when it was plain to see the hurt in her eyes as she did it. That, gave me a respect I will NEVER forget.

Again, good luck!!!!!!!!! youre so awesome for trying to do this, so many stick their heads in the sand and live with the opinion that steppies have no right to have love, or feelings.
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#12 of 23 Old 05-12-2010, 12:31 PM
 
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Haha sorry, just re read my post and realised it wasnt helpful at all!!!! I guess I got on my own little rant there, but anyway, till the cows come home you will always feel to a degree that you are compromising just a *little* too much for your own happiness.

They are totally entitled to their own opinions on immunisations and all that stuff, as for the schooling, go and get the school to MAIL to you all the originals and to send photocopies to the ex and steppie. Then youre all involved, and it doesnt matter if they have that info or not.

Just carefully, beware of whether they might want more custody... if they are showing signs of that, they may be looking to use school absences against you etc etc=/ I hope thats not the case, but cover all bases anyway!
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#13 of 23 Old 05-12-2010, 01:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have everything set up so they get copies of everything so everyone is in the loop. I just don't like when it gets all secretive. It was like that before when we were arguing about vaxxing and they were trying to build a case against me. My ped pretty much set them straight and told them I was a great mom who was not neglectful at all and brought the children in whenever it was necessary so they didn't have any room to fight me on any of that. Their father has only been to a couple of dr appts in their life. I've handled all of their healthcare because he chose not to be involved. The stepmom was the one who convinced the ex to set up this meeting with the ped to try to build the case. He never cared before she came along. I have a great relationship with our Dr so that didn't work out so well for them. None of the girls missed days are unexcused so there's no room there either. I don't believe they want more custody, just control, unfortunately. We just signed some changes to our agreement as far as financial stuff goes and other pretty unimportant stuff and that's gotten them off my back for now.

As much as I believe things like holidays, birthdays, etc. should be the bio parent's responsibility for their own partner and not the ex's responsibility to remind her kids to wish the stepmom happy mother's day or whatever, I always try to have my kids do something for her. A couple of times they've made crafts at their house for me on my birthday or whatever but they never do anything for my dh and I don't blame them for that. It's my job to have the girls do that for their stepdad.

I can definitely see what you mean about things getting lost in translation and that has happened more times than I can remember. Especially with the non-communicative skills I talked about earlier. At this point we share an online calendar to keep up with the two households so it keeps the confusion down and when the ex misses an appt that he agreed to go to I get to hold him accountable by saying, it's been on the iCal for a month.

It really is all a learning curve. I so envy people who met their partners and have the nuclear family and a great life without all of this b/s. I wish that was the case for me but it's not and even if something happened with her and he met someone else, I suspect it would be the same stuff just different.

We do all give up a lot. My dh and I so badly want to move to the mountains to homestead but we decided that we would stay here for the girls sake until either they graduate from high school and we no longer share custody or they move away. They don't have a reason to stay here other than the girls and they've already talked about moving away when the girls are older. I'm sure she feels like she's stuck here because of my kids and she feels like she's giving up her life so I get it. I really do appreciate the fact that she loves my girls. He easily could have married someone with 3 kids already and my kids would have gotten lost in the shuffle and it could have been a really bad situation. They love their stepmom, she spends time with them, does crafts with them, etc. I just wish she would stop the games so we could all get along. You're right, I probably won't ever trust her again, she's burned me too many times. But I know I can get to a place where I don't think about it everyday and lose sleep over it, that's the goal!

homebirth.jpgMama to 4 girls and forever missing Bright 6/12/10. Married to my best friend and dreaming of the day we leave the city for chicken3.gif
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#14 of 23 Old 05-12-2010, 01:28 PM
 
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I'm maybe not much help (though hopefully provide a perspective), but reading your posts all I could think of was the poor infertile stepmom who loves her husband dearly but will never have the joy of having children with him -- a connection and joy he only shares with his ex, who hates her. Then she tries her best to deal with a hurtful situation by being loving to children she probably had to fight hard not to resent, and in the course of that loving and nurturing, she decided to volunteer at the school, even though she works. And now she's being chastised for that too. She can't win.

I hope you can find some empathy for her. And, to follow onto the wonderful suggestion above to do a stepmom day in the summer, I would add that two words you could say would mean a lot to her: thank you. Being a stepmom is the most thankless job ever, and if you tell her thanks for all she does for your kids and especially for volunteering at the school, I think (and hope) it would go a long way towards improving your situation.

DH's ex and I aren't even on speaking terms, but even given that, when she thanks me (through an email to my DH or whatever) for things I do for her kids, it calms the tension palpably.

Also, one more piece of advice -- try to shift away from the mental paradigm of her "controlling the puppet strings." It smacks of resentment, and even if it were to be true, it isn't helpful. Think of them instead as a married couple - a team. They consult and advise each other, and lovingly accept each other's influence on all matters, whether they be financial, free time interests, or parenting and vaccines. She holds a different view from you, and her husband has come around to her way of seeing things on vaccines. Or maybe they got there together. It's different from yours, but it surely starts from the shared interest of doing what's best for the children. She wouldn't want to vaccinate them if she didn't care about them or it she felt it would be harmful. We disagree with DH's ex on vaccines, and I may have influenced my husband and gotten him to read the relevant research. I don't think he had given it much thought before. Similarly, I got him to read up on circumcision when I got pregnant. If we were to have a boy, we would make a different choice than was made for DSS. But I don't control his puppet strings -- we are simply partners.

I hope this is helpful to you. You sound like a loving mom who really wants to foster the best coparenting relationships (between 4 parents) that she can. Maybe reaching for your empathic side will help soothe your frustration or even improve the situation for all.

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#15 of 23 Old 05-12-2010, 05:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies. I think it's best for me to stop harping on the negative stuff and also not defend myself. I'm working hard to move into the positive and remain open to the possibilities so I'm going to bow out of here for now. Wish me luck on the journey! I hope that I can create some happiness for myself but mostly just be the kind of mom that I expect from myself and try to get my kids through this journey with minimal damage

homebirth.jpgMama to 4 girls and forever missing Bright 6/12/10. Married to my best friend and dreaming of the day we leave the city for chicken3.gif
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#16 of 23 Old 05-12-2010, 09:33 PM
 
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Well said, Violet!

Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
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#17 of 23 Old 05-12-2010, 09:43 PM
 
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Thanks for all the replies. I think it's best for me to stop harping on the negative stuff and also not defend myself. I'm working hard to move into the positive and remain open to the possibilities so I'm going to bow out of here for now. Wish me luck on the journey! I hope that I can create some happiness for myself but mostly just be the kind of mom that I expect from myself and try to get my kids through this journey with minimal damage
Good luck! Thats the right attitude to have, hope to hear an update from you soon as you negotiate the situation = )

Hugs to you and yours!
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#18 of 23 Old 05-12-2010, 11:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Zarie-I will keep you posted for sure. You're perspective has been really helpful and understanding. This whole thread has encouraged me to dig deep.

I said I was movin' on but there's one thing that's been nagging me about Violet's post and I feel like I need to clear this up whether it makes a difference or not. When I said they couldn't have children it had nothing to do with her being "infertile." My ex had a vasectomy after our twins. He never wanted more than 2 children and we went from 1 to 3 in a day so he took care of having anymore, even after I miscarried the week before his surgery appointment. I don't know how early into their relationship he told her about his sterility, but I'd already had my child with my dh when they got married so she knew I was having kids of my own before she married him. My opinion is that she knew what she was getting into. I know it doesn't make her pain of not having her own children any less, maybe she thought she loved him enough that it wouldn't matter, or that my children would be enough for her, or he told her he'd get a reversal. Who knows!?! I really do hope they figure out a way to have children together if that's what they both want. I would be thrilled for them. But that's between them, not them and dh and I. After reading your post Violet, it seemed like I was coming off as this big meanie that could care less if this woman had kids or not and that's not the case at all and certainly not the perspective I would want anyone to take away from this situation even though I can totally understand why you might view it that way. My dh and I took all of these factors into consideration when deciding whether to have another child or not and it was a hard decision, this particular pregnancy wasn't planned but we were going to try for one eventually. The problems between her and I are over so much more than me having babies, but with hard work I hope that will change. Also, I tell her thank you all the time, I think it's really important, too. I may have come off as rough and uncaring on here but it was just venting and being really worn out and pregnancy hormones to boot. I try really hard, I really do, even when it seems like I'm the only one.

One more thing, I hear a lot of you stepmama's bringing up mother's day. My dds all made gifts at school and my oldest decided to give hers to her stepmom along with the gift I bought for them to give her which was stationary because she likes to write notes on nice paper and cards. Thought you would like to know that not all stepmom's are getting the shaft on Mom's Day and I'm sorry for those of you who are. It's not a big deal around here, I like to spend it with the girls camping, we don't do cards or gifts other than what they do at school, but I'm not into commercial holidays either. I know it's nice to be recognized which is why I make sure they do that for her.

Again everyone, thanks for all of your help and perspectives. I really do recommend the book that I mentioned earlier if you aren't on great terms with the "other woman" in your life. It's already helping me in huge ways. I'm even considering getting her a copy and asking if she would be willing to read it too and see what we can work out. Not yet though! It will take some time to work up that courage!

homebirth.jpgMama to 4 girls and forever missing Bright 6/12/10. Married to my best friend and dreaming of the day we leave the city for chicken3.gif
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#19 of 23 Old 05-13-2010, 12:17 AM
 
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Thanks Zarie-I will keep you posted for sure. You're perspective has been really helpful and understanding. This whole thread has encouraged me to dig deep.

I said I was movin' on but there's one thing that's been nagging me about Violet's post and I feel like I need to clear this up whether it makes a difference or not. When I said they couldn't have children it had nothing to do with her being "infertile." My ex had a vasectomy after our twins. He never wanted more than 2 children and we went from 1 to 3 in a day so he took care of having anymore, even after I miscarried the week before his surgery appointment. I don't know how early into their relationship he told her about his sterility, but I'd already had my child with my dh when they got married so she knew I was having kids of my own before she married him. My opinion is that she knew what she was getting into. I know it doesn't make her pain of not having her own children any less, maybe she thought she loved him enough that it wouldn't matter, or that my children would be enough for her, or he told her he'd get a reversal. Who knows!?! I really do hope they figure out a way to have children together if that's what they both want. I would be thrilled for them. But that's between them, not them and dh and I. After reading your post Violet, it seemed like I was coming off as this big meanie that could care less if this woman had kids or not and that's not the case at all and certainly not the perspective I would want anyone to take away from this situation even though I can totally understand why you might view it that way. My dh and I took all of these factors into consideration when deciding whether to have another child or not and it was a hard decision, this particular pregnancy wasn't planned but we were going to try for one eventually. The problems between her and I are over so much more than me having babies, but with hard work I hope that will change. Also, I tell her thank you all the time, I think it's really important, too. I may have come off as rough and uncaring on here but it was just venting and being really worn out and pregnancy hormones to boot. I try really hard, I really do, even when it seems like I'm the only one.

One more thing, I hear a lot of you stepmama's bringing up mother's day. My dds all made gifts at school and my oldest decided to give hers to her stepmom along with the gift I bought for them to give her which was stationary because she likes to write notes on nice paper and cards. Thought you would like to know that not all stepmom's are getting the shaft on Mom's Day and I'm sorry for those of you who are. It's not a big deal around here, I like to spend it with the girls camping, we don't do cards or gifts other than what they do at school, but I'm not into commercial holidays either. I know it's nice to be recognized which is why I make sure they do that for her.

Again everyone, thanks for all of your help and perspectives. I really do recommend the book that I mentioned earlier if you aren't on great terms with the "other woman" in your life. It's already helping me in huge ways. I'm even considering getting her a copy and asking if she would be willing to read it too and see what we can work out. Not yet though! It will take some time to work up that courage!
I hope I didn't imply that you were uncaring. I think you sound very thoughtful. Regarding the difference between her being infertile versus him having had a vasectomy, it's one of those things where we can never know if or how much it bothers her or when she knew or what she expected him to do. I have a good friend who promised his wife he'd get a reversal (and he doesn't even have kids), and it's turning out to be much more difficult than they anticipated, and their marriage is very much on the rocks, largely over this issue. I bet if he had an ex walking around with babies now their relationship would have ended completely. So who knows.

That's also great that you acknowledge her and thank her. I'm especially impressed that you are willing to share Mother's Day with her. Most moms aren't, and I can see their side too. I've never heard a peep of acknowledgement from my stepkids on that day, and I don't expect to.

Maybe she is feeling resentful and jealous over babies right now, maybe she's just volunteering to help out and has no idea it bothers you, or maybe she's a difficult person and there's not much you can do. But regardless, it sounds like you're on the right path to make things better if they can be made better. Best of luck!

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#20 of 23 Old 05-13-2010, 12:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Violet, she does not know the volunteering irks me. I've never mentioned it, only cut back on the hours I was spending doing the same stuff as her. I didn't think it would be useful to anyone to bring it up and seem petty even if it has been something that's really bothered me. She told someone that she was doing it to fit in and meet new people which I understand, I just feel territorial since the kids are my full time job ( I run a small voice over business from home part time so I can stay home with them) and I take a lot of pride in being part of their education. Kind of felt like it was her or me but hopefully in the future I will feel differently and not so competitive.

homebirth.jpgMama to 4 girls and forever missing Bright 6/12/10. Married to my best friend and dreaming of the day we leave the city for chicken3.gif
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#21 of 23 Old 05-13-2010, 01:28 AM
 
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Thanks Violet, she does not know the volunteering irks me. I've never mentioned it, only cut back on the hours I was spending doing the same stuff as her. I didn't think it would be useful to anyone to bring it up and seem petty even if it has been something that's really bothered me. She told someone that she was doing it to fit in and meet new people which I understand, I just feel territorial since the kids are my full time job ( I run a small voice over business from home part time so I can stay home with them) and I take a lot of pride in being part of their education. Kind of felt like it was her or me but hopefully in the future I will feel differently and not so competitive.
You, little lady, are just AWESOME. The fact that youre being so honest about competitiveness etc etc shows exactly where you are at, and I hope youre damn proud of yourself.

Not all of us can be that mature, I hope you realise that this is the BEST venting ground EVER!!!! (although, sometimes just chuck in the header that your venting :P)

It so okay to be territorial! Just never forget, first and foremost, that you are their mom and that can never change. Steppie needs to adjust too. How would taking over a couple of coffee's and a bunch of flowers and letting it all hang out to her go? It could give her power, yes, but it could just make her feel safe enough to know that you want her to fit in, and you want things to be nice, but that you both need a little bit of 'you' time with the wee ones to remember how special your individual roles are...

Maybe not, but then, IM Just a big sap who feels that hanging it all out, even if its abused, makes me the more honest, trying, and bigger person if thats what it comes to.

GOOOOOOD LUCK! Thanks for keeping us updated! If youhave any more thoughts, please post them, because at the end of the day it can help us steppies to understand how it feels for the biomommy too =)
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#22 of 23 Old 05-13-2010, 05:48 PM
 
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...hanging out in a small room with her for an hour or more chatting with my friends is not my idea of fun, but I stuck it out for a few months until I could no longer tolerate walking into a room and being completely ignored by a woman partially raising my children. I also felt like it was uncomfortable for everyone there, the tension was so high between us....I did think that if I kept going she would scale back but it didn't happen....I can't change her and I feel like going around school claiming territory will only make me look like the sore loser.

The one thing that infuriates me is that she was getting private info like my kids absentee records etc. I told the secretary that wasn't ok but I'm not sure its stopped and legally I don't know what the law is.
Maybe you should try being direct (if she avoids talking to you, that may be jarring to her, which could be good) and telling her, "Look. I'm not going to bother placing blame, but somehow between the two of us we cannot pull off being civil to each other in public. When you choose to do things at school that I have historically done, like Thursday folders, it makes other people feel uncomfortable, to have to be around both of us. This year, I backed down, to try to cut the tension for everyone else. But really, you and I are not equals, in terms of our investment in my children and their school. I am the mother. Of course, you also have a significant role in my kids' lives, so it's nice that you try to participate at school. But you should be doing it for the kids, not to try to compete with me. That would be petty, not to mention selfish, since it makes the other moms uncomfortable that you refuse to talk to me. This coming school year, I'm going to do Thursday folders like I have always done. I enjoy it and it fits best with my schedule. I want you to volunteer in a different area. The nice thing about this school is that there are plenty of choices." Then say it to your ex, if you need to. Maybe he can reign her in? Yuck!! That sounds rotten. But if she won't back down, I would do whatever you'd normally do and practice carrying on, talking with your friends as though she's not even in the room, if she refuses to talk to you. Make a point of being cheerful, don't let everyone fall silent just because she is.

Generally, both parents are legally entitled to anything that's in their kids' school records. It's uncomfortable that step-mom's the one asking for it - and I guess you could cause a big stink and try to mandate that such info. can only be released to your ex - but I doubt you can stop them from accessing it, one way or another. If she's the one instigating it, she will just say she's doing it on his behalf.

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:  partners.gif  orfencing.gif... twin sons:lurk.giflurk.gif(HS juniors) ... step-son: guitar.gif (a freshman) ... our little man: kid.gif  (a kindergartener) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  ourdog2.gif. 
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#23 of 23 Old 10-26-2010, 06:25 PM
 
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I'm resurrecting this thread because I've just had to deal with this issue with my ex and his new wife. Legally the step mother does not have the right to be scheduling parent teacher meetings, going through school records or making doctor's appointments, etc. The father can and he is welcome to bring her with him to meetings. She does not have any legal say even though she is married. Only you and your ex have a say in your kids education, access to records and etc. My ex's new wife had called the school asking to hold independent conferences with my children's teachers. She told my kids that she was going to talk to their teachers and volunteer and no one could stop her. Well, I emailed every single teacher and alerted all the staff and talked with them all in person and alerted them to the situation. They are all in support of me and have been very good at not letting her have independent access to my children or their records. She will not be able to volunteer in their classrooms either because of the tension and problems she is creating with the kids.

Granted my ex is abusive and I have had to call CPS on him for hitting, slapping and pinching the kids (he even gave my 8 year old a titty twister!). Unfortunately, with CPS it is hard to really get anything done and he has gotten off every time with just a phone call. However they do have record of all the times I have called and the children have been interviewed. The step mom claims she has not hit my kids although I know she slaps and spanks her own son, who is the same age as my son and she supports my ex in his abuse. They call it "discipline" but I call it abuse, because it is.

I know my situation is extreme and things may change as far as volunteering goes if she manages to get her son into my kids school (and hopefully they will not be in the same class!), however for now the school is supporting me as the primary custodial parent. Stepmom is not on the emergency contact list. Also in the 3 years we have been separated/divorced my kids biodad has NEVER once attended a parent teacher meeting. I have always relayed information about grades and progress and their activities back to him but now that she is involved she is trying to manage everything. The school knows he has not been involved and has said that it is his responsibility to follow through and he can't just delegate to her. So I'm just saying there are boundaries that should not be crossed and schools can and should support that. Good luck!

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