Sometimes being a step-mother makes me want to scream... - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 21 Old 08-12-2010, 09:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just a disclamer, I'm not new at this... I was a step-child myself plus I have been doing this almost 10 years now so it's more of a rant then an ask for advice.

I just got a call from my step-daughter whom we are very close to after 2 weeks of not seeing her because her mother wants to "talk to DH about a new schedule" because DSD is doing band and a sport after school, which is during the times we normally have them (4-7 Tues and Thurs) She called us last week because she wanted to come over but BM REFUSES to come pick her up from our house, like she is supposed to. Why? Because she says she is sick of doing all the running (taking her to band, sports and her charter school which is about 25 miles away) In the court papers, it even says we are to pick her up from her residence and BM is supposed to pick her up from our's. She thinks that we should be doing the running to the above mentioned stuff too... which under normal circumstances, we wouldn't mind. However, DSD failed her last year of high school at this school. It's an accelerated pace school (2 years of high school, 2 years of college work) and she couldn't keep up nor did she WANT to be there so we disagree with her being at that school. It's too much for a 15 year old girl. She had 4 hours of homework every single night and had NO social life. Now she wants her to go to that school still AND have band AND a sport on top of it so yeah, we disagree with that too until she shows progress in her school work. And now BM is trying to strong-arm us into taking her to these places? I don't think so. No where is our court papers does it say that we have to take her to extra-curricular activities or a school we don't want her in. Now, luckily enough for us, the step-kids house is on the way home from DH's work so he gets off, grabs them and comes home and apparently THIS is why she thinks she shouldn't have to pick them up from our house ... because it's NOT on her way and that's unfair.

We DO NOT have extra money around. Some weeks we can't afford gas just to get DH to and from work and now she wants us to do all this extra running around? Riiiight. Can't get blood (or gas) from a turnip. Not only that but our car is pushing 20 years old, we don't do a lot of running around for ourselves, let alone SKs. But she wants DH to come "talk" (see argue) about all of this at her house because she is "tired of going through the kids" ... she, apparently, told DSD that we're "using" them by doing so. When in actuality, we're going through them because they are old enough to do so and it avoids conflict with her. She is a control freak and tries to steam-roll over DH so he tries to have as little contact with her as possible... now we're not talking about arguments or anything. We're talking about little time conflicts or "call your mom and tell her we'll bring you home tonight" sort of things (which, by the way, we do QUITE often... bringing them home when it's HER supposed to be getting them) My husband pays her a large amount in child support for where we live. (Most people we know with 2 kids pay around $300... we pay twice+ that) plus her and her new husband work full time so she about 3x the money we do. We're thinking about reverting to the normal court-ordered schedule for parents who can't agree which is significantly less time then we get them now but that schedule won't affect her sports or schooling so she couldn't try strong-arm us over it. I have a rather lengthy message I want to send her on facebook but I can't bring myself to do it because it WILL cause a fight and DH tries to avoid that with her (as do I, generally) but I am so tired of her treating him like he is dirt under her feet and nothing is ever enough for her. She's lucky he's a wonderful father who supports, loves and wants to be a part of his children's lives ... but good luck getting her to believe that.

Sometimes, and I would never admit this to DH, I wish I hadn't married a man with previous children. I love him more then I can explain but being a step-mom SUCKS. I love my step-children as my own children but it is SO hard when you are not the only influence, set of rules, ideals, etc in their life. She is the complete OPPOSITE kind of mother I am (very, VERY mainstream and money centered) and sometimes I just want to shake her. I'm holding my tongue for right now and letting my DH deal with all of this but I swear if she steam-rolls him again, I don't know that I'll be able to keep my mouth shut.

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#2 of 21 Old 08-12-2010, 10:36 AM
 
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Well...it sounds frustrating and your dh should have some say in whether or not she is so overloaded. Is there anything in the custody papers about extracurricular activities or agreeing on what schools they go to? How does your dsd feel about going to that school and does she want to be in those activities?

That said. Your dh should be dealing with the mom about scheduling and not relying on going through the kids, especially when it's not going smooth. They may be older but it isn't their responsibility. It's also a shame and ought to be a crime that most of the people in your area are paying $300 for two kids. That's pathetic. $600 for two children is not extreme by any means and the mother and her husband working should not absolve your dh of supporting his children.
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#3 of 21 Old 08-12-2010, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well...it sounds frustrating and your dh should have some say in whether or not she is so overloaded. Is there anything in the custody papers about extracurricular activities or agreeing on what schools they go to? How does your dsd feel about going to that school and does she want to be in those activities?

That said. Your dh should be dealing with the mom about scheduling and not relying on going through the kids, especially when it's not going smooth. They may be older but it isn't their responsibility. It's also a shame and ought to be a crime that most of the people in your area are paying $300 for two kids. That's pathetic. $600 for two children is not extreme by any means and the mother and her husband working should not absolve your dh of supporting his children.
Well, DSD didn't want to the school originally. She was having way too hard of a time trying to keep up. She did make a lot of friends since then and doesn't want to leave them... but is still not a fan of the school. She does want to do band... which we support and would help taking her to if she was doing well in school. She has no interest in the sport though and is being forced to do so. It does say we have full say in schooling, extracurricular activities, religion, etc because we have joint custody but DH doesn't generally fight her on the choices she makes for the children. He trusts her judgment on most things so he doesn't interfere despite having the right to... but we're also not going to fund something we don't agree with.

As for going through them, it WAS going well for everyone involved. It was simple matters, there was no arguing, no bickering, NOTHING. It was going very smooth and that's why we did it that way. Obviously, when we had a problem with her, we took it up with her, not the kids. Up until now, everything HAS been smooth so I dont know why she told the kids we were using them... it's silly, really. It's just easier to say "Hey, Shelby, call your mom and ask her if it's okay if you are late/early/switch/etc" and 9/10 she wouldn't have a problem with it (because it usually benefited her in some way) and if she did have a problem with it, DH would get on the phone and handle it... so it wasn't like we were arguing through the kids. That never happened.

I, by no means, think that is absolves us from paying child support and am offended that you would think I don't think he needs to pay for them. I expect him to pay for ALL of his children, not just mine. I never once said that. Do I count down the days until we're done paying? Absolutely... but I EXPECT him to support his children. I'm just saying she has MORE then enough money to handle the gas, etc of taking the children to the extracurricular activities we don't want them in. We don't have money to spend $50+ a week to drive children to things that are going to affect their schoolwork. I wouldn't be with my husband if he didn't take care of the children he had before ours. And actually cost of living is pretty cheap here. If $600 is supposed to pay HALF of the cost of just 2 children, then she would be raising just them on $1200/month.... Me, my husband our 2 children (plus our part time step-children) live on less then that... so yeah, $600 is pretty decent IMO.

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#4 of 21 Old 08-12-2010, 11:10 AM
 
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I, by no means, think that is absolves us from paying child support. I never once said that. Do I count down the days until we're done paying? Absolutely... but I EXPECT him to support his children. I'm just saying she has MORE then enough money to handle the gas, etc of taking the children to the extracurricular activities we don't want them in. I wouldn't be with my husband if he didn't take care of the children he had before ours. And actually cost of living is pretty cheap here. If $600 is supposed to pay HALF of the cost of just 2 children, then she would be raising just them on $1200/month.... Me, my husband our 2 children (plus our part time step-children) live on less then that... so yeah, $600 is pretty decent IMO.
Just sending some emotional support here. I feel exactly the same way about my DH's responsibility to his children from his first marriage. I have said many times that I would not be with him if he didn't support the children he already had. Meanwhile, the reality of stretching dollars in a one income household to pay child support is never easy. It has to be done, but it isn't in any way easy. I love my stepdaughters immensely and would never wish them away, but I, too, look forward to the day we no longer have such a large portion of our income go to child support. I think that's only natural.
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#5 of 21 Old 08-12-2010, 11:37 AM
 
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Really, it would be best if you leave communications for Dad to have with Mom. And if HE chooses not to confront her or disagree with her choices for the child/ren? Then that is his choice.
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#6 of 21 Old 08-12-2010, 11:42 AM
 
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I just have to say I understand part of your frustration. At least involving child support. My DP has two children through his ex-wife (I was not the cause of that, btw!) and he pays $700 a month for both. They live in another state so we never see them which is part of the reason the child support is high. It is also high because he has about 4-5 grand of back due support because she said he'd never given her a dime which wasn't true and they started him with back due support. We've only been together 3 years and we met when he was going through his divorce. Bad timing, but that's just how it worked out. We also got pregnant (oops!) after 6 months of being together. When I had my daughter his child support had just started and they were taking $700 out of his $750 a month pay! So I had to go back to work full time and he became a stay at home dad. It sucked big time!

I blame him mostly for it because he doesn't like conflict and refused to go speak to someone about it or try to work something out with his ex. Now things are ok and he is paying all of his child support and we both work full time. I believe in paying child support... I really do. However, what I don't understand is why the kids don't come first? I'm constantly baffled by both sides. Obviously I saw mostly his side of the divorce and in my eyes he made a ton of mistakes, but after several arguements (mostly just me offering help or resources) I stepped out of it. I rarely talk to him about his kids or his situation. I guess for me what's the most frustrating is seeing ways to make it work out for the better for the kids, but I'm hushed up because I just "don't understand". UGH!

The sadest and funniest part is when he comes to me 2 years later and says... "Man I wish I would have listened to you." Well DUH! He screwed himself. On paper he looks like a horrible parent. Thank god things between him and his ex have settled down and they are on good terms now, but still... his kids are in another state and we don't have extra money to send him to see them. My solution would be to drop the child support by $100 and we could save that $100 for travel expenses OR for his ex to save $100 of the support for travel expenses. IDK... Am I crazy? This just makes better sense to me than just sucking him dry and him never seeing his kids.

If for whatever reason it doesn't work out between us... I do not see myself ever getting into a relationship again with someone with kids. I'll probably become a hermit.

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#7 of 21 Old 08-12-2010, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Really, it would be best if you leave communications for Dad to have with Mom. And if HE chooses not to confront her or disagree with her choices for the child/ren? Then that is his choice.
I know this... I do, which is pretty much why I wrote this... I just felt I had to get something out or I would send her a message on Facebook. I'm glad I did because it actually did keep me from sending it to her and possibly causing a fight between us. Her and I get along for the most part. I don't particularly like her but we don't argue either... That all stopped when I handed the reins to DH when it came to dealing with her. I don't even answer the phone when she calls anymore... that's his cross to bear, not mine. The hardest part of it is that *I* do the planning, the time management, etc at our house so if she wants to make a schedule or anything that affects our household, it usually HAS to go through me so DH is really just the middle man but in this situation, I don't really mind throwing him to the wolf, lol. I can't handle the drama.. it stresses me out wayyyyy to much.

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#8 of 21 Old 08-12-2010, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just have to say I understand part of your frustration. At least involving child support. My DP has two children through his ex-wife (I was not the cause of that, btw!) and he pays $700 a month for both. They live in another state so we never see them which is part of the reason the child support is high. It is also high because he has about 4-5 grand of back due support because she said he'd never given her a dime which wasn't true and they started him with back due support. We've only been together 3 years and we met when he was going through his divorce. Bad timing, but that's just how it worked out. We also got pregnant (oops!) after 6 months of being together. When I had my daughter his child support had just started and they were taking $700 out of his $750 a month pay! So I had to go back to work full time and he became a stay at home dad. It sucked big time!

I blame him mostly for it because he doesn't like conflict and refused to go speak to someone about it or try to work something out with his ex. Now things are ok and he is paying all of his child support and we both work full time. I believe in paying child support... I really do. However, what I don't understand is why the kids don't come first? I'm constantly baffled by both sides. Obviously I saw mostly his side of the divorce and in my eyes he made a ton of mistakes, but after several arguements (mostly just me offering help or resources) I stepped out of it. I rarely talk to him about his kids or his situation. I guess for me what's the most frustrating is seeing ways to make it work out for the better for the kids, but I'm hushed up because I just "don't understand". UGH!

The sadest and funniest part is when he comes to me 2 years later and says... "Man I wish I would have listened to you." Well DUH! He screwed himself. On paper he looks like a horrible parent. Thank god things between him and his ex have settled down and they are on good terms now, but still... his kids are in another state and we don't have extra money to send him to see them. My solution would be to drop the child support by $100 and we could save that $100 for travel expenses OR for his ex to save $100 of the support for travel expenses. IDK... Am I crazy? This just makes better sense to me than just sucking him dry and him never seeing his kids.

If for whatever reason it doesn't work out between us... I do not see myself ever getting into a relationship again with someone with kids. I'll probably become a hermit.
That's rough... thankfully we live pretty close to my step-kids. But yeah, I've already told my husband that when our kids are older, I'm going to caution them against dating someone who already has children. I really wouldn't give up the life I have now though difficult most days. I just sometimes think about how much easier my life would be with someone who didn't have kids already. I don't see anything anytime in the future happening between my husband and I BUT if it were, yeah I would running for the hills before dating another man with children.

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#9 of 21 Old 08-12-2010, 03:41 PM
 
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I know this... I do, which is pretty much why I wrote this... I just felt I had to get something out or I would send her a message on Facebook. I'm glad I did because it actually did keep me from sending it to her and possibly causing a fight between us. Her and I get along for the most part. I don't particularly like her but we don't argue either... That all stopped when I handed the reins to DH when it came to dealing with her. I don't even answer the phone when she calls anymore... that's his cross to bear, not mine. The hardest part of it is that *I* do the planning, the time management, etc at our house so if she wants to make a schedule or anything that affects our household, it usually HAS to go through me so DH is really just the middle man but in this situation, I don't really mind throwing him to the wolf, lol. I can't handle the drama.. it stresses me out wayyyyy to much.
I am the biggest fan of 2 ppl communicating and not bringing in the 3rd party.
But being the gf of one of those kinda pushover men before.....

Yes I agree that its his place to stand up and say what he should to ex about their kids and their arrangement.

But who has to listen to him being upset about it after the fact of him being walked over...

So it may be hard to "push" him to say something. BUT, once you are pushing him to stand up with his views and not pushing him to say what you want/think/feel. It is sometimes a neccessary evil.
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#10 of 21 Old 08-12-2010, 03:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So much for my husband's pacifism... just got a message saying "Business will be handled TONIGHT! She's in for a rude awakening when I stop over there tonight. I'm done with her sh*t!!!" .... Not sure what that means but I think possibly she has steam-rolled him for her last time.

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#11 of 21 Old 08-12-2010, 11:30 PM
 
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Possibly some of this could have been avoided if he had expressed his opinion in the first place. You can't say you're being steam rolled after you've expressed a preference for letting someone else make all the decisions. I've been on the wrong end of that one myself.

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#12 of 21 Old 08-13-2010, 06:24 AM
 
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it is SO hard when you are not the only influence, set of rules, ideals, etc in their life. She is the complete OPPOSITE kind of mother I am (very, VERY mainstream and money centered) and sometimes I just want to shake her.
I hear you!!!

If the child were yours and DH's, good parenting would include openly sharing your values with your child and pointing out when the child has been exposed to ideas that you and DH consider wrong or an example of messed-up priorities. But with another parent in the mix, you have to do a lot of tongue-biting because criticizing conflicting values means criticizing the child's other parent. So the child is forced to navigate differing values and choose her own path, with less parental guidance.

I'm sorry you're so frustrated!

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#13 of 21 Old 08-13-2010, 09:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Possibly some of this could have been avoided if he had expressed his opinion in the first place. You can't say you're being steam rolled after you've expressed a preference for letting someone else make all the decisions. I've been on the wrong end of that one myself.
Well, that's just it... he has expressed his opinion to her but she does what she wants anyway. The only time she HEARS him though is if he gets nasty with her. She is very controlling and likes to pretend he isn't a part of their life and doesn't get to make any decisions. He trusts her to make the decisions usually but that doesn't mean he always agrees with them or doesn't make it known that he doesn't agree with them. He just usually doesn't cause a stir about it until he's been pushed around for quite some time. He lets it build... I'm more of the confront it when it happens type but he doesn't for the sake of getting along.

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#14 of 21 Old 08-13-2010, 08:44 PM
 
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So much for my husband's pacifism... just got a message saying "Business will be handled TONIGHT! She's in for a rude awakening when I stop over there tonight. I'm done with her sh*t!!!" .... Not sure what that means but I think possibly she has steam-rolled him for her last time.
So.... what happened?
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#15 of 21 Old 08-13-2010, 11:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So.... what happened?
Absolutely nothing. He didn't even go over... and then today when he picked DSS (not DSD because she has sports all weekend) up, he just simply told her that he didn't think it was a good idea for her to be in all these activities or the school she is in. Her response "Well, I'm running myself ragged taking her to all of these things... I could use some help." And he said "I bet" and that was the end of it. Him and I, of course, got in a big fight over it... because sometimes it's just REALLY hard for me to stand back and watch things happen and have no control over it. I have been in their lives for 10 years now... That girl is just as much my baby as my own biological children but I have to sit back and watch her take on yet another extra-curricular activity (that makes 3 now before school has even started... and just to a reminder, she failed last year) and know that she is setting herself up for disaster all so BM can brag about all the things DSD is in to (that's my biggest beef with her, she LOVES to make the kids accomplishments all about her somehow) and it makes me so sad for DSD. And we officially will not see her at all during the week now... All 3 activities will keep her busy every night until 9pm.... Someone tell me exactly how she is going to fit those 4+ hours of homework from her accelerated high school in? Because I REALLY don't see it happening *sigh*

Hubby's reasoning for not fighting her on it? He told her he disagrees with it, she won't listen and the only way we could fight her on it is by taking her to court and we just don't have the money for that right now. So, hey why bother letting her know just how upset he is, right? Ugh. I guess I should just get used to not seeing my baby anymore...

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#16 of 21 Old 08-14-2010, 12:57 PM
 
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Or... Dad could spend some time educating himself as to the laws of your state and take her back to court pro se. But he has to be willing to do that hard work.
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#17 of 21 Old 08-14-2010, 08:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Or... Dad could spend some time educating himself as to the laws of your state and take her back to court pro se. But he has to be willing to do that hard work.
We may have to try that route eventually... However, we just were made aware of something. Her sports are at her "home school" since she attends a charter school, they are not aware of her failing grades last year... apparently all my husband has to do is call her home school and tell them that she is ineligable for sports since she failed her previous year of school at her charter school. I kind of hate to do that to DSD but we gave BM a chance to do the right thing. She hasn't, so the school will have to.

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#18 of 21 Old 08-15-2010, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Apparently I just don't give my wonderful step-daughter enough credit. I was not that happy about band and cross country but didn't really get upset until she wanted to add soccer too. Well, today she has been over and I talked to her about her priorities and making sure school comes FIRST and foremost and that even though her mother doesn't support us, we wish she would only do band and CC and drop soccer. So she said "Okay, you're probably right... I need to see if I can even do 2 things and keep my grades first up so I won't do soccer." .... She knows good and well that her mother doesn't care what WE say but the fact that she still does just amazes me. She's so awesome! She promised me that she would make sure her grades are great this year to prove that she can do it all and even gave me the plan to do so... and it's a good one. Sometimes I just forget how wonderful she is.

Jeri, Natural lovin' Mama to Elijah (9.29.03), Eden (10.2.06), and a little one lost along the way (1/12)., Step-monster to Shelby (18) and Stephen (16). Celebrating 12 years together with my soul-mate, Eric. Hoping for a rainbow1284.gif someday! 
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#19 of 21 Old 08-15-2010, 06:14 PM
 
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Apparently I just don't give my wonderful step-daughter enough credit. I was not that happy about band and cross country but didn't really get upset until she wanted to add soccer too. Well, today she has been over and I talked to her about her priorities and making sure school comes FIRST and foremost and that even though her mother doesn't support us, we wish she would only do band and CC and drop soccer. So she said "Okay, you're probably right... I need to see if I can even do 2 things and keep my grades first up so I won't do soccer." .... She knows good and well that her mother doesn't care what WE say but the fact that she still does just amazes me. She's so awesome! She promised me that she would make sure her grades are great this year to prove that she can do it all and even gave me the plan to do so... and it's a good one. Sometimes I just forget how wonderful she is.
Wow, that is so awesome! She sounds mature. Good job, mama! I know from experience that being a stepmom can be tough at times, but it's so very worth it. I love my girls with all my heart.
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#20 of 21 Old 09-29-2010, 04:47 PM
 
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Sometimes, and I would never admit this to DH, I wish I hadn't married a man with previous children. I love him more then I can explain but being a step-mom SUCKS. I love my step-children as my own children but it is SO hard when you are not the only influence, set of rules, ideals, etc in their life. She is the complete OPPOSITE kind of mother I am (very, VERY mainstream and money centered) and sometimes I just want to shake her. I'm holding my tongue for right now and letting my DH deal with all of this but I swear if she steam-rolls him again, I don't know that I'll be able to keep my mouth shut.
I totally understand what you are saying here, I never realized it would be so hard. Hang in there mama!
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#21 of 21 Old 10-01-2010, 10:08 AM
 
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sometimes i feel annoyed with my step son and her mum. i cant control my outburst every time my hubby's ex-wife visits the house. i know that my 2-year-old step son is innocent, but sometimes i feel sooo jealous about her mom. but later on, I learned to accept him and love him like my own child (though i feel annoyed sometimes).

I don't care how poor a man is; if he has family, he's rich. ~Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford
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