29 May 2009

Just Wait A Minute... (Written by my Stepmommy-in-Crime)

A good friend of mine (who doesn't normally write) brought this up. I'd hate for her awesome opinion to go unheard, because I agree with it wholeheartedly. Yes, I'm a bit unilateral when it comes to the stepmommy front, but dammit, it's cuz I am one. So There.

"I'd like to clear things up here. I run into people on the street everyday who look at me with disgust because I'm a step mom. I recognize this look, it's the same look I gave National Guard or Reserve members when I was in the Army. It is the "You only have the kids on the weekend, you're not their real mom, so why are you whining." That is all fine and dandy if you're into being a stuck up snob that doesn't want to get to know the real person. That's cool. But first let me bring you up to speed before you spew your judgemental crapola all over me. I will make a list for better understanding. Maybe after this I will make a sign to wear out and about.

1.) I have my kids full time, that's right, seven days a week 365 days a year. How did this happen? No, the mother did not die, in fact she is fully alive and kicking in Illinois, she just has no interest in raising her own kids.

2.) I AM mommy, please do not correct my children when they call me that. Their bio-mom ditched them over a year ago and I was left to clean up the pieces and mend the broken hearts.

3.) Just because I'm a step mom please don't look at me like I'm a home wreaking tramp, I did not break up their marriage, they did.

4.) Give the weekend warrior step mom's a break. My best friend (what up sandra) is one and they have it just as hard, if not harder, with their step kids, because unlike my situation their step kids will probably never consider them a permanent addition and therefore never share their love as much as their step mom does.

5.) Just because I'm a step mom doesn't automatically mean I'm evil or secretly plot my step kids' demise. I love them no less than I would if I squeezed them out myself.

6.) Don't tell me I can't discipline them because they are not "my kids." Please refer to point number two and remember that they are.

7.) Please do not try and give me motherhood tips. I had a mother my self and gosh darn it if I didn't learn a thing or two from watching her growing up. Thank you for your concern but I know when my kid scraps his knee that I am in fact supposed to clean it before I put the band-aid on.

8.) Here's some other things I know: children's Tylenol is a fever reducer, boys will be boys, kisses don't always fix everything, one day they will tell me I'm not their mom (please stop reminding me...for real, I hate hearing that) baths should not be scalding hot, they need three square meals a day, a yes I do know how to do laundry I've been doing it since I was twelve.

9.) Stop thinking that since they are in fact my step kids that they don't cost as much money. Please see number one again and as for weekend step moms they still have to buy extra foods, bedroom furniture and clothes for them too.

10.) Just because you are a bio-mom please don't think that you know what I'm going through. You don't. You had nine months to get ready to be a mom I have about 4.5 seconds. You're kids will never tell you that you're not their mom, their loyalty will always lay with you and you will never have to deal with crying children because another mother doesn't try and be involved in their lives. You do not know what I am going through and your lucky one family johnny will never know what my kids have to go through.

Well that's all I have right now, I hope you have all learned something from this and that you will think next time you want to be judgemental to a step mother try and put yourself in our shoes and maybe realize that it's not as easy and la de da as you think it is."

19 May 2009

Tick, Tock...

They were all three feet tall, and in white tutus. The edge of the tulle glittered with sequins, and their tiny crowns sparkled in the light. With tears I shouldn’t have had in my eyes, I watched the three year old ballet class dance bashfully to the “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies”. I dared not share the knot in my stomach with my husband. Instead, I waited patiently for it to be the six year old class’s turn, and watched proudly as my stepdaughter jazz-rocked it out to Hannah Montana.

“I think my clock is ticking again”, my friend said to me as she folded the third shirt in a six foot tall pile of laundry. “When I was still pregnant, I even told my husband to remind me of the way I felt right then should I want another kid. But now, I’m just not sure.”

I dropped my cappuccino. Could someone else feel the same way I do?

Baby Einstein babbled in the background in languages I don’t speak. Her eldest son slamming the swing seat up and down, my son screaming while gleefully flinging Cheerios, her youngest son bobble-heading in his exersaucer. We constantly discuss the rigors of pregnancy, the pain of childbirth, and the monotony of milk and finger paint stained child rearing. We feel the relief in being the producers of boys, the lack of slutty children’s clothing, the problems that excessive estrogen in a household can bring, and the fear of teenage pregnancy.

Suddenly, there is an unspoken understanding that those things need not be discussed right now. It’d be much more interesting to toy with the idea of another child, maybe one bringing a bit of femininity into our homes.

My son is still learning to remain in a sitting position by himself, and hasn’t yet started on third foods. My three year old stepson loves princesses, and my six year old stepdaughter beams from ear to ear when you give her something pink. Somehow, the void isn’t filled. I remind myself that in addition to my son, I have been blessed with stepmotherhood. It would be selfish to want more, wouldn’t it? It would be irresponsible to bring another child into the world with the economic uncertainties that plague the nation, and the unfamiliar territory we will be charting after my husband leaves the Army, right? Raising kids is the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced, and I’m not even 9 months into it! The heavy feelings of fear and self doubt fill my chest and shoulders.

But, somehow, I can’t ignore the nagging feeling that a tiny pink bow or twelve would be nice….

16 May 2009

Damn, Who's Saturday Did I Stumble Into?

Do you know what it’s like to wake up to someone screaming the phrase:

“Yes, you DO have to poop!”?

I do.

I seem to be woken up by random phrases lately, and I’m not sure how to feel about that. On one hand, it’s far more interesting than waking up to an alarm, or to the baby crying. On the other hand, I feel a bit like screeched phrases of that nature aren’t fun AT ANY HOUR.

Let’s retro a bit…my husband called me yesterday, casually asking if I would mind picking up the kids a day early. I was fine with this, as I am now a woman of leisure (loosely translated: SAHM with a car). Turns out, I get more bored by 9 a.m. than most people get all day. Spring break is here, and the weather has been rainy. Their mother was more than happy to relinquish the wall climbers, and we met in the afternoon.

Now, I am enjoying the (albeit exhausted) calm that seems to be reigning over my living room. Which is nice, because so many weekend mornings lately have been…well, just bad. My alarm clock doesn’t beep, because no one needs an alarm when their wake up call is kids bouncing off the walls, baby screaming, husband grumpily stomping around (because the kids are bouncing off the walls and the baby is screaming), and a torn up, jacked up, cheerio and random toy covered house. Usually, by two solid days of this, I’m soooo ready to buy stock in Gillette so that when I become a cutter, it‘s beneficial to me in more than one way.

‘Kay, done whining, just wanted to reiterate my chillness.

It was supposed to start raining last night. It was supposed to start last night, and then continue through until, like, June. Yes, I’m exaggerating, but it was supposed to be until late Sunday night. The weather channel, weather.com, and about sixteen other information giving locations all said that was the case. Then it wasn’t the case at all (insert my smiley face here).

The baby woke up around six thirty (by talking, not by crying), and my husband and I woke up at the same time. He fed the baby, I made some coffee, and we had our weekend morning ritual of watching the new music videos. Now, my husband is sitting on the floor, playing his guitar. The baby is staring at him in awe, occasionally screaming erratically (which I’m pretty sure means he’s singing along happily), my stepdaughter is dancing with him, and my stepson is spinning on one foot.

Hmm…this might just be an okay day.

13 May 2009

A New Home, Courtesy of the U.S. Army

In the last few years, I’ve become used to leaving, and having those that I love leave also. My address book reads like Rand Mcnally should have autographed the front, and my driver’s license was issued by a state I haven’t been a resident of since 2000.

And it's time to move. Again.

That's one of the things about signing your married soul to the Green Meanie, this constant relocation nonsense.

As of about a decade ago, I'd never been away from home for any serious period of time. I am and always will be a California girl at heart, which means that I don't like humidity, I hate cold, and I tend not to be a fan of uncontrolled wildlife. And after living in Alaska, Hawaii, Afghanistan, Iraq, and finally (anticlimactically) Kansas City and Fort Lee, Virginia, I feel like I’ve pretty much gotten used to the various political, religious, and social climates that the US and the occasional foreign country have to offer. And it seems that every time I become accustomed to a specific region’s perks and atrocities, the proverbial rug is pulled out from under me, and I become the new, weird person in a new, weird place. Now we’re moving to Maryland.

So my husband, the happy schmappy U Haul poster boy, asks me to call the post housing office for relocation information. I’m totally going to give you the down and dirty of the discussion, because I want other people to feel my (completely unwarranted) pain. She waited three weeks to return my phone call, and then told me she waited that long because on her message pad, there was half a checkmark next to my name and she wasn’t sure whether or not she’d already contacted me. She did not find it amusing when I asked if she was alright after debating so long over calling. And she must not be a mother, as she was not in the least empathetic about my having to move a full house, two cars, a baby, two cats and two stepchildren. She didn’t even make a partridge joke, which (to be honest) would have eased my mind just a bit as to her mental state.

Prompted by the apparent lack of assistance, we began searching the area outside the post for civilian rental opportunities. Although I mean no offense to their local law enforcement agencies, it appears we have the choice of: a) beautiful grounds occupied by mice; b) beautiful grounds run by skeezy landlords who skim off of the security deposits and sky high rent, or c) beautiful grounds where your windows will be bashed in courtesy of the local methadone failures.

Anybody want to come help load the truck?

12 May 2009

To Support and Defend?

I’ve stood in uniform for fallen comrades. Sometimes quietly, sometimes crying so hard it’s hard to remain in an upright position. I’ve grieved the men and women killed in hostility, saluted those took their own lives, and carried the caskets of those who died by aircraft failure.

On May 11, 2009, a Soldier in the United States Army serving near Baghdad opened fire on patrons of a mental health clinic. It was after this horrific tragedy that Admiral Mike Mullen (the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) stated:

"It does speak to me about the need for us to redouble our efforts in terms of dealing with the stress."

This statement should make that gentleman feel like a penny waiting for change. The democracy we fight for does not often fight back for us. For so long, innocent civilians have been the casualties of the War on Terror, and those that killed them were only doing so while “following orders”. The casualties that are seldom addressed are those who’s minds have been warped, altered, or even destroyed by the catastrophic daily events that occur in war. 15 is the percentage of US service members that return from Iraq with reported cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 11 is the percentage of the same disorder, but in service members returning from Afghanistan. The actual number of cases is presumed to be much higher, although more than half of these never seek treatment.

The darkness and damage that can happen to the human mind when involved in combat is unexplainable. As I look around at the faces of my fellow Soldiers and Veterans, I see that damage. I see the wreckage that can be left behind us, shards in the wake of our inability to keep our heads on straight. The human psyche can take an incredible amount of bruising and battering. Before I joined the Army, I didn’t know that. Before I went to combat the first time, I didn’t truly understand it. After two tours of combat, I am plagued with the knowledge that with deprivation of sleep, or with combat stress (or the two combined), your mind begins to function in a way that is outside a normal sphere. After time, your mind begins to stretch reality, to mold it. There’s a part of your normally functioning mind that you’ll never get back. The memories play in your head like a movie, and without a healthy outlet, they can drive you mad.

While fratricide is unacceptable and devastating, while the nation screams for charges of murder to be placed, while Sergeant John M. Russell will never again have a night of peaceful sleep, please remember that sometimes those who give selflessly lose everything.

08 May 2009

Just A Chick From Anotha Mutha...

It’s been raining for days.

I’ve been waiting for the writing bug to bite, and it hasn’t. The past few weeks, I’ve even stuck my hand in it’s mouth, but to no avail. Then I started feeling the gnaw, which I can only assume is happening because the sun is finally presenting its shiny face. And I’m hoping there’s something to be said for being closer to Erma Bombeck than to Dr. Spock.

I laid the baby down for a nap and decided to shower, put some make up on, and light my writing candle. (No, seriously, I have a writing candle. Don’t judge me.) And because I was feeling particularly froggy, I decided to use the VS So Sexy shampoo and conditioner, and shave my legs. I’m not kidding, I was ready to feel clean, peaceful, and creative. Then the baby squealed, which is DECIDEDLY not what I wanted him to be doing. And if that weren’t enough, upon entering his room I was slapped in the face with the righteous smell of baby shit. It was at this point it time I realized that I am not on the Martha Stewart, Jennifer Garner or Gwen Stefani motherhood train. In fact, if they are on a train, I’m on a bike in the next town. I’m so far off of the maternal perfection map, you could program me into your navigational system, and it’d dump you at a 7-11 about 30 miles from here.

The whole time I was showering, lighting my candle, and changing the baby’s diaper, thoughts of a beautifully written Mothers’ day blog were dancing in my head. I wanted it to be a mixture of thanks, love and support that made tears come to eyes and heads nod in understanding. I wanted a solemn letter of gratitude that gave those who read it a feeling of calm and togetherness. I wanted it to simultaneously tell my best friends that they (and their Veteran being, swine-flu hating, coffee and cigarette addicted asses) are rock out mothers (and believe you me, stepmothers are mothers), my family for being such awesome peeps. I wanted it to cheer on the single mothers, cheer on the married mothers, cheer on the married mothers with a spouse deployed. I wanted it to give props to the good dads, the awesome aunts and uncles, and the super duper grandparents. I wanted it to give a shout to the great, understanding, knowledgeable, and effing hilarious women I have met through blogging. And most of all, I wanted to thank my father, the single Daddy, for being the best Daddy my brother and I could have asked for.

I wanted this letter to do all of those things. And maybe I’m asking too damn much of my exhausted brain, my candle, and my cup of coffee. I’d love to have the time to sit here for hours and create the beautiful work I was sure everyone was going to love the sentiment of.

But I have a cheerio stuck to my cheek and the Baby Einstein DVD has run out.