1/11/12

When a Stepmom Crosses a Line...

I've been trying.  Really, I have!  I have been sitting on my hands and biting my tongue for many, many months. 

I have said nothing when I wanted to scream, typed nothing when I wanted to write a blog post or send an email or just put an effing message in a bottle.  High road, people.  That's the road I've been trying to take for a long time now.

"Put your blinders on, woman" I said to myself.  "Don't let that stuff seep into your life."

But like one of those awful up-the-back diaper explosions, the mess that is called "stepmother" has seeped out of bounds. 

When I first found out about her, way back when, when I was still convinced my husband left because he was "depressed"..I had two wishes:  the first was that she not have any STD's (since he was double dipping back in those days. Ugh.).  The second was that she not show up at our divorce court dates swollen with a secret love child. 

Both of those wishes were granted, thank God.

When I found out they had tied the knot, I had only one wish:  that she be kind to my children, and not make their already-scrambled lives any more convoluted.

And you know what?  I'll admit it:  I resented her being there.  I couldn't stand the fact that there was another woman in their dad's life, let's not get into how my claws came out when I tried to grapple with the concept of that same woman playing Mommy with my kids.

I was definitely a traveler on the Low Road back then.  I did ALL the wrong things, like backwards-text-book.  I grilled the kids when they came home about what was said, what they ate, what they watched and how they were treated.  I scoffed at their descriptions of what she cooked, what she wore, how she decorated.  I worried when they told me stories about her smoking and drinking, tried hard to not vomit when they told me how they could hear moans and "Oh baby" through the thin walls of the house. 

I saw red when I was told about Henry having his hair pulled.  Just about blew my top when she shaved the boys' heads.  And wept when she chose to call me a "fat bitch" when my son was in the hospital after trying to take his life. 

But that was then.  When Big Daddy became Big DeadBeat Daddy, I decided that I needed to knock it off.  I had bigger fish to fry, after all.  I forced myself to ignore whatever floated back from "that house" and focused instead on getting through what proved to be the toughest time in our lives, so far. 

You know when I finally knew I was on course for the High Road?  When the kids came home with the news that Big Daddy and Secretary were expecting Spawn.  I had a brief gut-punch of sadness, and then it passed.  I didn't want to know ANY details.  I was finally getting to that golden milestone all of us who have been dumped aspire to reach:  The fabulous "I Don't Give A Shit" phase.  I was there, and it was awesome.

Oh sure, the kids would still try to raise my hackles now and then.  There were always the "they didn't feed us" complaints, and it did make me upset when they would tell me about how Secretary and Big Daddy would have a nice meal just for themselves while the kids had ramen or hot dogs.  I'm not stupid, I know there are kids in this country who would love to go to bed with ramen in their bellies, so I put that one aside.  And if they were hungry, I fed them another dinner.  No big whoop.

I almost detoured back to the Low Road this past Christmas, though.  Not one, not two, but three of the kids came to me, separately, to tell me how hurt they were about the Christmas card that Big Daddy and Secretary sent out.  Sent out, and displayed proudly on the fridge.  It was a photo card, with a few pictures of Spawn and holiday greetings from "The Big Daddy Family:  Big Daddy, Secretary, and Spawn".  Yes, they sent that out.  And yes, they let the other kids see it. 

Who does that?  Who sends out a card and signs it "our family" and leaves out four children?  It made me sick.  It made me sad.  And it made me mad.  Mad at her, for thinking it was ok to do that.  Mad at Big Daddy, for not standing up for his four older kids.  The kids felt, quite honestly, like crap.  I said nothing to them except, "I'm sorry that happened."  I wondered if people who got the cards, family members who love my kids, said anything to them?  "Hey nice card, but aren't you missing a few people?"  or "Maybe my eyes are going but I didn't see Charlie or Molly or Henry or William in that photo...what gives?"  Do you think anyone would say anything?  I have asked myself if I'd be the one to speak up, to point out the blatant disregard for Big Daddy's first four babies...and I honestly don't know what the answer would be. 

But that too, passed.  We had our hugs and our "whatevers" and like all the other bygones before it, we let this bygone go.

Cut to last night. 

Last night was a night just like any other here at Chez Hausfrau.  It 'twas a Tuesday, so the kids were supposed to go with Big Daddy for their twice-weekly "dinner hour" visit. A term I use loosely, because dinner in my world apparently means something completely different in World of Big Daddies And Secretaries (can you imagine such a world?  It makes my eyes water.).  Anyhoo.  So the two younger boys went, the two older kids stayed (why?  you may ask.  why?  Because they didn't want to go.  And I'm beyond tired of pushing them to go without any support and/or reinforcements from You-Know-Who). 

So the two younger kids come home later, starving as usual.  Bickery as usual.  I started making Second Dinner for them and World War Three erupted in the living room.  Kids screaming at kids, kids screaming at me, shoes thrown outside (seriously...this has somehow become the epic throw down at our house..once your shoe has been thrown outside, IT'S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG, beotch).  Havoc.

Tears were shed, a Family Meeting was called to order, etc. etc.  Hugs all around and then finally, peace.


And so...after that, Molly was in the kitchen with me, hanging out...I could tell she wanted to talk.  She started slowly, and then the words were rushing out of her.  More words than I've heard out of her in AGES (her laptop has fallen ill so she's been forced to interact with us).  She told me about how Big Daddy and Secretary have been asking her to babysit.

(FOR THE RECORD:  I'm ok with this.  I think it's great.  That baby, despite being made from two morally questionable, vapid beings, is just a baby.  And half of it is half of my kids, so by proxy it must be sort of ok. )

She told me of a talk that Secretary had with her, just the other night.  She started out by telling Molly that Big Daddy really, really wants to be closer to her, but doesn't know how (really?  Really???).  Then she sidled up to my daughter, and began asking her things.

"Do you think you'll ever have kids?"  and

"Do you think you'll ever get married?"    and then.....

"So when you get married, do you want to marry a boy, or marry a girl?".

Molly is 16.  Molly is a shy, introverted, quiet, bookish girl who tries desperately to NOT stand out from the crowd.  She's not boy crazy, she doesn't spend hours on the phone talking about Taylor Lautner and Selena Gomez and OMG the half-nekkid boys standing outside Abercrombie. 

Molly gets lost in books.  She has a WICKED sense of humor.  She loves deeply and she is fiercely loyal.  She stays home on weekends more often than not.  She loves That 70's Show and she's a great (and busy) babysitter. 

She is 16.  And when I heard that last question, the question that a woman who cannot possibly "get" my daughter the way I do, a woman who is barely old enough to be Molly's big sister asked my girl, I lost my cool. 

But I did it quietly.  I did it while stirring something on the stove, and I controlled myself.  I asked Molly, "And what did you say?".  Molly blushed.  She said she laughed and then said, "Whatever."

Whatever.  Whatever is, a line was crossed.  I don't care how young you are, how stupid you are, or how hopelessly clueless you are...the questions that Secretary asked my daughter were inappropriate.  MOLLY IS 16.  She's just trying to navigate high school, figure out being a teenager.  Here are some things you ask a 16 year old girl:

What classes do you like?  Which ones do you not like?  Which ones are you REALLY good at?

Who's your favorite author?  What's your favorite book?

What's on your iPod?

Have you seen any good movies, or did you watch the MTV music awards or the Oscars or whatever was on t.v. recently?

You don't ask a 16 year old about getting married, or having babies.  Or what gender their partner will be.  That's a conversation that is brought to you, by them. 

Raising teenagers is tough, and I can only imagine what it's like to have three of them who aren't yours in your house.  Three teenagers who have a pretty good idea about what your role was in their parent's divorce.  It must be hard.  It must be kind of scary.  God knows I'm scared some of the time and I know these kids inside and out.

But no matter how difficult it is, you have to learn about boundaries and lines and personal space.  All three of these things were breached when Molly's stepmom decided it was a good idea to sit down and gab. 

I was surprised by my reaction, and then I decided that it was justified.  Would Big Daddy sit down and have that conversation with Molly?  Or with one of the boys?  Would Secretary sit down with Charlie and ask those same questions?  

I think she crossed a line.  Or maybe I'm overreacting?  Maybe those old hurt feelings aren't gone, like I thought...maybe they're still there, below the surface, just waiting for a crack in the armor to appear.

Or maybe...maybe I'm just trying to protect my babies still, after all these years.

27 comments:

  1. Yeah, I'd say she crossed a line. Those are some of the most inappropriate & irrelevant questions to ask when you're trying to get close to someone. Obviously, she's a moron.

    I think your feelings are completely justified, you're just a mama bear trying to protect her cubs. Also, your daughter sounds like a great kid...someone I would have totally hung out with in school haha. Good for her for not letting all that teenage shit get in the way of life.

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  2. Thanks Lin...I have bounced it off a few other friends and they agreed.

    And yeah my daughter is an AWESOME kid. I'm proud of her (99% of the time, ha).

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  3. I think if you would just go and beat the shit out of Secretary, once and for all, I mean really kick her ass, you would feel SOOOOO much better! Honestly, this is exactly what I would do....I've been there, done that, with ex's and with ex wives, and I always made it clear, "mess with my kids, in any way, and I will kick your ass". Of course, I'm big, no really, I am. :) I am almost 6 feet tall and weigh 200 pounds, not very many men want to mess with me and I haven't found a woman yet that will take me on! lol
    I know that violence is not the answer, really I do, but sometimes I just can't handle it. I would definitely try and talk to her...tell her these are not questions you want asked of your kids, ever, period. That there are lines that can be crossed, and when she does, she will have you to answer to. I wouldn't include ex-douche in any of these conversations....he lost his right to be included in conversations concerning his kids when he chose to leave them and not support them...when he chose another person over them, continually.
    I would talk to my kids and let them know that they will always have you to depend on, no matter what, and that they do not have to answer to her for anything. I've never encouraged my kids to be disrespectful, but when it's deserved, it's deserved.
    That's just my opinion, I'm sure there will be many not agree with it, but when it comes to my kids, they know where I stand and where I stand with people treating them badly.

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    Replies
    1. Jeffie, you do realize that when my kids are all growed up and moved out, I'm moving out to YOU so we can hang out like, all the time????

      I don't know if even a throw down would get through to this girl. She seems to have one of either two things wrong with her: a complete and utter narcissistic personality disorder, or what I like to call "Golden Vag Syndrome". More on that later.

      You are 100% correct: he gave up his right to be consulted in areas like this. I've tried so many times to get him to step up, to step in, whatever. And I am greeted with silence. So it's a waste of my time and breath to even try.

      I think the kids have done a great job as far as being respectful goes. In fact, sometimes I wish they treated me with as much respect as they do them...I don't know for sure but I have a feeling that they never really "let their hair down" at Big Daddy's house like they do with me. Part of me says that's ok, because it's natural to let your real feelings show where you are most comfy, other times I'm like "Oh my goodness if they could just do this at their house, JUST ONCE". Sigh.

      Thank you Jeffie, so much, for always chiming in with your advice. You are a true warrior!

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  4. Perhaps her line of questioning is based on her perverse moral ground of fucking around with married men. Because she is a tramp, she doesn't understand those who don't have tramp tendencies. She definitely crossed a line with the weird questions. What's great is that your daughter, a 16 year old, realized that. Which, of course, is a reflection of you and your parenting.

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    1. Thank you Brook ♥ Sometimes, when I am dealing with these people, I forget about their inherent tendencies to not think like most of the people I know. I forget that they used to screw in their offices, that he used to skip family stuff and hang out at JJ's Clubhouse with her, I forget that she was at the office events I used to attend and probably felt him up under tables while I was sitting there. Thank you for reminding me of that!

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    2. Um.....I'm sorry for reminding you of those pleasantries. But I think you caught my main drift that her thinker is cuckoo.

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  5. Maybe Secretary was trying to ingratiate herself with Molly--trying to be "cool" by asking her girl talk-type questions. Just a suggestion :)

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    1. Nikki, I think you are right...the thing that kills me is she didn't give my daughter the time of day before realizing she was sitting on a babysitting goldmine. I'm just glad that my kids talk to me about this kind of stuff...I'm not sure how I would have reacted to this creepy line of questioning when I was 16.

      Thank you for reading!!! Hope you're doing well!

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  6. Step 'mom' obviously has no idea how to talk to a teen girl. She's annoying, sure, but Molly knows what a shallow, POS she is and probably won't want to share much more than air with her.

    BTW, nice way to use your step daughter; ask (manipulate) her to babysit and THEN finally she can possibly get some of that money she so desperately deserves from bio dad for clothes, glasses, stuff she needs. Now that's a weird boundary to cross if there ever was one. It would be so much different if everything was hunky-dorey between your family and theirs. They willingly sacrifice family and relationships with the kids (the X-mas card, for example) but want Molly to babysit mainly out of convenience. At least that's my understanding of what I read.

    That kills me. If I was Molly I'd tell them to shove it. She can get babysitting gigs (money)from people who respect her and vice versa. Not these selfish users.

    It will come around. I'm so proud of you for taking the high road.

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    1. Right on, Gail, about the $$$. Secretary even offered to pay Molly for "good grades". At first I was disgusted, but then I thought, "Go for it. You do that, skank. One way or another, my kids will get some assistance from their dad. If it has to come this way, so be it."

      Thank you for being a friend.

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  7. Vomit. I hate her. I will gladly help you and Jeffie kick her @$$.

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    1. ((((Wes))))) Bring the guitar and the pink wig. We'll take pictures. Love you.

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  8. Seeing as how the whole fiasco started back on Day Zero, it's no surprise to me that step "mom" has no idea how to handle the interaction... once immature, always immature?

    P.S. I'm kind of lost with your daughter's computer. Do you have the other components... like the external CD-ROM?

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    1. Alex, for those of us with zero tech brains: what is a CD-ROM? LOL. And seriously? NO WORRIES. She has crawled out of her nest and has spent so much time out with the rest of us. I think maybe the hard drive crapping out was a gift.

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    2. lol. On your laptop, it's a part of the machine. On your daughter's, with it being a netbook, it's likely a separate or external piece. But, regardless of those, I will probably need the box that came with the netbook as I have nothing to work with for now. It does make a lovely paperweight though.

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  9. For sure and for certain, if Molly was my 16 yo she wouldn't be babysitting for the losers. I cannot imagine asking AnYoNe (I know how much you love that - you have ruined me for abbreviating my texts, I just want you to know. So I thought I'd throw in the crazy letters just for kicks)that question let alone a 16 year old girl. Where is that woman's head? Clearly it is buried.

    Does she even deserve the title of 'stepmom?" There must be something better to describe her. She is no mother.

    Jusy

    Wes said @$$.

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    1. jUSy!!!! Where have you been??? I miss you!!!

      I like the name Demi Moore gave her stepmom in "St. Elmo's Fire": stepmonster. I also like "stepmistress" or "stepskank" or "stepho". Or maybe just "ruiner".

      And the head is buried deep up her own nether-regions, I believe. Nice and cozy-like.

      Get back on the facebook, sister. Leslie and I were wondering where you vaporized to!

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    2. JUSY!!!! I miss you so much! And yes I said @$$, Am I going to 4377?

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  10. Oh, Jenny. I truly don't know how you do it. If it were me, I would just cut off all contact with them. Their relationship brings nothing positive into you or your children's lives. It's toxic & tragic (honestly? The Christmas card thing upset me more than what Step-Tramp said the Molly, which could conceivably be written off as just clueless, stupid, & self-absorbed. The other? An intentionally hurtful slap in the face).
    I guess that's me looking at the low road, but honestly....

    Anyway, this might make you smile--I told Chris I was reading your blog & it made me sad, & he said "What did that douche-nozzle do now?"
    Men. Always good for some colorful name-calling :)

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  11. Ha ha!!!! Douche-nozzle! So very graphic (tell him thanks for the mental imagery which will haunt me alllll day long). And so very fitting.

    The Christmas card thing hurt me more, too. It hurt the kids so much, that's why. I mean, when a teenager notices a slight like that, you know it's not just an embittered ex wife imagining things.

    And I wish. I wish I wish I wish there was no contact. Honestly, and I know this is awful and evil to say, but I used to wish that he'd get transferred or find a job in like Switzerland or something. It's like a never-ending hurt.

    But that's the hand we've been dealt, I guess...and I think we're doing the best we can. Thanks to awesome friends like you, dear lady.

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  12. Good Lord, that woman is just too stupid and petty for words isn't she? I'm available for some ass kicking with Jeffie and Leslie, anytime!

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  13. When I was an awkward, braces and tortoise-shell glasses wearing 12 year old, my then step-mother asked me if I was a lesbian because I didn't talk about boys and wasn't dating anyone.


    Yeah. She ended up turning out to be a wonderful aunt figure, but this is about 10 years after the fact. I know I look like a freak for commenting on this over a year later, but your blog strikes eerily close to home. My sperm donor (biological father, I'm only 21) is a carbon copy of Big Daddy. Except he's technically a sociopath. So thank you, because I seriously felt alone for not having an involved biological dad growing up, even though my dad (step dad) is the most brilliant and wonderful dad ever.

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  14. Dear Jenny,

    I know it’s been a long time since this post, but maybe you will still see this. I’m writing about the Christmas card you mention and how upset your kids were that they were excluded from being in it. It’s funny how different family constellations can have such different experiences dealing with the same issue. Years ago, my husband and I sent out our first Christmas card. It had a photo of my SS (16 at the time), my SD (11 at the time), my husband and me. I have no kids and we have no kids together, so we figured that this was our family. We certainly would not have sent a card without them: they lived with us halftime (they’re college aged now, so not anymore), they came on family vacations with us, the four of us were thefamily/household. To do anything else would be unbearably rude . . . or so we thought.

    About a week after we mailed the cards, my husband got a very loud and very not-understandable voicemail from the kids’ mom. Something about “the worst thing you’ve ever done” and “stealing my children.” He had no idea what she was talking about. The same day, she sent him a nasty email repeating the same message: “I knew you were a terrible father, but I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. I had no idea you would stoop so low. I’m done.” Again, no mention of the card, and we had no idea what she meant.

    When the kids came home a couple days later from having been on their custodial time with her, we found out. She had been so incensed about the cards that she had yelled at them for two days. She had made my SD cry. And, according to my SD, she would have stopped yelling sooner, but my SS upset her further by saying, “I don’t see what the big deal is.”

    We were at a loss. She had demanded the divorce (he wanted to stay married). She had moved out. I hadn’t met him until it was all over. The kids had been asked about, and had approved, the card before it went out. We think there was just one or maybe two people to whom we sent it where she might have seen it, so it wasn’t as if we were publicizing the card. And, at the time, we had been together over two years.

    For years, my SD was so traumatized that she absolutely forbade us from using her photo in Christmas cards. Without her, of course, we would not include her brother because that would not be nice. One time, after discussing it with her therapist, my SD agreed that we could do it “next year.” When next year rolled around, she pretended to have forgotten that discussion. In a quiet moment, she told me “I wish I could do it, but my mom gets really angry, and I have to live with her.” Now, years later, she believes that she always thought it was wrong to treat the four of us as a family/household and that she told us so early on. In other words, she does not remember the yelling by her mom that caused her to have the beliefs she now holds.

    Why am I writing? I’ve always had a teeny, tiny nagging feeling that maybe my husband and I did something wrong and deserved to be treated this way for our Christmas card choice. (Nothing could convince me that the kids deserved to be treated that way.) But my stronger feeling was that it would have been unfeeling to send a card that excluded them. Reading you post earlier today, and hearing how upset your kids were to be excluded, tells me that my first instinct was correct.

    Thank you for that.


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  15. Another comment two years later...

    I can relate to so much of what you write because I have gone through it! Divorce, homewrecker, no child support. Fortunately my ex and his wife version 2 have not reproduced.

    I had to comment on the Christmas card. I have two kids, son is in college, daughter in high school. Son still sees his dad occasionally. Daughter has not seen him in over two years. No phone calls, only a random text message from him every few months or so. No birthday gifts and no Christmas gift last year. Daughter has dealt with depression since the divorce.

    Anyway, last year ex and his new family took a family picture. My son was included in the picture, along with her 3 kids. My daughter was not made aware of the picture and was not asked to be included. The way I found out about it was new wife used a picture of everyone holding a letter to spell "family" as her Facebook cover photo. I wonder what our mutual friends thought when they saw that picture. Um, someone is missing! And even though daughter probably would not have participated, to be excluded like that was just another hurt piled upon other hurts.

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  16. I will pray for you guys.

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