Who Do You Love?

If there is one thing that can break up a couple, it’s the kids. You know what I mean if you are in a blended family situation: parental rights, parenting styles, and variant personalities all play a ginormous role in the dynamic of a couple where each of those adults has their own kids. Hell, it can be the elephant in the room when a couple ISN’T working on blending!

We had our first argument a few weeks ago, and I think it upset me more than it did him. It started because, as usual, the ex was being bitchy about not getting her way and I felt like M. was giving in to her. Which I feel happens a lot. I THOUGHT some boundaries had been set. We had just made a rule that, unless an emergency arose, we were not going to keep the kids on each others’ weeks– if for nothing else but consistency’s sake. (The boys are already with M a week, their mom a week, which most judges don’t like to begin with).

I’m not an expert, but I have five years on M and the ex and trying to make things work with kid time. And I guess I come off as bossy and wanting my own way a little more than I’d like, because M and I finally got into it– the “parenting style” argument that is so often the Beginning of the End for many couples.

I am a drill sergeant; I freely admit to it. I am the oldest child, a teacher, and OCD. I THRIVE on order and routine (so this whole situation with M and the kids and the chaos of their lives has already been hard on me). The kids don’t have a set bedtime. They are constantly asking for things and take FOREVER to actually go to bed. M is far more permissive (read: a big softie) than I would be, or was, with my own daughter. I’m not saying divorce has left her unscathed, but I know routine and rules have been helpful for her. I tried to share my experiences, but I guess I sounded like a bossypants.

I got mad because the ex was trying to get her way and I just feel as though she takes advantage of M. He’s a wonderful father and his priorities are always about the boys, and I don’t fault him for that. But just because SHE doesn’t want to keep them during her time and is constantly trying to make dates and pawn them off doesn’t mean HE is a bad father. I think he needs to tell her no– not because he doesn’t want to keep the boys, but because she needs to learn to do her job as a mother. That’s my position and I’m sticking to it.

Well, I came off as harsh and a know-it-all and not wanting to be around the kids. While M admitted that the things I said about consistency and order made sense on one level, the truth is that he is just a different parent than I am. Not better or worse– just decidedly different. I have a hard time swallowing the fact that no matter who I am to him, I am never going to have the final say in how the kids are handled. No matter how crappy a job she does sometimes, ultimately I will probably always have to defer to her. With her bipolar antics and track record of flipping her shit every other day, I told M that I wasn’t sure I could do this for another 15 years. I have enough chaos in my own life to deal with Drama Queen for the rest of it.

To my surprise, M didn’t really fight me there. He simply told me that while he loved me and wanted to be with me, if I couldn’t handle it, it was better to part ways.

Well, I don’t WANT to “part ways”– do I? I love him, I love the boys. It is definitely an adjustment and not one that’s completely comfortable for me, but at the end of the day, I DO want to be with him.

Luckily, just two days after this argument, the oldest had a soccer game. M is the coach, the ex came to the game, and she and I talked about a few things. I might not be able to change her mind about much, but I planted some seeds. I hope that things calm down. I hope that, as all the kids get older, this all gets easier to manage and there isn’t so much damn drama all the time.

Stepmoms out there, tell me it gets better!

 

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Welcome to the zoo!

If someone had asked me fifteen years ago where I’d be today, I probably never would have said, “twice divorced and dating another divorced parent” or “attempting to re-define myself and my career” or “living in the coolest neighborhood in town and training for a half-marathon.”

Yet here I am, and all those things are true of me, in my late 30s. Welcome to the zooРor, my life, in short. In an attempt to share the Wisdom of My Age, as well as the Hilarious Things Children Say, Some Amazing Recipes, Other Hilarious Stories, and General Good Times (and to  generally write myself into sanity, some days), I have for you, dear reader, a new blog: Me, You, & the Zoo.

I should perhaps provide some context. In 2000, I was graduating from undergrad and fell in love with a boy. We got married in 2001, but in 2011, divorced. My daughter is now 11 and a sassy, brilliant combination of both her dad and me. In 2013, I remarried– a younger guy who I began dating after my separation from Hubs #1 but before our divorce was completely final (don’t judge me). This turned out to be a Phenomenally Horrible Idea, and we divorced just last year. I guess some statistics are right. He was Mr. Always Right and Determined that Everyone in the Free World Should Know That. That didn’t last too long.

Now, at closer to 40 than 30, and with more than a few life tips and mistakes to my name, I am starting over again. I am dating a wonderful man who is himself freshly divorced with two young sons. Between us, if you’re counting, we have:

  • three kids
  • three dogs
  • two cats
  • two households
  • three failed marriages and a called-off engagement
  • complete and utter chaos most of the time.

So that’s where I am– learning to embrace the chaos, the mess, the strategizing that goes into the simplest and most basic of tasks. I’m a pretty organized person. I’m a planner. The last few months have been a struggle for me, just learning to be okay with a different kind of life. But I love it, and here I am to share it with you, dear reader.