Tag Archives: stepmom

Girlfriend Mom- 1, Ex-Wife-0

Graduation

I need to take a moment and give names to those that I am constantly writing and ranting about. From now on my boyfriend will be called, Reny (short for Renaldo) the GM daughter is Laura, and the GM son is Luke. Yes, that was done intentionally and yes, I think it’s hysterical. Move on.

It was Luke’s 8th grade graduation last week and the night before the big event, Reny and I were talking about what time the ceremony was. Can I say for the record that I don’t remember having an 8th grade graduation.

I do remember the 8th grade dance. My best friend and I ran around the halls, outside of the gym, where the dance was taking place, wreaking havoc on unsuspecting classmates in strapless dresses, throwing tiny things at them. On one occasion, pulling down a girl’s tube top, top. I’m pretty sure that it was my friend who committed this heinous, and sort of gay curious, offense. I wouldn’t have had the balls, or interest.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, graduation. I asked Reny if we needed tickets. Somewhere in the back of my mind, where I store unimportant information, I remembered that most graduations require tickets. He didn’t think so but he sent a text to the ex and asked.

I love Reny dearly, deeply and madly, but when it comes to being on top of things (get your mind out of the gutter) as far as it relates to school, he’s not exactly top in his class. It is usually I, the Girlfriend Mom, who knows little to nothing about such things, that has to remind him.

The ex said that we did need tickets and that she received hers in the mail and had gotten one for Reny and Laura. I got bubkis. I know. Sigh. Tears. Whatev! I told Reny that I would be upset if I didn’t get to go. Oh, and the ex made sure to also text that she was sorry but the school was only giving tickets to family because of space. Ooh, nice one, well played. That was going to leave a mark.

I asked Reny if he would call the school in the morning and see if he could get another ticket. He felt bad for me but he didn’t know what to do with those feelings, so he took laissez-faire behind door number one. These situations are awkward all around and we try to avoid them but sometimes it’s just beyond our control.

The morning came and I asked him if he had called the school. They hadn’t opened yet. About an hour later, he had to go to a meeting, and asked me if I wanted to call the school myself. If not, he’d do it from the car. I said that I’d have it and kissed him good-bye. I was on a mission and I dug in my heels.

The woman on the phone couldn’t have bee nicer when I told her that I was the… wait for it… STEPMOM and needed a ticket. I didn’t want to have to explain why and how I was the Girlfriend Mom. She can read the book. She apologized for the dearth of tickets and put my name on a waiting list. She was calling families to see if everyone was using theirs. I would be notified in a few hours if a ticket became available.

As I went about my day, I thought about why going to the graduation was important to me. I wanted Luke to know that I cared and that this was what significant people in his life do. I’ve been around for seven years and although we only see each other every other weekend, I am significant. I know that as a 14-year old, he’s probably not processing things like I am, or at all, but perhaps down the road, he’ll remember that the GM was there.

Through the GM process, I continue to test myself. I stick a toe into a situation and I see how it feels. There was a time early on, when I was afraid to even do that. It’s difficult to completely let go of the dreams that we had for ourselves and the lives that we thought that we wanted. I am learning to relax, loosen up on the reins and walk into the deep end.

Back to graduation.

GraduationTicket

I got a call in the early afternoon from the principal letting me know that I had scored a golden ticket. That’s how it felt. I was getting a manicure at the time and I shared my joyous news with Denise, my manicurist. I don’t want you to think that I’m all about my nails because I’m not. It’s just a coincidence that I mentioned my nails above and now when I heard the good news.

Anyhoo, he said that I either had to go to the middle school and pick up the ticket or I could ask one of my parent friends who’s also picking up extra tickets, to pick mine up for me. He started rattling off names of the moms. I giggled to myself and pondered whether I should tell him that I didn’t do much (or any) socializing with the other moms. I told him that I would drive over and get it myself.

When I got home, I told Reny that I had scored a ticket. He was glad. He smiled when he  told me that his ex would be surprised when she saw me. I told him that I was counting on it.

When we got to the ceremony and I saw the ex, there was a huge ass part of me that wanted to be all, “Oh, yeah. Didn’t get one for the GM? No problemo. You can’t keep me away. Ya know why? Ya know why? Because I am family. So eat it.”

The funny thing is, we all sat together. Laura sat between her parents and I sat on the other side of Reny. Everyone was as sweet as apple sauce. The processed kind, not the organic, no sugar kind. We smiled and laughed at how the girls dressed like hoochie mama’s and we all took pictures. You would’ve thought that we were besties.

These potentially awkward and uncomfortable encounters ask me, and any other GM or Stepmom, to step it up and rise above. It’s not always easy, but there is a lot of power in owning a situation and doing what you have to do to feel true to yourself. Even if that means driving an hour to get a ticket that no one thought to get for you in the first place because you’re a second class citizen and not family and then walking into a gym, without anyone asking to hand over your golden ticket.

I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

What Kind Of Mom Would I Have Been?

PhotoCredit:JeffBlairFitness.com

PhotoCredit:JeffBlairFitness.com

I find it frighteningly easy to slip into a world of complacency, lounging on my divan (that’s couch to you and me), contemplating my navel, lost in thought, or knee-deep in my very important, life saving work, with all of my projects, deadlines, and Skype calls to my best friend who has to remind me how complacent I’ve become. Thank you Clementine. You’re the best.

I own my ‘Dani-world-itis’, which doesn’t make it any less offensive but I can lounge only for so long. Several months ago, after succumbing to a complacent spell that had tightened its grip around my trachea, I decided to do something. I opened my office door, stood up from my physioball and I thought about somebody else.

I decided to participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. I don’t have Alzheimer’s, nor does anyone in my family, thank you Allah. I’m not Arabic either. Oh, me and my family have brain issues, but they’re more of the mentally unstable kind. Nothing a 1,000 mg of Wellbutrin can’t fix. I’m exaggerating, 1,000 milligrams could take down an elephant. Maybe.

I decided on Alzheimer’s, because my boyfriend’s father died from this insidious disease, and I thought it would be a wonderful thing for us to do with the Girlfriend Mom kids. I’ve always volunteered, as it’s truly the best medicine for depression. That is of course when I can get my ass out of bed.

In the back of my mind, I thought that if these were my kids, they would know the meaning of volunteering, so I took it upon myself to give them a little push. Never mind that my parents never exposed me to volunteering. The things that they did expose me to, however, could get me arrested in 45 states.

I didn’t ask anyone if they were interested in the walk, but when I told my boyfriend that I signed us up, he got on board, and thanked me for thinking of his father. Yes, I am an angel dressed in Lululemon see- through pants.

Thus, the kids were gently forced to partake, because my train was leaving the station. In hindsight, it might have been prudent to have thrown the idea out for feedback, before I went full tilt boogie, so as to mitigate any resentment that they may harbor against the Girlfriend Mom in the future.

And yet, my parents, who are my obvious role models, (JC help me) did not run a democratic household, allowing for opinions on where to go or what to do, when we were young. They were not looking for a consensus.

When they said that the family was going to Colonial Williamsburg, my brother and I packed up our Mad Libs, went to the bathroom one last time, mom started a wash just as we opened the car doors, and we took off down the driveway. It didn’t matter that the last thing that my brother or I wanted to do was shown how butter was made.

I declared myself team captain seeing that I was the one doing all of the work. I hoped that everyone would be excited about our ‘family’ do-good-ness and that they would talk about it nonstop leading up to the actual event. They didn’t. They were tepid at best, including the boyfriend.

I have to confess that a part of the allure of this particular walk was that it took place only a few towns away, and it was only three miles. Baby steps. (pun intended)

I had the daunting task of informing the kids that, in addition to walking three miles, they also had to ask family and friends to sponsor them, and that the money would go to The Alzheimer Association. Knowing how to broach this particular topic was not included in the nonexistent GM manual.

I felt uncomfortable asking them to do something that they never asked to be a part of and what the hell do I know; maybe this isn’t something that kids are expected to do.

Hell, I was uncomfortable asking my boyfriend to raise money. When I did tell him, he said that he was uncomfortable asking family and friends for money, even though people hit him up for donations all the time. He decided to write a check. Now where’ the fun in that?!

It’s challenging being unmarried and not the Stepmom, which in my mind, comes with a certain amount of authority built into the title. I like to think that it’s because I’m a Girlfriend Mom that I struggle with these things but I’m sure that’s not always the case.

I decided to let it go, seeing that it’s only been recently that I feel confident enough to remind the fourteen-year old to put his stinky ass socks in the laundry room, not play with his lacrosse or hockey sticks in the house or to turn off the lights when he leaves a room. I’m going to work up to teaching them (and their father) about charity work and how to ask people for money.

I did think that at the very least, they could’ve asked their mother for a donation. God knows she’s got money coming in every month. Ugh, never mind.

On the day of the walk, I told my team to stay put while I checked us in, as there were hundreds of people. Not three minutes in, I turned around and they were gone. Are you friggin’ kidding me? I took a few steps away from the registration desk and scanned the hordes of people in purple shirts. I wandered around in circles for several minutes unable to find my team. I looked like I had Alzheimer’s.

When I found my boyfriend and the kids, I asked him what was so difficult about standing still. I told him that I wasn’t doing this for my health (there’s a joke in there somewhere), and if he could please cooperate.

I’ve always admired those families that take their kids to soup kitchens on Christmas Eve, or volunteer at the local ASPCA. I always thought that if I had kids, I’d be that type of mother. Since I don’t have kids of my own, I think that sometimes I project onto the GM kids. It’s probably unfair to force my values and my, ‘this is what I would do’s’, onto them.

I might influence the kids by setting examples through my actions, planting seeds without them realizing but it just doesn’t have the same umph as having complete control and being able tell them that they’re going to Rainbow Horizons, to read to really old people on a Sunday.

Being a Girlfriend Mom has given me laser sharp insight into how I would want to mother. I also know that when it comes to raising children, that insight often flies out the window, right along with the once perky boobs.

I like to think that I would be a earth mother type; alternative, carefree and a Free To Be You And Me kind of mom. However, I get wiggy if the kid’s shoes aren’t lined up neatly in a row on the hall mat, so forget that description.

I’d like to think that we’d all eat fruits and vegetables from the garden that we planted together in our backyard, next to the compost across from the electric car, but I haven’t kept anything green alive for more than a day, and I’m not giving up my Mini Cooper.

I’d like to think that I’d let them go without showers until they felt that they needed one. Okay, this one I do allow, but only because I hate showering.

I’ll never know how I would truly be or not be, with my own DNA offspring. Screw it, I’m going to keep imposing myself and my hygienic preferences onto the Girlfriend Mom kids, at least until they start ignoring me completely.

 

 

Happy Anniversary The Girlfriend Mom!

In honor of the first anniversary writing as The Girlfriend Mom, I’m re-posting my first entry as the G.M. I hope you enjoy, and I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart who has read, commented, and supported me during this ride. L’Chaim!

My boyfriend’s twelve year old son asked me to put his hair in a ponytail last night. He thought it was hysterical that he looked like a girl, as he modeled it for the five friends he was talking to on ooVoo. For those not in the loop, it’s like Skype. For those not in that loop either, it’s video chatting.

I didn’t think anything of his request. I was just flattered that he saw me as someone who knew how to make a ponytail. My mother used to put my hair in a ponytail, and would pull it so tight, that I got headaches and an unnecessary facelift. Not so unnecessary now, I’ll tell ya.

I’m calling myself, The Girlfriend Mom. My boyfriend and I live together, we’re not married, and he has two kids. However, I do step-mommy things, I suppose, like his son’s laundry. Sidebar: Sometimes, when I’m folding his tiny pair of jeans, it feels weird, dare I say ‘unnatural’. I’m convinced that it has to do with what I associate being a ‘mom’ with (which sometimes I find unattractive) and laundry seems to be on the list.

I help him with his homework and I consistently nag him about the television volume. I swear, it’s like living with the deaf (or my grandparents) How can you NOT hear that?! Well, this just smells of ‘mom’ (girlfriend or step) doesn’t it? I feel myself getting uglier by the minute.

So I’m not just a girlfriend, who’s boyfriend has kids. There are expectations of me, some being easy and ‘natural’ to pull off, like making up his bed, pouring him ice tea when he’s parched, teaching him how to apply Orajel to a sore, or eating at Chili’s for a less than nutritious meal. Other times, the expectations feel as ‘unnatural’ to me, as doing fractions, or wearing make-up and like folding his tiny fruit of the loom tidy whitey’s.

I say ‘mom’ things, but I can’t be sure of my modus operandi. Sometimes it’s because I think I’m supposed to say them, but how the hell do I know what to say. Other times, I think it’s imbedded in my DNA. Can that be?

My boyfriend’s son got a laptop over the weekend and he took it into our bedroom, which is one and a half flights up from where we were in the kitchen. Oh, no you don’t. I watch Dateline and Primetime Live. I told him to get where we could see and hear what he was doing. It was a knee jerk reaction. I’ve watched enough Lifetime Movies to know what can happen if you’re not paying attention. My request sounded like it came right out of, Mother, May I Sleep with Danger.

I want my boyfriend to know (and I’m not sure if he truly does) what it’s like to go from not wanting children and not sure if I even like children, to bringing a 12 and 17 year old into my life. They’re his flesh and blood. He was there at the beginning. He’s watched them grow and journeyed with them. I’d imagine with each passing year, a parent adjusts to the plethora of changes, and then, eventually, if you’re lucky, you can’t imagine your life without them. Me? It felt like two minutes in the microwave and BEEP, instant kids. Ready! (no) Set! (no) Go! (no, wait!)

I used to hear stories about a great aunt of mine who was a lesbian. She used to be a dancer and she had been with her girlfriend since WWII. I think they invented Lesbianism. They traveled the world, had several homes, and they didn’t have children. Their life sounded exotic and it had a profound effect on me.

The effect in this case being the possibility of a fulfilling life without children… not the girl on girl part. Although… My point is, I got the message that I had choices, and it was okay not to want what others wanted. I’m not sure I can directly attribute my ambivalence towards kids to my Great Lesbian Aunt (that sounds like a superhero) but I know she had played a role.

I’m sure that my parents made a contribution, unbeknownst to them I’m sure. By the time my parents were 24 years old, they had two kids under the age of 2. My mother wanted to have children, at least that’s what she tells me, but she wasn’t your typical mother either. Personally, I think she was in way over her head. Kids raising kids people! She rarely made breakfast and by the time I was twelve, I was babysitting, taking the train into the city alone and doing my own laundry. (What is it with the laundry?)

I can spend another lifetime researching and analyzing why I feel the way I do, but I don’t have that kind of time, and I’m not sure that it matters. What matters to me now is being honest about my feelings and not judging them. They are what they are, and since feelings change from one moment to the next, I think it’s unwise to give them too much power.

Instead, I’ve decided to forge a relationship with my boyfriend’s kids, based on who I am now, and who they are, as individuals, with all of our unique personalities. We’re not going to be defined by should’s, supposed to’s or societal constraints. And I have to say, so far, so good.

“Sweet baby Jesus, can you PLEASE turn that television down?!”

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner… And staying for a month?!

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner… and staying for a month?!

If you guessed a dapper black man named Sidney Poitier, sadly, you’d be wrong. Great guess… still wrong. The answer: my boyfriend’s 18 year-old daughter. Ah!

She lives in a dorm at school in NYC and has off until January 17th. What the f’ is up with our educational system? I do not remember having a month off when I was in college. A few months ago, she asked if she could live with us, instead of her mother(issues) when she’s on vacation and over the summer. What could we say. “Of course.” Of course my “Of course” was uttered through clenched teeth and a forced smile.

I like my boyfriend’s daughter. We get along quite well, do stuff together and I think she likes me. What’s not to like? My apprehension, hesitation and internal wig out, has more to do with that old stand by, “I didn’t sign up for this.” Like every other child related event that’s been hurled at my head, this too will take time to process.

I’m not used to having another body around. Another body that doesn’t know how to put dishes in the dishwasher. Another body that takes my nail polish and doesn’t return it. Another body that is a messy eater. Another body that didn’t know to knock before entering a closed door. Another body lurking around the house, so that now I can’t lurk around the house naked. Another body sleeping in the room next door, so now my boyfriend and I have to keep the television on to drown out the noise when we do sexy stuff. Oh, and believe you me, there’s noise.

I know that this is yet another piece of the Girlfriend Mom puzzle, but I was just getting used to soccer Sundays. I wasn’t expecting to live with a child for more than 48 hours every other weekend. I didn’t see this one coming.

In the short time that she’s been with us, I’ve learned a lot about myself. And really, who needs that?! When the four of us played board games over the Christmas break, I felt like a stepmom in a Lifetime movie, for the first time in five years. I was the odd man out, the one that didn’t belong. The non-blood relation. I glanced over at the three of them and their profound closeness, wafted in the air. I felt a million miles away.

I try to convey to my boyfriend that what he and his kids have been used to with their mother, is naturally going to be a different dynamic with me. I’m not their mother. They’re not my kids. Sometimes I’m uncomfortable with the familiarity that they share. I’m traveling in foreign territory without a GPS system, and often I don’t know why I’m feeling the way that I do.

I cannot move any faster than my feelings will allow. Perhaps it’s simply a question of time and patience. I’m honoring, not judging. Wow, that got serious quickly. Moving on.

Why do the kids have to take showers in our bathroom? They have a brand new gorgeous one to use. I don’t understand (just one in a long list of things I don’t understand) Is it because they see it as a treat? Do they feel closer to their dad? The question I ask myself is, “Why does it ruffle my feathers?”

I lived alone for a long time before I moved in with my boyfriend. I’m used to my privacy and not having to share, unless I wanted to. For crying out loud, my boyfriend and I are still learning to live with each another. Now you add a child to the mix, without having the benefit of years of practice, and poof! disruption of routine, rhythm, style and wet towels on the bathroom floor.

Change doesn’t come easily for a lot of people (especially my mother) and apparently this kind of change doesn’t come easily to me either. I can uproot myself from a 16-year stint in Los Angeles, selling everything from fork to car, and move to Prague, but living with kids scares me. The parent (my boyfriend) in the relationship has to realize that the non-parent (me) has no past experience to draw upon.

I’m trying not to make a mountain out of a mole hill, because the reality is, none of it is life threatening. Rather, it’s the emotions and feelings that the situation stirs in me, that gives me pause. This is what I’ve come up with, in so special order.

– I’m competitive playing board games, and when I don’t know something, I put my poopy pants on because I realize that I’m not as smart as I think I am. And if I didn’t have to play games with the kids, I wouldn’t have to admit this to myself.
– I’m jealous of the attention my boyfriend pays to his daughter. (Was my mother jealous of my close relationship with my father? Note to self- ask mom)
– Sometimes I feel like I play second fiddle and I don’t like it.
– I crave boundaries and there aren’t a lot regarding my boyfriend and the kids. Boundaries were an issue in my family, mainly because they didn’t exist. I needed them, so I’d punish myself, often sending me to my room.
– Sometimes I feel that sides are taken, and they ain’t mine.
– I chose not to have kids for a reason and sometimes I feel that I’m not living my truth.
– Sometimes, when it comes to the kids, I’m immature, controlling, and selfish. I want all the attention. C’mon, I’m a performer. Of course I want all of the attention!
– I’ve truly come to realize how important solitude, peace and quiet are to me.
– My boyfriend and I change when the kids are around. And sometimes not for the better.
– I sometimes judge my boyfriend’s daughter, or the way he’s raising her. Yuck on me!
– My demand for order gives me the allusion that I have some control over a situation that I often feel that I have no control over.

How much of my crap, and by crap, I mean my feelings, are unresolved personal issues, or my hot buttons? Perhaps these little people are my triggers. Damn them! Why do they have to unleash, overturn and bring up what I’ve worked so hard to shove down.

I met a very wise woman the other day, who recently lost her fourth husband. She has both biological and step children. We shared stories of the children in our lives, to which she said, through held back years, “Just love them. That’s all they want.”

And that’s what I plan to do. Dishes in the dishwasher or not.