Tag Archives: blended families

Bringing the Drama

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I needed a way to purge myself of the experience that I had with Eliza and the whole blended family drama that I lived with for far too many years. So I wrote a book. Nothing major. Fiction. Short. Funny. Sigh. Exhale. Moving on.

It is available on Amazon via Kindle  and paperback via me.

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Not For the Fainthearted

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I’ve been pondering my days as a stepmom as well as the lives of my friends who still are.  Am I glad I no longer hold that title?

Yes, I think so.  When I was a stepmom, my life was  replete with ridiculous drama.  My late husband’s ex-wife never accepted our marriage and used her kids as pawns in a sick game of revenge.  With that being said, A LOT of damage was done.  It was such an exhausting time for us all.

My friend Cher and I often discuss things that encompass being a stepmom.  It is not for the faint@heart by any means.  And she is anything but that.  She has survived cancer three times for goodness sakes! Though last year I was appalled to hear her say that she never wants to date/marry another man with kids.  The “but” is that she has a child.  I gently scolded her, however, she stood her ground.  She’s simply tired of the ignorance and malevolence that she continues to receive from her husband’s two exes.  And sick of his lack of a backbone for that matter. I couldn’t understand her point of view at the time.  It sounded selfish to me.  Now…not so much. 

I don’t want to go through what I did before. 

I don’t want to be in a competition that I did not enter. 

 I don’t want to try to win anybody’s kids over. 

I don’t want two sets of rules and confused children. 

 I don’t want the harassment, stalking, or the animosity. 

 I don’t want to be the rival, frienemy, or “cowife” of the biomom. 

Nope, I don’t even want to be the darn babysitter either.  

Nor do I want to be the liaison between  warring parents. 

 I don’t want to have to file restraining orders and request phone taps. 

I don’t want to sit around wondering and preparing myself for what she will “do next.”

I don’t want to turn the other cheek.

The only drama I want is on the silver screen, not with the “baby momma. “Been there, done that and look what it got me? 

*Nothing* 

His death, their leaving, and the ugliness of the situation took something with me.  It shook my very foundation.  I don’t have it to give anymore.  My heart has grown faint.

Fire Starter

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Most people know at least one person who likes to bring the heat and keep things unbearably hot.  That person could be a coworker, family member, friend, or neighbor.   In my case it was Eliza.   I  try to distance myself from heat seekers because I enjoy living a balanced, uncomplicated life. 

But how can you maintain your equilibrium when someone is constantly trying to singe you with fiery combat?  Obviously you can’t control the actions (and sometimes upbringing or mental status) of others.  And apparently they missed the memo when you play with fire everybody gets burned. Well, personally, I like my skin texture and tone just fine, thank you very much! 

Here are a few things you can do to avoid getting caught up in the smoke:

The Devil’s in the Details:  I had to learn the hard way that it was best not to give Eliza too many details.  My husband was the expert at this.  He knew that any information beyond what was necessary would just feed her desire for fire.  She burned me a few times before I learned this painful lesson.  Eventually I figured that I was only responsible for keeping her informed about important issues and nothing more.  I stopped trying to soothe her  febrile ego or provide “helpful” commentary.  Anything other than the basics is breeding ground for combustion.  Do yourself a favor and stick to the bare minimum.

Heated Hubris:  Overly dramatic folks love to get your emotions flowing and once you get this way, you tend to lose control quicker.  This also lends to a lot of irrational bantering so avoid responding to any emotional buzzz words and stay on the topic.  Address the issues and not the person by keeping your emotions intact.

Sizzling Sasha or Calm Callie: If you are not normally vindictive and crazy don’t allow yourself to imitate that persona.  Fire Starters are stoked you when you to take on their traits.  Then their fireballs will really become fast and furious as you’ve given them the ammunition needed to fight fire with fire.  Because fire starters are really martyrs at heart, they hate when you refuse to be the victim and resist their blazing darts at the same time.

Be An Extinguisher:  While you might not have started the fire–you can be the one to put it out.  This entails knowing when and when not to fight battles.  Let’s face it, everything is not a life and death matter and some things are just silly to expend energy on.  If I had to do it all over again, some things with Eliza wouldn’t have even been an issue.  I would have let her have her way, which would have taken the wind from her sails.  When you are an extingusher you make the choice not to do things to push their buttons.  Even though they might deserve it (and it might even feel good momentarily) you know that it won’t help put out any forest fires in the blended family tree.

Install Smoke Detectors:  I quickly learned when Eliza was going to fire up and would therefore take a backseat to allow her rage to fizzle.  Her spells usually centered around special occassions such as holidays and birthdays.  During these times I did not give her any information that I knew would aggravate her already inflamed state of mind.

Stop, Drop, and Roll:  We all learned this drill in elementary school and it is still applicable with today’s Fire Starter.  When it gets too hot:

  •  stop trying to reason or argue with the person,
  • drop out of the picture for awhile,
  • and roll on with your life. 

You don’t have to entertain a fire-loving drama queen for trifling matters.

Fires Eventually Fizzle:  Like with most things in life (from flora to fauna to foe) if not properly fed; they cannot survive.  If you quit kindling the fire it will soon become an smoldering ember.  Fire Starters know this, which is why they will do everything in their power to keep things smoking.  No fighting=no fuel.  Sooner or later they will direct their ire somewhere else.

Fire Power: As hard as it may be, try to focus on something positive about the Fire Starter.  Although fire has the potential to destroy, it can also be used for good(cooking and heat to name a couple).  This approach can help you “warm”  up to them.  They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so I have to thank Eliza for turning me into Hercules!  She has drug me through so much that I have come out stronger for it.  She has also inspired me to be a better person.  I never want to hurt people in the manner that she has. 

Fire Proof Yourself:  A Fire Starter thrives on breaking you down, cauterizing you in the process. They will use very weapon known to man to do so; especially words which are flung like Molotov cocktails to defame your character.  It is to your advantage to develop a firewall so you won’t be devastated by what these dragons breathe into existence.  Know ahead of time that tongue blisters will be apart of the vocalized revolution against you; so don’t take their every heated word to heart.  The odds are in your favor that they wish they were in your shoes!  It’s never too late to erect that firewall for protection.  When Eliza slanders me I know in advance that the real issue is with her.  Therefore the “hot fire” that she spits cannot char me.

Ring the Alarm:  Arson-the crime of deliberately and maliciously setting fires.  When the actions of the Fire Starter become scaldingly criminal, it’s time to alert the authorities.  There are some things that you just should not tolerate and criminal activity is one of them.  I would also suggest that you document any forms of harassment.   Sometimes it is even necessary to get a trace placed on your phone (we had one successfully traced back to her residence).  I have a huge binder that I have kept over the years to create a papertrail on Eliza and her many attempts to annililate, annoy, and torture us.  The contents proved to come in handy, too when combating her scorching lies in different situations.

Will You Be My Stepwife?

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Gaylord Focker, will you be my son-in-law? 

I’m pretty sure that most of you have seen the movie “Meet the Parents” starring Robert Deniro.  Of course it takes him the majority of the movie to accept that his daughter loves Gaylord Focker.

Such is usually the case with step and biomoms.  Sometimes it takes moms a while to acknowledge the fact that stepmoms actually love their children and mean them no harm.

And that ‘s okay.  Give the moms space to accept reality in their own timing.

Stepmoms, for what it’s worth, you should make every effort to interact civilly with your stepchild(ren)’s mother.  If possible as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW that some people are utterly unreasonable, don’t want to get along, and are mentally unstable to boot.  But that has nothing to do with you and who you are!  You are a stepmom with values and principles and a good heart.  Use every opportunity you can to be the bigger person.  In the end, the small things just don’t matter.  If it is not a life or death situation you will be better off letting it go.  Working together works–trite but true. 

Take it from one who knows, it feels so good to do the right thing even when you feel that the other person doesn’t deserve it.  I struggled a lot with this thought when it came to dealing with Eliza.  I was most successful when I remembered that we didn’t deserve to have Jesus die for us, yet he did without hesitation.  Therefore take what a person “deserves” out of the equation. 

I had “proposed” to Eliza in the early stages of our  burgeoning correspondence.  I even shared articles with her from the CoMama’s  so she wouldn’t think I was crazy for even dreaming of such a partnership.  I wanted to let her know that I was not trying to take her place.  I also wanted her to know that I wished to work with her for the sake of our boys.  I can’t say that she accepted because I feel that if she had, the boys would be with me now.

Even though I was rejected, I have no regrets for wanting what I felt was best for the boys.  It’s a small consolation in the face of all that has happened, yet it’s one less burden that I currently have to bear.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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Speaking in general terms, we all want the good things in life.  We don’t want to experience any valleys.  Forget waiting–we want the good times to roll ASAP!

I know this is true for me, especially as a stepmom.  Dealing with Eliza, there has been a whole lot of bad and ugly.  I am ready for the good part.  My relationship with Ethan is still the same.  It has been two years and it really has not gotten any better.  He continues to be distant and rude.  It is not for a lack of trying on my part.  In this case it does take two to tango. 

 I’m sure he is aloof for a variety of reasons:

  • He misses his mom and I am a reminder that his mom is not available
  • He has been trained not to like me
  • He is a teenager
  • He has limited interpersonal skills (a few of his teachers have mentioned this)
  • He misses Evan and his other brother
  • He does not put any effort forth to be a part of our family
  • He is used to being in an environment in which there was little parental supervision
  • He wants to remain the same for Eliza

I have signed him up for counseling.  He rarely speaks, so I have no idea what is going on in his head.  He talks to Nicholas and does okay (barely) with my husband. 

I feel like I am living with a hostile stranger.  Yes, I have tried bonding with him.  Yes, my husband has tried talking to him on several occassions.  Yes, we make an effort to make him feel welcome.  I know it may take time, but my goodness, its been two years! 

I know in a family that you must take the good with the bad and the ugly.  That’s just what families do, yet I am having a hard time doing this.

Peace or Points?

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I have come to find that it is always good to have balance in most if not all situations.  Living in a blended family setting definitely requires this. 

Rarely does a day pass that I don’t try to come up with solutions for our stepfamily issues.  I read books, blog, do research, and attempt to form bridges where they need to be.  Thankfully I have Rhonda and Stacy to bounce ideas off of.  My goal is to truly find blended family equilibrium. 

In order to have proper balance all of the adults involved must meet in the middle.  But somtimes it is confusing as to where that middle ground is located.  Each person has a different sense of direction.  When I look through the eyes of the children, I can see much more clearly.  It’s like having a blended family GPS device–it tells me exactly where to go.  

I’ve decided that I don’t want to accumulate points at their expense.  Plus, I’d rather have peace than points.  I’m not keeping score but I know that she is.  I’m busy waving the white flag with one hand and extending the olive branch with the other. 

I find that being contemplative about situations that arise is the best way to go.  I now understand that most of Eliza’s issues are really not about me; they are rooted in her own insecurities, habits, emotions, hurts, and perceptions.  She only projects them onto me.  Understanding this allows me to view her more compassionately.  Sometimes you have to read between the lines.  I am not always successful, but I try. 

Case in point: When Eliza wrote to the judge, we chose to reply and address her concerns in a  factual manner.  Though tempting, we refrained from using any emotion and simply addressed the issues she had.  I didn’t want to use words to attack her because I knew it would have added to the continued pattern of miscommunication, animosity, and stress.

I have to believe that even if she chooses not to operate in this manner that she will eventually upon seeing it modeled by us.  The drama simply gets old after awhile.