Monday, December 16, 2013

True Confessions of a Step Mom: The "I Lost It" Edition

Holiday schedules are hard. The day of, the days surrounding, the month leading up to it.... the whole thing is just rough. Our parenting plan is pretty black and white. Two lawyers were paid good money to make sure of that. So one would think that we could plan our holidays by consulting a calendar and the parenting plan no problem. One would be wrong.

In late October we received an email from my step daughter's mom informing us that she would be using her 2013 vacation time the weekend after Christmas. Our weekend. One of two weekends we expected to have in December. Leaving us with 4 Tuesdays and one weekend to pack all of our celebrations into. Thinking there wasn't much he could do about my husband let it go. He attempted to have a phone conversation with his ex about it but the call kept dropping. And then as it does, time got away from us.

Until the Christmas season hit us full on and we received another email asking us for a vacation day in 2014. Now I feel like I know the parenting plan inside out. I have read it and reread it many, many times over. However that day I was working and my husband needed to respond to the email. My husband is many wonderful things. But he is not one to keep track of details. So he consulted the parenting plan. Only to find that it specifies that you cannot take vacation time during the week of a holiday. Key verbiage that would have came in handy in October.

Normally we would have taken it as a lesson learned and moved on. However its Christmas. And Christmas, bless it, has a way of making people crazy. Not to mention we were still upset over the fact that his ex felt entitled to both the weekend prior and after Christmas. So my husband called her and requested that they split the weekend. Which naturally led to the Christmas War of 2013... but this story isn't about what he did. Or even what the ex did. It's about what I did.

During the email and phone call battles that ensued my stepdaughter's mother sent an email in which she copied me on. An email that, in my opinion, was best kept between her and my husband. An email that, in my Christmas crazed/ sleep deprived/ tired...tired... oh so tired... mind invited me into the conversation. So I replied. The longest email I have ever written. An email that could have been broken into ten blog posts. (Which may explain my absence from the blogging world, no?)

In this email I detailed many, many grievances with our custody situation. I focused on the relationship that my husband and his daughter deserve and the ways I feel she undermines that. Do I feel like everything I said was true? Yes. Do I feel like I was mature and refrained from unnecessary accusations? Yes. Should I have sent the email? I'm really not sure. I know that I feel better having said the things I said. I know that in the moment I felt justified.

The problem is I know I wouldn't have normally sent that email. I try to keep things as amicable as they can be for my stepdaughter's sake. I also try and leave it to my husband to discuss the important things. After all, it's "their" daughter. But that day I was seeing red. And so I sent it.

Stepmoms- have you ever "lost" your cool? Have you ever broken one of your own rules of stepmommyhood? I'd love to know I'm not alone.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The 12 Days of Christmas

Have I already told you all how much I LOVE traditions? Well I do. I love them the most. They give you something to look forward to and count on. They make for great memories. And most importantly they unify your family.

I find this especially important with my little family. Because she has another family. And because holidays away from her mom can be a little scary. So last year in hopes of showing her that we could have our own special traditions I started the 12 Days of Christmas. Each day that she came to our house she got to open an envelope with a number (1-12) on it and each day we would do a Christmas activity. For example: look at lights, watch a Christmas movie or make a Christmas ornament.

Last year the holidays were great. But there was always a little adjustment. There was always the ,"At my mom's house we do it this way..." or the sadness of being away from her siblings to deal with. This year has been so different! Instead of sadness or uneasiness she is genuinely excited and comfortable being with us for holidays. This year we had Easter and Halloween and both went really well.

So last year when we started the 12 Days of Christmas I knew she would be excited. What I was not prepared for was how much she was anticipating our traditions. Immediately she started asking me if we would have a Grinch night (which we will) and would we get to go to the Temple Lights (which was our 2nd day of Christmas). And then on Sunday morning (our 5th day of Christmas) she got super excited to see we were doing the Snowman Breakfast and had a great time comparing it to last year's breakfast.

The best part for me was putting up the tree. My stepdaughter looked at each ornament and either told the story of it or asked us to tell her why the ornament was special. Putting our ornaments up from our last two family trips was especially fun for her.

I feel like her excitement and joy over our traditions this year has proven how important traditions can be for a family. Last year she didn't know what to expect and while she had fun, it was all new and made her a little anxious. This year she will have a good mix of surprises and traditions to look forward to.

I hope your holidays have gotten off to a great start as well! Happy (Blended) Holidays!