Children of broken families have it hard. There is no question about that, I whole heartedly feel bad for my son and my step children. Children of broken families do not ask for the life that they live, and they certainly don’t choose to have their parents living apart from one another but in the end because of our decisions they have the burden to bare while we go off and live our lives.
In the tug of war of broken family’s children are often utilized as the rope, and the whip lash that the children is left with is often unexplainable. My family has had their fair share of ugly moments, with all parties owning a share in the orchestration of said moments. Thankfully with due time we have all gotten on the same page, well no, more like in the same chapter, heck sometimes we’re just in the same book together, but with all of that aside we still at least have a general understanding of the other person’s side.
Recently my son has taken on a “new” spunk. I’m not going to sugar coat it, he’s taken on a very ugly entitled attitude, were everybody owes him the word, and he will be dammed if we try to change it. For me, this is nothing new it is the same song and dance every day of the week. However, for his father’s new girlfriend it’s like a newborn baby new. The honeymoon phase is over, J has now entered the comfortable stage and he is ready to show whoever he needs to that he is boss. And no, I do not condone my son’s behavior but he is a tornado with no better way of explaining it. When I say right, he says left, when I say up, it’s a definite down. I often wonder if my son is diagnosable as oppositional defiant, because he sure meets the criteria in my eyes but for now we stick with the many different Anxiety diagnoses that he carries. We talk about it all in therapy, his dislikes, the burdens he carries from being a child from a broken, and now mixed family, and even his father’s new girlfriend. Unfortunately J gets his sarcasm from his mom and he runs with it, and I am not sure how far we actually get while in therapy. I normally call my sarcasm a gift, but lately it is nothing less or more than a curse.
This weekend plans were made, rather than his father picking him up on a Sunday as normal the plan was for j to go with them on Saturday to go to a Christmas parade. Well I would be tickled pink, I love all things holidays and going to a Christmas parade with lights and all is nothing less than amazing, but my son’s attitude got the best of him, or maybe it got the best of us. While getting ready with both myself and his father’s girlfriend explaining to him he needs socks on, and gloves, and a scarf, and his sweater, and a hat, and pleading our case that it is cold out, J decided to announce that he really didn’t care, and he never asked her to bring him. Jaw dropping moment for her, sure, for me I kind of just sat there waiting to see how the conversation went between the two. I allowed her to take lead, and she did. She explained that she didn’t have to bring him, and for the disrespect she wouldn’t be bringing him, and just like that she spoke her peace and stormed out of the house.
When she left, I felt nothing. I was numb. Not upset, not mad, not sad, just pure numbness. I walked over to my loving adorable son, and snatched his cellphone out of his hands. I walked into his bedroom, and gathered all remotes for all game systems. I gathered my treasures, making sure to tuck them away in the cleverest of spots, and then mad mom kicked in, but no lectures came, not yelling, just a simple get in “your room, your punished how dare you talk to her like that, she did nothing to you and does so much for you”. The shoulder shrug followed, with the “I don’t care” slogan.
After making myself a nice stoking hot cup of coffee, and taking a minute to process what exactly happened. I reached out to both his father, and his father’s girlfriend. I explained he would be punished, and that all electronics were taken away, and I was appalled with his behaviors. Of course his father was mad, and she was just baffled at what had occurred, and here I was thinking “well this is really nothing, welcome to my side of the playing field”.
To try to get down to the bottom of the behaviors, and J’s reactions, his father and his girlfriend called me later that night. Along with myself, Billy my husband sat at the dining room table for the conversation. Honestly, I don’t believe there is a science behind it, I think it is normal for a child from a broken family to give the “new person” a run for their money. There are a lot of pressures on J, and no it isn’t an excuse but at the same time J didn’t ask for any of it, and as his mom I have the job of picking up the pieces and to try to put my son back together again. As his mother, I also have the job of punishing him and telling him when he is wrong even when it is in defense of the “new gal in town”.
For me, this weekend came natural. I honestly like my son’s father’s new girlfriend, she is what he needed, I quite honestly think she makes him a better person or at least whole again. She treats J great, loves him like a mother or step mother should, and is stern when she needs to. I am sure if I wanted to I could find things about her to nitpick on, and rip apart, and belittle to my son, assisting him in building an anger against her, but what would that be teaching him? The thing is I know that it sucks seeing your ex-spouse with someone else, but life has its ways and that’s one of them. Fighting it just makes it harder, accept it, move on, and work together, if not for your own happiness do it for your child/ children.
I have worn the other shoe, I know how it is to be the stepmom or the “new gal in town”, I know what it is like to be belittled and beaten down, and it isn’t pretty. I also know what it’s like to fight back and get ugly and that isn’t pretty either. Believe me, swallowing your pride and putting the children first, and working together makes an easier life and path to walk.
At the end of the day, and at the end of our conversation we all came to a mutual understanding that we all need to be on the same page, we all need to have open communication, and we all need to work together. With working together we all agreed that we need to have the same plan of attack when it comes to J, and meet each other in the middle when it comes to our parenting plan. I was ecstatic to hear their enthusiasm with all the above because again, we have been there, with not working together, different goals, different rules, just down right different and maybe it works but it works in a dysfunctional manner.
Parenting is hard, step-parenting is even harder, and co-parenting seems downright impossible. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it.
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