Raising a Blended Family


on July 23, 2014

Okay, I lied. I’m a lying McLierFace. My next post is not in a month from now, it’s now. And it’s going to be in bullet form because I have a thousand short, scattered thoughts running through my head. Don’t let the bullets fool you, some of these are doosies. Settle in.

  • First up: How does one teach one’s child to stand up for themselves? There have been a few issues and an overall building picture of Thing One being… not bullied, exactly, but picked on. Taken advantage of. “Too nice”, etc. A few years ago, one of the neighborhood girls chased Thing One down the block on her razor scooter, and Thing One came sobbing into the house, terrified. Thing One will sometimes come home and say she can’t play in certain areas of the neighborhood anymore and when asked why, she will say things like “well, Johnny down the street told me not to” (happened in both neighborhoods, both old and new). Thing One flew cross country by herself earlier this week (to go visit my mom in Cali, that’s a whole other post) and when I called her and asked her how her plane ride was, she seemed mellow. “Fine,” she responded, and I wasn’t even sure if I was talking to my kid anymore- the same kid who, mere hours earlier, had been bouncing-off-her-seat excited to take this trip solo. I pushed her for more information and she eventually told me that there had been two other solo kids on the flight, a brother and sister, and that when they all chose their seats the brother and sister made her sit in between them and took the window and aisle seats for themselves- and rotated, periodically, but never let Thing One have a turn.  How do we fix this? I blame Thing One for none of these things, obviously. It isn’t her fault that people, even children-type-people, can be mean and nasty and advantage-takers. But I wonder what would happen if, say, instead of running from the kid on the scooter, Thing One simply turned around, stood her ground, and shoved the kid off the damn thing? (kid was same size and age, by the way. I am not trying to set her up against Goliath here). Or if she told Johnny down the street exactly where he could put his imaginary boundaries, and kept playing where she wanted to play? Or told Brother and Sister to deal with it and made them sit next to each other, or better yet, picked her OWN seat on the wide open plane instead of sitting where they told her, because they told her? Who are they to TELL her?  You see where I’m going with this? Thing One is not wrong in any shape or form. If she is genuinely scared of a kid trying to mow her down on a scooter then those are her valid emotions to feel. But as a mom, I’m not sure where to draw the line between comfort and support, and gentle guidance to help her be confident enough to not be bullied. Ideally, I would just go kick all the kids’ asses myself, but we all know that’s not reasonable (I couldn’t get to those kids on the plane if I wanted to, for one thing… damn TSA) and that she needs to learn to stand up for herself. But how? How, how, how? That is what I am struggling with and if you all have any good feedback or know of any resources, I welcome them.


  • I told you this would be scattered, because, in a complete 180 degree turn, I am now going to bitch a bit (it turned into a lot) about my mother. Yep, it’s happening. Sorry. So, my mother: two things that are bothering me lately. The first one has been building for awhile.
    1. My mother has always been a very caring, compassionate woman. When I first met Shorty, and Thing One had just turned four, my mom reached out and started connecting with Thing One right from the get-go. She was adamant that she had just gained a granddaughter, loved on Thing One, bought her presents and care packages, and was basically everything I’d always imagined her to be as a grandparent. She became a grandparent the day I met Shorty and never looked back. Then, when we took in my nieces and nephews, she was the first person to reach out, call herself “grandma,” and make the kids feel loved and supported and “equal to,” rather than “less than,” Thing One and Pax in her Grandmotherly Love. Given all of this, and how wonderful she was with these kids and Thing One, imagine how excited I was to tell my mom when we got pregnant with Pax! I thought she would be over-the-moon with joy and happiness. Instead, her reaction was rather tepid… and has stayed that way ever since. I expected the initial flurry of baby gift-buying and random splurging “because it’s cute!” and that sort of thing, but it never happened. I waited a bit longer for the excitement to manifest and it never did. She does not buy him presents or toys, even when she buys Thing One things. She has never ooh’d and ahh’d over baby gear and baby outfits, even when he was teeny tiny. She has bought him exactly two Christmas presents, a book and a sleeper set. She basically doesn’t spoil him at all. Now please don’t think I am pissed because my mom isn’t buying my kid stuff. That’s not it- it isn’t about money or buying things at all, because I know my mom loves this child no matter what, baby gear or not. She loves to squeal over pictures and look at videos, and she does brag on facebook about him. However, facebook and real life are not the same thing, and she generally shows love through spending. Fact. She also has no problem spending on Thing One. More Fact. So this tepid, cool, level-headed reaction to Pax (she has told me in the past he does not “need” all that- she has never been about “need” in her entire life) is the complete opposite of the head-over-heels uncontrollable spoiling I was expecting. Also, it goes beyond material things- the “tepid” reaction is present in her attitude, too. The other day when I was on the phone with my mom, she was hanging pictures while we chatted. Out of the blue, she announced that she was holding the framed collage of Pax’s newborn pictures we’d had made for her, but that she wasn’t going to hang it up because he looked funny and a little ugly and she didn’t want it on her wall. I just sat there in shocked silence for a minute… I mean, come ON. Who says that about their grandkids? Who?! My mother, that’s who. I know all newborns look funny but I thought that being related to them, and especially having them be the first grandkid you’ve gotten to see and have from birth, on, made you obligated to think that the kid pooped rainbows and barfed butterflies, or something. Every other child in my life that HASN’T been the one I was pregnant with, she’s accepted and loved and spoiled rotten, including Thing One. I’m glad of it- Thing One deserves that kind of grandparent… but so does Pax, and he’s not getting her. I just. don’t. get it! Also, for awhile I thought I was just crazy and that maybe I was reading too much into things, until Shorty brought it up recently. She asked me what I thought of my mom’s attitude towards Pax and the floodgates opened. Shorty told me she sees it too and that it bothers her too, which is reassuring because now I know it isn’t just all in my head, but also disappointing because I was hoping that maybe it was just my imagination. Otherwise, I don’t know why my mom is acting like this. Pax certainly doesn’t deserve it.
    2. My second mother-related bitch is short compared to that first one. I mentioned earlier that Thing One flew out there to spend time with her earlier this week. I fly out next week with Pax (poor Shorty, once again, has work) to spend a few days with them and retrieve my daughter, and then we all fly home together. But it was my mom’s idea to fly Thing One out there first for about a week-and-a-half of Thing One/Grandma time, because I used to go visit my Grandma solo as a child and I loooooved it. We pitched the idea to Thing One and she almost destroyed the house with her excited bouncing-off-the-walls… so we went with it and Thing One is there now. She’s been there for a few days and this afternoon I called to find out what she’s been up to and to hear about all the fun California things she’s been doing. When I talked to my mom before the trip, she had tons of fun activities she was thinking of doing, and I just knew Thing One would have a good time. Today, though, Thing One seemed kind of down when I called. I asked her what was up and she told me she was bored and watching TV. I still didn’t get it, thought maybe she was watching TV because she was recovering from a morning full of exciting activities… but no. They didn’t do any exciting activities today. They didn’t do any yesterday, either. She has been there two and a half days and they have done precisely nothing. The most exciting thing Thing One has done has been a Costco trip with my mom. So here I am, once again flummoxed. My mom begged us to let Thing One fly out, begged us to put her on a plane solo, got super excited when we said yes… and now is sitting around doing nothing with her? What about the zoo? The beach? The sea lions? We have TV and Costco in Indi.an.a, we sure as hell don’t have a beach and sea lions! I talked to my mom and she mentioned that they were going to go see a movie after going to Costco, but that she got tired so they just went home. Same thing yesterday.  I don’t understand, except that I kind of do. See, my mom gets tired easily. She spends most of her time watching tv on the couch, with snacks. She is, by definition, a couch potato, and off the couch activity tires her quickly (I’m not being mean, by the way. I’m just trying to describe the issue here). And that’s fine. It’s her life, her cable bill, her couch. It’s not how I would choose to live but it’s also not my life BUT. But. If you invite your granddaughter out there, and you build all these expectations of “all the fun we’ll have,” and then you sit around on the couch for two full days straight, then… then it becomes my issue. I want Thing One to have a good time and it’s irritating that I have exactly zero control over that. It’s irritating that my mom is wasting the time they have together. Yes, Thing One still has about two more weeks out there but for most of that, I will be there, and everyone knows it’s not the same once Mom shows up on scene. The special part comes with one-on-one Grandma time, and that time is being wasted. I don’t get it.


  • Bullet three… I told you this was effing random. Shorty and I are dreaming, lately. Dreaming, dreaming, dreaming. Of babies, of IVF, of two more pregnancies and each of us taking a turn. Of each other carrying each other’s eggs and of little tiny babies in the house again. Dreaming, but not acting. For one thing, we need to look at insurance and see what is and isn’t covered. For another, now is not the time. I need to finish school before another baby is born. Absolutely, positively, 100% need. to. finish. school.  Because, daycare, for one thing. Concentration and studying for another! Now, does that mean we can’t get HER pregnant during the later stages of my last year of school? Time it so that said baby would be born after my graduation? It’s a possibility. But now is for sure not the time and so we are dreaming. Dreaming, dreaming… I miss babies.


  • Bullet four… speaking of babies and those who are not anymore. My baby. Pax. We moved him out of his crib and into his toddler, excuse me, big boy bed yesterday. We should have done it a long time ago but we were Putting It Off, Denial Style. First we spent a good long while 150% baby-proofing his room, which also should have been done awhile ago but wasn’t.Denial is not just a river in Egypt, did you know? Baby-proofing included things like new-and-improved sliding outlet covers (those things are genius! Love them so much more than the nail-breaking curse-inducing plug in ones that I can never get off) and fastening his dresser and changing table (sadly still necessary, the potty training fairy is nowhere to be found) firmly to the walls, lest they tip over during curious toddler exercises. We took down the crib and put up the bed, added his freshly-laundered new(-to-us) toddler tonka truck bedding, and let him have at it! He loved it, promptly discovered it was fun to jump and climb on,  and even snoozed last night in it for a bit (after falling asleep on a Mom, first)… but then woke up in the middle of the night screaming and highly pissed that he wasn’t still ON a mom. Ah well. Baby steps. It is weird to not have a crib up somewhere in the house right now! First time in two years.  Sniff, sniff. Here, because you were so awesome reading my other bitching bullets, you get pictures of cuteness:
Nakedly supervising his bed being put together- because, is there any other way to supervise?

Nakedly supervising his bed being put together- because, is there any other way to supervise?



Looking pretty happy with his new addition...

Looking pretty happy with his new addition…

Big boy sleeping safe, sound and happy... for a few hours, at least.

Big boy sleeping safe, sound and happy… for a few hours, at least.

That’s about all the randomness I have to throw out there right now. So long and thanks for all the fish!


One response to “Scattered

  1. Rachael says:

    Wow, what’s up with your mom? Have you talked with her? Asked her what was up? That’s strange. We have a great-grandpa in the family on Kim’s side who absolutely adores babies and kids and since Punky has been born (from my belly) he has had relatively nothing to do with her. He has held her once, showed up at her birthday party but left 10 minutes later. I get it, the feeling is kinda shitty, right?! I hope you get it sorted out. He’s in his 80’s and we figure its a blood thing, I’m not allowed in family pictures because Kim and I aren’t married, but he’s kind to me and treats me like family (or maybe a close family friend) so we figure we can’t change him. Maybe your mom isn’t doing this intentionally, she may not really understand how she comes off? Maybe have a sit down with her, I sure hope Thing One has a better time!

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