First off, happy New Year to all my faithful readers. I hope 2010 brings you a new sense of joy, peace and self-awareness, not to mention a whole lotta LOVE from within and without.
So…last night, despite getting my period and feeling slightly rundown, the plan was that D would bring his kids over and all six of us, Brady Bunch style, would play games, watch movies and eat tons of junk to ring in the New Year. Keep in mind that I have two boys, ages twelve and nine, while D has a boy, age five, and a little girl, age three. In general, I like his kids, especially his daughter who’s spunky and willful and absolutely adorable. But his son can be a little wild, disrespectful and just plain mean, especially toward my nine year old, despite being a smart and funny kid.
Keep in mind too that my kids really like D. He is very kind to them, treats them with a great amount of respect and likes having them around, etc. And D, himself, is a great father. He is patient and kind and gentle with his children. He rarely raises his voice and he loves them to death. I sometimes well up to be in the presence of such a loving, good father.
But the trouble is, his son and my nine year old don’t get along very well. SOmetimes they do if they can find common ground in Pokemon cards or Legos. But mostly, D’s son will be over our house and grab my son’s toys and say, “These are mine!” “They’re not yours,” or “I had them first.” My twelve-year-old gets it and either walks away or ignores him, but my nine-year-old becomes irate at this kind of behavior, and quite frankly, I don’t blame him. I know that it’s because he’s still too young and immature to have patience with D’s son, but he’s also a very private child who doesn’t like other kids coming into his room and taking over his stuff. Here’s the problem: D does nothing about it. He’ll say, “Oh C, that’s not yours, silly.” But he won’t reprimand him or take it away from him or address the problem, if but only minimally. I, on the other hand, being the Italian mother that I am, would address the issue right away if it were my kid. In this case though, I certainly won’t yell at his son. So instead, I pull mine aside and say, “look, he’s only five. Be patient. just let him have it for now.” But I feel that I am not defending my son as best as I should.
Another instance of this is when we all go out to dinner. D will get his kids sodas and chicken nuggets etc. all the time, whereas, I tend to require my kids to drink water and eat good food (because we go out to eat so frequently). I’ve given up that fight though, and let my kids order sodas. But because the sodas come before the meal, I ask my kids to take a few sips and then put their drinks aside, so they don’t fill up on soda before they’ve even eaten. D will make the same request of his children, but C, his son, doesn’t listen to this and will sometimes keep drinking. My boys see this of course, and think, “that’s not fair.” And, again, from my perspective, they’re kinda right. It’s not fair- from a little kid’s perspective. So what do I do? I tell my kids, “life is not fair. C has different parents and different rules. But these are your rules from your Mom and we’re still following them.” But how well will that rule go over when we’re all living under the same roof???
I don’t know if this topic is relevant to anyone, but it’s become a source of INTERNAL conflict for me. I say internal because I am not expressing my concerns at all, to D. What’s happening instead, is I am beginning to build up resentment and anger toward D, whom I believe is only minimally guiding his children to follow rules that I am very strict about. Not only that, but it’s making the whole idea of us moving in together (something we talk about very seriously) seem somewhat unappealing.
I love D. I think he is an absolutely beautiful person, and a great parent! But I don’t know how to resolve this issue of the children, without seeming like I’m blaming him for not being a good parent. He is a good parent. But in my mind, you don’t let your three-year-old eat an entire bag of Twizzlers every weekend. And you reprimand your son for being disrespectful to other children or adults.
The flip side of this and why I keep my mouth shut is that I think I’m being too harsh. I should just be zen about the whole thing and let him raise his kids the way he wants. The trouble with that is that his parenting sometimes interferes with my parenting. When a husband and wife raise their kids they have to be on the same page. They have to be consistent. Well guess what, D is being consistent, WITHI HIS EX WIFE. Now I expect him to be consistent with my parenting style? I may be asking too much.
I hold a lot of cache here in my own house. I have rules in my house. But what happens when we move in together? Who will make the rules? And what if his son and my son don’t get along (my kids are no angels)? My boys live with me fulltime. And D’s kids will be living with him 50% of the time. How much stress will that place on all of those involved? How will D be able to handle my boys full-time??? Surely he must be feeling the same weightiness as I.
Our picture perfect relationship is starting to look a little less than perfect. At one time, I used to think that this is the way it should be. We should not so much be fighting between us as fighting to win against some exterior cause. But I don’t even know if this is an exterior cause or if it is a viable, integral part of who we are. These are our children. They are an extension of who we are and they come with the package. Love me, love my children. But does “Love me, love my parenting style” also apply here? I have to somehow figure out who I am and what I want in this life, before I can take on all this. Because, as it stands now, it’s difficult to see how we will be able to manage things in the future.
And again, this perspective of mine is exacerbated by my period brain. Things tend to look bleak when I am rundown and PMsing.