Sunday, February 24, 2013

The evil stepparent

The other day I was listening to a conversation between two women. One was complaining about how difficult it is to like her stepchildren. Since my oldest, the Tween, is from my first marriage and my ex and I are both remarried, my ears perked up. As I listened, I realized with much aggravation that she was bitching about two small kids. The more she whined about how insensitive they were, how they didn't listen to her, what a pain in the ass the mother was and the ungrateful brats she was raising, the more my ears burned and I struggled to keep my opinions to myself. After all, I didn't really know either of these women.

My breaking point was when the self-involved twat waffle said she couldn't believe how little support her husband gave her, and expected her to keep making an effort to develop a relationship with two kids that obviously didn't like her. Are you fucking kidding me?! My head spun around like Linda Blair from The Exorcist, and I butted into the conversation. "I've been sitting here listening to the diarrhea flowing from your mouth for the last half hour. I'm disgusted at what I've heard. You're talking about two kids! You are the adult. You have the power over how you act and react to the kids. You have the opportunity to develop a bond to strengthen your family. And you have the power to influence what those kids think about you. Do something about the situation instead of acting like a fucking victim." 

Nothing raises my fur more than hearing someone bitch and moan about their terrible stepchildren. When you marry a person who has kids from a previous relationship, you're getting a package deal. It's not like you didn't know that! The kids are never, I repeat NEVER, going away. And the younger the child, the more your attitude will shape and influence how you're perceived. So what if the ex-wife/husband is a complete asshole and you think they're turning their kid(s) against you? Pull the stick out of your ass! We're talking about children. You're the adult so act like one. Don't take your anger out on the kid. The child doesn't deserve your contempt. And the kid definitely doesn't deserve you making your spouse choose between you. If your spouse is any kind of person at all, the kid will win.

I was once really good friends with this funny, smart-ass woman we nicknamed "Red" for her short temper. While I was going through my divorce, Red was marrying a man with a 4 year old daughter. Red tolerated the little girl, who was with them about 50% of the time, but trash talked the kid even when she was in another room of the house. Since I had a small child who would one day have stepparents, Red's attitude really began to get on my nerves. She talked about her stepdaughter like she was an evil entity, like she consciously chose to piss Red off. When Red and her husband had their own daughter together, she began excluding the first daughter from everything including family pictures. She made her husband take pictures with his oldest child alone. How fucking insecure  and jealous are you to treat a kid like that? What kind of monster destroys a child's developing self-esteem by treating her like she's nobody? Red and I came to words over it. I'd lost all respect for her at this point and I didn't want anything to do with her anymore. Our friendship was over. And only a few years passed before I heard from mutual friends that Red and her husband were divorcing. I can't say I was surprised.

I've been very fortunate that my own daughter didn't have to live through hell with an insecure adult who couldn't stand her. My ex-husband remarried before I did, and his wife is great. She loves the Tween and has always treated her like her own. When they had their own kids, nothing changed with how she acted toward my daughter. My ex-husband and I are divorced for a reason, but we share a beautiful girl who deserves the best of either of us and who deserves the best of what our partners have to offer. As far as we're concerned my husband and the Tween's step-mom are just as important in her life as we are. Even when we don't agree on something, we put our differences aside and present a united front to the Tween. People usually remark on how refreshing it is to see all of us sit together and talk at the Tween's sporting events and how we all four show up for parent-teacher conferences.

I realize not every situation will be as amicable as what I have with my ex. But as I said to the twat waffle earlier, be the adult! Don't be an asshole. Put your feelings aside and do what's best for the kids.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Your past is not your future

Disclaimer: This week’s blog isn’t a hardcore Bitch session.

Sometimes something will happen and get you to thinking about how far you’ve come in life. That was the case for me the other day. It had me reflecting on the differences between my childhood and what I’ve been able to provide for my own children. 

My parents divorced when I was only 1 year old. My mother worked 3 jobs to support me and my 3 siblings, while my bio-dad moved out of the states and rarely communicated with us.  We lived in public housing and food stamps kept food in our fridge.  When I was 7 my mother married a real piece of shit, an abusive alcoholic asshole. He could never hold down a job, but my mom kept working 3 jobs to keep our family going. Everyone seemed to think my stepdad was a cool man – he could really turn on the charm sometimes. They would have been shocked to know how often he abused my mother, or beat me and my youngest sister with belts, fly swatters or even his hands. It leaves a hell of an impression on a young child to see her 3 year old sister gagged and tied up in her bedroom just so “daddy” could get some quiet time with another bottle of beer while mommy was working. Many nights my mom would lock me and my little sister in our bedroom before the asshole returned from the bar. Her instructions were always the same, “Don’t come out, no matter what you hear.” She tried to shield us from the worst of it yet I still saw him hold a shotgun to her head and throw knives at her. My mother tried many times to leave my stepdad, but it wasn’t until I was 14 that she was finally successful.  

When the asshole was finally out of the picture I started getting into trouble with the law. Go figure! I got into so much trouble that I spent a month in juvenile detention and then was removed from my mother’s home at the age of 15. Luckily, some family members stepped up and took me in so I wouldn’t be placed in a foster home. This was a major turning point for me. I changed schools, started participating in school activities and got back on the honor roll. I began to realize that I had been acting out in all of my anger and years of pain and frustration. I resolved that I would live a better life and that one day I would provide an environment for my own kids that would be so completely different than what I experienced.

I think this was really the start of my “Bitch lifestyle”. It was at this time that I knew I would never let another person treat me so horribly. It was when I knew I would always protect those that mattered to me. It was when I knew I would not become my past. I would do what it took to rise above everything I had been through.

My adult life has been so different from my childhood. I’m successful in my career. I have one college degree completed and I’m almost done with another. I have a great husband and three wonderful daughters who I instill with my beliefs of being strong, independent and determined women who won’t let someone kick them down. At the same time I teach them compassion for others. I give them opportunities to become confident in who they are.

So many people allow their past to become their future. They repeat patterns and stay with what is familiar to them. It doesn’t have to be this way. What happened in the past is not who you are in the future. It should shape who you become, but you have the power to make decisions that will change the course of your life. I didn’t have an easy childhood, but I don’t use that as an excuse as others do. I use my past as motivation for my future. You should, too. It’s never too late to be the person you want to be.   

Monday, February 4, 2013

Don't be a shitty parent

You know what I think is shitty parenting? Allowing your child, who doesn't even meet the age requirement of 13+, to have a Facebook account. First, you've taught your child it's OK to lie about their age - on the internet. Way to go, dipshit. Second, not even monitoring what your child is looking at on Facebook. Come on parents! Facebook makes it extremely easy to spy on other people's activities with little effort - it shows up right in your damn newsfeed!

The Tween has a friend (I'll call her Nelly to protect her) who signed up for a Facebook account when she was 10 years old. The mom rationalized to me that it was because she was tired of Nelly logging into her own account to play games, and she didn't want her daughter to see inappropriate things. Nelly's mom helped her set up her account and suggested me as a friend for her daughter. Not smart! The posts on my personal page are geared to a more mature audience since my friends are exactly that - mature. Because I wanted to be front and center when this stupid fucking idea backfired, I accepted the friend request and immediately assigned Nelly to a list that would never see my status updates. Eventually another girl in our little group of friends talked her mom into letting her join Facebook. And that little girl also sent me a friend request. Another child accepted and added to the special list with Nelly. How do you think this went over in my house? The Tween repeatedly asked me if she could have an account "because all of my friends do!" Uhm...hell to the fuck no!

Nelly is now about to turn 12. I've watched her online activities for almost 2 years now. It started out innocent enough. Over the last 6 months I've seen her behavior change. She apparently has figured out how to add people to her own special lists because her mom isn't seeing her status updates, which tend to be very suggestive in nature. Nelly has added over 200 friends. Many of which appear to be older. These may be friends of her parent's, just like me, but if so her interactions with them are inappropriate. Also, I often see that Nelly has liked pages with names and content that compete with my own "Bitch" is a Lifestyle. I see her sharing their photos and commenting on adult humor. Granted, those page admins should have set age restrictions as I have done in the Lifestyle, but the ultimate responsibility falls to Nelly's parents. Where the hell are they? Why aren't they monitoring what their child is doing? Even if they don't see her status updates, they can still see her activity. Are you slightly curious as to how Nelly lists her education in her "About" section? She apparently attends the "University of Sexy".

Guess who started talking to my Tween about sexual things? You bet...Nelly. I found the texts on my daughter's phone. When I told the mother, she laughed it off and then said it wasn't as bad as I made it sound. She also tried to deflect fault on me for “snooping” on my kid. Oh hell no! Bitch, the fucking texts are right there in the incoming messages on my daughter's phone! Just because your kid was smart enough to delete her messages doesn't mean it didn't happen!

For those of you that are going to get self-righteous and say that parents shouldn't "spy" on their children and shouldn't invade their privacy, turn your ass around right now and leave. I don't want to fucking hear it. Parents are meant to guide their children, to protect them and to make sure they're not being introduced to things that take away their childhood innocence. Parents aren't meant to be their kid's best friend. And parents sure as hell shouldn't introduce their child to an environment without monitoring them.

You can bet your ass I know what my kids are doing. I'm raising them and I'm going to make sure they follow my rules. Most importantly, I'm going to make sure I protect them and their innocence as much as I can.

Parents, pull your head out of your asses. Watch your kids. Make sure you know what they are up to. Don't jump into the running for the shitty parent award. You're going to hear it from me the instant your shitty parenting starts affecting my family.