Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Disengagement - in action

Well I've had my first taste of a situation that required me to disengage.

Today, I found out that SD has registered on Facebook, with her real first name but her best friend's surname, and a fake date of birth. However, she used her real email address and also kept the month and day of her DOB the same, so it wasn't hard to tell it was her!

I didn't do anything - I rang DP, and I told him what I'd found out. He asked me, as he won't be home for a while, to please report it to facebook, as he wants them notified asap. He then said he was furious and also very worried about SD because of this. I said "well if you want to talk about it I'm here, but she's your child so you need to decide how best to deal with it". DP is thinking that he is going to ban her from the internet while she is here, for a while. What he is most upset about is the dishonesty, he's had a talk to her not so long ago about Facebook, and how people on the internet are not always who they seem to be etc, and she said some of her friends went on it with fake dates of birth. She told him she wasn't on it though, and DP said good, I would not be happy if you were because you are too young.

If she was my child she'd be banned from the internet for a LONG time, and seriously supervised when allowed back on. But in SD's case, BM has probably permitted it, so it's one of those cases where it's difficult, and slightly unfair on her if she's got one parent saying yes and one no. But it's one of those "not in my house" scenarios - if BM is fine with her on social networking sites at ten, then there's not much DP can do about it, but he won't enable her to do it on his time and on his computers. I don't feel that optimistic that DP will be able to keep up the ban for very long, but for the first time, I feel that it doesn't really affect me if he doesn't. He will be the one who has to deal with it if, God forbid, SD encounters an internet predator, and it will be he and BM who have to wonder why on earth were they not stricter and more vigilant about her activities online. Of course I do not WANT that to happen to my stepdaughter, but if her parents will not ensure that her internet use is age appropriate, they are the ones taking that risk, not me.

Monday, 29 June 2009

When it's time to board the Train of Disengagement

There comes a time in every stepmum's life when she contemplates Disengaging.

Unless you're one of the rare breed that gets it right first time, chances are your relationship with the little darling/s sometimes has to undergo some re-evaluation. And that's just our relationships with our partners!


I read this article some time ago and found it was time to re-read it. Because it seems that my life is waaaaaay too much about stepmotherhood these days. I have become a bit of a martyr, it seems, to the cause of making sure everything is right for SD. Making sure the things she likes and are healthy are in the fridge. Getting her school uniform clean and dry for Monday morning. Checking if she has homework. Reminding her to clean her teeth. Getting frustrated with DP because he still hasn't booked her in at the dentist. Being the one who remembers all the practical things, and takes the action.

It extends into other areas of our lives, too. DP works and commutes long hours, so a lot of the practical things do seem to fall to me. Remembering which bills need paid, what phone calls we need to make, who has what appointments and when. Housework. And I juggle this on top of my own full time job, and other out of work commitments. No wonder DP didn't like it when I announced I wanted to take part in an adventure race this year which would involve a lot of training. Who wouldn't feel lost without bloody Superwoman at home to do everything! I've made a rod for my own back!

DP stumbles in the door at night and the first things he says usually are "Sleep" or "Bed". We get next to no time together as a couple. But the time that we do get, I don't enjoy, because I am so resentful of my situation, I have started to blame him for it. I don't enjoy being us any more. I resent him why? Because his energy goes mostly to his job, and then his daughter. Mine goes into my job and running the household. Our relationship is last on our priority list. Neither of us are putting our energy into being good partners. I thought I was being a good partner by taking care of everything, particularly when it came to SD, but now, I realise I'm not benefiting DP as either partner or parent. Taking care of the mundane stuff - it's part of parenting, and it's what he misses out on when SD isn't around. The problem I've had is that, of course, unless I nag, or do it myself, it doesn't get done.

So let's examine why it bothers me if SD does not, for example, clean her teeth. She's not my kid, but I do have an interest in her welfare, and if she had toothache and had to endure a nasty session at the dentist having teeth out or fillings, I would feel bad for her. So I try to ensure she cleans her teeth. OH sometimes reminds her, when he remembers himself, but more often than not, he's not fussed.

But until he's holding his child's hand in the dentist's chair trying to calm her down before someone goes into her mouth with a bunch of needles and a drill, I don't think he'll actually GET IT. Until he's faced with a child with no uniform for school, I don't think he'll start making that mental note to remember to wash it and hang it out. Until SD says she's hungry and he hasn't bothered to do any shopping, and he has to deal with hungry cranky kid, I don't think he'll remember to go to the shop the day before she arrives.

I do a lot of things that I don't have to, and really, nobody cares if I don't do them. So why do them in the first place, out of some idea that this is the right thing to do? For Gods sake, why on earth am I doing all this for a kid I didn't provide the DNA for, when she already has two parents who should be doing those things? DP has it great, right now, he gets to be Disneydad with the cuddles and treats, and I get to be the one who reminds her to pick her crap up off the floor and brush her teeth before bed.

More importantly, I need him to learn before we have a family, that practical stuff doesn't = Mum's stuff.

I want my relationship back. I haven't signed up for us being Mum and Dad yet. He's a Dad, sure, but I'm his girlfriend, not even wife! Girlfriends have sex, they're fun, they're cool. Girlfriends still splurge on lacy undies on payday, they don't worry about buying school uniform or yogurts in a tube. Nagging stepmothers are anything but fun or sexy!