Monday, January 30, 2012

conference me in

Lady has been on my case for the last two months to PLEASE WRITE SOMETHING ON THIS BLOG WE CREATED. Like now.

I've given about every excuse in the book not to.

I'm tired. I just started a new job. I need to work out. I have split ends. My roots are showing. No one wants to hear what I have to say. People aren't going to like me.

No more excuses. It's time to get down to work.

In her last entry, Lady started to tell you a little bit about herself. I'll get to that as well, but before I do, I'm going to ask the question that has been burning on my mind for the last four days:

Should a stepmother be allowed to attend Parent Teacher Conferences?

Now before you get all excited and start ripping your hair out screaming THESE ARE YOUR RIGHTS AS A STEPMOTHER!!!, let me explain.

I am aware that many schools allow divorced or separated couples to schedule PTC's apart from each other. This is intended to avoid the conference turning into a therapy session where Mom accuses Dad of dating a floozy, and Dad accuses Mom of spending her child support on Botox.

I get it.

But here's the thing. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think it's healthy for Mom and Dad to put their differences aside and show up to the conference together. Don't get me wrong, I get that it's hard. I really do. My Hubs is currently in a long legal process with Mama Ex, trying to get more custody of his girls. Things are not rosy. But, the two of them have agreed to suck it up and go to the conferences together.

There are three reasons I think this is great.

1) The children know both parents got the same information and therefore can't try and manipulate parent against parent. (Example: "No Daddy, the teacher told Mommy I'm doing excellent in Math. You must have heard her wrong."

2) The kids see that Hubs and Mama Ex are concerned enough about their education to show up together and act like adults.

3) Hubs and Mama Ex show the teacher that they can be a united front.

This is where it gets dicey. I am an extremely committed step mom. I consider myself an extension of my husband and Mama Ex when it comes to parenting. I do my best to hold up the rules of Mama Ex's household just as much as the rules of ours. I go to basketball games, recitals, field trips and pitch in for school events. In addition, I pay for clothing, nights out on the town with the girls, fun activities, movies, toys. These are things I do willingly and gladly, because this is the family I signed up for. I love to be involved in the girls' lives.


Two weeks ago when Mama Ex texted Hubs to let him know PTC's were next week, she essentially said this:

Girls' PTC are next week. I assume you will go at the same time as me as always. I think it's best if only the girls' parents attend, and then we can take them to dinner afterward.

I guess I wouldn't have a problem with this, if it weren't for the fact that I always attend the conferences with my husband and Mama Ex. Always. I don't contribute. I sit behind Mama Ex and Hubs and listen intently and keep my comments to myself. I'm just there to show support to my husband and to show the teacher that all of the adults in the children's lives are active participants.

This has never been a problem before. Then again, Mama Ex's boyfriend of the month has always come along with her. But now, Mama Ex is single, and suddenly she doesn't think I should attend.

This makes me...not happy. I love hearing how the girls are doing in school. The girls love knowing that I went to the conferences and am showing an interest in their education and their learning.

I believe this to be a (rather selfish) flex of Mom muscle by Mama Ex, mostly because attending a parent teacher conference solo terrifies her. My contention is she only allowed me to attend in the past because she was allowing her boyfriend to come along, too. Now that he's gone, she wants me gone.

News flash: I'm not a girlfriend of Hubs. I'm his wife. I am the girls' step mom.

And so I ask you - based on the fact that I have always attended parent teacher conferences with Hubs and Mama Ex, should I be allowed to attend the upcoming conference next week? Do I risk angering Mama Ex by showing up whether she wants me to or not? Do I leave it to Hubs to go to bat for me? Do we just schedule a separate conference? Do I just let it drop in the interest of not rocking the boat?

A little help, please...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lady's Story Pt. 1

I grew up in the typical midwest, American family.  High school sweethearts for parents, a dog, a cat and a brother that I loved and hated depending on the day.  My parents weren't able to have children of their own but through sweet luck on their side, were able to adopt my brother and I. 

Growing up I was always involved in any activity I could fit into my schedule, made good grades and was boy crazy to the 'nth degree.  I loved traveling with my family and still love retelling stories of our adventures together.

Once in college, it was very apparent that I had become different than a lot of the girls I was in high school with.  Everyone seemed to be focused on finishing school, getting married and having babies.  Well, at least those that didn't just go ahead and have them in high school.  

I was different.  I just wanted to stay in school forever -- and believe me, I tried.  I lived for parties and prided myself on knowing all of the bouncers and bartenders in the town.  For me, looking ahead meant figuring out which outfit I was going to wear on the weekend and what our after-hours theme was going to be.  Marriage and kids were the LAST thing on my mind.

Fast forward a few years and the sound of an olive hitting the bottom of my martini glass, the clacking of stilettos all around me and a trip to the dry cleaners every 4 days was all too regular.  I was living in a power city more than a thousand miles away from home --still in school, still dating and living up the night while working for a fabulous S&P 500 company.  My friends were all ages, single and not one parent in the group.  The thought of children terrified me.  I was on the fast track with my company and was always focused on my next promotion.   Independent woman, hear me roar!