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...


  1. We do separate conferences whether BM is single or not. As of right now, she's married. I did one conference with her present. She was VERY late and embarrassed. It bothered her that I was there and now she's over it...but still, 2 conferences are best...and what's up with them taking the girls out together as a "family?" Seriously effed....

    1. Truth be told, we're getting to the point where separate conferences may need to happen. There's a lot of baggage between Mama Ex and Hubs and it's working its way into the conferences. No bueno.

      I don't get the "let's take the girls out as a family" thing, either. The girls have two families. Plain and simple!

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. I just found your blog and read this post. I really like your 3 points as to why it is important for the separated bio parents to come together and attend PTCs together. I think you raise some very good points. One thing I've learned by experience, is that it is usually about a balance in the perception of "power." When Momma Ex had her boyfriend there, too, she probably felt there was a better balance. When he was no longer there, the balance of her perceived power would have been thrown off by your presence, even if it was in the background. I think this is a tough call on all accounts and I'd love to hear how everything turned out since this was from back in January. I don't always agree that a new step/bonus mom should pander to the bio mom's insecurities; however, there are times this may be necessary to keep the peace for the kids' sake. There are times, however, when it's just not fair to the kid for you to not be there, too. So, like I said, this is VERY tough.

    1. Well, Cynthia- things have changed. Mama Ex has gotten a little...less than civil. More blogs on that later. (Now that Lady and I are back from Forgetting to Blogville). The separate conferences seem to be more and more the thing to do, and it does bother me that we can't make the other way work. What can you do? Life's a moving target!