Wednesday, November 12, 2014

gray matters

Is anyone still reading this blog?? :-)

So sorry for the absence, step bloggies. Life sometimes just gets in the way, right? Well no worries - I'm back, and soon enough, Lady will be as well.

During my absence, so many things have happened that I feel you stepmoms can identify with. One of them is really bugging me.

Asking permission.

As a stepmom, I feel like I'm constantly having to ask for permission to do something I know is right. But, because I'm not "the mom", I have to get approval from either Mama Ex or my husband. 

Don't get me wrong, some things are seriously not okay for me to decide:

  • Tampons for my oldest stepdaughtesr? Not my call. 
  • HPV shot for my stepdaughters? Not my call.
  • Allowing my stepdaughter to go on a date for the first time? Not my call.
These are just no-brainers. But in-between the obvious legal decisions, health decisions and black and white issues, there is some gray area - and that's where stepmoms live.

Right smack dab in the middle of the gray.

Here's an example:

Earlier this week, my stepdaughters both had an orthodontist appointment. They're each at the age where braces are probably going to be needed so they don't end up looking like Jewel. Hubs was working and unable to make the appointment. Mama Ex was supposed to go, but at the last minute opted out because she couldn't get off of work, either.

So it was on me.

I picked up the girls from school at 11:00 and went to the appointment. I listened, took notes, asked questions...all on behalf of both biological parents. I even made sure to mention that I was just a stepmom, and would have to get back to the orthodontist about whether we would continue with treatment. I was happy to do it all of this. It made me feel like I actually matter in this family. Both Hubs and Mama Ex couldn't be there, so good ol' stepmom stepped up to the plate and did what needed to be done. YAY ME!

The good feeling didn't last.

The appointment ended around 1:15, and the girls still needed lunch. We grabbed a bite quickly, but by the time it was all said and done, the clock read 1:48. School ends at 2:15. It made zero sense to return the girls to school for less than 30 minutes, especially since the classes they were missing were art and choir. I called Hubs and told him I was just going to take the girls back to our house and they could spend the rest of the afternoon finishing homework from their classes earlier in the day. He approved and that was that.

A few minutes after returning home, my youngest stepdaughter's phone rang. It was Mama Ex checking to see how the appointment went. This is the convo I heard:

T: Hi, Mommy!

Mama Ex: (inaudible)

T: Yes, it went great! I do need braces and maybe even an expander thing to make my jaw wider! It was fun to see the pictures of my teeth on this big TV!

Mama Ex: (inaudible)

T: Yeah, we got some lunch that Ruby took us to get. So now I'm just on my bed at Daddy's house doing homework.

Mama Ex: (inaudible)

T: Because Ruby just took us home after lunch and the appointment. Why are you yelling?

Mama Ex: (inaudible)

T: (starts crying) I'm sorry! I didn't think it would matter! Please don't be mad!!


This went on for several minutes, and though I couldn't hear the other side of the convo, I could easily glean that Mama Ex was less than thrilled that I didn't take the girls back to school after the appointment. 

I'll be honest with you - I never thought it would be that big of a deal. Did I make a minor decision without asking Mama Ex? Yes. But I did ask Hubs and he was fine with it, and as their father, he has that right.

Of course Hubs got an immediate call from Mama Ex, explosively angry that I had the audacity to make a parental decision to not return her children to school.


Let me get this straight - I took 2.5 hours out of my day to take these kids to an orthodontist appointment on behalf of the biological parents, and that was fine. I listened to a doctor explain what procedures these children needed on behalf of the biological parents, and that was fine. I asked questions about the procedures and cost of this orthodontia work on behalf of the biological parents, and that was fine. I use my own insurance to get $1,000 per child covered if we move forward with the treatment...and that is fine. But making a common sense decision to let the kids miss 25 minutes of school is unacceptable and completely outside my boundaries?

Did I miss something?

The bottom line is, Mama Ex didn't like that I made a decision without her. As long as she knows exactly what I'm doing with her children and when I'm doing it, all is well. But the minute I step outside what she is expecting, all hell breaks loose.

And that isn't fair.

You can't trust someone to be there for important medical procedures/consultations, and not trust them to make a truly insignificant choice about 25 minutes of school. You either trust me, or you don't.

Pick a lane.

Is that too much to ask?

Has this ever happened to you? Do you feel like one minute you're worthy of parental decisions, and the next you're no different than a babysitter? Tell me how you feel in the comments!


  1. Thank you for this post. You have done an excellent job articulating the very essence of being step-momma. Many people don't really think about the "gray area"'s not all just black and white.

    1. Totally agree, and I'm so sorry I never responded. Everything is gray when it relates to blended families- that's just how it is, right? I think common sense is often thrown out the window because emotions and split-second reactions get in the way.