Diapers and Dragons

Friday, August 6, 2010

While I'm Waiting

Some days are more frustrating than others. I've had a couple lately. Today I'm stuck inside waiting for a repairman who is supposed to appear sometime between the hours of nine ay-em and six pee-em. Oh yes, peoples. I was given a NINE HOUR time span in which I must roam the rooms of my (fortunately wonderful) new home and wait for someone to show up and replace a hose on the washer that was installed incorrectly a week ago. And since we're renting the appliance from some national appliance company, we don't dare make the repairs ourselves in case they then decide that we have voided the rental agreement/warranty/whatever. They're only showing up today instead of next Tuesday because I begged.

I just love those impersonal national companies that don't even have a clue where you're really located when you call them. Oh, you're in Detroit? the representative asks after pulling up your account, not even using your own phone number or address because it's kind of through the rental complex.

No; West Bloomfield, Michigan, you reply.

Oh. Well, I have a lot of S---------- Villas listed here, he says, apparently unable to figure anything out for himself. And then switches you over to Customer Service where, you hope, they train the representatives to think for themselves marginally more.

The new representative assures you that there is someone coming, but no, she can't pinpoint the time span any more than the NINE HOUR one already given.

You can always just let the leasing office know and give them permission to let us in if you need to leave, the new representative tells you in a cheerful voice.

Because you're so comfortable with letting people in while you're gone so they can do who knows what and then feed you some bullsh*t about nothing being wrong and that leak being part of the service, isn't that lovely? It's a new feature! when you call to complain that you still can't run the clothes washer without flooding the utility room.

No thank you. I guess I'm stuck here.

It's been over four hours now. And we all know perfectly well he/she/it will show up at 5:55 this evening, right?

Face it, I'm grumpy. I'm feeling a bit guilty about that, because really I shouldn't be. I have so much to be not grumpy about.

The move went well, thanks to the invaluable assistance of ten other people, including five former students, who helped us move everything on Saturday and Sunday. I've been working steadily since then to unpack and organize everything, and overall it's gone quite well. There are only a few more boxes and smaller pieces of furniture to move out of the garage and into place, and I'll wait for MTL's help this weekend for most of that.

I love our new home. It's roomy--oh so very roomy!!!--and comfortable and feels like home already. The next door neighbor is very friendly and sweet and turned out to be the mother of one of my students who graduated last year. She and I have already exchanged numbers and spent time chatting, and it's lovely to feel a friendship developing.

At the same time, however, other stressors keep raising their uncomfortable heads. MTL started a new job last week, and although he's happier there and earning a bit more money and closer to home, he's coming home exhausted because it's more physically demanding than the last one. We've been very tight financially this week due to moving costs. We have a growing list of things we need to purchase, some more urgently than others.

With my personality, not being able to finish setting up the house and the kids' rooms bothers me. The fact that I don't have picture hangers so that I can spend my copious hours stuck inside by putting photos and art on the walls bothers me. Having to wait until next week to get the kids registered in school bothers me.

And not having had Just Us time with MTL in weeks bothers me. I've become a bit spoiled, I know. A bright, shiny silver lining in having Exes is getting fairly regular time to ourselves without kidlets around. Summer alters the schedule, and the various events of the last month have further mucked up arrangements. We haven't had real time to ourselves since we went out to Saugatuck the week after the Fourth of July.

Here's my confession: as much as I really do care about The Dark One and The Padawan and KlutzGirl, I'm still adjusting to becoming the stepmom, much less monitoring five kids. And reality alert! Working with teens in the classroom is a very different thing to working with them in the home. Especially when there isn't a bell that lets you kick them out the door after an hour or so.

What makes me feel rather small and petty are the occasional feelings of jealousy I have. Jealousy at having to share MTL with so many others, jealousy that their mother shares something with him that I can't, jealousy that my boys as well as his children sometimes would rather be with their other parents rather than us (and yes, I know how paradoxical that is considering my need for Just Us time with MTL).

I know this is pretty normal and that I need to get used to it and develop a thicker skin and all that, but yesterday was just Hard. My back was hurting and my allergies were so bad I felt cotton-headed and dizzy. I had KlutzGirl, DramaBoy, and The Widget with me all day. They play together quite well, but their noise level and the occasional need to referee quarrels were wearing me down. MTL arrived home exhausted. And then a minor difference in opinion between me and MTL on the issue of late-night snacking topped it all off, and I fell apart, leading to a rare argument between us.

The reality is that blending families is hard. We have it a lot easier than many, I know: both of us are amicable with our exes, our children like each other and us, and we generally have very good communication. But no road runs smoothly, and there are and will be issues that have to be worked out. Sometimes they seem to be minor, but the solutions aren't necessarily simple.

For example: I don't give my kids sugary snacks (or really, much in the way of snacks at all) later in the evening. They both tend to get a little hyper on sugar, especially DramaBoy. MTL's children don't react the same way, and he's never worried about their snacking, especially since he doesn't usually have much junk food around. But then we come up against situations, like last night, where I gave The Widget a graham cracker, but KlutzGirl wanted something else, and MTL gave her a little packet of Fruit Snacks (you know, the gummy thingies.) What do we do in these situations? Suddenly change the way things have always been for his kids and tell them they can't have what they've been allowed to have before? Deny my boys what the other kids are having?

It also goes to deeper issues, of course--and I'm not telling you the whole story, as there are aspects that are better left between me and MTL. But overall it does come down to blending two families into one, and we each are bringing in somewhat differing practices and expectations and parenting approaches. Sometimes that means we offer each other alternatives that are better than what we've done before individually; sometimes we don't see eye to eye. Add in two strong-willed individuals who have become used to doing things their own way, and we end up having to battle our own selves to find a way to compromise.

Our overall goals and desires for our children are essentially the same. What isn't always identical is the path we take to get there, and that is what makes the road a bumpy one. There are some very strong, solid foundations, however, that make it worth the work. We want to raise strong, independent children. We love our children, biological and not. And we love each other, enough to talk through the anger and the hurt and reach for the understanding on the other side.

Just...some days are a little tougher than others.

I'm not really asking for solutions here (and definitely not asking you to take sides on the stupid snack issue), though if you have practical experience in blended families, I wouldn't mind hearing what has worked--and what hasn't. I just needed to get it out, vent, throw the words out into the universe before girding my loins to return to the task at hand.

I think I need to go find that book on Stepcoupling I've been reading. I think it's still buried in a box somewhere.

And I still have four hours of waiting on that repairman to find it.

4 bits of love:

Heidi said...

I can't speak to blended families - my guess, on the snack front, would be to have his kids have a stash of snacks in their room, so that if they get hungry after-hours, so to speak, they can consume said snacks in their room(s) so that your boys don't see/aren't aware.

His kids should be old enough to understand that what they want, your boys will want, so if they're having nighttime snacks it's totally okay, but that they need to do that in their rooms and shut the door while the boys are still up.

Not sure if that is workable within your living arrangements, as I'm not familiar with those, but it might be worth a try.

Wanderlust said...

You all have a lot LOT of big changes all going on at once and I imagine it will take time to adjust to all of that. I've never dealt with the experience of a blended family so I can't personally speak to it, but I know it comes with unique challenges. Give yourselves time to get used to the new situation. I wish I could offer actual practical advice, but for now I'll just say hang in there and take things slow. xx

Draft Queen said...

I can see how this is an issue. With B bringing her son over with more frequency, I can see the issue of blending the kids. Of course, this will be "not my problem" in a short time (hopefully) but I can still see it.

Not going to lie: makes me glad N doesn't have kids.

Nevertheless, I freaking miss you like crazy and I wish Michigan was far closer than it is. Hang in there, darlin'.

PantsWithNames said...

I can't even start to imagine the difficulties of trying to blend families together. So tough. Things that you never even thought would be an issue are. Big respect for working through them all - you'll all get there in the end! Big hugs. xxx

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