Killing Pollyanna

It’s been almost four years since stepmom came on the scene. Though she showed up with the ex for pick-ups several times, I didn’t actually meet her until she had been around for nine months and they were engaged and pregnant—and even that was only after my sister and I orchestrated a forced introduction.

I did my best in the early days to try to be inclusive, welcoming, waving the flag of “I don’t want him back; I just want us all to get along.” I sent a book, “No One’s the Bitch,” in hopes of avoiding all the negativity one hears about so often in mom vs. stepmom situations. I invited her to the birthday parties. I suggested we meet for coffee sometime. I wrote a letter trying to reach out and say that we must have gotten off on the wrong foot or something and that I want all of us to get along. In spite of this, I was essentially treated as though I didn’t exist or told that I didn’t show enough respect for the ex. Continue reading

Knowledge, Understanding, and Intimacy

“You never understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” – Harper Lee

“Understanding is deeper than knowledge. There are many people who know you, but there are very few who understand you.” — unknown

I had someone tell me recently that they understood me based on reading through my blog. I can only hope that they meant well in saying so, but the remark wasn’t well received. Continue reading

Why is Change Hard?

I love lists. To do lists, books I want to read (or buy), projects I want to do, articles that interest me… My favorite list, though, seems to be the list of the “ideal self.” Who do I want to be? What qualities do I want to have? What do I want my life to look like?

It’s easy to make this list. I have some perfect vision of myself that I aspire to–healthy, active, thin(ish), active in my faith, well-read, a published writer, an excellent editor, a great cook, an attentive mother, a creative seamstress. The list gets re-made at least once a year, but I never seem to be re-made in its image. Continue reading

How NOT to Co-parent

The Internet is full of articles on how to parent effectively with your ex-spouse. Here is a little list of what not to do, based on the mistakes my co-parent and I have made (and continue to make).

1. Instead of co-parenting with your ex-spouse, treat your new partner as your sole co-parent.

Divorce does not end the parenting relationship. Like it or not, you and the person you created those babies with are stuck with each other in some capacity until one of you dies. When the children reach the age of 18, the co-parenting relationship may shift, as the child can then make decisions for him/herself. But there will still be endless life events that your child might want both of you present for, and they’d probably prefer that you keep your shitty attitudes to yourself. If you repartner and treat your new partner as your co-parent instead of your former spouse, you are creating hostility and doing yourself, your ex, your new marriage, and your children a great disservice. If the child has two involved parents, step-parents should support the parents, but not replace the child’s other parent in the co-parenting relationship. Leave the co-parenting to the two involved parents. Continue reading

Interior Freedom

One of my intentions this year is to start reading through my personal library. I own over 400 books. My dear husband can tell you how much he enjoys having to move my library. These are real paperback and hardcover books, not just digitized words on a screen. The most recent bundle of paper fueling my mind is Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe. I happened upon this book one evening while browsing through the parish bookstore during my eldest son’s catechism class. I wasn’t seeking out a book on forgiveness, but the title sparked my curiosity. Continue reading

On the Feast of St. Polycarp

Today marks 14 years since I was received into the Catholic Church. When I first began my journey to the Catholic faith, I was uncomfortable with parishes that felt too traditional. I wasn’t ready to leave the comfort of my Evangelical Protestant environment, so I sought out a Catholic parish that felt more Protestant. That, I soon realized, was a mistake. After a short stint in an RCIA class at the first parish, I received private instruction from a Jesuit priest at a very traditional parish. When my instruction ended, I was given the option of joining the RCIA class at the traditional parish, or being received into the Church privately. Lent was coming soon and I wanted to experience it as a Catholic, so I chose to be received privately on the Feast of St. Polycarp. You can read more of my conversion process in this post.

In the last 14 years, my faith has grown and faded and been renewed. This anniversary is bittersweet. I love my chosen faith, and the fact that there is always room to grow deeper in it. I have no regrets about becoming Catholic and no desire to follow any other spiritual path. But it hasn’t been an easy path. Continue reading

One Step Forward?

My youngest son, Joe, has struggled in school since he started kindergarten. In that first year, I helped out in the classroom several times. The teacher remarked at how much better he behaved while I was there and jokingly said I should come in every day. My view was that if he required a parent present to do well in school, why not cut out the middle man and homeschool?

His first and second grade teachers were great. They worked with him and found what motivated him in their classrooms. This year he’s in third grade at a different school. The new school is part of the problem. The class is packed with 30 kids. He misses his friends at his old school. Unfortunately, the old school is over-crowded and he’s number seven on the waitlist to return.

The teacher this year seems to be having a lot of trouble with Joe. He loses paperwork, goofs off in class, doesn’t complete assignments or tests in class, and doesn’t seem to care much about any of it. These are the same things each teacher every year has had trouble with, but it seems to be a much bigger deal to this teacher than those in previous years. Continue reading