Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chronicles of Inflexibility

I read stories about blended families all the time and sometimes I think, "Sheesh. Glad we don't have to go through that aspect."  Other times I think, "I so wish we had that experience."  But, the fact is, we  have what we have.    I can commiserate connect with other stepmoms based on all of it.  Those connections are sometimes the only things that make it bearable...knowing we are not alone.

One element I will never understand about our situation is the inflexibility about doing what's right for my stepdaughter with regard to her time and activities. 

As I've mentioned before, Reagan was involved in Brownies this year per her desire. Last week was their final meeting of the year {once a month}.  When filling out the survey about the experience, it was difficult because when asked what her favorite activity was during the course of the year, Reagan had only two to choose from. She missed the 15+ others because they were during BM's time and BM refused to allow Reagan to participate on "her time."  So, she attended a meeting once a month and the only two activities that fell during the week rather than on a weekend.  She missed out on a zoo overnight, a 2 day camping trip, countless service activities, a Father-Daughter dance, a Haunted House, selling cookies with her troop at the grocery store, Earth Day clean-up among others. 

Last week while we were eating supper, we were talking about Andrew's upcoming hockey season and she said most of her friends are playing soccer now and she wants to play a sport.  Tricky situation, kid.  We told her that she needs to tell her mom because it's not fair to herself or a team that she misses out on half the games because her mom won't bring her. {We've already been down this road in the past.} There is a clause in the custody order to cover this, but BM refuses to follow it anyway, so it's pointless.

Realistically it's not fair for a team to not be able to count on a participant to show up and take the place of another who can and will show up.  We explained that as well.  She won't tell BM she wants to do anything anyway.   She's been taught that she won't be able to, so she just doesn't hope or ask anymore.

It's not simply sports or scouts either.  Birthday parties in the past have been denied or told she can go, then the rug pulled out at the last minute.  Even with an upcoming birthday slumber party, she said she's not allowed to go because the mom didn't send the information to BM directly. Ok, crazycakes. That's seems fair.  The friend's mom and I have worked on committees together, we have kids in two same classrooms {Andrew and her older daughter are in the same class too} and are friends. So, she sent the information to me. Why wouldn't she since all of the above mentioned? 

George simply forwarded it to BM. All of it. The flyer with info. He didn't re-write it or change it.  So instead of going to a slumber party with her best friend on a Friday night until Saturday morning because Reagan didn't get invited BM's way, she misses out again. Control psycho freak, anyone?

Here's the thing. Reagan tells her own friends that BM won't let her do anything on "her time."  Those friends tell their parents. Thus, those parents don't want to get involved in the chaos. {me neither}.  This was one of the parents taking a shot in the dark that Reag would be able to come because HER daughter really wants Reagan there.  Pretty soon, those invitations just won't come.  And that is simply hurtful to Reagan. Not us. We ensure Reagan participates and has a rich life during the time she's with us by normal family participation as well as activities.  For the record, I don't talk about BM with school folks because she's embarrassing to me and I don't want any association with her at all, so there's not that factor with Reagan's friends' parents.

The inflexibility doesn't end there, sadly. Last weekend when we headed out of town, George took a shot in the dark and asked BM if Reag could come with us. {Of course, BM would never give without getting, so he offered her 3 extra days in the summer out of his custodial schedule.}
She ignored him for a few days and after we'd sent Reag off to school Friday {the day BM's representatives pick her up}, she decided to answer telling him he needed to plan things on his "ample time" with Reagan.  hahahahahhahahahaha!

Yeah, ok.  While we're busy ensuring she's successful in school, attending doctor and dental visits, participating in extracurricular activities and being the parents, we'll just whisk away out of school and work because it's "our time".  This is the real world, honey. Not the fantasyland you reside in.  The responsibilities of the actual work in being her parents lie with us. You've successfully become the person she visits on the weekends by your own doing. 

We've been on the weekend side with her. We still ensured her life was rich with time and activity as best we could.  Only 6 more weeks of school and then we switch to a week on/week off which I'm sure will bring another set of issues with BM, but we'll see. I'm looking forward to the break.

Reagan is to call the non-custodial parent each night per the legality of life when your kid is in the family court system.  While this was fitting in the past brought on when we'd go weeks with hearing from or seeing her during the custodial process, at this point an eight year old should not have to be forced to make phone calls to her parents.  She specifically says that if she doesn't call BM from our house then when she wants to call her dad when she's at BM's, she won't be allowed.  So the obligatory phone call gets made each night despite lack of desire.  However, when she does want to call her on a time when she's not "supposed to", BM doesn't answer anyway.  It's a joke all the way around.  A kid should be able to call her parent to share, say goodnight, I miss you, I love you, hi or whatever because she WANTS to WHEN she wants to. 

Last week, I suggested that Reag FaceTime BM instead of just calling {in an effort to encourage the desire versus obligation}. After explaining that BM could set it up via email instead of with her phone number {that she's legally obligated to give, but doesn't because she thinks we want it to harrass her. whatever *coo coo*} Reagan was able to FaceTime with BM two nights. We suggested she sit on the porch for privacy and she was able to enjoy a conversation with BM and see her baby sister during the week.  Rest assured that will never happen in the reverse. Ever.  I still suggested it because something needed to be better for Reagan. And that's why we do what we do. For her.

We're at the point where we have no expectation regarding BM allowing Reagan to participate in anything that is associated with us, school, our family, her friends, or time.  We just go about it without her and although we desire her to be with us, we're not putting our lives on hold because she's stuck with inflexibility on her other side.