Saturday, November 29, 2003

A Step-Mothers Frustrations

Yesterday I did schoolwork at the kitchen table with Reagan and Karina (my 11 year-old step-daughter) and got my first taste of what it will be like to educate two children at the same time. I'd get Reagan busy with a project, then turn to quiz Karina on her Latin. Then I'd get her busy reviewing something else, while I helped Reagan with his work. It was so much fun! They're both bright and eager to learn.

Later in the afternoon Reagan went off to spend the night at his Dad's house. We still haven't gotten to take our field trip to the grocery store! Of course we're in CA right now, so our pick of grocery stores is limited unless we want to cross the picket line. We have no intention of doing that. We are a union family, after all.

Today for the first time in six months, I had the opportunity to take my son to the movies. Dominic, Karina, Reagan, and I all piled in the car leaving Piper with Grandma and Grandpa. A total treat. We took them to see Disney's "The Haunted Mansion" but our fun was short lived. First I forgot the ATM card, so we had to go home. So, we tried for the next show time but it was sold out. So we went to the next show not wanting to let the kids down. But it was going to put us out a little bit later than we're supposed to take Karina home. And we have a 45 minute drive to take her home (her mother WILL NOT share transportation burdens with us). Anyway, Karina decided she wanted to call her mom during the movie (we had planned to call, but not right then), to let her know that we would be running a bit late (maybe 45 minutes) and her mother insisted we come home right then. Dominic left the theatre and called hoping that maybe he would be able to work something out. L. yelled so loudly he couldn't put the phone to his ear, demanding that we bring her back right then.

We have been counting every penny and budgeting like crazy to make ends meet. That's the life of a homeschooling family most of the time, I think. This was the first time in six months I'd been able to take my child to the movies. He'd been counting down the days till it came out. This was something special. He was very confused when I told him we had to leave. I apologized profusely, and promised to make it up to him. He was so good. He wasn't happy about it, but he behaved beautifully. It made me proud, and broke my heart. Both kids cried. Karina was afraid, saying she knew her mother would be mad at her! She also informed us that when her mom gets mad, she says things about Dominic. We informed her that the court order says that no one is allowed to say bad things about her parents. Reagan cried because he doesn't get to go to the movies more than once or twice a year, and he really wanted to see this one. I cried out of fury. Pure, unadulterated fury.

Maybe this is a silly thing to be upset about. I just know that if it had been me it wouldn't have been an issue. I've let my son's dad take him anytime unless we were walking out the door and already had plans. Even then, sometimes I've been able to let him go. Reagan having time with his dad is really important to me, and I usually ask him when he'll bring Reagan home as opposed to giving him a time to return. But L. is not that way. I should really stop expecting her to be. It's just that tonight she hurt her own daughter to stick it to my husband and that breaks my heart. There was nothing of vital importance that Karina needed to be home for. She has her almost all the time. She likes to point out that it's not her problem that we moved to Minnesota and have to come out here to visit (hence the not being willing to help with transportation to and from visits) well, I kind of feel like it's not our problem that she chooses a 40 hour a week job with an hour or so commute each morning which keep her from spending more time with her children.

For me, these are the moments that try my Christian heart. I get angry, and it's easy to feel justified having negative thoughts about the other person. But, it's not my place to judge her. The truth is that I don't know all her motives. I don't know how her mind works. I don't know her heart at all. So these are the times I have to revert to prayer. Lord, remind me that she is your child and that You know every hair on her head. Remind me that I am to love her as a sister and forgive every perceived wrong. Give me a words of wisdom and peace that I may, at every turn, show the love of Christ to her and to Karina.

Please pray for me, readers, that I may be kept humble and do what is best for every member of my family, especially Karina. And that every adult responsible for Karina be given wisdom, and a heart of kindness.

And I have to remind myself that she'll be getting up at 5 am tomorrow. She'll get her kids ready, put them in the car and drive for about an hour to drop the first one off. Then she'll drive another 20-30 minutes to drop off the second, and take her husband to work. Then she'll spend about 8 hours in her office before turning around to do it again. She should have just enough time in the evening to make preparations for the next day before getting everyone ready to go to bed and do it again the next morning.

I'm going to get up tomorrow and fly home. This week my children and I will go to the grocery store, to play groups, and out for walks in the winter air. I'll practice addition and subtraction with my son. I'll sing Barney songs with my daughter. I'll spend a lot less in rent, for a much smaller place. But I'll be there to enjoy it. Our home. I'll make dinner for my children, and pack my husbands lunch. We'll watch our sea-monkeys and observe for changes. In short, I'm really happy with the life we've chosen. And I wouldn't trade it for anything. So, I should really count my blessings. And I should thank her. I did get the guy, after all.

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