Ever have one of those moments where you realize that you are just like one of your parents? OMG!
Mine happened two weeks ago. I was lecturing our youngest about leaving the damn lights on again. “Money doesn’t grow on trees you know!” I said. I immediately slapped my hand over my mouth as though I had just said the dirtiest words in the world. I turned to Rob and let out a huge gasp followed by an uncontrollable giggle. What the hell had I just said? Yup, I am my father’s daughter. No doubt. I have become a frugal, money pinching, uptight individual just as he was. Ok, don’t get me wrong. Saving money is a good thing and being conservative when it comes to things that affect the environment…yes, a very good thing. HOWEVER, I had no idea that I was really becoming a replicate of my pops. Growing up, my dad ensured that I did not rack up the bills by enforcing certain rules. Want to hear some? Ok, ok, I know you do so here they are:
1. The 5 Minute Shower – I had exactly 5 minutes to shower every second day. Should you go over the annoying egg timer set to the second, you would find yourself either finishing your shower in ice cold water OR standing in the shower with freshly lathered shampoo and no water. Yes, he would actually either turn the hot water off OR shut the water off completely.
2. The Lights must be turned off – lights left on resulted in some sort of yard duty. My most memorable one was picking rocks in our five acre yard.
3. My bedroom must be tidy – any clothes left lying around…well let’s just say that it only took me a couple times to figure this rule out after my undies were nicely displayed on the front lawn.
4. The Laundry machines – only permitted once a week. All other days, the breakers would be shut off resulting in no clean clothes.
5. The 2 Minute Phone Call – probably one of my least favorite. As a teenager your life depended on connecting with your friends. Remember, this was back in the day before cell phones, texting, the internet, etc. In fact, we had a party line with the old rotary phones. What is a party line you ask? That is where 3 households share one phone line. Each home had a distinct ring (one short ring, two short and one long ring, etc.) Yes, this seriously existed.
So, my realization that morning was an extreme eye opener. I feel as though I learned some real valuable lessons from my father growing up. His rules made me understand the meaning of a dollar even though at the time I did not agree with his tactics. But, I do not want to have my kids strongly disliking me either over very stringent rules. My question is where is the balance? You want to teach them these things without becoming a mean old nag.
This is what I have come up with so far…
a) Teaching kids about money is important. The reality is that money doesn’t grow on trees. When I asked my kids if they knew what utilities were, they responded with “U-t-l-t-e-s?” Ok, they couldn’t even pronounce the word. I took some time and explained what utilities meant and why we had to pay for them. They were literally shocked that these services weren’t free.
b) Discipline is a part of raising children however it is not always the best solution. Rewards, encouragement and knowledge are always good ways of teaching kids. Learning about the environment in fun exciting ways that kids can relate to is a good start. Saving water, turning off the lights, recycling, etc. are good examples of being mindful which results in money savings. Small rewards for cleaning their room, helping with laundry, dishes, etc. is also effective.
c) My biggest lesson learned is “Choose your battles!” Yes, rules are important and necessary but sometimes…just sometimes you need to let them slide. If it’s not endangering the children, yourself or others, then once in a while let it go. This has been my most valuable yet challenging lesson I struggle with.
If you have any thoughts, suggestions, etc. please share! I would love to hear from you!
One of my pet peeves in general is picky eaters and bad table manners. So when you add this to a newly blended family situation…well let’s just say I go from June Cleaver to Cruela De Ville in a matter of minutes. Seriously. Have you ever read the book by Dr. Seus, “Green Eggs and Ham”? Well, I believe this book was written about my two step kids. I am not kidding. Basically the same lines are repeated throughout the book like a broken record that you want to smash to smithereens. “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam-I-am.” This is what I heard at every single flippin meal. It is like nails on a chalk board. Growing up I was expected to eat what was put in front of me and I had better not even think about complaining or I would get one of those looks…you know what I am talking about. Those famous parent looks that say everything like, “Don’t even think about whining. You’re lucky you even have food! I brought you into this world and I can take you out!” LOL
In fact, if I so much as made a face, snicker or sound about the food placed in front of me, I would get another helping of whatever it was we were having. Ugh…turnips! Still makes me shutter.
Ok, so back to me turning into Cruella De Ville. This was a routine character change for me at meal time. This carried on for several months until one dinner when I decided that something needed to change. I had prepared some pasta in an alfredo sauce with cooked chicken breast and veggies. Doesn’t sound too horribly disgusting does it? I didn’t think so but apparently to my two step kids it was as though I was asking them to eat a roasted to perfection tarantula with a side of worms. It was one of my kids faves so no troubles there. Anyways, dinner turned into a huge bout of drama that included screaming, gagging, vomiting, tears and some stomping. Ahhh, good times. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. To me, this was completely unacceptable. Oh, and to top it off one more little kicker. Kevin (Rob’s 8 year old son) shoved his plate to the side and said “I didn’t order this, I’m not eating it.” Huh? WTF? Did I miss the sign as I walked through the front door tonight that said “Mc Jackie’s R’US”? To say the least, that was the “Straw that broke the camel’s” back for me.
I smiled and looked at Rob, put down my fork and politely excused myself from the table and headed upstairs to our bedroom. This was my cooling off period to collect my thoughts and calm down so I didn’t lose it in front of the children. That evening I made it pretty clear to Rob that some changes were required…immediately. The key to a healthy happy relationship and family (blended or not) is communication. So important.
Needless to say, we talked it out…a lot. We have had and continue to have some trying meals together however things are going much much better now. The expectation in our house hold? Well, first we are not a restaurant so you may not “order” your food. Second, you need to eat what is prepared for you (whether you like it or not because that is life!) and use your manners!
Rob and I have been together for two years. Things aren’t perfect but at least I don’t have the words “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam-I –am” running through my head at each meal. As for Cruella De Ville…well she still veers her head now and then.
So Jackie asked me to write a post.
She knows I can talk about anything and any topic, mostly. That's why she asked me to write something. I have options, ideas, views and expectations. A lot of the time they are the same as Jackie, that's why we get along so well. We share a lot of the same values and dreams and raise our kids to have respect for them selves and others. However, we realize that sometimes we don't always see eye to eye. This is where a lot of tension between us happens. So we discuss how the best way to do things. Both have to come to an agreement and there is give and take. And there has to be acceptance of the decision on both sides. Resentment is a emotion that destroys relationships, so don't agree because you don't want to argue or feel you have to give in because you want to win the next argument. This is for your kids and put your personal emotions aside and think of the best internists of the kids. We do this away from the children and we are constantly re-evaluating how we are raising our kids. Then come to the kids as a team with one way of doing things, this gives less confusion. And your kids will appreciate it more.
We have all been there as moms (and dads)...those moments where you just wanna crawl under a rock into the deepest darkest hole you can find and hide. You know what I am talking about, come on be honest. Ok, well I am sharing one of my latest mortifying moments as a mom. There I was standing in a bathroom line of 1000 or so women...alright it was only maybe 50 women. My point is there were a lot of ladies! Anyways, there I was standing in line with my daughters after we had just finished watching a movie at Assiniboine Park. Yes, we should have maybe used the potty before the movie was over to avoid waiting at all but we didn't because that would have been too easy. My arms were full of lawn chairs, blankets, popcorn, drinks, stuffies (animals stuffed with fluff), candy, etc...the basic necessities for a movie. After 10 minutes or so of waiting, my youngest daughter becomes restless and decides to give me one of those huge hugs (a bear hug) and then wrap her legs around me. She then proceeded to slide down me as though she was exiting a fireman pole. Yup...I am sure you can imagine what happened. My pants came down right along with her exposing all my jiggly parts. My daughters along with the other gazillion women burst out laughing. I let out a slight awkward giggle and proceeded to unload the crap I was clutching out of my arms so I could gracefully pull up my drawers.
Ahhh, gotta love kids, even if moments like these make you wanna just squeeze them so tight and...and...and...ugh, love them to pieces. lol
Like I said, I started this blog as a way to relieve stress and connect with others who are in a blended family. I used to be embarrassed and not very comfortable telling people that I was a divorcee...twice. I felt like I was being judged and somewhat pitted. Let's face it, being in a blended family isn't something you long for and it is certainly not part of the "Happily Ever After" in your childhood fairy tales. But life happens and you deal with it.
Where and when did my blended family come to be? Well, I was having the time of my life living every moment to the fullest when I found out I was pregnant at the age of 21. That was my first of many "Holy Shit" moments. Don't get me wrong, my daughter is the best thing that ever happened to me, just threw a little wrench in my life plans...
Anyways, my first "husband" and I had only been dating for several months. We didn't really know each other but decided to try and make it work. What's that saying? "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade?" Well we tried and tried to make lemonade but our lemons were just too sour! After three years we called it quits.
Then hubby number two...we had initially met when we were in our late teens. Then in our mid twenties, me as a single mom of one and him a lost soul...we rekindled our love. We married two years later and then voila, my second daughter was born. After 10 years together we decided that we were better friends than lovers and parted ways.
Ok, so that brings us to today...our blended family. Rob, the love of my life and my true soul mate met two years ago. I know it sounds corny and cliché but it couldn't be more true. We recently blended our families and it couldn't be better...well it could be but we are working on it! LOL
We have four kids together and a dog (large rat as Rob says). My two daughters are 13 and 7. Rob's two kids, boy aged 8 and daughter aged 5. As you can imagine our lives are very busy and somewhat chaotic at times. But I wouldn't change a thing.