Monthly Archives: March 2011

Growing pains

Building relationships in the blended family

While watching the movie “Timer” this morning I was reminded of the main theme of my blog. Blending families, blending cultures. In this little gem of a movie was a subplot where the son of a semi-wealthy Caucasian family is matched with a Hispanic girl. The Hispanic family reacted with revulsion, while the Caucasian family desired to immediately unite as a family.

This reminded me of my experience with my blended family. I was bewildered when my husband’s family members were taken aback because I am white. Racism? Really? I was not anticipating it. And yet it seems that perhaps it is a common theme.

What I am grappling with is the concept of a population that is marginalized in the U.S. being racist towards the traditionally dominant group. Why would my new boyfriend’s family dislike me because of my race? They acted welcoming, but in reality they just wanted me to go away.

Their attitude persisted and the false friendliness turned into open dislike. One male family member crossed the line at the family Christmas celebration. He actually said that even though we were together, it would only last for a little while. My husband, being the amazing man that he is, immediately stood up and we said our goodbyes. He has since terminated his relationship with that group of the family.

I find it sad that people make presumptions about others.  How can they dislike people without first attempting to get to know them?

Advertisements

Second marriage, second chance

I stand in awe of my husband. Sometimes I stand in frustration. At all times I stand in love.

My husband is an immigrant to the U.S. He is bilingual. He is biliteral. He is bicultural. He has overcome more difficulties than I can imagine. He truly comes from a world that is foreign to me.

Most of the time he seems just like me. White, middle class, educated …   and then I see him interact with people from his home country, in their native language, and I am struck by the fact that he lives a dual life of sorts — and that with it he possesses a skill far beyond my understanding. He’s had experiences that I cannot fathom.

Sometimes that duality feels like a wall between us. Other times, I think that maybe I will never run out of things to learn about him.

Embarking  on a second marriage is a huge risk. It is scary. Throw six kids into the mix and it is downright terrifying. There is so much at stake in creating a blended family. For those of us who have always dreamed of having a large loving family, but watched that dream die on our first attempt, it is a risk we have to take. I, for one, cannot let that dream slip away without giving my best effort to creating a successful marriage.

~*~~

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”   Ephesians 4:2 New International Version

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 New International Version

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18 New International Version


My Faith Carries Me Through

I have spent the past 15 years engaging in discussion and sharing ideas online. During that time I have set rules for myself. The two most important being: don’t talk politics, don’t talk religion. There is one caveat to those rules, I may discuss them if I’m “preaching to the choir.”

I am breaking that rule on my blog. I’m going to talk about my faith. If it were not for my faith in God, I would not be where I am today and I don’t know where I would be tomorrow.

I became a Christian late in life. I was raised by an atheist and an agnostic. I dabbled in Eastern philosophy and considered myself a Hindu for awhile. In my early twenties I developed rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis. These debilitating diseases caused me to frequently ask, “why?”  In the midst of this questioning phase I attended a weekend workshop with Ram Dass (google him). During a meditation we were directed to visualize the person who was our greatest spiritual teacher. Who popped into my head? Buddha? No. Krishna? No. Bhagwan Rajneesh? lol  No. Jesus. Jesus appeared in my mind’s eye. Glowing, hippie-like, dressed in robe and sandals.

“No! What is he doing there?!” I relaxed, cleared my mind again and Bam! he was back. Sigh.

That wasn’t the turning point that led me to Christianity. It wasn’t until about 9 years later that I claimed my faith. Like many people, I actively sought God after losing a loved one. What I didn’t realize was that I desperately needed God to carry me through an abusive marriage. He did just that. At times I was nearly drowning in despair and feelings of helplessness, but I would call out to the Lord to help me and He was faithful. And I made it through another day.

God has worked miracles in my life. At one time during my first marriage I had requested information on teacher certification and a Masters degree from a local university. I looked it over, stuffed it in a drawer and thought, maybe later, when my kids were older. While decluttering my cabinets I grabbed that folder, ready to toss it in recycling. A voice in my head rang out, “No. Keep it. You may need it.” I stuck it back in the drawer.

Two days later my ex went sideways, ranted at my children and I. He was absolutely terrifying. He scared our children, he threatened my life. Within a week my kids and I were out of our house and in an apartment away from him. I took that folder with me. I applied to the program and earned that Masters degree. God had warned me on that June morning in 2006. I am so very grateful to Him.

During those early days, weeks, and months of being a single mom I spoke with God daily. I prayed for strength. I prayed for the well being of my children. I prayed for our safety. Taking care of three rambunctious children on my own was not easy. Being alone was hard. I constantly leaned on God. He frequently gave me tangible evidence that He was there for me and working for good in my life.

About three months after I left my ex he called in the middle of the night. He was drunk and in Las Vegas. I think it may have been his birthday. (He called in the middle of the night on several occasions, always intoxicated. I learned to turn off my phone at night.) He decided to unburden himself to me. He cried and whined about how sad he was. He went on and on, drunk and rambling. I only listened because our relationship was horribly  co-dependent.

The next day he called back and then he dropped his bombshell. He had been having an affair while we were together. For the last three years of our marriage. Before our third child was conceived he had been cheating on me. My life had been a lie.

I hung up on him and went outside. I was crying. I had just walked down the pathway towards my van — I always cried in the van back then — when the orange maintenance cart pulled up next to me. There was the maintenance man, looking at me with a concerned look and then saying, “You’re too pretty to cry.” What a cheesy line! lol  But it broke through my tears. He asked what was wrong and I told him. He then shared that his ex-wife had cheated on him and he understood how it felt. We spoke for a few minutes, sharing briefly some of the pain that betrayal brings. He gave me a little pep talk and smiled at me, told me that my ex must be really stupid. His words made me chuckle and smile ruefully.

I went back into my apartment and prayed. My pain was lifted. I knew that whatever my ex had done didn’t matter. I am a child of God. As a child of God my life is important to Him and He will make all things work for the best for me, my children, and everyone.

What a strange and wonderful blessing God gave me that day.


Finding My Parenting Niche ~ part one

I am an attachment parenting mom. Always have been, always will be. I first stumbled upon the idea of attachment during my English 101 class when I had to choose a topic for a research paper. I don’t know how I found Attachment Behavior in Infants. This was back in the late 80s when the internet was in its infancy and I’m not sure if Windows existed. I consulted the enormous wooden cabinets with file drawers which contained thousands upon thousands of index cards. Research took forever!

Armed with my knowledge that baby monkeys thrive with a flesh mommy and fail to thrive with a robot mommy I made a vow to not give my future babies over to the robots.

No, not really. I did however go to a “bohemian” type college, volunteered at the domestic violence shelter and chose working with the children of abused women as my specialty area. I was introduced to baby slings during our play therapy group. There was a seasoned mom volunteering and she brought an extra sling in case there were any babies. When we were asked if we wanted to use it and carry a little baby, the other young volunteers looked at her like she had two heads. Not me! I thought the sling was the most amazing thing!

A few years later, I was thrilled to see baby slings at our local food co-op along with the reusable flannel pads. When my mom was shopping for a baby gift, I told her that she had to buy a sling for the mom. We picked out a lovely black Guatemalan style fabric. I thought it looked chic. The mom wasn’t sold. However, when I babysat her daughter I used it all the time!

When I was expecting my firstborn in 1996, the internet was a bit beyond its infancy. I searched online for baby slings. I was so thrilled about having one for my baby. It would be blissful. We would snuggle all day, breastfeed, my arthritis wouldn’t bother me …  dreams die hard.

While my dreams didn’t pan out exactly as I had hoped, I was committed to attachment parenting (AP) and gentle discipline. I checked out all the books by Dr. Sears from my local library. I reread them, twice.

I had long been a subscriber to the Utne Reader. I visited their website and the early version of a message board. I posted in heated discussions about parenting. One that I remember fondly was about rushing our children towards independence. I don’t remember if I started the topic, but I sure relished the discussion.

 

part two will explore the addition of children through birth and remarriage


Evil Exes

When a divorce with children happens, there is always an ex to contend with. Whether the person is present or absent in the life of the child, they are forever intertwined with our lives. I always advise young women to be careful who they choose to have children with. We so often make poor choices and our children suffer for it.

My ex has done just about everything in his power to destroy me. Funny thing is, he’s the one who wanted out. Yes, a marriage is made by two people and I am not blameless. But vindictive? No. Desiring to deprive him of involvement with our children? No.

My evil ex has used our children as pawns. He has used them to get back at me. He has used them to entice a childless girlfriend and two childless wives. He succeeded in taking custody of all three children, simply because I obtained an official child support order. I am not making this up. He is on record at our child support hearing saying that he would, “make her life shit” if the order for support went through. It was no coincidence that abuse allegations were fabricated less than a month later.

I mention three relationships of my evil ex. The first, the girlfriend, was established before my kids and I were driven from our home. I was ignorant of her existence. She moved into our house a week after my kids and I left. Less than a year after our split, my ex married a woman he met online. That marriage lasted less than a year and then he was quickly remarried to a friend from high school. With each relationship he would threaten to take the kids from me. In each relationship the new woman was pronounced better able to care for our children than I was.

All of this was about money. All of it was about child support.

My evil ex is a dirtbag. I cannot count the number of times I have longed to turn back time and change my decisions. Run the other way when I met him.

Our exes can continue to abuse us long after we have removed ourselves from their daily lives. They abuse us with the courts, they abuse us by manipulating our children, they abuse us emotionally, verbally, and spiritually. Any small window of opportunity is thrown wide open and the abuse floods through. We think that by getting away physically we can escape. They don’t let us.

When we start new relationships, evil exes will do whatever they can to impede them. My ex tried threats, bad mouthed my husband to my children, spouted racist comments regarding my husband, and finally, when all of that failed, he fabricated wild stories of child abuse.

He won, in his way. He got the kids. I pay him child support. But he didn’t destroy me. My older children may not live with me, but they are still my children. He cannot take that away.


%d bloggers like this: