My husband is the best. I am a truly lucky stepmom in this regard.
Today, we had a very big talk with the girls. It started as one kid saying her dresser drawers were too full to put away her clothes. Simple, I guess. But it triggered a few of the things I mentally fret about when they are not here. When stepchildren are out of the house, I think about them more than I would like, good and bad. Even when not present, stepkids are more ever-present when you have one of those weekly strange agreements of back and forth and dinner visits, mixed in with sports and school events. It's never long before they're back, so forgetting about them temporarily is not an option. Even on trips without them, we talk about whether they would like something, should see something, and debate souvenir options as if it really matters... If I ever asked them what's what and from where in their room...Yeah, I'm just not.
So comment about the dresser drawers and their clothes...This leads to me bringing up how if they lived here more, we could get more storage and afford it, but it's difficult to focus on buying them big things anymore when they are hardly here and wanted it to be that way...And they have so many clothes in the first place because they were supposed to be living here more and we bought so much for them when they were here more and, and, and...
We were able to discuss how we tried to do as much as we could for them so that they felt at home here just as much as they do at the other house. How we made sure it was as equal as we could make it and that we did everything we could. That they never told us anything was wrong, that they needed something, and yet somehow they didn't want to be here. Essentially, we didn't know what went so wrong for them. (And it's rather likely they don't have a clue either, as it was most likely manipulation that led to the change in custody. And manipulation seems to never be remembered. Somehow things were discussed and they were given adult words and things they've never said before or never heard from us, yet they would claim 'til death they came up with it themselves.)
Eventually it ended up in the full divorce story. That just happens sometimes. You seize the opportunity when you have it and they're receptive. Happens like less than .5%. My husband and I got just about every major thing out at once, in just one afternoon, before lunch and after church and a softball game. Amazing. Fastest it's ever gone and without a ton of "Are you even listening?" They chilled in their room and my husband and I discussed things, in and out and around.
And they interacted! Can you believe it? ("No!" you say.) It was the first time that we went through everything without one particular child violently starting to kick or hit or whatever something and the other one falling asleep. They followed, they spoke up, they discussed. They listened and paid attention. One even moved towards us at full attention. Shocking.
So he was able to cover the entire story for the first time, as well. It wasn't rushed and taken up by distractions or a tight schedule. When you barely see your kids every other week, every sincere or meaningful moment disappears before enough is covered. They handle so much more now, and so much more calmly, that he can cover things they would have mis"heard" before. We're even less concerned about misuse. I'd like to say we're used to it, maybe.
Somewhere in there, their dad brought up that there was a lot of stress from my place of work and it made everything a lot harder for me and at home. That I had so much stress at work and having it here at home was hard, too. He was probably also inferring the stress from the times interacting with their mom. Everything can be just too much when both places you spend most of your time are so hateful and frankly, evil. I think the message he was so, so delicately making, maybe, was that I haven't been my best or happiest sometimes and now that I am out of that job, I can be even better.
Maybe that's what he meant. Whatever it was, it was enough to make me smile on the inside, knowing that he was oh-so-sensitively telling them that if I wasn't the best sometimes, it sort of wasn't my fault. =) Not sure a clear message was made because I was right there and he knows how much I struggle in general in this situation.
We'll see if he clarifies what he said in a different way when he remembers the blog's address and reads this post. But really, he should just run with me accepting this interpretation. And, I know he's too smart to give up any praise or positive misinterpretations. He knows the way of keeping his wife happy.