Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Traditions (?)

This is the first year in 5 years of holidays that my stepkids have shown that they actually recall what we do every year for holidays.

It's typical for PAS kids to just simply not recall what the "other" parent's traditions are. Although the kids split the holidays equally with us and their mom, they have never once remembered what we do each holiday. They should have an equal memory of what happens at each house, but they've given us dumbfounded looks every time we've been shocked that they don't recall such simple things as always going to church on Christmas Eve, seeing family, dinners, etc. Memories just... vanish.

This was the first year that both stepkids remembered and planned for their birthday dinner with their dad and I. They knew that we would take them where ever they wanted to go, and had back-ups. That's extremely encouraging. They just know what to expect, which means they also are looking forward to it. Years past, we'd done bowling, arcades, and the like, and there was no recollection. A special dinner of their choice always followed, but all they would ever recall is the family dinner with their mom's family- which was never on their birthdays.

(That would be because we always have custodial visits on their birthdays, since their birthdays have not once landed on one of our weekends/days. My husband never sees his kids in the morning on their birthday or puts them to sleep at night on their birthdays. Thanks, mediators. Way to take away simple moments of life... When all that has to be planned is a half-day switch of some sort every year, just like Christmas...)

Anyways... The benefit of this bizarre custodial visit schedule is that the kids will always plan on dinner with their dad, at a nice restaurant of their choosing, every year. Maybe that's what helped them remember- the consistency of him never having custody on their birthdays. Ironic.

And I'm pretty sure they know the deal with the rest of the holidays- that church will fall in there somewhere, my family visits or we go to them, and they may be starting to remember family dishes my Swedish family serves- since they've had them over and over again. Studies say it takes something like 5 tries (? Maybe more?) before a kid begins to like eating a certain type of food. It's simply exposure. 

But in our case, it also doesn't hurt that they're learning that things we do with them are simply more memorable, different, and even exceptional. And that's what my hope has been all along- that one day, maybe one day, they will remember that all of their hikes were with me. That the first time they did a whole multitude of things was with me. That their dad and I dragged them to all of their theater experiences, snow, and to rare places they never would have been. That my family and his family offered them special experiences they never would have had, outside of their mother's town. But if PAS wins, then they'll only remember that they can do those things, but not why or who they learned it from.

So here's to memories. Long, strong memories that fight hatred, jealousy, and selfishness.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

To Return or Not to Return- That is the Question

Every year, my stepkids make me rethink gifts. Since my husband's money is cut significantly by child support payments, I feel like in order to make Christmas sort of normal, I need to pitch in. I do every year, anyways. He can only get so much, and I want them to have clothes, jackets, etc. I see things all the time and go "she would like that..." Etc.

And every damn year... the kids are almost, total, or sort of snots. And I rethink everything. Like why do I think about them so much, but they can't even treat me like they've lived with me for years? Why can't they respond to my text messages? Why do they act like I'm a stranger when their mom is around?

Last night, I dug out one kid's gifts and put them in a pile. This pile, in my head, is to return.

I probably won't. But I am so tempted. Why the hell does she need anything at our house if she doesn't want to live there, can't respect us, can't even communicate with us?

Funny thing is, if I told anyone else in our world about wanting to return their gifts, I would be told that they're just kids, but it's Christmas, and as my husband said, they act this way because of their mom- not because of them(selves).

Which after so many years, that excuse is becoming more and more bogus to me. They know better. That's what I think. I know they are manipulated, scared of displeasing their mom, and totally messed up thanks to her, her husband, and court- Yet I don't really care. They should show affection to their dad no matter what, because he's their dad and they clearly love him (when it's just us). They are fine with me and know me, yet they like to pretend like they don't know me and even hate seeing me when out in public around their mom, mom's family, people who know their mom. I'm so sick of it.

So every year, I wonder about those gifts. Then I get caught in the circle: if we don't give them crap they want, then they think we don't give them what they want. If we don't provide for them as much as the other house does, then they can't say that they have what they want and need at our house as well. Then our attempts to get them to live with us more become null, as we wouldn't have made the houses equal despite the current custody arrangement.

This all blows. Merry Christmas.