Family Weekend

CBG and I decided that instead of a “regular” weekend next weekend, he and Ankle Biter would come here this weekend for our first “family weekend”. This has been something that we’ve talked about for a while now, about how we’d like for him and Ankle Biter to start spending some weekends with the girls and I now and then. Since the kids got along great over the summer while we were on vacation, we decided that it was time.

It was an interesting couple of days.

To be honest, I’m still processing much of it.

In some ways, it was really good. We went on some outings and spent some good family time together and even got to spend some time with friends that we don’t get to hang out with very often.

In other ways, it was really frustrating. Ankle Biter is very different from my girls. He has been raised differently. He reacts in different ways. CBG handles things with him differently than I would, if he were my kid. I’m totally not being judgmental about it, just saying that it’s frustrating dealing with someone else’s kid sometimes.

In other ways, it was disappointing. Because we were all together like this, I feel like I missed out on both the best of things with just CBG and I, and the best of things with just the girls and I.

It was also very tiring. I’m not used to being both “the little woman” AND “mommy” at the same time. It’s really difficult making that transition once the lights go out, know what I mean? And on top of everything else, I feel like I spent the majority of the weekend doing dishes and cooking….food that Ankle Biter wouldn’t eat.

Bah.

I honestly don’t mean to sound ungrateful – because I’m really not. It was wonderful having everyone all together and feeling like a “real” family. I know that if it were something that we did on a regular basis, we’d get used to it pretty quickly. But as it is,  my life feels like I’m constantly transitioning from one thing to another…between my girls, work, and being a long-distance girlfriend, my life feels so broken up into little choppy bits, never really comfortably flowing from one thing to another.

I spent more of the weekend feeling anxious and irritable than I would have liked. I just wasn’t able to enjoy my family the way that I wanted to.

I know that at least part of it is that I am resisting. I am resisting what my family (and my life) is, because I am too busy wishing for it to be something different. And I know that until I am to do that, I will never be able to be truly happy with what I’ve got.

Because there is always something more to wish for, now isn’t there?

9 Responses

  1. Oh girl. I could so have written this.

    I noticed the same when Rascal and I have our families together. Rascal and I parent similarly but he is stricter than I am – which is a shock as I’m stricter than ANYONE I know. (Mostly with regards to food, TV, schedule, etc.) I find most of the problems we have come from the way Rascal’s ex raises their 5 year old.

    Rascal and I RARELY have time where it’s just the two of us. He has full time custody of his 13 year old. When we do get time together like that, I start to feel resentful of the rest of the time that we have to be parents. (Sounds awful, I know.)

    I don’t like sharing!! :)

    And yes, as you say, the transition can be difficult. It has gotten easier over time. His 5 year old has now realized that I will not let him get away with things his mom does (like food pickiness) and he’s learned to listen and love me for who I am. My girls are learning to get along with him but he is a boy and an only child (with his mom)… and he does act differently or react to things differently than they do.

    In other words, it will get better.

    Now when we all get together, it’s a lot less stressful than it was initially. The kids play well, with the occasionally fight now and again. Rascal and I are finding ways to escape or sneak off for quickies. ;)

    Just give it time. Breathe. Maybe try it again more often.

    It’s reality. And unfortunately (or fortunately), as a long distance girlfriend, our relationships are more like escape and fantasy than reality sometimes, aren’t they? And isn’t it nice?!?!

  2. Oh and one more thing (sorry), Rascal and I have also had to ease our normal parenting styles when we get together like that. He relaxes some and I am a little more strict in regards to things that bother him. We meet in the middle. That has happened with LOTS of discussion on how to handle immediate crises and parenting in general.

    Good luck!

  3. Well, you all LOOK like a happy family! Great pic.

    But I understand your frustrations. I’m scared to even have my own kids, so I can’t imagine the complicated minefield of dealing with your partner’s kids. Just this weekend I was thinking about how I like cooking, but I only do it once a week, on the weekend, and eat leftovers all week. I couldn’t imagine having to do it for other people, and every day. And to then have them turn their nose up at it? Bah, indeed.

  4. it is hard to parent someone elses kids. It takes time to build that trust and love for both child and step-parent, that the in-between times can be a huge struggle. I deal with it everyday, and it is a selfless conclusion everyday. i am the adult, I will show love. together with my partner we will guide each one as if they were our own. More thought has to go into parenting (even loving – that’s easy, but you know, to show that unconditional love) somone else kids. It does get better. I think if you all plan to be a family one day you need to be spending lots of time together as a family. For me when my partner and I moved in together, it was the end of the honeymoon! We then were parents to 5 kids, first and foremost. We had to find a way to schedule date night every other week for us.
    We have settled and it is good, but it took a couple years. Yeah.

    You all look good, and happy, I am glad that you were able to do this on the weekend!

  5. I still haven’t met my partners kids and the prospect both excites and terrifies me. I want to move to the next stage as I miss her so much whenever I have my kids or she has hers, but equally I’m worried that things will be different when we are all together.

    I guess relationships, especially between single parents, are full of compromises but they must be worthwhile or we wouldn’t have them!

  6. I haven’t had the pleasure of hosting a visit from The Man’s girls yet (it’s easier for him to fly back to Texas to visit them than for the two of them to fly here to visit us), but we’ve definitely dealt with The Man and my son getting used to each other. I know it was really frustrating for The Man at first. Our parenting styles aren’t so different, but we have different levels of patience for different things. For example, The Man takes an absolutely no talking back approach with my son, whereas I allow him to calmly and respectfully speak his mind when he disagrees with me (within reason). On the other hand, The Man instigates rambunctious games with The Kid while we’re in grocery stores and restaurants, whereas I have a very strict no running/jumping/shouting in indoor public places rule.

    It took a while for us all to get used to each other, and it definitely wasn’t easy for my son to get used to The Man’s “stern” tone (he spent a couple months believing that The Man didn’t like him).

    I think for us one of the hardest things was not knowing each other’s parenting histories. For example, my son is a picky eater and The Man cooked a lot of meals that The Kid wouldn’t eat too. The Man would’ve preferred to take the “eat what’s on your plate. period.” approach with my son and wondered why I was being so soft on him. Of course, what he didn’t know is that I’d tried that approach with my son and it simply does not work. I tried it probably for way too long, because I too am strict about food. But I finally realized that approach didn’t work and I found a different approach that initially seemed “soft” to The Man until he understood the road we’d traveled to get to that approach.

    The good news is that once we started sharing more of our parenting histories with each other, there’s been a better understanding of why I handle things the way I do. It also helps that The Man has taken some time to step back and stop expecting my rambunctious boy to behave/react the same way as his two relatively calm little girls. And time! Time definitely helped a lot – getting used to each other takes time. You guys will get there.

    Remember the old days, when you were single before you were married/had kids, and thought dating was hard? If only we’d known what was in store for us as single parents dating other single parents! :)

  7. Sounds like the perfectly imperfect weekend.

  8. I just love that you are so darn honest and don’t sugarcoat the small realities of life.

    Kudos to you for being brave enough to do that.Gutsy!

  9. BLT had quite the adjustment period when he moved in with the girls and I. Four kids is hard enough to get used to… make two of them “tweens” with all the joys of puberty and it isn’t always a joy!

    It was easy for me to learn to accomodate his daughter. What’s one more little girl right?

    I do have to say that watching BLT interact with my kids makes me fall in love with him all over again. Watching him tuck them into bed, or play with them, or help them with homework is beautiful.

    I know it’s a hard adjustment, but it’s so worth the growing pains. It sounds like you guys are off to a wonderful start!

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