Posted in Dating, Family, parenting, relationships, Uncategorized

BlendingĀ 

      People say blending families is hard and man, they were not joking! If only it was as easy as the Brady bunch with all the children well behaved and seemlessly getting along. 

       N is almost 11, an only child whose mother was never present and left two years ago. He was raised by a single father, J. B aka Love bug is 5, an only child raised by her single mom (me) for 4 years. 

       When we first got serious the kids were happy and we thought “hey! This is gonna be easy!” Then we moved in together and all hell broke loose. 

      They were each fairly well behaved for us respectively, however if J attempted to parent B in any easy at all, even a simple “please don’t do that” it was world war 3. Likewise N was rude and disrespectful to me the minute J left each day. 

      We recognize they have had a lot of change in a short period of time. B and I moved into their 2 bedroom apartment with them, N left to Phoenix and was then kept by his mom starting a custody battle, we got rid of a dog that became aggressive and got a puppy, we moved into a house, we got N back, both kids started school, all in a 5 month time span. Any adult would even have a hard time adjusting to that!

         N came back in August, and they started school a few days later. They have both been in therapy a month now. J and I had to really change how we parent to adapt to our new family dynamic. We had to understand a step parents role is different than that of a biological parent, we had to give them some space to express their feelings, to work thru their losses and gains. 

         We are focusing on what we have, on saying everything in a positive light such as instead of “don’t swing your fork” saying “please set you fork on your plate.” We have been discussing the children and consequences privately and presenting a united front.

     Are we perfect? Hell no! We have days we loose our ish and yell at the kids or at each other, days where we collapse after they go to bed and talk about selling them, days where a glass of wine is needed even though it’s only 10a (hey it’s 5′ o clock somewhere!) 

        As the days and weeks go by we are figuring it out and settling in, we have more happy cooperative days than not. Time is magically when blending a family. Remember your child has had you from their first breath and learned your expectations with you, these new flaky members are not going to be family in a day, a week a month, hell maybe not even in a year but it will get easier!

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Posted in life, parenting, relationships

Custody hearingĀ 

     Sometimes you don’t realize you were holding your breath until you inhale deeply. That is how it felt this week. 

        V came to visit only twice since our last court date. Both times she had a friend meet up with her and left N to hang with her friends child while she visited with her friend not really paying any attention to N. 

        Over the Course of the last two months, since our last court date, N has revealed a lot of lies that were told to him by his mother. He has said that he hates her because of what she did over the summer, and because she never pays attention to him. We have enrolled him in therapy with a great therapist who is working through everything with him and we have started to see an improvement in his behavior.

       The judge appointed a CAA, court appointed advisor, who interviewed us, N and V. She also pulled driving Records, N’s school records, and background checks on both J and myself. The judge ordered both J and N to fill out complete financial affidavits with copies of paystub’s for the previous month, W-2s and tax returns for the previous three years. He also ordered pretrial statements to be filled out by both parties with copies of their proposed parenting plan, any evidence to be entered for court and a list of any witnesses to be called. These were due 5 business days prior to trial and had to be given to the other party as well as the judge and the court clerk. 

        I meticulously went over every paper multiple times before shipping it to the required parties. N’s behavior was awful that week, escalating each day as trial approached. He asked us to try really hard to keep him and told V several times he did not want to live with her. 

      The morning of court both kids cried at the thought of N having to leave. We dropped them at school and made the two hour drive. Court was very short, ten minutes in total. V emailed her paperwork the night before court and filed it with the clerk the day before court. The judge made it clear he was done and this was nonsense. There would be no further hearing, this was for permanent custody. He didn’t ask for any evidence, or witnesses. He went over what J asked for and granted it! J got sole physical custody, V is allowed to come to Tucson’s I visit on the weekends and can take N on prolonged school breaks if we do not have any trips/vacations planned. 

      As we left the courthouse it was like a weight had been lifted. N was estatic when we told him as was Lovebug. Our home instantly became much more relaxed and happy which is when I realized we had been holding our breaths for weeks. 

       He is ours. He is not leaving. She can not take him. 

Posted in Family, parenting

Starting Kindergarten

     Most parents talk about their children starting school as being bittersweet. They talk about how they cried more than their child, and how hard it was. 

     I wanted to throw a party. I wanted to scream from the rooftops, to go home and revel in the silence and drink wine while binging on Netflix. 

         My baby is no longer a baby or a toddler or even a preschooler but a little girl. A free spirited, independent little girl full of sass, attitude and love like her mom. A little girl who though a bit nervous was confident that she would be okay, that she would make friends and I’d be there at the end of the day. 

       I survived 5 years, (well 4 years, 11 months and 24 days but who’s counting) as a single parent! My daughter smiled, held hands with her teacher and waved bye from the head of the line with out a single tear which means I did something right.

Posted in Family, parenting, relationships

Getting N back

     When you have a baby be it with the love of your life or as a single parent you never expect this to happen to you. To protect yourself and your child get a legal custody agreement immediately if you break up!    

      In a matter of days I quickly became an expert on the custody laws in AZ, what a fathers rights are, what happens when parents do not agree. I learned about establishing paternity, emergency orders, temporary orders and court advisors. 

       V asked for joint custody and that she be the primary or custodial parent meaning N would live with her during the school year. J filed a response and asked for sole custody.  He also filed for temporary orders with notice which means he wanted N to live with him until the custody case was over. 

      V then filed for temporary orders without notice which are also known as emergency orders. She filed on the grounds that J said he would make her life hell and claimed J was emotionally abusive to her during their relationship. Her order was denied. 

       She had told N we no longer wanted him, that we had gotten married without him because he was not important to us and so many other lies. She would not allow J or his family to see N, would not allow me to talk to N and every time J spoke to him it was on speaker phone during which she controlled what he said. N often cried on the phone, sounded frustrated and confused. 

       Due to her filing where she lived we had to take off work, to drive up there every time J had to file paperwork as well pay for it. J filed emergency orders and we learned that they are only ever granted if there is a current police or cps involvement for abuse, or drug abuse. The same day order was denied but a hearing was set for three days later. It was great news yet financially bad news as we had to hire a process server and pay for expidited service as she had to be notified of the hearing by the night before. 

We sat nervously outside the courtroom waiting the morning of the hearing. V showed up with family members in tow. They laughed and joked and seemed to not care we were about to go into court to find out who was getting N. it was like it was all a joke to her. I wanted to smack the laughter off her face. 

      The judge ordered her to turn N over by 5pm that afternoon, appointed a court advisor to come see both homes and interview those living there. V was given visitation one weekend day per month in Tucson. V and her family exploded out of the courtroom while we erupted into tears. As we were leaving the courtroom V caused a scene screaming and yelling at J until the sherif stepped in. 

       We went to her house at 5pm with police and picked up N who was a ball of tears in J’s arms then mine as we drove home. We have a hearing in September to determine temporary custody which will outline where N will live until the entire case is finished but for now our family is whole. 

     

      

Posted in Family, life, parenting, relationships, Uncategorized

KidnappingĀ 

      Summer….. a time for friends, where kids take over the neighborhood smelling of sunblock and chlorine, dropping in sweat wreaking havoc with nurf gun wars and water fights. 

      N was supposed to go to V’s for the summer however given her recent behavior and refusal to give us a plan for him for the summer we decided that’s instead he would go to J’s mom’s house for the summer with his cousin. After two weeks up there V asked if she could have him for the weekend for her moms birthday and he really wanted to go so J said okay. J then agreed N could stay for a while longer. Phone calls with N became few and far between, and he was rude on the phone. 

      Finally summer was drawing to a close, N had a dentist and therapy appointment and 3 weeks to settle in before the start of school. We loaded up with Lovebug and made the drive to the agreed going place to meet. When we got there however, N was not there, nor was V. Instead a process server served J with custody papers. We called the police but because there was no parenting plan or custody agreement in place they said there was nothing they could do. As we drove home our hearts were heavy with sadness, fear, anger and we were very concerned for how this was going to affect N. 

V may legally be his mother and according to the law have had the right to keep him but to pull a child from his entire life as he knows it, to take him from his home, his school, his family and friends and community where he is established, That is kidnapping. 

Posted in Dating, Family, parenting, relationships

J & N

      Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forward So a little back story on J & N. 

     J met V and after a few dates thought she would be a fun fling. He mistakenly believed her when she said she was on birth control and didn’t use a condom. 9 months later N was born. 

      According to J and his friends & family V was never much of a mother. Though she loves him she is too selfish and lacks the capacity to be a parent. J was the one who got up with him at night and cared for him as an infant, worked full time and took care of the house. V was depressed and would not admit to it or get help. 

         After putting her through school where she got her degree in medical billing and coding she was unable to keep a job due to her dyslexia and depression as well as not wanting to work. 

      J & V fought all the time as she did not help around the house or with N, she was careless with N even causing him 3rd degree burns and a permanent scar once when she spilled boiling water in him as a toddler. J broke up with once and then took her back after she refused to allow him any contact with N. 

     In May of 2016 they broke up and she moved 2 hours away leaving N.  She would call every day but because she was unable to pass her driver’s test has no license and therefore no transportation. She has continued to not work, living with her family and occasionally babysitting for her aunt to get money for toiletries. She has never contributed with money, clothes or supplies for N. 

         N loves her, because she is his mother. He loves her because he has a huge heart and loves everyone. He feels it is his job to make her happy, and he desperately wants her approval. 

        I have heard many phone calls between J & V and N & V. She is focused on herself, how hurt she was and still is by the breakup, and by what she wants not what is best for N. 

       Once we moved in together things with her got a lot worse. V would make N feel guilty for not wanting to talk on the phone, for being happy with us. More and more frequently the calls would end with N in tears asking why she doesn’t love him and why he is such a bad kid. N started loosing interest in things, living in a fog and not caring at home. He would not do chores, & homework. He was very hard on himself, crying and yelling on an almost daily basis. 

       V would call and yell at J as well, fixated on how he broke her heart. We sought out information, printed and filled the paperwork for custody. J hesitated wanting to give V the benefit of the doubt, wanting to see the good in her but sometimes people don’t deserve another chance and she has proven that beyond a doubt. 

Posted in Dating, Family, life, parenting, relationships

Blending families

      It’s hard to believe that eight months have gone by since my last blog posts. Life sure does get away from you sometimes. I’m going to break this post into a couple of smaller posts to make it easier on you.

         My daughter and I moved in with J and his son around the end of February. It was a huge adjustment going from just me and her to a family with J & his son. People tell you blending families is hard, but they never tell you exactly how hard it is.

       N said he was good with us moving in, he asked if he could call me mom and seemed very happy. He was very proud to have a little sister and they acted as typical siblings. 

     A was having a much harder time adjusting. She was great until J asked her to stop, to not do something, or told her no. Then it was world war three. She would scream, god would she scream. I thought for sure the neighbors were going to call the police and have cps banging on our door. She would hit, kick, bite and say awful things. She saw J & N as a threat, as people who were taking me away from her, taking away her time with me. It didn’t help that I started working full time at an accounting office which meant she could no longer spend the day with me at work. 

      The apartment we were staying in started to feel claustrophobic, and  I was not feeling at home. It’s hard to explain but it’s impossible to feel at home in a home that was built by someone else. In a home you had no input in, that is full of someone else’s belongings. Most of mine and Lovebugs stuff was still at T’s as there was just not room for it in the apartment. 

     J & A were having constant power struggles, J & I were clashing on parenting and add in the close quarters and we were all tense and starting to feel it. N also started to show it; he began being spacey, ignoreing rules, not doing his chores, not turning in his homework. He seemed to simply not care about anything anymore and everyday he disappeared inside himself a bit more. 

         Lovebugs bio dad was being typical and only seeing her once a month still. T was suddenly very busy all the time; he moved in his girlfriend and was redoing the entire house. Our only saving grace was my mom and J’s sister who took the kids on Saturday night so J & I could reconnect and catch our breaths.  

         We knew something had to change and quick if we were going to make it thru this adjustment. No one ever said parenting was this hard!