I’ve been absent for a while now on purpose.  Partially because of how busy my life has been in general – not to mention being sick – and partially because I needed to get my thoughts together.

Rowdy and I have reconciled with each other in a tentative type of way.  We still have a ways to go, but things are getting better, slowly.  There are days I still want to run away from life in general, but the private island, unlimited umbrella drinks and cabana boys are still out of reach at the moment.

So far, most of the people I have talked to regarding my issues with Rowdy have been very supportive.  I’ve had a few incidents where questions were raised regarding if I was doing the right thing or not, but overall, most people realized that sometimes extreme circumstances call for an extreme response.  It seems to have worked – Rowdy knows that I mean what I say and I say what I mean. 

Two weeks of me refusing to involve myself in his life have made an impact on him – mostly in his school lunch account.  Let’s face it – Hun loves his children, but the day-to-day care of some items are not high on his radar.  Me telling Hun and Rowdy that they’ll be responsible for taking care of lunch left Rowdy with about a week of growling stomach pains around the noon lunch hour.  The perils of crossing an Evil Step-Mom….or at least a stubborn one…

After our conversation that got us talking to one another again, the first question Rowdy asked me in a small, childlike voice was, “Will I have lunch money tomorrow?”

He was not amused with a roll of the shoulders and a “I dunno, maybe” response from me. 

We have a new hurdle to climb now – one that has become exposed due to our recent challenges.

It is the hurdle of respect.  We each acknowledge that respect is hard to come by for the other.  Years of being told that I’m not his mom and he doesn’t have to listen to me by Jetsam has left Rowdy confused about what respect towards adults, a mom in particular, actually means.  On the flip side, years of being lied to by Rowdy in the attempt to get me to treat him like his mom treats him has left me struggling to believe even the simplest of stories from him.

In the two weeks since I have disengaged from Rowdy, I did a lot of thinking and looking at my own actions with a microscope.  Not an easy task to look at yourself and your own shortcomings.  I have come to the realization that, to a point, Rowdy is right.  I treat him and his sisters differently than I treat my own son.  I don’t do this on purpose, but I do it none the less.

One of the biggest areas where I see the difference is in what I say to the children.  In Buddy’s case, I am very open and honest about my opinions and views regarding Flotsam’s actions and comments.  Because of this, Buddy knows exactly why I do the things I do in regards to his dad.  Any questions he has are answered as honestly as I can.  Opinions are stated as opinions up front – no disguising them as truth on my end.  Ugly truths are spoken and explained in age appropriate ways – there is nothing gained by sugar-coating a drug addiction or a sociopathic personality. 

In Rowdy’s case (and the girls), I am very close lipped about how I feel about Jetsam’s actions and comments.  Over the years, I have reined in the judgmental part of my personality in the attempt to not make the kids hate us any more than they already do for ripping their world apart as they know it.  I know what I think about Jetsam – it’s not flattering or positive – there is really no way to sugar-coat parental alienation or creating co-dependency in your own children.  But she had years to tell the kids how horrible Hun and I are and originally I didn’t think countering those ugly words with my opinion would be doing the kids any favors.  I subscribed to the line of thought, if you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all.  After all, in step-family life we are often encouraged to speak nothing negative about the other parent – ever.

So, I have made the decision to be more open and honest about my true feelings.  I have the tentative approval by both Hun and Rowdy for this next phase of our relationship. 

I have already done a dry run with an example that happened earlier in the week with Jetsam.  I was honest, but mindful of my audience; open, but kind to the psyche of the child across the table from me; full of conviction, but truthful in my assertions.  Rowdy countered with his own opinions to my statements, but again – it was obvious that such a differing opinion from the one that Jetsam constantly lays down is new to him.  It’s hard to hear about personal responsibility when all you have ever heard is how it is everyone else’s fault.

Not worrying about bottling up my opinions to myself will help with my own stress level.  Hearing a different opinion, one that disagrees with their mom’s, might help the kids to see a different side of life.  I think this phase will be harder than Rowdy anticipates.  I know it will be harder for me in the long run (Jetsam won’t take kindly to me changing my ways). 

I’m hoping it has a positive outcome in the end anyway.