By Carol Rood
This is a subject I have wanted to write about for a very long time. But couldn’t. It is a very sensitive subject. Calling my stepchild evil means I am disparaging the child of the person I love more than anything. However, after many years of dealing with this issue, and the fact that things are getting worse and not better, I have decided it is important to talk about this topic.
The answer to the question: What do you do if you have an evil stepchild? is: NOTHING! If you truly love that child’s parent, there is NOTHING you can do. You are powerless. You can’t become evil in return because then your partner will resent you. You can’t kick the child out because it will cause your relationship to be ruined. So, if you have an evil stepchild and that child’s parent does nothing to make it better and you love the parent, all you can do is what I do. Cry. A lot. Then you just become numb.
I wish more than anything that when Bluebell and I blended our families, that the children would have the same love for us and each other that we had, but alas, that is a fantasy. Children of re-coupling have their own emotions to deal with. Possibly jealousy of the new partner or other children. A sense of loss for the missing parent. Apprehension about moving in with people they don’t know very well. I get all of that, and Bluebell and I were very realistic about all of those issues. We also understood that we would have to take it easy on “parenting” each other’s children at first, let them get to know us better. We didn’t even stay in the same bedroom in the beginning to give the idea some time to grow on the children.
I read the books, and researched how to be a stepparent. We felt as though we were doing things well. I was prepared for the change, the anxiety, the apprehension, the “figuring things out” stage of our new family. What I wasn’t prepared for was the brick wall of ice L in Bluebell’s daughter. We realized rather quickly that L was not taking well to living with three boys, nor was she taking well to another parent in the house. She was 13 at the time. So I backed off and let Bluebell mostly deal with her. However, it was impossible for me to never have to give L any directions or “parenting”. Bluebell worked long hours, and I was home with the children more than she was. There were times I would have to direct L to do chores, or pick up after herself, etc. Not everything could wait until Mommy got home. L rebelled in a BIG way. Grew sullen at first then downright disrespectful and rude. She never acknowledged me. Never spoke to me. Treated me as if I were invisible.
It was awful!
The next few years of L being in high school were very difficult. She lived with us off and on, lived with her father off and on. Our relationship never improved much, and I just did the best I could to be kind and considerate towards L for the sake of the love I have for her mother.
L graduated and moved to Minnesota to live with her aunt. She had a great job welding and making $10.00 an hour (which is good money for an 18-year-old kid). She was safe, and happy. Then came the call. “I want to go to school to be a vet tech. The schools here in Minnesota are too expensive. I am moving back to Virginia.” Of course her coming back had nothing to do with school and everything to do with being lonely and missing her friends and a particular boy.
So Bluebell told me the news and I braced for it. L was coming home with no job and very little money. She had bought a car, but that meant a car payment and no job meant we would have to “help” her out. She came home, and after about a month of “staying with friends” she asked to move back home. We had no room for her, but told her she could sleep on the couch and put her stuff in a corner in her brother’s room. We said she could stay until she “got back on her feet.”
What transpired since then has been pure hell. She did not want to look for a job. She only wanted “certain” jobs. She refused to do anything around the house to help. She got a part time job at Taco Bell, then quit. She got a part time job at Mrs. Fields then got fired. She was pleasant for the first two weeks, then became sullen, moody, and disrespectful. Mostly towards me.
This is where the crying comes in. She is a horrible mean person, and I am STUCK! She won’t even take out the trash! I will say that in the six months she has lived with us she has voluntarily emptied the dishwasher three times, but to me that doesn’t really count.
I am stuck because of the fact that I am not her mother. If that were MY kid, I would have put her out! Made her figure out where to stay and how to get her act together. She would NOT be allowed to live in my house, use my electricity, my water, eat my food, and be so disrespectful.
However, Bluebell is cut from a different cloth. She feels as though it is her responsibility to “help” her daughter and take care of her. She does fuss at her, and yell at her to be respectful and help out. But the bottom line is that it all makes no difference to L. She is almost 21 for goodness’ sake!! She knows that her mom won’t put her out so she just does as she pleases. She doesn’t care if her mom yells at her. She takes it, and then just goes back to her normal routine. She doesn’t even apologize.
Now, I suppose you may think I can tell Bluebell to make a choice, or force her to put her daughter out; and while those options are available to me, if I were to do either one of them, it would damage our relationship beyond repair. Bluebell would never truly forgive me, and it would ruin the best relationship I have ever had. I am not willing to do that, so I suck it up, and know that this will eventually end.
L did get a job recently. A very good job making $16.00 an hour. However, she won’t start for another three weeks. Then of course it will take about a month for her to save up enough money to move out into her own place. I do see a light at the end of the tunnel for THIS time, but the truth is this will never be over completely.
L recently told her mother, “I don’t like Carol. I don’t want to have a relationship with her.” So my life with Bluebell will consist of me doing the best I can to be cordial to a young lady who is cruel and unkind. This is tolerable to me as long as L doesn’t live with us, and I only have to deal with her occasionally.
When we fall in love we don’t realize that if that person has children it is going to be an uphill battle, and sometimes you will never get to the top of the hill. The walk up the hill can be heartbreaking, but for me I focus on the other side of the hill, when Bluebell and I are still hand in hand and L is on the other hill.
On a side note, the relationship I have with Bluebell’s son is awesome, and the one she has with my boys is amazing also. The five of us have a family, and we laugh, and love each other.
L doesn’t want to be a part of that family, and after much talking, and shouting, and crying Bluebell and I have come to that conclusion. Bluebell understands what L does, and how she treats me. It makes her very sad, because she would never have expected her child to be so unkind and nasty. Especially to someone who has done so much for her. Bluebell feels badly about it, but she just can’t bring herself to kick her daughter out of our house, so until the day comes that she moves out on her own, I am stuck living with an Evil Stepchild.
I know there are many other people who are going through what I am going through or something very similar but people just don’t want to talk about it. It is time we stepparents of evil stepchildren come together to support each other!!
By Carol Rood
Today I had a conversation with my Wii Fit that had me saying WTF??
Let me set the scene for you: I came downstairs to see the boys off to school. Once they left I decided to check my weight on the Wii Fit. I get on the board…
Wii: “Well good morning Carol. Are you feeling refreshed today?”
Me: “Yes thank you.”
Wii: “So, how is Bluebell doing? I haven’t seen her lately.”
me: “She’s fine.”
Wii:”So how does Bluebell look to you?”
(4 options to choose from):
A. She looks the same
B. She looks skinnier
C. She looks bigger
D. I haven’t looked at her
I choose A because it is true.
Thinking it is a relationship counselor, Wii says: “Change is exciting don’t you agree? Maybe you should pay more attention to Bluebell.”
I was like, “Look here, I pay enough attention to Bluebell. Watch, I am going to call her and ask her. You’ll see, Missy!”
So I did. I called Bluebell.
I told her about the conversation I was having with the Wii and she laughed … and laughed. Really? I expected her to take my side. But nope….she thought it was hilarious. She was still laughing as I hung up.
So I turn back to the TV, hit the “A” button on the controller to move on, and the Wii says to me: “On a side note did you know that dogs become more motivated if their owners pay attention to them?”
Seriously? Now somehow it is MY fault that Bluebell looks the same??
I am NOT joking here people, I can’t even make this shit up.
Finally I weigh myself. And the Wii says, “Oh, you missed your goal. Do you want to make a new one? Maybe you need to work harder.”
me: “Listen bitch, I think I have had enough of your smack talk today! I bought you, I own you, you are mine, and I don’t want any more sass from you!”
I was a tough bad-ass talker. However, my actions were different. After I yelled at the tv, I meekly and quietly entered a new goal.
And the saddest part is that I will do it again next week.
You can also find me at: Coffee, Clutter and Chaos
By Carol Rood
I usually stay away from political commentary, however, I have been reading more and more about the hypocrisy of the Federal Government, and the more I read the angrier I get. Now don’t get me wrong, I am the kind of girl who does NOT believe everything I read, but the evidence is mounting and I am upset!
When I was in the military and in a same-gendered relationship, we had to hide everything. Of course most people were able to put two and two together, but we were not able to be open about with whom we were in a relationship.
When President Obama repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), I for one was thrilled. This meant that military personnel would be able to be open about who they loved and not have to hide and be in fear anymore. We saw the first public Pier homecoming kiss of two women in Norfolk and the first public Marine homecoming kiss. Both of those sights brought tears to my eyes.
Many Gay and Lesbian military personnel have married their partners and in many states that is perfectly legal. However, due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Federal Government only respects marriages between a man and a woman. This means that same sex couples are not allowed to have the same benefits heterosexual couples enjoy. These benefits include military ID cards, access to the Commissary and exchange, not to mention medical and dental benefits. In addition, heterosexual military personnel receive extra housing money that their single military members do not receive.
This difference in pay has always been contentious even without adding in the same sex relationship issues. I know single military members who have long complained about the difference in pay, especially when there are no children in the family. Why should a married person with no children receive more housing money than a single person with no children? But that is not my concern today.
Today I am concerned with the lack of benefits same sex couples receive due to DOMA. And when I started doing research to write this to ensure I wasn’t making false allegations it came to my attention that the House Republicans will be spending up to 3 MILLION dollars to defend DOMA when the question of its constitutionality goes before the Supreme Court this year. So out of one side of their mouths they want to reduce spending and out of the other side they want to spend 3 MILLION dollars to defend DOMA?? Hypocrisy at its finest in my opinion.
President Obama himself has stated that he thinks DOMA is unconstitutional and directed the Attorney General to no longer defend DOMA. In this past election voters enacted laws to allow gay marriages. When are the Republicans going to get with the program? They are not in step with what most Americans want and they will only continue to lose ground with the American people if they keep moving in this direction.
However, my biggest concerns is that our military personnel have been told they are allowed to be open about their sexuality but some have even been barred from spouses’ groups. In North Carolina a solider who had just returned from a deployment to Afghanistan attended a couples’ retreat with her wife. After being there 24 hours they were asked to leave because they were “distracting other participants”. The Chaplain in charge of the retreat stated that the couple could not attend the retreat because the program was funded in such a way that it was only for heterosexual married couples.
Another couple who are stationed at Fort Bragg also experienced discrimination by a spouses’ group. The wife of a military member was told she could not join the Fort Bragg Association of Officer’s Spouses because she did not have an ID card. However, that rule was not listed in the Association’s bylaws when she applied to join.
The examples go on and on. Military spouses having to cover their own airfare and being denied access to military flights. Military spouses being denied housing pay. Military spouses being denied diplomatic visas so they can live with their spouses overseas.
These military personnel truly believed that when DADT was repealed they and their spouses would be able to fully participate in military life as equals to every other military member. So not much has truly changed. We are out, that is great, but gay service members are still being discriminated against. The difference since DADT was repealed is that now it is out in the open instead of hidden.
By Carol Rood
I had a fairly normal life. I grew up with two brothers, a mother, a father. We moved around some when I was little (born in Phoenix, spent three years in Colorado, 5 years in Southern California, and finally landed in Connecticut). My family was a bit dysfunctional, but we were okay for the most part. We went on family trips. My brothers and I fought. My mother was ALWAYS on a diet, my dad went to work in the city and came home to the ‘burbs. A typical 70′s family.
I was a typical teenage girl. I talked on the phone incessantly. I had a diary. Had lots of boyfriends, and struggled with high school cliques and popularity contests. I had a part time job, and hung out with my friend and shopped. Normal teenaged girl.
When I graduated high school I moved out of my parents’ house because they were just too strict and I “NEEDED MY FREEDOM”. I actually shouted that at my parents when I moved out. What a fucking turd I was. Really, was it so bad that my parents wanted to charge me $50.00 a month for rent? My mother even offered to pay me $5.00 an hour to do ironing for her, thereby giving me an opportunity to “earn” my rent. Nope, no good for my sorry teenaged ass. I “needed” my freedom. So I traded my parents’ house in a safe middle class neighborhood and their cheap rent to move in with a girl I worked with at the grocery store. I went from my parents’ house to an apartment on the second floor in a not so safe neighborhood in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I went from food and heat and security, to very little food, limited money for gas, and struggling enough that I had to get a second job so I could choose to either put gas in my car, or eat. STUPID!!
However, when I moved out something even more dramatic changed for me. It was after I moved in with Pam (I think her name was) that I met Kathleen. Now when you read her name, you need to imagine her name being said with music playing and a pretty face with long black hair floating in one of those conversation bubbles with shimmering stars behind her face. THAT would be how it was back then. Kathleen was pretty, funny, and (said with a whisper) … a lesbian…
She was not looking for a relationship, but apparently a fresh-faced, pretty, 18-year-old girl with a curiosity about her was too much for her to resist, and our little friendship blossomed into MUCH more…
Suffice it to say that Kathleen was the first woman I ever kissed in an other than “you’re my best friend” way. She was also the first woman to break my heart. We had a great time together in the beginning. However, when I went to boot camp a few months after we started dating, my mail went from cards every day, to letters once a week, to the dreaded “Dear Jane” letter, then it was over. I cried. I moved on.
Since that time I have been in relationships with both men and women (no not at the same time you twisted people), and although I enjoyed being with both men and women, I always enjoyed my relationships with women more. Somehow for me the relationship had a depth that was missing in my relationships with men.
I have been in a wonderful relationship with my Bluebell for 8 years. We are very happy. We love each other very much. We share our lives. We argue, we laugh, we raise our kids, and we are truly happy with each other.
By now you are probably wondering where I am going with this? I was wondering that too, but don’t fret I actually DO have a point.
My point is that recently I learned about National Coming Out Day (NCOD). I did some research and found out that National Coming out Day has been going on since 1988. I didn’t know that. Did you?
Well, I think it is wonderful that there is a day set aside for people to rejoice in themselves and announce their identity to the world. For many it is truly a celebration. A day where they finally let friends and family know who they are, and whom they love. It can be a wonderful, joyous, liberating experience. It can also be filled with anxiety, concern, and plain stark terror. What if they reject me? What if they don’t like me anymore? What if my parents, brothers, sisters, friends will no longer associate with me? You might be able to guess, or hope, or predict what others will think, but until that moment of declaration happens you won’t truly know.
I am a glass half full kind of girl. The kind who always tries to see things through rose colored glasses and find the positive in EVERY situation. Bluebell tends to be a bit of a Negative Nelly, seeing the negative side of things. That is why we are such a great match. We balance each other. And even though I try to always look at the positive side of things, I am also a realist and so for that reason I want to tell anyone who is going to come out someday, or might come out someday, or is thinking about it: IT WILL NEVER BE OVER!!!!
Now, don’t get your knickers in a knot. I am not saying that coming out is bad!! I like being open about who I am and whom I love, but it is not a one time deal. I come out over and over and over again and again and again and again. When you start a new job and someone asks about your significant other you can chose to come out or not. When/if you have kids you can choose to come out to the teachers and administration or not. When you meet new people you can choose to come out or not. Can you see where I am going with this? It is often a weekly, if not daily decision.
I am a skin care specialist for a leading dermatologist. I have new clients on a regular basis. If it is someone I see regularly and frequently (most of my clients see me every two weeks, or at least monthly), at some point they will ask me about my family. I always talk about my kids, but usually leave my marital situation out of the conversation. However, at some point it inevitably comes up…..sigh….
Truthfully, there are some GLBT who are very open about who they are, indicative by their dress, mannerisms, and speech; however, there are many of us who you wouldn’t “know” just by looking at us. I am a feminine woman, I am a “girly girl”, and no one ever “suspects” that I am gay. So very often someone will innocently ask about my husband (I am a middle aged woman with kids, so that is fairly common). Right then I have a choice to make….do I tell them about Bluebell? Do I fib? Should I be evasive?
Most of the time I am honest. And once the words are out, “No, I don’t have a husband, I have a partner,” I cringe a little inside. Most times there is a small pause while the person thinks about what I have just said. I have to be honest and say that 98% of the time after that quick pause the person says, “Oh,” and then goes on to tell me how it is okay that I am gay and relates a story about someone they know who is gay. Their hair dresser, friend, family member, neighbor, etc. They almost always say something like, “It doesn’t bother me. It is okay that you are gay.” I knew it was okay already, but I appreciate their letting me know it doesn’t bother them. Then we move on to other topics. However, now that I think about it, I realize that I don’t usually “come out” to anyone until I know them for awhile. I guess my philosophy is:
1) If they like me before I tell them and then they don’t like me afterwards, that tells me more about them than about me.
2) People don’t generally start a new acquaintance with giving lots of personal information about themselves, unless it is your physician……
I suppose the point to my rambling today is that I am happy there is a “National Coming Out Day” to celebrate and give voice to so many people who can open themselves up on that day. However, we should be honest, and say that every day has the potential to be a “Coming Out Day” for anyone who is “other than” heterosexual. So it really should be “National Coming Out Day …….Over and Over and Over”.
By Carol Rood
Some women say they are mean moms if they haven’t baked cookies for their kids, or made their sandwiches in the shape of a heart. I know some moms who make their kids’ sandwiches and then cut off the crusts, and THEN use heart shaped cookie cutouts….really?
Some moms bake for their kids….some moms put little love notes in their kids’ lunches packed by the mom. Some moms wake their kids up with hugs and kisses, and cuddles.
I am NOT one of those moms.
I am the mom who sleeps in after the kids are already up. (They get up at 5:45 and have to walk out the door to the bus at 6:45.) I get up at 6:15, so I do get up before they leave for school. That way I can give them a hug and tell them to have a great day. But if they oversleep I throw open their doors, and say, “I am NOT driving you to school….get your butt out of bed and get ready.” I am not a complete ogre. If they are really running late, I will help them out by packing their lunch, minus the love notes and WITH the crust on the bread.
My point is, I am a mean mom.
I made them eat vegetables. I would say to them, “Eat your green beans, or you will go to bed.” And then I would put them to bed if they didn’t eat the green beans.
My 15-year-old does have a cell phone, however, he pays his own bill every month. If he cannot pay his bill because he didn’t do his chores, he gets no phone. It comes to me. In my house if you can’t pay for your cell phone bill yourself, you don’t get a cell phone.
My kids don’t have tvs in their rooms. They share a computer that is in the family room. I block access to certain websites, and I monitor what they do on the computer. I also read their texts and I know their Facebook passwords and check their messages. Basically my kids have limited privacy.
I make them do chores, and pay them their “age” each week for completed chores. So the 16-year-old makes $16.00, the 14-year-old $14.00, etc. If they do not complete their chores for the day I do not pay them for that day. Oh, and when the 16-year-old gets a job I will stop his allowance, but he will still need to do some basic chores to contribute to the community in which he lives. I figure if he eats my groceries, uses my electricity and hot water, he can empty the dishwasher and take out the trash.
I believe in tough love. I believe it is my job to turn these young, beautiful creatures who lack much in skills, common sense, and responsibility into mature, respectful, responsible, capable human beings before I turn them loose on the world. And I take my job very seriously.
In short, I am a meanie. So if you are a mean (which really means caring, tough loving) parent, then unite with me! We shall be honest about who we are and stand up for what we believe in! “Mean” is good!!
By Carol Rood
It seems as though every time there is an election for a President I am a different person with different values. Or maybe it’s just my environment. When I was 18 the year was 1983, so the first election I was able to vote for a United States President was the election in 1984. My choices were the incumbent President Ronald Reagan or Walter Mondale. Years prior, when I was 15, my mother was a diehard Reagan fan. So much so that I went with her to the phone banks to make sure we called people and got them out to vote for Mr. Reagan. So knowing nothing beyond my parents’ expectations and my life with them, I voted for Ronald Reagan.
If I was given that same choice tomorrow, Ronald Reagan or Walter Mondale, I would again vote for Ronald Reagan. I was in the Navy at that time and I must say that President Reagan sure was good to us! We received excellent pay raises the years Reagan was President and I really liked him as my Commander in Chief!
The next Presidential election we had two new candidates who had never been President before, and featured the Republican nominee George H.W. Bush and Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis. During this election I was 22, and single. I was in the Navy, making decent money, and enjoyed living on my own. I was totally NOT paying attention to politics. I was paying more attention to the cute boys at the bar where I hung out. I voted for President Bush.
The next election was in 1992. I was still in the Navy, and totally immersed in the military life. I did not yet have children, and was still living the life of a single young lady. I think I was stationed in Fayetteville Arkansas, surrounded by Republicans and country folk. This time the men running for President were President Bush and Governor Bill Clinton.
I lived in Arkansas during this election. I knew how backwards the state was at that time. Public schools ranked very low. There was high illiteracy, the Waltons were the kings and queens and Razorback football was not doing well. I didn’t like Clinton as a Governor and I sure as heck wasn’t going to vote for him for President. President Bush got my vote, but to no avail. Bill Clinton became President.
I didn’t like President Clinton. It really didn’t have much to do with his politics. I still wasn’t paying attention to that. What I was paying attention to was what my seniors and co-workers in the Navy were saying. They didn’t like him either. He was a “draft dodger”, never served in the military. Smoked dope, etc etc etc. I was in the United States Navy. My vision was quite tunneled. I had a job that paid well, that I wasn’t going to get fired from, and that was secure. I didn’t look much beyond my little world.
Then the election that I actually started tuning in for happened. The presidential election of 1996. President Bill Clinton ran against Republican Bob Dole. I liked Dole. I really liked his wife Elizabeth Dole. I was excited about him, and liked what he had to say. I voted for him, and was disappointed when he lost. President Clinton was our President for 4 more years.
In 2000 I was married and had two small children. I was still in the Navy and therefore not really involved in what other Americans went through. I had a secure job that paid enough for my husband to stay home and go to college while raising our boys. I was quite sheltered from what the world was about, and really only paid attention to what mattered to my military lifestyle. I did NOT like Al Gore. I thought he was an idiot, and I was definitely unhappy about Clinton’s shenanigans in the white house. George Bush got my vote. He became our President.
Do you see a trend here?? I was a Republican through and through. I suppose that is because I wasn’t concerned about social issues, and honestly I wasn’t concerned about financial issues. This was the end of the 90′s. I made money from my investments in the 90′s. Housing was stable, I made money and was able to purchase homes at reasonable prices. My kids were little and not yet in school. My life then was very different from what it is now. Fast forward 4 years. My life was still the same, although it was on the cusp of change. I was about to leave my husband. About to get involved in a relationship with a woman, and about to retire. All of those changes happened in a two-year span. But I still voted like a Republican.
Then it was 2008. My life was vastly different than it had been for all of my previous elections. My kids were older. I was a retired military person living back in the “real world”. IN a relationship that was not allowed to be legalized. I was torn. I was fired up about Hilary but I adored John McCain. I had worked at the POW Center in Pensacola and I knew his story. I respected him tremendously, as did my bosses who had met him while I was in Pensacola. That stayed with me all those years later. But he made a fateful error for me. It became too much and I could no longer support Senator McCain. What was his error??? He chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. OOOOOHHHH I could not stand that woman. I can’t even put my finger on it, but I knew she could NOT be our Vice President. Then the next thing I knew some guy I had never heard of…Barock??? No it was Barack…. Barack Obama was running for President. I paid attention to the debates. Listened to the speeches, and became a Democrat. I even campaigned for him. Of course I voted for him, and was so excited when he won!!
However, this year I am a bit ambivalent. I love President Obama. But it turns out I am fiscally a Republican and socially a Democrat. Although I will say publicly I AM a supporter of Obamacare!!
I suppose the way I vote will be determined by what I value more. So am I a Demopublican or a Republicrat??
Or am I just an American who is concerned about the economy and health care, and the recession, and the national debt, and Planned Parenthood and the right for GAY PEOPLE TO MARRY????? I am AGAINST DOMA, and censure. I am AGAINST raising taxes and FOR keeping Pell Grants high and FOR keeping student loan rates low. I am FOR legalized abortion, and FOR our debt ceiling to go down. I am FOR allowing young undocumented people to have a path to citizenship but AGAINST allowing them free health care. I am confused.
I DO KNOW that I want George Allen and Randy Forbes GONE, and replaced by Tim Kaine, and ANYONE ELSE.
I do know with a 99.99999% certainty who I am voting for, but at the same time, I do understand and agree with some of what “the other guy” says too. Bottom line is I think it is okay to agree with some of what both candidates have to say, but at the end of the day you have to vote with your conscience.
May the best man win.
By Carol Rood
When I first started dating my lovely partner Bluebell, we had to keep everything a secret. First of all, she was still in the military and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was alive and well. Plus I had just gotten divorced and was unwilling to let my children know I was in a relationship with her. They knew we were best friends, and I decided to leave it at that.
Then we bought a house together and we decided it was best for each of us to have our own bedroom. She was about to retire, but I had not yet “told” my kids and she had not told hers. We did sleep together most nights, but actually lived in our own bedrooms for the most part. It was an interesting time. Neither of us was “out” professionally but we were to our close friends. Looking back on it I think we were crazy, but it worked at the time, and I suppose it made things easier for the children to get used to living with new people.
We decided after living together for a year we would tell the children that we were actually a couple. Of course they all said, “Um, we have known forever Mom.” They were okay with me being in a relationship with a woman, and that made me happy. We had actually prepared ourselves for the worst and realized we may need to sell our house and live apart if our kids freaked out. Our number one priority was the children and how they would feel about our relationship.
Because I had been in a “traditional” marriage when my children were young I never forced the issue about them saying anything to any adults or their friends. I always introduced Bluebell as my “friend”, and they did the same. They called her “my mom’s friend” if talking about her to others.
At some point my oldest son (age 15 now) began telling people his mom was “bi”. Apparently people his age thought that was cool and I scored him some “cool points”. I suppose technically I am “bi” in his mind since I was married to his dad and am now with a woman. I don’t consider myself bisexual. I consider myself a lesbian, but I never pushed that issue with my son. Whatever he was comfortable with worked for me.
My son is now in 10th grade and is very comfortable with Bluebell and with our relationship.
However, I was still surprised when she came to me a few weeks ago and brought me a paper that I saw had my son’s handwriting on it. “Uh oh”, I said. “Is this going to be bad?” She said, “Just read it.” She had seen this paper lying on the dining room table near my son’s book bag and picked it up and read it. I held it in my hand and braced myself.
He had an assignment to write about himself and his family for his English class. In his own handwriting I read, “I found out a few years ago my mom is in a same gendered relationship. I think that is cool. My mom is cool.”
I cried tears of joy. My son thinks I am cool! That is a pretty amazing thing for a mom of a teenager to be considered cool by her kid!
My son thinks I am cool!!!
By Carol Rood
I have many friends who are close to my age who are currently empty nesters. They started having children when they were in their 20′s, and are currently in their mid to late 40′s and their children have moved out of the house. Some are married, some in college, some are working. I have asked many of them (the mothers usually) if they experienced the “Empty Nest Syndrome” -a condtion where parents have feelings of depression, sadness, and loneliness when their children grow up and leave the family home. They all said “NO!” Some said “Hell no!” and one or two said “Fuck no!” A couple of them asked me if I was joking.
In other words, the Empty Nest Syndrome is apparently NOT alive and well amongst my peers. At least not in Southeastern Virginia. When I seemed surprised (after all I had always heard mothers typically experienced it), my friends were like, “Girl, are you kidding me? No one to cook for, no dirty bedrooms. No nagging about helping out around the house. No one asking for money…I could go on and on.” That was the typical response. Being able to come and go as they please with no one to worry about seemed like such a relief to them.
My partner Bluebell and I have four kids between us. We were so excited when one of them (L) left the nest last year. She graduated and moved to Minnesota to live with her aunts and be a welder. She learned how to weld in high school and was super gung ho to get started. Since Bluebell’s sister is also a welder, all of the adults thought Minnesota with her Aunt would be a good move for Bluebell’s daughter. She left, Bluebell cried, but we adjusted and L thrived. She loved being on her own (with adults who loved her there to assist). She got a welding job, bought a car, managed her money okay, and was doing well. So we were absolutely shocked when she announced one day that she was going to move back to Virginia. We were floored and didn’t know what to do.
There had been this whole, “one down, three to go” thing. We had renovated L’s room, painted it lavender, bought two desks and a chaise and turned it into an office. It has a window with a view, and it is lovely to sit on the chaise, read, and look out the window on occasion. When L told Bluebell she planned on moving back “home,” Bluebell gently explained that we no longer had a space for her. We didn’t have room. We had also had lots of struggles with L, and the last year she lived with us had not been pleasant for Bluebell or me. I became anxious, and started having stomach aches. However, what could I do? L was determined to leave Minnesota and come back to Virginia. She had a car, bills, and no job! We knew it was a mistake, but we could not convince her of that. So we braced ourselves for the inevitable.
L explained to Bluebell that she would not be coming back to live with us, she had a friend she was going to move in with and we were relieved. The situation was not ideal, but at least she would be safe, and her friend said she didn’t have to pay rent until she was “on her feet.” Even though I should not have been worried at that point, I just had this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Fast forward a month. L’s friend was asked to leave the residence and L needed to come home. We always knew this was a big possibility. She didn’t have a decent job and couldn’t afford rent. We told her she could come back and stay rent free until she got a job and was on her feet. We now had a Boomerang Kid. In just a couple of months we went from “One down, three to go.” to “Ermagherd, one came back!!”
We had to establish household rules, and have had to adapt them at least once. Our Boomerang child felt as though it was okay to be a consumer of our water, electricity, food, etc etc and not help out around the house. Then we gave her ONE chore: putting the dishes in the dishwasher. She was pissed, but had no choice. Then she got a job, but was only working about 25 hours a week, and her hours were in the evening. So that left her sleeping until noon, then watching TV or Netflix all day. So we put her on the Carol Rood Life Plan (or “CRLP”).
This plan is not for the faint of heart. It requires planning, and being awake, and being productive. For every hour I was working outside the home she had to be working inside the home to get another job. The PS3 and the Wii were locked up, and a code was placed on the televisions so she could not sit and watch TV all day. Every morning around 8 am I wake her up so she can get started on her day and be productive. This plan has actually helped her get a second job because she is so eager to get OFF the CRLP that she is willing to get three jobs if need be to afford an apartment! Oh, and there is a deadline. The offer to stay on the couch will end on January 5th. Apartment or no apartment. So on the CRLP you need to get busy so you can save up and get a place of your own. There are affordable apartments near us. None is a penthouse suite, but all have four walls in a safe neighborhood, and can be used for sleeping, cooking, eating, and general hanging around.
Last night we had the “Since you are working now, we are going to start charging you a small amount of rent every month to help pay for your consumerism.” That went over like a lead balloon. Oh well, I am not in the business of pleasing people who can be on their own but are not because of sheer stubborn laziness. If she was in school, or working a full time job, or doing anything to move her life in a forward direction I would probably feel differently, but being stagnant just because you can does NOT work for me, and January 5th looms!
I will let you know if the CRLP works, and if so I will offer seminars for other parents of Boomerang kids. If you are one of the lucky first participants it will be free, but once I achieve the “Boomerang Kid” ghuru status, well then by gosh, it might cost you a few bucks!!
By: Carol Rood
I blame myself.
No actually I blame people who are parenting kids born in the early to mid 90′s.
We messed up.
We did it wrong.
We shouldn’t have listened to the “experts”. I think we should have parented more like our parents did than how we were told was a “better way.”
I am of course speaking about the way we have parented our children who were born between 1992 and 1996. Those who are legally able to work and who have either graduated from high school or will shortly graduate from high school. I have to first say I googled “what do I do when my teen refuses to get a job”. The websites I found were not much help. A couple said things like, “You need to give your teenager positive motivation and explain to them the benefit of having a job.” I don’t think this will work, in fact I think that kind of “only positive reinforcement parenting” is partly what got us into this mess in the first place.
We have become a society that coddles its kids. We never let them fail, we never let them scrape their knees, we never let them fall. And by doing this we never teach them how to be self reliant! How can they learn to recover from a set back if we never let them have any set backs? I experienced this first hand with Bluebell’s daughter. She was struggling in school. Mainly because she didn’t do any work. And I mean to say she really did not do ANY work. She was in danger of not graduating high school. So at the very last minute so that she would graduate, one of her teachers changed her grades from 0′s to 50′s so she would indeed get a passing grade. I have to say honestly that I had mixed feelings about that. On one hand I wanted her to be held accountable for her lack of action, however, on the other hand, I didn’t want her to have to spend another year in school, and I knew she would end up dropping out and would not have her high school diploma. In the long run, not having a high school diploma was a far worse thing than not being held accountable for ignoring your schoolwork. So she was “passed” and graduated.
With my own children, especially with Joe Cool, the older of my two, I have noticed that I let him slide on some things and he doesn’t always learn about accountability. Looking back at it now, I realize I have been too much of a “helicopter parent”, and need to back off some so he can learn to make his own decisions, bad or good. I think it is not too late for me as he is only 15, so I am taking on this challenge for the good of my son.
I have digressed some, so let me get back on track. I think that somehow we as parents have imparted to the youth between the ages of 16 and 20(ish) that they can pick and choose what jobs they want and that they are entitled to always being taken care of. We did such a good job caring for them that they haven’t learned how to take care of themselves. These are some of the things I hear from Bluebell’s son The Hunter who is 17, “But I don’t want to work in the fast food industry.” “I applied online, that is good enough.” “Why should I call the manager?” etc etc etc.
Bluebell’s son is 17 and has been “looking for a job” for about 6 months. His looking consists of applying for jobs online. He has called a few of the places he has applied to, and they tell him to call back next week. He does this usually two times, then gets frustrated and gives up. I have tried to tell him that he should not be picky when looking for a job. I have told him to apply everywhere. I have told him to walk the mall to look for a job. The answer I received regarding that suggestion was, “I don’t want to go to the mall by myself.” I was like, “What are you talking about, this is not a social excursion. You are looking for a job. That is a one person thing to do. NOT a group.” I have told him to borrow my car and go to the places he has applied to and meet with the manager. That way the manager can see that he is a clean cut polite teenager and it will give him a leg up on his competition. Has he done it???? NO!!
Are you kidding, I am offering the kid my car to borrow to do this. Most teens would JUMP at that opportunity! Not him…..
As a matter of fact when I was in our local Harris Teeter the other day I mentioned to the hiring manager that The Hunter had applied at HT at least 3 times. She said, “Him, and 3000 other people.” She went on to tell me that she had recently hired 4 teenagers, and three of them had been consistently coming in to see if HT was hiring. She said, “The “squeaky wheel” gets the job. They are persistent so I know they really want it.” When I told this to our 17 year old he said, “ok.”
We have told him again and again that he will graduate in 9 months and he will want wheels to get to his “real life” job. He is taking welding in school and he is good at it. I fully expect him to get a welding job with a local shipyard, or BAE enterprises, or a welding apprenticeship. Something. How will he get there? I know 9 months may seem like a long way away, but it will go by SO fast!!!
We are at our wits end with what to do. So finally I said to him, “Dude, you are almost 18 years old. I am done bugging you about a job. It is now up to you. You know what you need to do and how to do it. The rest is up to you. Whether you take the bus or drive your own car to your job when you graduate is in your hands.”
I do know however, that The Hunter is not the only youth with these same attitudes. Bluebell’s daughter was being picky about where she worked too, but the fact that she had to move back to our house and sleep on an air mattress on the floor until she saves up some money and can afford her own place made her see things differently.
In fact, Susan has experienced some of this with her own young adult. Bonnie now has a full time job, but it was a struggle, and I know for her as well as other young adults it is easier to sit at home and hang out then look for a job. Because really, what are we parents going to do??? They know they have us over a barrel. They know we aren’t going to let them live on the streets, so they take advantage of that. Maybe a few nights on the streets would be good for them….but I know and you know that really won’t happen.
So what do we do when our teen and young adults refuse to put any effort into looking for a job? I don’t yet have the answer to that I think each parent needs to find a way that works best for their family. But this is so rarely discussed in a meaningful way that I thought I would get the conversation going…
Are any other parents of teens and young adults out there dealing with this? We would love to hear your comments!!
By: Carol Rood
I live in a step family. However, the politically correct term is now “blended family”. Whatever you decide to call it, my experience is that blending two separate family entities is a struggle, to say the least.
I have written about the difficulty in merging my children with my partner and her children. One of her children resisted the “blend” and ended up going to live with her father. This was very painful for my partner, as she didn’t see it coming.
I had been struggling to connect with her child, and no matter what I tried the child would ignore me, or be rude to me. The child was rude to my children as well. It was a very uncomfortable situation, but we were talking a lot and doing our best to make it work. I thought things were getting better.
Then one day when Bluebell (my partner) came home from work, she noticed a paper on the door. It was a court notice that her ex-husband was petitioning the court for custody of her child. No notice from her ex or her child, just a notice on her door. It was a loud night in our house that night. She approached her child and tried to find out what was going on. Her child said she was so unhappy living with me and my two kids that she had asked her father to petition for custody of her. She wanted to go live with her father and stepmother. My partner was heartbroken.
Bluebell’s daughter did end up going to live with her father, and believe it or not, after she left we were able to finally blend our family. We still had bumps, but it seemed as though things went a bit smoother. Without the negative energy running rampant through our house we were able to work together to merge the boys to some sort of family unit.
It was still not completely smooth. Bluebell’s daughter would call her from school crying about how she didn’t feel well and her stepmother would refuse to pick her up. So Bluebell would leave work, and drive to get her daughter to take her home to her father’s house. That happened many times. Then there were the times she called Bluebell complaining about her stepmother. Then we had to put her daughter on our cell phone plan because she needed a phone and her stepmother wouldn’t help her.
These episodes caused tremendous stress on my relationship with Bluebell, mainly because her daughter was still disrespectful and rude to me anytime we saw her, and I had a problem with that. I could understand not wanting to be friends with me. But I never understood the blatant disrespect. I never understood why Bluebell allowed her daughter to treat me in that way.
This continued for almost two years. Then came the fateful day Bluebell got a call from her daughter stating that stepmama was “kicking her out” and she had nowhere to go. Of course Bluebell drove straight down to get her, and brought her to our house. Thus began a really difficult chapter of our family life and our relationship. It was May of her daughter’s junior year, and we lived in a town about 45 minutes from her daughter’s school. So regardless of the way I had been treated and was still being treated by her daughter I had to drive her to school every morning for three weeks until school was over. I never received a kind word, or any thanks.
We changed the living arrangements in our house so Bluebell’s daughter could move in with us to finish her last year of high school, and provide her with a stable family life.
As I am sure you can imagine, we were all in for a difficult year.