Sunday, 30 May 2010

Diss Function

Yesterday I got cranky at Tim. He is my almost 18 year-old beautiful stepson. Who I call my son, no step about it. When people ask me how many children I have I just say three. He has lived with us mostly full-time since he was eight years old. The age Max is now.

There were a LOT of teething problems at first, mostly on my part. Tim is an eager to please, amazingly high-spirited, wonderful giving guy.

He can also be a massive pain in the arse.

I've gotten used to him inhaling all of the food in the pantry .... leaving his workbag dumped on the ground after he gets home every day .... using my car as a garbage bin ....taking the home phone upstairs every night. I've learnt to choose my battles wisely, and I let him get away with a lot because he does a lot. His brothers adore him. He works for Dave, is in his third year apprenticeship soon, and I'm so proud that he is such a hard worker.

But the laundry situation makes me want to stab myself in the face.

With alarming regularity, he senses the EXACT time I have finished all the laundry in the house. Then he brings down his dirty washing, dumping it so that all the bits of grass and dirt from his soccer boots are all over the floor. Then he puts a load of his washing on.

And leaves it sitting in the washing machine. Wet. Forever.

I used to finish it off for him, until he started expecting me to. It's become a battle. Because I don't want to walk past the laundry and see all of his piles of dirty stuff, day after day.

I asked Dave to have a word with him, but he just said it should "come from me." I told him it already had come from me, 1,417 times in the past year.

Yesterday morning was D-Day. If I was to do washing, I'd have to get all the wet, almost mouldy stuff out of the washing machine, sidestepping all of his other mounds of week-old dirty clothes.

This is probably almost as boring writing it out as it is for you reading it, I'm sure. I'm sorry. I just needed to get to this next part - the one where I asked Tim to please stop doing this, he instantly gets angry at *me*, and I was in no mood. So I got angry back, saying to him I need to be able to tell him things like this.

And then our Lord and Master Dave, who was upstairs sitting on his throne overseeing his Kingdom while taking a dump, shouts out to ME to lay off.

I suddenly sprouted purple and black horns. It's such a shame - I haven't lost my cool like that in a long, long time. I don't think Rocco has ever seen me so cross - for the first time ever he was a little scared of me. And perhaps in awe.

I shouted the whole house down and kept shouting, until the roof and walls collapsed and Dave and his precious toilet came crashing and he sat there, blinking in the rubble.

Not really. But I did say terrible, mean spiteful things. Because as Dave kept yelling at me to shut up, I was yelling at Dave to stay out of it, stop being so defensive, I'm allowed to be angry at Tim, Tim was calmly telling me REALLY nasty things, out of Daves earshot. Tim happened to be holding Rocco at this point, and Max was sitting right next to us, listening to everybody. The only thing missing was Jerry Springer.

Ahhhh, families.

I was taught from an early age how to perfect the art of a vicious verbal attack on somebody, and I'm not proud of it. By the end, everybody was crying (except his Lordship upstairs, of course.) I felt so bad.

I took Max and Rocco to a huge playcentre, bought them McDominos for lunch, then some toys. Dreading coming home, I drove up to our house, absently thinking, "If Dave has snapped my laptop I will bash his Valiant with a golf club."

Which really surprised me, because we don't even have any golf clubs.

They had gone, away to Dave's mothers house for the night. Dave left me a nice note with kisses and hugs, hoping I can have a nice "relax." I replied by text, calling him an arsehole. Because he is and I'm still cranky.

I'm an ugly, cranky cow. And as soon as Tim comes home I will sit down with him and apologise. (I HATE when I have to apologise.)

And we'll hopefully talk calmly with each other about what happened, each stating our case.

It's hard, step-parenting. I often get no say in anything Tim does. It's hard when Dave feels so protective that he needs to step in, right at that pivotal moment when I'm cranky at Tim. I'm allowed to be cranky at Tim! I yelled out yesterday. But then things descended into yucky, I start screaming and crying, and as soon as I do that my whole credibility goes out the window and I become The Crazy Lady.

I hate being her.

So. They are due home soon. Rocco, Max and I ended up having a wonderful time together. (After I'd done three hours housecleaning and the weeks grocery shopping and dissassembling the expensive clothes hanger I've broken in my fit of rage.)

The scary part is ... Max has recently displayed signs of pre-teen attitudeness. And Rocco has been a petulant rebel since his cells started dividing.

I'm screwed.

How was your weekend?


  1. To some extent the stuff with Tim sounds like typical teenager stuff. However if Dave tells you to deal with it then he shouldn't jump in and tell you not to by telling you to lay off.
    I hope the upcoming chat goes well and that you're all able to say what needs to be said and to get on with life.
    Good luck with all those soon to be teenage boy hormones running around.

  2. Yeah! battynurse is right! You are right! You are allowed to get mad at Tim.

    Think about if it was your flatmate doing that to the washing machine. You would be mad, and 17 is man enough to take responsibility for that.

    Huge hugs. But assert your dominance and be crazy. At least they will get out of your way!

    (Now I know why you expressed jealousy at my single state yesterday)

  3. That does sound complicated. It seems with step-kids, especially ones that have lived with just you, you can be he parent but not the disciplinarian. You totally have a right to get mad at him, just like you would your other kids.

    I hope the homecoming goes okay.

  4. I am also the mother of two step isn't easy and my husband usually "let me handle it too" just like Dave did...I'm not sure they can help it...but we got through all the bad days and they are great men now. The trying times will pass although probably not quickly.

    I stopped doing their laundry when they were very young. I just showed them how to use the washer and then stopped.

    I would say this. Without saying a word (because that always dumbfounds them) take the wet clothes along with the dirty ones, quietly put them in front of his bedroom door and walk away! Do your laundry and don't say a word about his. Eventually, he will get it and nobody will be mad. It took me ages to learn that, but it really works. They expected me to get mad and yell and I actually think they may have liked that!

    God bless and keep smiling! :)

  5. I'm with NancyGrace on dumping the wet clothes, E. Although I might have gone a step farther and dumped them into his bed ... or onto the driveway. Or buried them in the back yard. And when I read about you being outnumbered and unsupported like that ... the bad red curtain drops in front of my eyes and I start thinking thoughts about tossing the lot on the barbie and bagging up the ashes and delivering the package, covered with XX's and OO's on it. So that he is never again tempted to use you as a laundry service.

    But then, I am a crazy woman myself and no doubt would also be dismissed as such. A problem we share. Mike is so ... um ... controlled (translation: grew up in an emvironment where he was not allowed to express displeasure or defend himself if it meant upsetting the rents) ... and he is not quick to raise his voice or lose his ****. NTM he is not a verbal Ginsu artist like yours truly. And as a result ... he can be wrong, out of line, blind as a bat ... but because I am the one reacting and making all the noise ... Boof! Crazy woman. But these rules ... where you are supposed to just keep quiet and play nice ... they are BS. There is nothing crazy about not letting people walk on you. We just have to figure out how to package the message more effectively -- like a well thrown knife -- without all the artery bursting internal combustion. Easier said than done.

    I hope your talks go well and you get your peace back. Living with other people is just ****ing hard. Hang in there.


  6. PS. I have heard what Capital Mom said ... that the blood parent has to be the disciplinarian (and it totally makes sense to me, based on my experience with in laws and how the blood relation has to be the heavy). I am sure Dave won't be impressed by experts (?) or you running articles under his nose (men) ... but I bet there are no end of articles on the web that support your case. If you could somehow share it the right way in a calm moment? Maaaybeee?

  7. aaaarrrggghhhh!!! Eden don't you dare apologize. you have every right to be mad. and Dave really should stay out of it if he's not willing to get his hands dirty to begin with. how dare he lay that on you and then tell you to back off. how hypocritical!!! I'm steaming mad (hello I don't even know you , but I do) because stepmoms just get shafted with the whole discipline bullshite! "don't you dare look at my precious offspring crosseyed", even though they are perfectly capable to do what is expected in a household but don't. yikes, so sorry, touchy subject for me obviously.
    don't for one minute feel badly for getting angry. it's healthy. and they should stop taking you for granted.
    tons of hugs from the upside down side of the world. xoxo

  8. Better yet...take those wet and dirty clothes and put them on Dave's side of the bed... :)

    You have every right to be angry. Tim can either abide by your laundry policies, or he can take himself off to a laundromat. It does suck though, when other people (ahem, husbands) retain their control when we become screaming freaks! It doesn't even help anything either, because everyone tunes your message out. Sigh.

    Anyway, you may be Tim's step-parent, but it is your house (and Dave's too, I guess), and you get to make the rules. The penalty for not abiding the rules is up to you, but I think it's probably Dave's job to enforce. He probably just thinks you should just do Tim's laundry, though, so good luck with that.

  9. I was just reading a chapter in a baby book about toddlers - how parents both need to be on the same page so that one isn't undermining the other. How much more important is that with a teenager - and a step at that - in the house? Dave needs to agree with you and back you up. Only you know him well enough to know how you can get him on side.

    And yes. Grace is 4.5 months old and I am reading about todders. Nothing like being prepared huh?

    I have (or had) the temper from hell. I'd be the crazy woman too. I try sooo hard to suppress it, to walk away. I'm scared that when Grace does get challenging that I will lose it. And scream and yell. I so don't want to be that woman. I am NOT going to be that woman.

    But you know what? If I do lose it...scream and's not the end of the world. Kids have to see that their parents have limits too!

    Big hugs to you Eden.

  10. Tim is a teenaged boy. No doubt about it.

    I have taken three day old stinky wet clothes in a closed washer and I put them in a laundry basket and set them on their beds. NOT ONE of them said anything about the smell...only asking if item A would be able to be dried soon (before leaving for school). Boys are gross.

    Also, go give Dave a thwap to the back of the head and tell him if he wants it to come from you, then he needs to keep his mouth shut. Even if he is sitting on his throne.

  11. Yikes! Yelling was part of the norm in my house. My husband's house not so much so his 'yell' really isn't a yell and I feel l like a giant asshole when I do. And I do. It's getting better but I do. I fail.
    I think you were kind of set up. If he wanted you to handle it then he should have let you do that without interjecting, unless you were harming Tim. That's something different.
    I can't imagine how difficult it is to step parent. There are so many undercurrents and strings. I think you should be able to tell Tim that his laundry is an issue without being made into a villain and Dave yelling things from the pot, in my opinion, discredits you. You're allowed to be frustrated and annoyed and even mad about it.
    I think some of the other ladies had great suggestions about how to deal with it. Good luck!
    I'm glad you had a great time with Max and Rocco. I hope the homecoming goes well.

  12. I am so with you on knowing how to yel from my own childhood. I get so upset with myself when I get ugly as well.

    I think you should read this.

    Not because you are not totally justified and you also SHOULD be allowed to be angry at Tim. Just because it made HUGE differences in how I looked at things and it helped me a ton.

    I love you to pieces.

  13. I'm not a mom (yet), but I sympathize. I can easily become that Crazy Lady - I hate it because I lose credibility and face and then it becomes about me yelling, rather than what I'm so upset about.

    You should apologize for yelling, but not for asking him to get his sh*t together.

    Blue's article is interesting, written by a remarkable woman. Check out her website - she has an amazing way of questioning assumptions we make about our beliefs. Very powerful.

  14. Eden - it has nothing to do with step-parenting. It's just parenting in general. Sometimes the parents just see things a different way - and it tends to come out at ugly times, like when the female parent has just crossed over into the scary zone.

    I would have dumped Tim's wet laundry on top of his dirty laundry, and tossed the lot somewhere unseen.

    BTW - having a similar weekend here, with the 16 year old thinking it was OK to stay out until 1am the other night, and her Dad avoiding any discipline, going off to golf and leaving me to deal with it. Two days later and no one's dealt with it, so I finally had to do it myself. Aarrgghh! Now I've been in a rotten mood around everybody and NO ONE is happy!

  15. It's hard being the one who carries the responsibilities for making the house run AND being the emotional lightning rod. I can definitely relate to the crazy lady stuff. Right now it's the dog who gets the brunt... poor dog, getting sworn at every day. I do tend to swalllow my anger instead of yelling, but it has an effect anyway.

    I find it hard to balance my right to my anger with a useful expression of it. Tough stuff, really, and very deep for me and for lots of us, I think. Anger is my default position on the "dark side" and I can go there so easily - often before I even know what's happened.

    I love you to pieces, fellow crazy lady.

  16. I have an 18-year-old. So, believe me, I totally get this.

  17. Ahh... the crazy lady. The crazy lady is the biggest reason I have to make amends. I HATE making amends so I try to keep her locked away as much as possible!! :-)


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