Archive for February, 2010

All I Want For Christmas Is A Child Support Check

While we were busy celebrating the nuances of our Christmas traditions and decking the halls of the cozy craftsman Mi Hombre’s ex was stewing over the new found holiday changes. Instead of writing letters to Santa from Super-girl I suspect that she was writing him her own Christmas wish letter and I bet that it read something like this:

Dear Santa,

Although I have been very naughty and nice isn’t something all people would equate with me…I am hoping that you will overlook these things and answer my one simple request… All  I want for Christmas is a child support check from my ex husband.  You see, It pains me that my ex husband is happy, that he has moved on, and most of all I cannot bear the sight of my daughter being so happy with having another woman in her life.   I want to make him suffer and make his life miserable-because I am suffering and my life is miserable. Please dear Santa, can you make sure that the child support will happen?


Ex wife

Yep, That is right-the proud to be feminist who proclaimed during our first meeting that she would never ask Mi Hombre for child support because she ended the marriage changed her tune when we changed our holiday traditions.  Not long after our delightful European Christmas a letter from the ex arrived addressed to Mi Hombre…C.O.D.

On January 1st we wound up in Mediation with a biased pro-mom advocate negotiating-not about Super-girl,  but instead about the pragmatics of where I would fit in Super-girl’s life. Talk about a step into something out of the twilight zone…I literally thought I had walked into Kangaroo court and I was the defendant.  I remember thinking is this legal? Can the mediator really ask me these questions, am I under oath to answer?  I remember feeling so unbearably uncomfortable.  It was pure mock justice and in retrospect I think that it would have been perfectly legal for Mi Hombre and I to have stood up and walked right out of that mediators office.  She was that unprofessional.

During the Spanish/Canadian inquisition Mi Hombre and I sat hands clutched and I am sure with our mouths agape in bewilderment and disbelief.  The Ex went off on tangent after emotional tangent, sometimes raising her voice and at one point standing up pointing her finger and spouting profanity like we were scorn criminals.  She was so convinced that I was defaming her as a mother. Unbeknownst to me every time I painted Super-girls nails, braided her hair, trimmed her bangs or put notes in her lunch I was taking away the her right to motherhood.  According to her, since I am not a mother I know nothing about children, what they need or anything about what it means to be a mother. Ironically,  by being myself I was not only disrespecting her, I was showing  Super-girl that I was trying to become her mother and that I was a better mother by engaging in such activities.  The whole session (might I add, that we had to pay for) crucified me for loving and treating Super-girl with kindness and respect, Mi Hombre for allowing it, and in the end slapped us with a big fat monthly check paid to the ex for her pain and suffering.

The fallout of this farce had me clicking my heels chanting take me back to Canada, my husband regretting having said he had an amicable relationship with his ex, and Super-girl losing out on things we once could afford because her mother broke our already burdened financial state.  It was a grim time to say the least, and a very high source of scorn in our marriage.  It is the law in our state that even if you have joint physical and joint legal custody of a minor the person with the higher income must supplement the other home to bring each home to the same standard of living. As unjust as it may be-it is the law, and we abide by it to the letter.  I will admit even though I understand it, to this day writing that check feels like acid on my hand each time I have to do it.


2010/02/17 at 3:09 PM 7 comments

Our Tradition

Mi Hombre and I come from very different cultural backgrounds. He is a Colombian/Latin American and I am a French/Polish Canadian. Because of this and the vast difference of geographical location of our families, we possess very different traditions for celebrating the Christmas season. Our first Christmas together as a family was a toss up. Which he won because the majority of his Spanish brood is here in our home town-mine remains North of the friendly boarder.  The family arrangements were easily made, but Mi Hombre and I could not decide upon which way we would be decking the halls of his, now our, cozy craftsman.

In the past, Mi Hombre’s Christmas’ were spent placating his ex by celebrating together Christmas morning-for the sake of Super-girl. I sigh in relief that this was the first tradition that we bid farewell to. My Christmas’ were spent under the tree with my 4 legged kids, and at the hospital with the only semblance of family I had-my co-workers.  This was the second tradition farewell of the season, and one that strangely I miss more than I had anticipated. Although, I am sure that it would not be hard to imagine the joy that Mi Hombre and I both felt to be spending the holidays together, in love, surrounded by our new family and those who we actually wanted to be with.

Since Super-girl was 3 Mi Hombre had taught her his heritage and familial traditions. Each year for Christmas he and Super-girl would decorate a Chamiso together (a bundle of dried sticks or branches, spray painted silver or gold, placed in a large pot and decorated with tiny ornaments and white lights). Being new to the family and culturally a lot different, I thought it would be fun to introduce both Mi Hombre and Super-girl to another way of experiencing Christmas.

I was shocked when I found out that neither of Super-girl’s parents believed in Santa Claus or celebrated his traditions. Who doesn’t believe in the jolly-fat man in the red suit and everything inspiring that he brings to a child’s heart? My first thought was, this has got to change!  With eggnog in hand-yes spiked with rum…I set out to introduce both my new loves to a European Traditional Christmas-filled with everything Claus!

Super-girl said that she had never cut down and decorated a real Christmas tree, written Santa Claus a letter or even sat on his knee. As judgmental as I am I found this ghastly.  I was determined that this must change.  After all, she was 5 and still had enough innocence in her to flood her imagination with all things Christmas. Beginning with the birth of Christ, to Saint Nicholas, to Kris Kringle’s workshop in the Great North pole, I covered all the folklore and stories-several times over. I can still envision the wild amazement in her eyes and feel the excitement that erupted within her.  As a child I have such fond memories of these things and since I still believe in Santa Claus, we opted to change things up a little for our first Christmas together.

After Thanksgiving I introduced her to the “Elf on the Shelf” and his story.  It is a delightful tradition that ignites the festive spirit and helps to keep children on their best behaviour throughout the Christmas season. It was pure delight to find Super-girl each morning eagerly jumping from her bed to find Santa’s little elf hidden throughout the house.  She would tell him her secret Christmas wishes and everything she wanted to convey to Santa…It was priceless, and a tradition that we still practice now 3 years later.

We went to the local tree farmer and picked out our choice in evergreen, placed it in our living room and began to decorate with the many carols of Christmas playing in the background.  I can remember it clear as day.  When Super-girl mounted her first angel atop of a tree while sitting on Mi Hombre’s shoulders-both of them were sporting a Cheshire cat grin. I remember saying to myself, this moment is for the vault!  Afterward we lit her up and lay underneath her admiring all her sparkles and beauty-boy that evergreen shone bright.

We three with the four-legged beasts lounged together around that shining tree for a really long time.  We sipped on our Colombian chocolate and told Super-girl the stories of our childhood Christmas’. As cliche as it is to say, it really was a Hallmark moment.  It was one of those moments the will remain forever etched in my heart.  It was so reminiscent of my childhood Christmas’ in the Great white North and admittedly, I finally felt like I was home.

2010/02/17 at 12:37 PM Leave a comment

It’s all Ella Mental!

If you asked me 3 years ago would I consider becoming a stepmother I would have choked emphatically NO! Probably not just no, but HELL NO! I would never entertain the thought of trying to raise someone else’s kid(s) or be married to a man with an enormous load of shh...Shall I just say, B-A-G-G-A-G-E (Pronounced: OMG!) I have seen enough drama on the colourful trails of adventure in my life, enough to know that I would simply not ever knowingly plop myself down amidst the chaos of a stepfamily.

Well, in 2006 I ate my words…

I am a 35-year-old career woman, wife to the most dashingly authentic man on this planet…sorry ladies…and gents! I am a “Mother” ( I quote this b/c I don’t believe that you have to pass a spirited life through your Va-Jay-Jay to be one.) …of 4 wild-hearted four-legged children, and the stepmother to a wickedly brilliant 7-year-old stepdaughter.

Feel free to accompany me as I write about my vastly changing life, my kids; both four-legged and two, my (step) Family (I place this in parenthesis b/c I don’t consider anyone under my roof with the term step, they are simply FAMILY to me!) … and the trials and tribulations of transitioning from a single woman into a stepmother (not always) with grace.

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