Most of the day to day stuff has been the same... Matt's new job is off and running and he's loving it. Ramona spent last week at sleep-away camp for 3 nights with her whole school and she was nervous but did amazingly well thanks to the other-mothers who could tend to her at camp since I hung behind to wait on doula-babies. Hulk and Princess have been on my heels and people still ask me "Oh they're so sweet... are they twins?" nearly every time I take them anywhere. I'm tempted to just answer "yes", normally I give a quick "they're six months apart, we're a blended family"; but lately I've gotten lazy and the last woman who asked me got a "Nope! But you're close!" as I rushed down the grocery aisle. The Baby is cutting molars so children asking me silly questions like "What time is it?" will earn them a sleep-deprived, "Potatoes... and no whining!" It makes sense. Totally.
The new changes are presenting themselves in fairly expected ways... Matt and I have been single for so long we seem to have forgotten what it was like to live with another capable adult human-partner. We both seem surprised when the other one has done something like laundry, dishes or taken the trash out. We've been used to having evenings together a few times per week and making the most of those evenings talking and catching up on the week's progress, but now that we have EVERY night from now until forever, we are slowly slipping into the beautifully quiet routine of MacBooks and Netflix after the kids are thrown in their beds. I'm loving it!
We are also now together with the kids a lot more than we were before and that presents it's own set of challenges. Lately our tendency has been to double-parent. One of us will catch a little one in the midst of some shenanigan and begin disciplinary tactics. We're noticing that if one parent begins to discipline one of the others' kids, the bio-parent will step in and help with the discipline, as a way to show solidarity and support of the non-biological parent. You can imagine how this has looked to the kids!! These kids are used to ONE parent, and now there's TWO! They're outnumbered! Luckily we caught onto this pretty quickly and agreed to let the first parent on the scene take the role as lead detective. This seems to be going smoother but it is something we are still learning. We're pretty good at being able to recognize when we've started double parenting and backing off, or reminding the other parent that we have it handled. It is tricky because I don't want Matt to feel like he *has* to keep "my" kids in line and Matt doesn't want me to feel like his son is too much extra. Neither of these insecurities are based in anything either of us has said or done, it is simply an insecurity we're pretty sure most blended families have in the beginning and one we're pretty sure will fade with time as we grow to trust the other more and we continue to find our groove with the kids.
The other new trick we've been trying is avoiding the answer "no". Not in the hippie earth mama "kids are all precious gems and should be allowed to be free and do as they wish" bullshit, but in the spirit of "holy hell, if you throw another tantrum because I said you can't watch Power Puff girls three minutes before we leave for school, you will find me curled up in the closet with a box of wine and your 8 month old Halloween candy stash YES I STILL HAVE YOUR CANDY STASH, SO WHAT?!" We've been crafty with our answers and it is proving to be quite magical...
What normally happens:
Hulk: Daddy can I play with your phone?
Hulk: BUT PLEASE!!! I REAWWY WANT TO PLAY ANGRY BIRDS
Matt: Not right now. Go play.
Hulk: But Daddy I want to play with your phone NOW. I don't WANT to go play!
Matt: I SAID NO. Not right now, I need it for work[Twitter], maybe later but not if you act like THIS about it.
What ACTUALLY happened-
Hulk: Daddy can I play with your phone?
Matt: After Dinner.
Hulk: Okay! *runs off to play*
Matt (to me): Holy Frack, that worked.
It's genius but so so so simple. Kids want to hear what they CAN do, not what they CAN'T do. So tell them when they *do* get to have that cookie, or that they can watch Power Puff Girls after school. We're even finding that if it's a thing the child is usually fickle about, responding with a cheerful "oh that sounds like fun! Let's do that in a little bit!" causes them to skip away and most of the time, they forget about it!!! It's like we've discovered a tiny Jedi Mind Trick for children. I want to wave my hand in front of their faces and say "These aren't the Fruit Snacks you are looking for... move along... move along..."
Hummm... maybe I'll do that tomorrow just for fun. Getting weird looks from a child who earlier was seen hanging a plastic clip-on-earring off a certain dangly body part and rocking their hips whilst chanting "tick tock tick tock", reminds you that you aren't that cool and it is good to occasionally be reminded that we're not that cool.