We have some appointments coming up for Snail: like her first appointment with a new neurologist; like her appoinment to trial a buggy-type tilt-in-space chair; like her intake appointment for the CP Health unit that does gait assessment and orthotics fitting, and so on...
I've researched and organised all these appointments, and some of them we wouldn't even be doing other than for research I've done lately, and they all involve a LOT of running around, admin, referrals, forms, phone calls, nagging, and so on.
Here's my thing: Should I go to these appointments?
Okay, okay, this sounds like a no-brainer, I know, except for the teensy-tiny fact that Snail isn't my natural daughter. And the slightly larger and more relevant point that I don't get on with her bio-mother (or rather, her bio-mother doesn't get on with me).
I'm not really going to go into the whole thing at length, well, okay, at SOME length, but trust me, this is the Readers Digest Condensed version. I don't like to bitch publicly about it much, and certainly not in writing, because a) she's their mother (and Smash can, astonishingly, read!), and b) I kinda don't want to be reading from my blog in court. *le sigh* But, here's the rub, I'm pissed off, and I don't know what to do. Honestly, this is not a "evil-bio-mum" post. It sounds like it in places, but I'm really, really trying to be fair about this. Really.
|See! NOT an arsehole.|
I understand that it can be extrememly hard as a bio-mum to get your head around the stepmother thing. Snail's disability just adds an extra juicy layer to the mix. I spend time thinking about how I would feel if it were my daughter. I try to only act in ways I'd respect from a step-mother of my own daughter in some parallel universe. I promise, I really, really, really, have tried. Really. [no, really!]
Sure, this is my blog, and I'm only telling my side of it. So, subtract a bit of the above awesome to allow for a glowing self-report, and you've still got (I think) plenty of awesome to be going on with.
The problem is this: last time I set eyes on Snail's bio-mother, a couple of months ago, I had to call the police to get her escorted of our property (she was trying very hard to break my door down, while screaming horrible abuse at me, in front of both the girls). It was seriously awful, and I was really concerned she was going to smash the glass in the door and attack me. She threatened my daughter (in the "how would you like it if I take your daughter" type of statement. Repeatedly.) She has since been threatening DinnerDad with court to not allow me to care for her kids. We had to see a lawyer to get a letter from DinnerDad saying he had my permission to care for the kids in his custody period after school, and if he is away. She is abusive to me (and about me), in person, over the phone, and in email and texts (and to Smash about me, which is a whole other ballgame).
I look at all that and just feel confused. This is not me! This is not our lives! We're like stereotypical staid upper-middle classers with a "nice" house in a "nice" neighbourhood (that makes no difference, but still, one should say it, right?). We've got a million-ty higher degrees and have [had, in my case, pre-Lolly] good jobs. DinnerDad pays child support on time (and in excessive amounts given our shared care). We pay for great (expensive) medical insurance and for private schooling (and she has a card to claim directly). We pay the gaps on all Snail's medical stuff and aids and equipment, coz DinnerDad earns good money and it's the right thing to do. Bio-Mum didn't get ripped off in the propery settlement. It was HER idea to get divorced (so surely she was prepared for some of this, right?). The kids have been in shared care (week about) since day one. It was a "decent" and unrelated-to-divorce interval before DinnerDad and I got together. This stuff seems to me to be setting up a "let's just get on with co-parenting in a difficult, special-needs situation." Doesn't it? There aren't many extraneous reasons for shittiness, like anger about unpaid child support, or about getting ripped off, or about "the other woman" or whatever.
Here's where I get shitty. It's been 8 years since I've been with the kids. I'm the mother of Snail and Smash's sister. I'm not going anywhere. I'm committed to Snail for the rest of my life. I'll look after her, and feed her and dress her and change her bum and give her meds and hold her while she has seizures, til I'm too old to do it anymore, and then I'll hire someone and nag them to do it how I want. I tell DinnerDad that if we ever splitsville, I'm still going to see Snail and care for her.
Surely, at some point, bio-mum has to (putting it harshly) just suck it up. I am one of Snail's primary carers. Snail loves me. I am committed to her care, and I need to get a say in how that care progresses. It is becoming ridiculous to insist otherwise, and does Snail no favours. I KNOW I am not her "real mother" and am not trying to be her "real mother". I'm trying to be her step-mother, a primary carer who loves her and wants the best of therapy, equipment, therapists, medical peeps, schooling and all the rest for her. I worry about her future. I plan her care and where we will live and how we'll afford in-home care. I cry about it, I share her triumphs and her lows. I wipe up her drool and worry about her fluid intake. I fret about vitamin D and epilepsy meds. I'm not her "real mother" but I'm goddam the next best thing. I want a spot at the Snail table.
Up til now, I've respected bio-Mum's wishes that I not attend this stuff, and have not gone to this kind of thing to keep the peace (unless she didn't go, then, I went). Until I realised after the police incident (!!) that there IS NO PEACE to keep! And, frankly, there is also NO STUFF FOR SNAIL, unless DinnerDad and I do it.
I only go through all this soul-baring and internal wrangling to ask you all: Should I go to these appointments?
Sure, if bio-mum doesn't go, I'll go with DinnerDad. But, if she does go, do I push it? Do I demand a seat at the table? Or is that too much and too far? Do I have a right to this, or am I pushing it?
Argggg! So, bloggy friends, what would YOU do? To go, or not to go? How much of an arsehole am I being, after all?