People say it's difficult to be a mother but in my opinion it's just as hard to date someone with kids. It's a category with no clear definition- just fuzzy borders that you bump into as you stumble about in an unfamiliar world. Oftentimes your partner sends mixed signals- there's times he/she wants your input and wants you to be super-active in the children's lives and other times it's clear you're the outsider. In our case- Mr.S., the bio mom, the grandparents, aunt and uncle all have assigned roles; whereas, me...well, it depends on the day and situation. You want to be there for the kids, connect with them emotionally, provide them with structure and support and most importantly- love them; but at the end of the day, they're not your kids and you don't have the final say in how they're raised (and their parent's values, beliefs and standards may be different then your own). The situation gets even more awkward when the kids make comments like, "I wish you were my mom." It tugs at your heartstrings and you don't know how to respond. There's no handbook and most people you know aren't in the same situation and can't offer advice. Its almost like you need to keep a certain amount of distance to protect your heart...not to get too attached, but it's hard not to when you spend so much time with them- playing, talking, and teaching.
Over the past three and half years, Mr.S. and I have found a balance with his kidlets. I'm not saying dating someone with kids doesn't pose a slew of challenges but it can also be incredibly rewarding. I'm pretty involved with his kidlets these days and have developed a close relationship with his elder son. I think both of his kids know I won't indulge them or let them get away with BS but I'm also stable and there for them when they need me. Additionally, they also know I mean what I say and I always follow through on my promises and I think that holds a lot of weight with them. Also, I have had to learn to be more flexible which has been quite hard and I'll admit there are days when things aren't easy and I'm pulling my hair out. Those are the times I'm grateful that I have the option to duck out of Mr.S.'s house and seek refuge at my cottage; those moments though are becoming fewer and fewer as the kidlets and I spend more time together. It's been quite the learning curve for sure!
One of the more simpler things I love about his kidlets is that they're usually curious and open to trying whatever I'm concocting in the kitchen. Sometimes Kidlet #2 will help me by peeling and chopping veggies or rolling dough. Whereas, Kidlet #1 is always happy to be my taste tester. Recently, Kidlet #1 needed to make rock candy for a school project. I was tickled pink that he asked me to help him. We made two batches, one in yellow and the other in blue. We also added a subtle lemon flavor. Kidlet #1 ended up taking the blue one in for his grade (which looked a bit like the Blue Crystal meth from Breaking Bad...LOL) and got 100% on his project. How outstanding is that?! I was so proud of him.
I guess only time will tell how my relationship with the kidlets will evolve. On days that I get discouraged or frustrated, I remind myself of this quote that I came across on a billboard once- "What a child doesn't receive, he can seldom later give," then I take a deep, deep breath and try and go back in with a healthy attitude and some patience.
"Crystal" Rock Candy
4.5 cups + 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
2 cups of water
1 teaspoon lemon extract (not lemon juice)
1 wooden skewer
1 (quart size) clean, dry glass jar with ring
1 sheet of paper towel
1. Wet top half of wooden skewer. Sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar on a plate. Roll your skewer around on the sugar so that it sticks. Set the skewer aside and allow it to dry completely.
2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add 1 cup of sugar at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the sugar to fully dissolve. Continue until all 4.5 cups have been added. The mixture will look clear with a wee bit of hint of cloudiness.
3. Let the sugar water boil for 10 minutes. Then turn the heat off.
4. Take the saucepan off the burner. Add food coloring and lemon extract.
5. Allow the mixture to cool for about 15-20 minutes and then pour it into your clean, dry glass jar. (Use a funnel, the mixture is pretty sticky and you don't want to get it all over your kitchen counter.)
6. Place the sugar-coated skewer into the middle of the jar. Slide the paper towel over the top of the skewer and then secure with the ring. (We started with Press and Seal but we quickly switched over to a paper towel as we found the paper towel served a dual purpose- it held the skewer in place but it also absorbed some of the condensation from the mixture.)
7. Place the mixture someplace where it won't be disturbed. Leave it alone for 5-7 days and Voila!-- you've got "Crystal" Rock Candy!
Note: If after a day or two you don't see any crystals forming, you may need to add more sugar. Just pour the mixture back in a pot, bring it to a nice simmer and add another 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar. Repeat the process with the skewer and jar.