Step Mom confusion over custody

by Lynn
(Alabama)

I am a step mom to two beautiful girls (ages 12 & 7). My husband has joint custody, so the girls spend every other week at our house. Their mother seems to be very laid back when it comes to rules, hygiene and food. I have house rules and a chore chart. Nothing too heavy...brush your teeth morning & night, clean up your room before you leave to go back to Mom's for the week, and eat your dinner or you don't get dessert. My husband is contracted to work about 850 miles away. He comes home for a week once a month, and this contract only lasts for another 4 months, then he'll be home for good. There has been no problem for the past year with this arrangement. Now, all of a sudden, the ex-wife has decided to keep the girls and not let them come to stay with me on our scheduled weeks. This is breaking my heart, as well as my husband's. I miss the girls so much. We are in the process of contacting a lawyer, but that gets expensive and nobody is made of money. I know the girls Mom and I have very different parenting styles. She takes them out to eat most nights, and buys them whatever they ask for at stores. I enjoy cooking, so we only eat out on Fridays for our "Friday Family Fun Night", then we come home & play games or do crafts. I typically do not buy them something everytime we go to a store, instead saving things for birthdays or Christmas. I know the 12 yr old isn't always happy here...I get the impression her Mom is more a friend than a parent to her. I try to be more of a guardian than a friend. The 7 yr old tells me almost every night before bed that she wishes I were her real mommy. It just breaks my heart that this is happening. I take the girls to the park & we play on the swings & do gymnastics, we have "tickle parties" where the girls gang up on me and we all end up rolling on the floor laughing. We make up silly dances (I CAN'T dance!!). The relationship between my husband & his ex is not good. The relationship between the ex and myself is almost non-existent. It seems to me that I try to share info with her about the girls school & extra-curricular activities, but she gives me last-minute info at best. sometimes no info at all. I'm just confused right now and need some advice or support. Thank you.

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