Apples to Apples

For a girl whose birthday is on Pi Day, I am not a pie girl. I prefer my crusts on things that are savory, I have never been a fan of the big ole pie thing. I am an excellent baker and certainly could whip one up with confidence but I prefer crustless or graham cracker crusts so I tend to stick to my divine fall baking staple: apple crisp.

Each year, at least once, as summer whips away in the wind and we begin to pull out hoodies and jeans again, I also pull out my vegetable/fruit peeler and go to town making my specialty. I have yet to meet a boxed package or recipe in general that rivals my own. I am confident in my skills at making downright delightful apple crisp. Each year when we apple and pumpkin pick, me and the kids make some together (although it's mostly me and the youngest little making and everyone else eating).

I found that the kids at the school I teach at were not eating their lunch apples... they were leaving them to go bad and get tossed or worse throwing them around and wasting them. I decided to keep some in my classroom and found a few kids enjoyed having them as class snacks, then when Friday rolled around and they were going to get tossed I brought them home grabbed some more apples from the farm market and my topping supplies and whipped up trays for school and home. I even, for the first time, taught my littlest little how to peel apples herself.  It was a great treat for work and home! My family devoured them! They even had them for Monday morning breakfast with my fiance as a treat. 

They were then at their mother's house for two days before coming back home and low and behold guess what she had made? 😐
Apple Crisp "from a package with vanilla ice cream" (quote from my eldest)
The kids were excited that mom made something kinda like I do
The kids all separately told me, one admitting that she mentioned to her mother how much she loved having apple crisp over here that weekend, one admitting that he was excited to see mom do something momish, and one telling me with an eye roll as she told me "another thing mom copied"

Although they were the sweet kids they always are about it, although they didn't really hype up the mom making it thing, although they all asked me to make more... the copycat apple crisp ate at me (pun intended). 

Why can't this woman just come up with her own dang ideas?

I let it simmer for me for a little while, and at bedtime talked to my almost-husband about it. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery afterall, right?

I can't pinpoint why these repeated moments get to me but I think that I can without a doubt conclude that in the long list of things I need to let go, this is both #1 and easiest to do. I have learned the hard way to let a lot of shit go. My fiance and I have found a niche to talk to this high conflict ex, we have found a formula that works with helping the kids both retain their self esteem and set expectations for her. We have used open communication with all of our children and their mother to create an atmosphere in our home that fosters love and growth. 

So why am I acting like her copycat behavior is intimidating? Particularly when her constant need to copy me superficially just shows she is not just intimidated by me but also far more concerned with looking like a good parent than putting in the hard work to be one? Because I am bringing my own insecurities to the table. My kids are not babies, and even though the littlest is in a little bit of denial, she is smart and I know that deep down she "gets it". So I need to leave the space I was in a few years ago where the kids were brainwashed by her and didn't see what was going on and never look back. 
But how?

I am going to keep on keeping on. 
I am going to bake apple crisp again when we go to the orchard.
I am going to stop leaving certain baking traditions out of our home to "be fair".
I am going to take a deep breath the next time I hear about a way she copied us and remind myself that it's better for the kids to be with her copying us than to be with her belittling them or us
I am going to carefully and lovingly remind them when I need to about how I feel
But mostly I am simply going to love my children
I am going to love them and my fiance
And with my love, let it go.