Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Confessions of A Step Mother

Here’s what I’m going to say about being a step mother after muddling thru almost a year of this complicated "title" and it’s brutally, brutally honest: It isn’t for wimps, and don’t embark on this journey without a licensed professional keeping you in check and lots of Mommy Juice. OK so I’m slightly kidding on the licensed professional thing…slightly.

When Jay and I started dating Hudson was 5 and Abigail was almost 7. We didn’t date in front of the kids… we would occasionally get together for a zoo outing or chuck e cheese or the like with all three kids. We didn’t show affection, or make any declarations of a “relationship” to any of the kids. When things became more serious, I started seeing the kids twice a month or so for a movie date and that was the extent of it. Once we became engaged I usually saw them every Saturday that they were with their Dad and we’d try to plan fun excursions for them.

Someone once told me that if you marry someone with kids, you immediately have to love their children, but I think they are completely wrong and you put all kinds of ridiculous pressure on the kids, yourself, and the relationship to feel this compelling love for someone else’s children. It just doesn’t happen overnight and I’ve learned not to beat myself up over it. Do I love my step children and want the best for them? Absolutely. Do they have a deep rooted bond with me? Absolutely not. Do I think they love me? A little. Will it come? Only time will tell, but if it doesn’t, that can’t define me… and as a woman, a mother, someone genetically predisposed to be able to bond with children, it took me a long time to get there and I still have to remind myself of it every day.

Eb and Flow

If you’re a mother, think of all the disgusting parts of your day to day existence when you have kids. Let’s be real: you change diapers, you exist with spit up on your clothes, you nurse them when they are sick, console them when they are sad, clean up all of their nasty messes, scrub stains from their undies, occasionally you venture to the back seat of your car where there is no telling what sort of science experiment you will find and ask youself: What the Hell??? You deal with their moods, their temperament, and their bad days. You celebrate their small victories and offer up lots of hugs and unconditional love. You bath them, you battle to feed them something nutritious, you tuck them in, pray with them, fall into bed exhausted and get up in the morning just to do it all again. You do this in conjunction with trying to teach them manners, respect, doling out necessary discipline, and trying oh so hard to shape them into functioning adults. You do this in conjunction with working at a job you hate because it pays the bills and provides security. And if you’re a mother, you know exactly why you do all of this: because you can’t imagine loving anyone more than you love your kids. I think God gives us children so we can begin to fathom the unconditional love and grace He shines down on us mere humans. Their happiness becomes your happiness and at the end of the day nothing makes me feel better than my son’s blind adoration. At some point it won’t be there, but for now it is and that in and of itself makes all of the crap you deal with daily and all of the inner demons you battle worth it. When he says “Mommy I love you…” for no reason at all, that gives me the courage to get up and do it all again tomorrow and look for the best possible stain removers on the market.

Now imagine doing it for kids that have no blind adoration for you what so ever… none. In fact, after you’ve done their laundry, packed their lunch, entertained their friends, searched 10+ stores for jeans to fit them, cleaned their room and made them their favorite meal, they will want to call their Mom at the end of the day when it’s time to go to sleep and you have served your purpose. You kept their world turning for the day and while you’ve blindly done it because it’s what you would do for your own kids, you walk away feeling used, unappreciated, and exhausted. Stepmother: it ain’t for wimps.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I never ever, for any reason, will try to take the place of their own mother. It’s not my intent,my place, nor do I want the full time role. There are years there that I wasn’t present for and a biological bond. They most certainly didn’t choose me, and I completely respect that. But it’s terribly hard not to take the act of being a “mother figure” without being a “mother” in stride at times. The thing I hear over and over again, that makes me want to scream: you can’t take it personally. How the heck can you not? Before you start in on telling me that I’m the adult and it’s not the kids’ responsibility to validate me emotionally- I couldn’t agree more.

I'll talk more on this evolving relationship with the new direction of my blog. For those of you reading this thinking I’m whining or complaining. Stick with me. That’s not my intent. My intent is to lay the ground work for talking about what I call the small miracles along the way…and when you’re blending a family you have to look for the small miracles daily. Otherwise you’ll loose your mind..and mommy juice isn't an option for me right now..