Have you ever surprised yourself with something that came out of your mouth? Today, I did just that. In my heart, I am still very YOUNG. Way younger than my actual age. I mean, I certainly do not feel mom-ly! When you think of your parents, or at least when I think of mine, they are still like in their 40’s and I am still – let’s go with 18! HA!!!! Wisdom coming from me surely must be a pass through!
Let me share the story!
First, I have failed miserably at the art of co-parenting. I was selfish and agitated at the thought of my ex-husband’s mistress being called MOM when I had given my life to being just that – MOM. It made my blood boil to see my children post Mother’s Day posts to that evil witch! I am just being honest.
Those were my feelings.
I really was not at the point in my life that I could be thankful for a “somewhat” neutral party coming into the lives of my children – someone that could help them through Mom and Dad hating one another. I certainly did not want to share them or their love – that was MINE!
(I am so ashamed to admit that but it is my truth.)
I mean MY life had fallen apart. I did not give much consideration to that of my children.
Life is a bit different now. I am remarried to my husband and his ex-wife. Yes. You heard that correct. When you marry a man with a child under the age of 18 (maybe even over) you marry their ex! I do not think anyone goes into a relationship really grasping that fact or maybe “we“ would run.
When we first got married, knowing how it felt to have an evil step-mom come into my kids’ life, I was determined to be more sensitive. I wrote my husband’s ex a letter telling her that I had no wish to replace her. I expressed my sincere acknowledgement for the part that she had played thus far in raising this boy (my stepson) with a heart of gold. I told her how grateful I was just to be able to spend time with him and I thanked her sincerely. I received a “THX.” That was it.
If this were a play, that would be the element that defined the characters and the mood. However, this is real life.
Let’s fast forward.
My husband and I get my stepson for a sum total of about two months per year. The off months we are lucky to receive a reply to a text from him. A phone call is monumental.
When my stepson is with us, his mother is beyond persistent in requesting phone calls and texts to which my husband and I initiate on our end. We insist that he stays in communication with his mother. We do not get the same courtesy when roles are reversed. Not even close.
From our perspective, we are a paycheck.
A very large, faithful paycheck.
Oddly enough, whenever the paycheck gets cashed – she suddenly has appointments for haircuts, colors, nails, and Brazilian waxes.
My stepson still wears the same clothes that he was wearing two years ago. I pick him up from visitation (from the salon) where she is getting her “services” and he tells me that I am going to have to take him to get his hair cut because his mom has not been anywhere that he can get his hair cut??? I am beyond confused.
First, let me address my selfishness. For 10 months out of the year, I have a very adult life. My husband and I come and go as we like. Yes, we even make love with the bedroom door open and I can make as much noise as I want. We are all adults here!
The other two… not so much. “He” might hear. “He” opens the door to ask why it is closed. The same “child” by the way laughs when he hears the word “masturbate” on “The Big Bang Theory” so I am not quite buying it. Wine… just give me wine! I am human. I can love him and also not be used to him…his presence.
My stepson comes up to me and hugs me incessantly when he is with us. However, the moment that I tell him that I love him he suddenly needs to call his mom.
I get it. I really do. He is loyal to his mother. Children should not have to pick sides but he has obviously chosen hers.
Last year when I went to pick him up for the summer, he threw the worst shit fit that I have EVER experienced in my life. Running into traffic, lying on and beating on cars, screaming for people to call the police as he was being taken against his will, and kicking me just to name a few. Once we arrived at the airport, the then eleven year old apologized for his behavior and explained that he “had to do it to make his mom feel better.” He went on to say that, he cannot tell us that he loves us on the phone because it makes his mother angry.
As stepmoms, somewhere along the line “we” start to love – even if it is not returned. Therefore, it hurts to see something array in our “child’s” life that we have little control over.
In my case, my stepson came to us this summer at just under 5’0” and weighing 143 pounds. If you were going by statistical norms (which I mention “loosely”) he is over sixty pounds overweight. Honestly, to allow a twelve year old to get to that point seems like child abuse to me. My husband and I have placed him on a strict diet and take him to the gym with us four to five days per week. In two weeks, he has lost ten pounds. His mother felt high cholesterol and pre-diabetic meds were the answer – because they took NO EFFORT!
My stepson expressed his complete embarrassment and humiliation that his mother takes him to drive-thru’s EVERY SINGLE night. He even admitted lying to us about what he was doing at night because he did not want to have to admit that he was out eating, AGAIN.
Sure, cooking at home every night takes effort. Effort that we feel we are all worth. So that is what we do.
I get no appreciation for any of the effort that I put into my part of raising this awesome boy – from him or his mother. Zero. My husband of course is a different story.
So, I am a member of an online community for stepmoms. We are able to pose questions, vent, and generally just speak our mind.
Today, a fellow stepmom was expressing her frustration that no matter how much she and her husband did and how little the biological or in my case (adopted mom) put forth – that they always seem to get less recognition from the child.
Ahhh. I get it. Totally. It sucks.
However, I decided to respond and my words (not my words) surprised the hell out of me. I told her, “Just keep treating your stepchild as you would want a woman to treat your own children or even as you would want someone to treat you. It may take years before you receive any appreciation – if EVER. Yes, it sucks. But, doing the right thing is never the wrong thing.”
WHAATTT?????!!!!!! DID I SAY THAT????
Yes, I did. Perhaps, this 18 year-old at heart is maturing just a little bit. Or… maybe, just maybe, she has learned how to love like Christ without expectations.
God uses situations to grow us. I still have a very long ways to go but I will not let an insecure, selfish woman keep me from loving a little boy worth loving. Maybe, just maybe in a moment of darkness, he will feel my love… my real love, which is all I offer these days. The growth that God has brought about in me showed me exactly that – how to love unselfishly and for real and without expectation.
Until Next Time,
(*To my dear friend J, you are an awesome mother. Gosh, I know how it feels to be where you are and my heart aches for you. You do it so much better than I did! Love and hugs to you.)