Wednesday, July 20, 2005
I am a step-mother
Oh so long...so long since I have communed with my sweet little blog, which I swear is only read by my sweet husband and duty-bound parents. God love you all (all five of you).
I realize I have this problem. Yes, I'm working on it in therapy (thank you , John). I have a hard, hard, hard, hard, hard time writing anything unless it think it is PERFECT. I have gone so far as to insist that my college English professor NEVER know about this website (despite the fact that he has become a good friend to both me and my father). I have this DEMON editor on my shoulder sometimes. And so, if I'm not completely sure about my writing. I don't write. I won't write. Thus, the long silence after the Annual Conference sermon. I felt spent.
So, I'm trusting this little audience (who in my mind are very few in number) and writing anyway and hoping you'll forgive me.
Here's the deep thoughts of the day:
I am a step-mother. I am privileged to parent two of the most amazing human beings ever created on this planet. Two intoxicatingly beautiful girls whom I adore. And two amazing creations who are never mine. This has it's benefits, as I am free to boast about them outrageously since I can take no credit for their phenomenal genes. But to be a step-parent means that one always cedes parenting. I will never be Tess and Brynn's mother (nor should I be). I am always second-best. And I understand that. And I accept that. And I respect and admire the girls' mother tremendously and would never want to infringe on her role as mother. Never. And yet...I am still always second best. And I am also a competitive person. So this is one of my "growing edges" as they used to say in CPE training...or "another fucking growth experience" as one of my good friends (accurately) names it.
I "inherited" Tess and Brynn when they were 8 and 5 respectively. I loved, loved, loved having a ready-made family to be part of. And I loved, loved, loved the phenomenal parenting that I saw in Robert. I threw myself whole-heartedly into the role of step-mother. I bought the most expensive popcorn popper that Target sold, so that when Tess had her first overnight we would have the best popcorn (just as my step-mother made for me). I went to the library and read up in the particulars of cheetahs so that I would have something to share with a wild-cat loving Brynn. I called and emailed my own step-mother regularly with questions and sought her wisdom and advice.
And what I've realized...the verdict as of July 20, 2005 is that step-parenting is HARD. It's so hard and it's such an exquisite joy. I adore "our" girls...but they will never know my body as their home. I adore "our" girls...but their safety is always found within their mother or father's eyes first (as it should be). I adore "our" girls...but I still feel as if I have no claim on them, no right to their loyalties.
Today I called home while I was working and Robert was home with Brynn. Robert and I chatted--touched base on our day--enlightened each other on our latest insights--reminded each other of pick-up and drop-off times for miscellaneous activities and as I was getting ready to sign off Brynn slid a note to Robert. In her scrawling 8-year-old writing she had written the words, "Tell Christen I said hi." Robert relayed the message. I felt my heart melt. It is in those instances that I realize that step-motherhood may not be for the faint-hearted, but it's worth it. Because she remembered me. And that's something.