It has been three years since I started blogging. Here is my first post–remember these days??? How things change!
This is my first “official” post, so I thought I’d begin by providing my readers with a brief synopsis about my situation and why I decided to begin this blog with my fellow step friend, Rhonda. I am the custodial step mom of two boys, Ethan age 12 and Evan age 9 and the bio mom of Nicholas age 10. The birth mother of my two boys is currently serving time in prison for a murder that she committed in front of her children. I am also the adult that takes the boys to see their mom (I’ll post about this later).
Our “relationship” has always been pretty much nonexistent and strained from the inception. I can’t recall a single cordial moment between me and her. She has been incarcerated for 18 months and it has only been in the last 10 months that she and I have gingerly tried to lay our differences aside. It has been tough.
The first eight months of her incarceration, she did not communicate with my husband or me. However, she did call collect and write her children weekly. It felt awkward and strange not being able to dialogue with her regarding Ethan and Evan. I wondered ceaselessly when she would realize that it would be necessary to talk to me or him whether she liked it or not. I opted for civility the moment we received the midnight call informing us that she had been arrested for murder. Without hesitation I was willing to make a Herculean effort to do away with our rancor.
I debated over and over if we should make the first contact. Rhonda was very patient with me as I ran each pro and con by her at least once daily. I also discussed it with my husband. We agreed it would be best if I waited for her to take the first step. I feared any correspondence I might have sent, even with the best of intentions, might have been misconstrued as harassment. As the days stretched into months, I grew bitter. I was angry that she was continuing to remain immature given the grave circumstance she was in. I mean if I was willing to let bygones be bygones, why wasn’t she? And because she had withheld the children from us over the years, there was information that we needed from her.
Then one day a letter addressed to my husband and I arrived in the mail. In her letter she wondered if we could put the past behind us. I would like to first apologize for the past. I know we have not always seen eye to eye and there has been an substantial amount of disagreements between us and I would just like to apologize for my faults. I pray we can put that behind us she wrote. My husband not believing that she was sincere declined comment. I chose to respond. I was disgusted at how long it took her to swallow her pride. While I answered the questions she had concerning the children, I also let her know that I had not reached a plateau of forgiveness. I probably should have stuck to answering her questions and avoided being emotional, but at that point in time, I couldn’t help myself. However, I did inform her that I was diligently working on letting the past remain where it belonged…
We have exchanged many combative epistles since then. Not always being able to accurately interpret the tone of the words we each wrote, it was quite easy for both of us to take offense when none was merited. I finally got sick of the terse, defensive exchanges and wrote asking for a truce. I came to understand that we were both suspicious of one another’s motives, both vulnerable, and that we were both attempting to navigate unchartered territory. We simply had a lot to overcome. An avid reader all my life, I naturally turned to a book to serve as a healing balm. I invited her to study a book with me, Having a Mary Spirit in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver.
Oddly enough, I had actually extended the invitation confident that she would decline. Though I truly wanted to stop the bickering, I really wanted to be the one who “tried.” When she agreed to my proposal I had mixed feelings. It was a blessing and a curse. The blessing being that it would give us a chance to get to know each other and attempt to dispel any preconceived notions that we had about each other. It would mean a clean slate for us. The curse was that I would have to allow her to get to know me. And I wasn’t 100% sure that I wanted her to know me on a deeper level. I wished I had never opened my mouth!
We were able to have a few study sessions before she suddenly stopped sending her portion. Although I was pretty disappointed and felt slightly rejected, I didn’t inquire why. I never even raised the issue during our monthly visits to see her. And much to my credit, I only tried to psychoanalyze her decision briefly. As much as I wanted to have the happy fairy tale ending, this was my gentle reminder that it would not materialize over night.
I have learned a lot since we obtained custody of the boys almost two years ago. I have come to understand that before I can transform her, I need to first transform myself. She is no Eliza (no pun intended) Doolittle, and I, certainly am no Henry Higgins. I have been working on having compassion for her as a mere human being with many gifts as well as many limitations. I can only hope the she comes to the same dawning about me. It was only then that I was able to accept her withdrawal for what it was–a relationship that was going to take much time, effort, and mutual desire to be fortified. While I am not always successful with my new ideology, I am willing to do what it takes, for civility’s sake. I have learned that it means taking a step back and allowing whatever is supposed to develop to do so in its own sweet time.