Tag Archives: empathy

Eliza the Stepmom

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Sometimes I think about the fact that Eliza is a stepmom just like me.  So I wonder why she is so difficult to deal with? It seems that she would be much more understanding of my role considering that she knows what it is like.

Her husband, whom she married in 2005, has three children.  The youngest one is currently three-years-old.  I know Eliza had a lot of problems interacting with his youngest son’s mom as well as his daughter’s mother.  His oldest son lived with them for a few months because his mom was in jail.  He  called Eliza “mommy.” 

Ethan and Evan did not seem to like their stepbrother much, Ethan more so than Evan.  I think Evan was being a follower.  Ethan did not like the fact that he called Eliza “mommy.”  Ethan is very jealous and territorial of her.  They also mentioned that Eliza thought he was “bad” and was allowed to discipline him.

Knowing how Eliza always wanted a girl, I think she was pretty nice to her stepdaughter who was six-years-old at the time.

Shortly thereafter, it was discovered that her nine-year-old stepson was molesting the boys.  I can only imagine how she must have felt as a mom.  I do empathize with the fact that she was in a delicate position.  I was concerned about my stepsons and also felt sorry for the child because he was a victim himself a year prior.

We happened to find out about the situation two months later through a third party.  We confirmed the story with CPS and after a few weeks we received temporary custody.  Eliza was furious! 

While in our care she wrote the boys a letter telling them that her stepson would never be allowed in their lives again.  However, she and her husband married six weeks after the boys were placed back in her care.

Eliza shared her perspective of this event with me the last time I visited her alone.  She confessed that she knew it was wrong to hate a child but she couldn’t stop from doing so.  She acknowledged that he even apologized to her saying Mommy, mommy, I’m so sorry!  I already knew that he called her “mommy,” but I was surprised to hear her admit it.  Eliza would not allow the boys to acknowledge that I was married to their dad.  Even after the fact she had them refer to me as “Daddy’s girlfriend.”

She was so adamant that her boys not call me anything other than Morocco.  I thought it was pretty hypocritical of her.  Eliza even went as far as lecturing Evan about never referring to me as this.  She warned, You only have one Mommy.  Don’t ever call anyone but me Mommy.  She many left voicemails that always began with This is Ethan and Evan’s Mommy, with a heavy emphasis on the M-word.

I took the opportunity to reply, so he called you Mommy?!”  She knew the question was loaded and read between the lines. She replied halfheartedly Yes, but that’s because I’ve known him for a long time.  Funny, but she’s known him the same length of time that I have known her boys.

The boys revealed that their stepbrother spent the night with them once briefly after the case.  During this time Eliza did not speak to him and made him wait on the porch while she argued with his dad about him. When she fixed dinner that night she did not fix his plate, her husband had to do it. Ethan was proud to tell this story.  He saw it as Eliza standing up for them.

I am really not surprised at the kind of stepmom she is.  Eliza has so many insecurity issues that she views almost everyone as being a threat to her in some form or fashion.  Her other son has a stepmom, too.  I’ve heard that she has no problems with this stepmom.  But that stems from the fact that she is the puppet master controlling her other son’s father.  Eliza was also still involved with him during their relationship.  It’s really crazy that his wife is okay (I am assuming that she is) with this behavior.  There are three people in that relationship–and Eliza is one of them.

Compared to the other stepmom in her life, I’d bet she thinks that I don’t “know my place.”  I see it differently–I just refuse to let her run my household.

We have both struggled in our walks as stepmoms.  I think this would be a powerful way to learn from each other and offer support.  Unfortunately, she is not thinking what I am thinking.

A Woman Possessed!

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Ian and Imani have been through a great deal in their short lives.  My husband I go the extra mile to assure that they are safe. When Ian and Imani first arrived at our home they referred to our house as “Husband’s and Rhonda’s house.”  One day while driving home Imani wanted to know where we were headed.  Ian replied, “To Husband and Rhonda’s house.”  I spoke up, “Ian and Imani we are going home.  You guys live there, too.  From now on you can say, ‘We are going home.’  Do you understand?”  Yes, they responded uncertainly.  Of course I had to provide this gentle reminder to them a few more times before it finally sunk in.

Everyday Imani and I have a game we play. Whenever I come in from work Imani takes off running.  I can hear her little feet charging across the floor.  The first time Imani started this game, she hid under her bed.  Imani called out my name over and over again.  I went to her room but she was not there.  So I turned around and went back down the hallway thinking she was in our bedroom.  Nope.  She was not there either.  Imani called my name again.  I went back to her room and did not see her.  I finally figured that she was either under her bed or in the closet.  I checked in the closet, she was not there.  I lifted the bed skirt on her bed and there she was.  Laughter filled the room.  “You found me Rhonda!”  “Yes I did,”   I always affirm. Imani hides under her bed every time.  One day she tricked me and pulled her “blankie” in front of her and slide back against the wall.  I did not see her at first.  I left her room thinking she had finally changed the hiding place.  Then I heard her call out my name.  I went back in her room and found her.  Imani loved how she was able to trick me and told everyone so.

Ian loves for me to read to them before bedtime.  I let them choose the book and we take turns sitting on their bed.  After the story, we say our prayers.  Then my husband and I give Ian and Imani hugs and kisses before tucking them in for the night.  We always exit by telling them how much they are loved.

 Ian is like my husband’s little shadow.  I think he enjoys having a male role model.  One evening I had to run to the store and took Imani with me.  My husband and his friend were watching the game so I thought that Ian would want to stay home with the guys.  When I returned, my husband pulled me aside saying that Ian was upset because I didn’t take him.  Wow!  I did not realize that he would feel left out.  I really didn’t think he had even noticed.  Since then, I always make sure to ask Ian if he would like to go with me.

My attachment to the children is growing by the minute.  I check on them constantly just to make sure that they are comfortable.  Even though I am not their bio mom I find myself being really possessive of them.  Morocco talked about this in an earlier post titled “Life in the Village.”  She talked about being territorial with her son.  That is how I feel about Ian and Imani.  It feels surreal.  I did not go through this emotion with Kierra.  Maybe because Kierra has never lived with us, and more importantly, she has a mom.  I am Ian and Imani’s mother figure.  Ian and Imani know that I am not their mother but when they are talking to others, they refer to us as their mom and dad. 

I have an issue concerning Ian and Imani being in the presence of the BM.  I feel so much anxiety over this.  My husband is attending a meeting tonight at Kierra’s school and I am unable to attend.  Ian and Imani may have to go with my husband if we do not find a babysitter.  BM will be there.  I know this may sound crazy but I do not want them around her.  I know she will walk up to my husband and the children and strike up a conversation.  (Background note…whenever we attend any of Kierra’s functions together, BM is very standoffish toward me.  She does not speak.  She walks all around us as if we were invisible.  In the earlier years BM would snatch up Kierra and leave before we could see her.  This morning I found myself trying to rearrange my schedule so that the kids don’t have to be around her.

However, I stopped myself and pondered the situation and oh, my goodness!  It quickly dawned on me that this is what BM must have felt when I came into Kierra’s life.  In some weird way I want to reach out to BM so I can let her know that I get it now!  But I’m afraid to do so given the fact that I have tried to “break the ice” with BM on numerous occasions with no luck.  I am never sure what to do where BM is concerned.  She runs hot and cold.  At times she can be so sweet and then at other times she is frightenly aloof. BM will be one way this week and the next week the total opposite.

So my question to you reader is: should I reach out to BM again or let it go?