Tag Archives: stepkids

Not For the Fainthearted

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I’ve been pondering my days as a stepmom as well as the lives of my friends who still are.  Am I glad I no longer hold that title?

Yes, I think so.  When I was a stepmom, my life was  replete with ridiculous drama.  My late husband’s ex-wife never accepted our marriage and used her kids as pawns in a sick game of revenge.  With that being said, A LOT of damage was done.  It was such an exhausting time for us all.

My friend Cher and I often discuss things that encompass being a stepmom.  It is not for the faint@heart by any means.  And she is anything but that.  She has survived cancer three times for goodness sakes! Though last year I was appalled to hear her say that she never wants to date/marry another man with kids.  The “but” is that she has a child.  I gently scolded her, however, she stood her ground.  She’s simply tired of the ignorance and malevolence that she continues to receive from her husband’s two exes.  And sick of his lack of a backbone for that matter. I couldn’t understand her point of view at the time.  It sounded selfish to me.  Now…not so much. 

I don’t want to go through what I did before. 

I don’t want to be in a competition that I did not enter. 

 I don’t want to try to win anybody’s kids over. 

I don’t want two sets of rules and confused children. 

 I don’t want the harassment, stalking, or the animosity. 

 I don’t want to be the rival, frienemy, or “cowife” of the biomom. 

Nope, I don’t even want to be the darn babysitter either.  

Nor do I want to be the liaison between  warring parents. 

 I don’t want to have to file restraining orders and request phone taps. 

I don’t want to sit around wondering and preparing myself for what she will “do next.”

I don’t want to turn the other cheek.

The only drama I want is on the silver screen, not with the “baby momma. “Been there, done that and look what it got me? 

*Nothing* 

His death, their leaving, and the ugliness of the situation took something with me.  It shook my very foundation.  I don’t have it to give anymore.  My heart has grown faint.

Moving On

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My stepfather is doing wonderful.  I’m thankful as he’s had a rough couple of years.  He also has a girlfriend!  Although they haven’t been dating long, I was still touched when he asked me if I would be okay with their relationship.  Intially I felt a twinge of jealousy because she is not my mother and sadness in that he even has to travel this route.  However, these feeling were fleeting and I responded with a genuine “yes” and he seemed pleased.  I want him to be happy!

I asked my sister what she thought about him dating and she replied, Good! Now he can stop calling me! He needs someone to keep him busy!  Her response tickled me because I understood her seemingly aloof confession.  Before she (his new girlfriend) came along he was very lonely!  He called me what seemed like a million times a day to give me the run-down of his every activity!  My husband used to tease me about this.  Virtually everytime the phone rang it was…George!  But unlike my sister who simply stopped answering his calls, I took every one because I knew that he was just missing my mother.

His girlfriend seems like a nice woman.  She is also a widow.  George took me and the kids out to breakfast last Sunday morning and she came along.  She seemed a little nervous and shy so I tried to make her feel at ease by including her in the conversation and asking questions about her family. 

I wonder what her title would be if they ever marry?  Would she be our step-stepmom? Or just my stepfather’s wife?  I wonder what she thinks about his “motley” crew of children and grandchildren?  I know one thing, he is a package deal!

I’m Their Stepmom, Not Hers

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As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I reached a vey obvious conclusion–hence the title.  I think I have been trying far too hard to establish a working CoMama relationship with her.  I see now that this energy would have been better spent on forging a relationship with the kids, especially Ethan.  Evan and I already have a close bond.  In a sense, it doesn’t really matter if she and I have a relationship or not as long as we treat each other cordially.  I can’t guarantee that she will abide by this principle, but I am certain that I will (think Romans 12:18).

This thought occurred to me as we celebrated Ethan’s birthday.  It felt so good to see him relaxed and happy.  That’s what matters the most–their happiness and growth. 

I know that the kids were aware of our past animosity.  I felt ashamed by this and felt if they saw us working through it that they would’nt feel so divided.  She after all is their mother so they have that automatic loyalty to her–whether she is right or wrong.  I am only joined to them through marriage.  And what kid feels comfortable around someone who doesn’t like their mom?  We have never badmouthed her around the kids, even though I know she has been obscenely vocal about her rancor toward me and my husband, she is still mom…

 In other words I didn’t feel good about having them choose sides and putting them in the middle.  Kids should allowed to be kids–not miniature liasions for immature, narcistic adults.  With this in mind I’ve attempted to build a bridge with their mom and involve her as much as possible in their lives.  However, she continues to be paranoid and stressed about a situation she is helpless to change.  She refuses to accept any acts of grace for the simple fact that she is not a gracious person.  Therefore anyone extending her any type of kindness makes her suspicious.  In her eyes kindness is a facade for a hidden agenda or two.

Regardless of who she is I owe it to them to be the best stepmom that I can be.  I don’t owe her anything.  This is such a liberating notion because I’ve carried the burden of trying to help her deal with her imprisonment for far too long.

And not to say that I don’t wish that it could be different, because I truly do.  But, most importantly I see that the kids also need and deserve help lifting their burdens.  The burdens of violence and dysfunction that they lived with for so long under her watch.  They really had no choice.  Eliza, an adult, had choices.  Unfortunately she made the wrong one and will have to live through it, as do her children.  Hopefully my role as stepmom can make Ethan and Evan’s journey in life more bearable .

It Gets Greater Later

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I often spend my Saturday mornings grocery shopping. The local shopping district that I utilize is routinely populated by students who attend the school where I teach. So it’s not unusual for me to run into students, both past and present during this time. The trip I made to the grocery store last weekend was no different. I was spotted by several former students. For the most part, I am always happy to see them. I love to see how they have grown and hear about the progress that they have made in life. Then other times I liken myself to a celebrity being chased by the paparazzi. I’m ashamed to admit that sometimes I dodge, hide, or dart down the aisles in order to avoid my current students. Because even the students who don’t like you as a teacher at school, love you when they see you in public and always want to talk to you. Of course, this makes me feel weird, but rest assured, I know that by Monday morning, they will be back to their old fickle selves. How comforting!

I was standing at the cold cuts case trying to find a suitable Lunchable for Nicholas’ lunch when I felt a slight touch to my lower back. I turned and faced Nina, a former student. Nina was a student from the beginning of my teaching career. She had a great personality, but was not really into school. I think she was there largely for the social aspect and eventually quit school altogether.  Over the years I saw her a couple of times at Skyline Chili where she worked.

We were both pleasantly surprised to see each other considering three years had passed since she had served Cincinnati’s famous chili. Nina shyly told me that she was working on getting her GED and that she had hopes of attending college. I told her about the new changes within our school system, like how all the teachers at our school had to re-interview for our jobs. I was among the first to be interviewed and had already received my position back. Nina gave me a quick smile before saying “I knew that they wouldn’t let you go because you are the best English teacher at AHS.” Having finally learned the art of replying to compliments with grace, I simply said thank you. However, I was somewhat surprised by her commendation. As I mentioned, she was not particularly studious and rarely did the assignments I gave. I had no idea that she held this view of me. But it did make me feel good.

After a little more small talk, we parted ways and continued our shopping. A little later in the day it dawned on me—being a stepparent is a lot like being a teacher. Oftentimes you don’t know the impact that you are having on your students until years later. Just when you think you have bombed and didn’t make a dent of difference in their lives, the exact opposite is true. I receive many letters, emails, and visits from former students who express their gratitude over lessons learned. I love this. This fuels my passion to perform better each year since I rarely get to see the immediate fruits of my Herculean effort that I put forth. I have no problem accepting this fact of life as a teacher. This is a hard concept for me to master as a stepmom. But listening to Nina gave me hope. And it’s not that I expect something in return from my stepsons for being a positive influence in their lives, however, just hearing that you somehow made a difference does feel mighty good.