Disclaimer: This was meant to be a post on my Facebook page for the friends who know and love me and accept me as I am. It accidentally became a blog post since it was over 1500 words and I’m pretty sure Facebook would tell me to shut up at 1000. This post contains colorful language and was not edited after I furiously typed it all out on my keyboard. So, if you’ve read this far and can accept these terms and conditions, please keep reading…
Oh wait, one last thing…the pretty images you see on this post? Yeah, I added those after I wrote the paragraph above because I couldn’t post without them, so I’m sorry if I got you here because you saw smiles and roses and cute babies. But now that you’re here…
FIRST OF ALL…
I RARELY talk about the challenges associated with being a “stepmom” to a teenager, but there’s a few things I have to get off my chest, so here goes:
Maybe I should start with this. The reason why I publicly say so little about my relationship with Jacob is because he has a mom. He loves her very much and even though I may not always understand their relationship dynamic, it’s a reality. She is his mom. Anyone who has/had parents can understand this. It doesn’t matter if your dad was “Father of the Year” or whether your mother is in prison (which she is not, let me be clear), they are YOUR parents. They can make the biggest mistakes and for the most part, you will still love them, even if you have a complicated relationship.
Jacob’s mom lives five hours away, so except for summers, school breaks and holidays, he doesn’t see her very often. From the time I met Jason, I always said that him and Jacob were a package deal. I got him and I got the kid too. I know this wouldn’t work for every family or every couple, but it works for us.
Since day one, I have treated Jacob like I would if he was my own son (even though I don’t have or want any kids of my own.) I am younger than Jason and Jacob is an older kid, so this sometimes makes things tricky. I want him to respect me like an adult, but still be on his level because I remember what it was like being a teenager. (Umm…it fucking sucked!) For the most part, we have a pretty good relationship…I’ll even say better than most stepkid/stepparent relationships go. Maybe this is because I don’t have any other kids. Maybe it’s because he is my only focus. Maybe it’s because I genuinely love him and want what’s best for him. I don’t really know how I got so lucky on this front or if it’s something that one, both or all of us has done to foster this relationship, but I’m not complaining!
WHAT WENT DOWN…
That’s not to say we don’t have challenges because, Lord knows, we do. Jason travels for work and it’s often me and Jacob and the dogs. Jason had to go to Dallas yesterday for work so it was just the kid and I at home.
Well, we got into a bit of a tiff last night. It was short and over in a minute, but it still happened. (Wait…you have teenagers who like to argue too? WHAT?!?! Let’s have some wine and talk about it!)
This morning, his alarm clock didn’t go off and I happened to be home this morning. Then, the fighting really started. Why didn’t you fix your alarm clock yesterday when it didn’t go off? You forgot you were almost late yesterday…yeah right! Don’t you talk to me that way! Hurry up and get ready! No, I’m not taking you for tacos (which was what the previous night’s argument was about.)
When we got in the car and I reluctantly (before coffee) took him to school (instead of making him run for the freaking bus), I was still pretty heated and gave him a piece of my mind about being respectful and learning when to stop arguing and Jesus H Christ with the f@#$*&! Pouting already! Yeah, there was definitely some colorful language in there.
So, I drop him off, tell him to have a good day at school and that I love him before he slams the car door and walks inside. So, I’m pretty much mother of the year, right? Don’t even get an “I love you” when he gets out of the car, so both of us are obviously still pissed.
I think about all the things I said on the way home and realize that if I gave him the silent treatment, it would have been way more painful for me to keep my mouth shut. But, he doesn’t talk much anyway, so would he even notice? Well…of course he would because I’M the one who is silent this time. And then I think about every colorful word I used in conversation and regretted those too. I pulled into the driveway and wished I could have a beer instead of coffee and I would have if there had been one in my fridge even though it was only 8:29 in the morning.
THE REASON WHY IT’S ALL GONNA BE OKAY…
As I drank my coffee, I thought back to a conversation with a co-worker earlier in the week. I told him about a situation with the kid and how I had handled it. He gave me this funny look and I thought ‘great, I am fucking this kid up even more.” And he said “You remind me of my stepmom.”
Yep…the dreaded S word that every woman wants to be compared to. (Can’t we find another word already?!)
And then he said, “She was really good with me. She met me when I was in middle school and she was a teacher. She was patient and she really loved me. I mean, I am closer to her than I am to my dad! She calls and texts me all the time to see how I’m doing. You just remind me of her.”
My eyes filled with tears. Someone, who had a stepmom come into their life at the same time, thinks that I’m doing a good job and doesn’t think I’m fucking this kid up. Someone who thinks I haven’t ruined him for life with my lack of sugar-coating, music education and forcing him to try new things at least once. Someone who can see that I genuinely love him, but don’t always know what I’m fucking doing.
I sat at my kitchen table and felt relieved and ashamed. And then, my phone buzzed. I had a message from Jacob. It started with “I apologize about this morning…”
I sent him a long message back about why I was upset this morning and that I wasn’t cursing AT him, just cursing in conversation and that I was sorry too. I told him I loved him and that I would see him when he got home from school. I put my phone down and went back to work.
A few seconds later, “I know you’re not mad, neither am I. Love you too.”
And just like that, two days of arguing and fighting erased with a short text.
WHAT IT REALLY MEANS TO BE A MOM…
You know…for a long time, I haven’t embraced my role as a parent because I didn’t want to make his mom feel bad. Because I didn’t want to make him feel like I was taking his mom’s place. I would NEVER want either of them to feel like I was belittling their roles or relationships because of me, but here’s the thing…
For four years, I have refused to give myself the title of “mother” because “I’m not his real mom, just his stepmom” and “I didn’t give birth to him” and “I don’t have or want other kids” and “I’m his dad’s girlfriend, not his wife, so technically I’m a fraud and I keep calling myself his stepmom and I’m not.”
But today, I’m over all that. Fuck the names and the “S” word and the stereotypes. I’m his mom too. I take care of him, I guide him, I make mistakes with him (just like every other parent does) and I love him. That’s what is most important.
This Mother’s Day will be the first that I’m out of town in the last four years. Last year was the first year that Jason and Jacob gave me Mother’s Day cards and a candle. I was happy with a “Thank You” card and some acknowledgement for the day. I’m not trying to steal his mom’s thunder…I never could if I wanted to.
But, just like I’ve told Jacob, he’s lucky because he has two sets of parents that love him and support him. And guess what? I’m part of that, so I’m taking my place at the table and owning my role.
So, here goes…
Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Jacob’s mom
Damn, I know that sounds simple, but it’s so much harder when you’re on the other side of it. So, the last thing I’m going to say about this is that I’m not looking for some pat on the back or for anyone to tell me I’m doing a good job or a bad job. (Actually…please, don’t give me a pat on the back, but please also don’t judge me…I do plenty of the latter myself and I don’t need anyone’s help on that front. Promise…I got it.)
If you’re going to say anything, please say something about a nurturing, mothering female you know. Does she have kids or students or dogs or plants? It doesn’t matter…just say something you love and admire about her and how her mothering spirit has blessed you.
I know it’s a random Friday in April and not Mother’s Day, but you know what? Today is my Mother’s Day so we’re gonna celebrate like it is. Happy Mother’s Day mamas, I love and admire each one of you! <3
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