Its always the quiet moments, snuggling on the couch or even helping a child get dressed, that they drop your jaw to the floor with a harmless sharing moment. “Mommy and I have special, private words” said my proud stepson to me one night. With some conversations that are held with any of my children that begin during a time when inside my head I am already co-communicating with myself about the happenings of the day, a bill that needs to be paid or coming up with that all too perfect response to someone that chapped my butt earlier, I replied with the standard “Oh ya honey, that’s great! ” You know those moments if your a parent, when in all honesty you have tuned them out, but are such a great parent that you can still mumble an interactive response during the exact key moment. Moms are stealthy- trust me. Anyhow – he kept going and somewhere in between the ” ya, we can’t tell anyone else” or “mommy-blank, really doesn’t like you” I snapped out of my mommy tune out moment and quickly retorted with “wait- what honey, say that again”. He of course obliged because he simply loves talking and can literally talk from the moment he wakes, till he falls asleep – its that exciting to him. Quickly I am privy to the secret word, without having to ask and my head is in full explosion, along with the rapid acceleration of my heartbeat that wants nothing more than to leap out of chest and clobber this woman! And not because my name in her home is changed to Bitch!
Being called a bitch is not a new thing, trust me, I have heard it and been it and at times proudly. The part that irks the ever living crap out of me is that she does this with him, a three year old little boy who simply wants to like and love, and be liked and love. “How dare she talk like that about me to him” I think to myself, “What gives her the right to have nothing better to do with her time than to sit and create pseudo name for me with him, to make herself feel better?” Then, the other part of my brain, the part that investigates the inner workings and tries to understand what led up to this point, the brief moment of where I give her the benefit of the doubt, like what she was doing was somehow warranted, which I can ASSURE was not – kicks in.
At this point little one is in bed, and my husband is getting the earful of “You’ll never guess what I heard tonight” which is of course is received and responded with a casual ” whats that” and he takes one more spin on his cellphone hoping for BIG money on Slotomania. Filling him in, I share the fear that I think all parents, especially stepparents carry – ” Do you think he gets in trouble for talking about me, or sharing stories about me?” “What if loving him, and spending time with him, is hurting him?” then my heart shatters in a sense. Of course, my husband oblivious to the guilt I am feeling and the actions I am seriously questioning, confirms my current fear that “of course he talks about you, he loves you, your his mom”. “Oh no” I think to myself and panic sets in. I make a silent vow to myself that, that’s it, no more – I will stop loving this little boy, I will pull back and not interact with him, and I won’t snuggle with him anymore, and I most definitely will not allow him to call me mommy any more – its JESSICA – Jessica is my name from now on. Heartbreak sets in deep within the pit of my stomach, feeling as if I just lost, gave up, gave in and I’m embarrassed of the tattered and torn super step-mom cape that I theoretically just through to the ground and jumped on over and over with anger and frustration and the dirtiest, most serious, heaviest step-mom shoes to make sure my mind got the point across to myself! After all, if this is what it takes to make my stepson unaffected, and safe then – that’s that.
All this interior battling and self esteem bashing, has made for a defeated and exhausted step-mom, and soon I’m asleep. What feels like a few short hours later, I’m awakened by a small hand caressing my voice and a LOUD whispering voice asking “Mommy, can I snuggle you?” my half-opened eyes see my favorite little man – my stepson – in front of me. Without a second thought, I swoop him up and tuck him in tightly beside me. Facing me, he is still caressing my face and with his breathy whisper he says “Mommy, I love you” and kisses my cheek. My eyes close, and with him in my arms, I respond with “Mommy loves you too, baby, so much!” I mean, who was I kidding anyway, this momma ain’t no quitter! (and yes, figuratively speaking, I did patch up any holes my stomping created, and bravely tied back on my super step-mom cape, with confidence.)
We as parents owe it to our kids to keep them out of our adult, manifested, diarrhea of the mouth (and some brains) situations. It is our job to love, to guide, to protect, and to be adults. It is not our job to be right, or to win, or even to judge the other parent when they obviously fail miserably at the most simplest of parenting 101 – even though we do. My stepson, your stepchild – or any child for that matter at a young age is a product of their environment, they learn, share and interact with they SEE and HEAR. I remember my grandparents saying “Little ears, have big mouths” and boy were they right. At the end of the day, who cares what BM, the lady down the street, or the nosy lady in the cubicle one row over thinks about you – or says about you. It doesn’t create your self worth, or diminish it. One of the hardest quotes I ever read and had to seriously sit and let sink it – because it was gut-wrenching and accurate was this “Your opinion of me is none of my business.” –Randy Pausch, and although I don’t know Randy from Jack, Bob or Paul, he is right and that is true.
Don’t let the small-minded, get the best of you – love yours and his, or hers and yours and be happy. After all, the best revenge is happiness.