Saturday, May 4, 2013
So I realized today, as I was cleaning my garden, putting up a new fence around it and an arbor that, in fact, I am a novice at most things in life. I think I need to change the focus of this blog to all things I am novice at instead of just my garden. The reality of it is that I am a novice at life in general. An example:
When you are growing up, frustrated and angry at your parents for all the horrible things they have done to you you begin to form ideas about what type of parent you will eventually be. As you get a little older you may become a little wiser and understand some of the things your parents said and did and you begin to adjust your ideas about what type of parent you will be. Then one day you realize that all of the things you had hoped to teach a child, all of the dreams you had hoped to share with this young mind, all of the lessons you thought you would lay foundations with so they could one day become the smart, independent, loving, compassionate people you had always dreamed of...all of those things are useless. All of those things will likely not come to fruition, at least not from you. All of the love you have for this young person must be censored and held back for their comfort. This fateful day...is the day you become a step-parent.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of finding love for a second time. Having that moment of realization that you will not die a lonely old cat lady, alone in your apartment, only to be discovered when the smell gets too bad for your neighbors not to mention something. It is really quite a wonderful feeling. Then you meet his children and you think, "I am the luckiest person in the world!!" Not only is this man perfection wrapped up in a super sexy body but his children are the sweetest little angels. You couldn't have gotten better children if you had hand picked them. You have found an instant family to love and be loved by. It is pure bliss. And then you combine homes, move in together....everyone...under one roof.........you are a step-parent.
Now don't get me wrong, I love these kids more than I EVER thought possible to love someone else's children. I am bursting with pride when they succeed at something and angry and frustrated with them when they do something wrong that I'm sure they know better. They are super smart kids and incredibly well behaved...for teenagers. They have a level of respect for other children and other adults that is almost unprecedented at their ages...almost.
Buuuuutttt (yeah, you knew it was coming)...there is a line that can never be crossed with your step-children. An understanding that must be upheld and never spoken about. You.are not.their parent. Period. This is ever so much more apparent and important if you happen to move into THEIR childhood home with them. It is then, not only understood that you are not the parent but that your rules, lessons, well...anything...counts for very little. This is THEIR home first and yours only once they have succeeded in graduating high school and moving OUT. It doesn't matter that your stuff is the stuff they sit on, eat with, walk around, use each and every day. It does not matter that you repainted every room in the house, planted flowers, trees, a garden. It does not matter that you make them dinners, lunches, breakfasts, do laundry, clean up after them. These things are irrelevant. I am sure there is a time when this changes....after 3 years I have not gotten to that point yet. Hence...I am a novice at being a step-parent. Add to the confusion...me and my "spouse" are not actually, legally married........ever increasing the confusion of my role in this whole picture, I'm sure.
For reference...there are no handbooks, no manuals, no guides in this journey. Each family is different, each child their own. No matter how many blogs or support groups or books you may read or be a part of, NO ONE can really truly identify with the struggle you are dealing with in your combined families. All I can say is that it is a fine line we, as step-parents, must walk. I often think back to my own step-parents and thank them for the lessons they taught me...the ones I never imagined I would ever need....until I ended up walking in their shoes.
No matter what though, I see these kids as my own...maybe not my blood...but they are mine to keep safe and love and adore and cheer for and drive all over the place...and occasionally drive crazy. Alas, I must do it from the sidelines of their life. I am only allowed in as far as they will permit, when they permit. I wait for my signals that I am allowed to come closer and relish in the brief moments they open their hearts to me. No matter what, I will forever be there for them. I will forever keep them in my heart and in my mind and I will forever try to be what they need me to be to them when they need me to be it. And I will forever, likely, struggle with not knowing how to function in their lives and in my own house while they are around. I can only hope it gets easier eventually. That the walls come down a little and windows open a little and doors of opportunity present themselves so that I can celebrate their lives with them.