Monday, December 13, 2010

titles don't solve all your problems

see, it's not that i don't love being a stepmother. quite the opposite, as a matter of fact. it's just that even now, with a legal title and a definite place in the boy's life, i know it's still somewhat tenuous. i mean, if my husband and i ever get a divorce i have no legal right to be in stepson's life. the weird thing is the almost proprietary feeling i've developed toward him, like genetics or not, this is my kid to take care of, damn it. i take these dental appointments and checkups and homework sessions very seriously. (too seriously? how serious are you supposed to be about fluoride treatments?) i have to occasionally remind myself, hey, this is not my kid. take it down a notch. this could all go away at any time.

he and i have become very attached to one another. last night i gave him a mohawk. today he told me the haircut made him feel manly. (for the record, i held in the giggle until he was out of the car and on the playground.) this is just the sort of thing a 7 year old spouts off with, i suppose. see, i have no experience raising children. none. i have no kids of my own, did minor amounts of babysitting as a teen, and was really just the cool "aunt" to my friends' kids throughout my 20s. so while other stepmoms talk about blending families and integrating the kids, i don't have any of that worry. but i also don't have any of that knowledge. every single day is an exercise in experimentation and, occasionally, futility. i tend to refer to the cosby show a lot for advice. if cliff or claire would have encountered situation a or b, what would they have done? and there is my answer. just do what bill cosby would do. it seems to be working. stepson and i haven't killed each other once yet. we're pretty proud of this.

when does a kid become yours in some sense? do you have to be the one to give birth or to adopt? or is it when you put them to bed at night and listen with amusement when it's your name they call because they want to talk about "just one more thing" before they go to sleep? i guess it doesn't really matter. the kid freaking owns me. i think he knows it, too.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

let's start at the beginning...

i was married before. it didn't work out. so when my divorce came through i was ready to go. my first husband and i had purchased a house together several years ago and now with the divorce all said and done it appeared i was going to be the one to stay on at what is, admittedly, a very large home for one person, three dogs, and three cats. so i decided to sell the house and everything in it, take the profits and buy myself an rv to travel the country, taking just my camera and the aforementioned three dogs and three cats. i gave away or sold almost everything i owned. the couch even fetched $30.00. i only wanted to keep what would fit in an rv or a very, very small storage unit.

and then he happened.

and that was all shot to hell.

see, fresh out of a divorce, i had no desire to rush right into a commitment. i mean, who would, right? to complicate things, he was at the beginning of his own (rather difficult) divorce. and he had a son. a 5 year old son. so just as i've finished loudly proclaiming to any and all who would hear that i was woman, i would roar, and i would not be encumbered by another man again until i was damned good and ready, something occurred to me.

i appeared to be damned good and ready.

so here we are.

i had to get more furniture. i had given away entertainment centers, dining tables, side tables, pretty much all the stuff you need to have people in your home comfortably without having to describe the decor as "refugee chic". so we got on freecycle.org, we took stuff our families were ready to get rid of, and we set up shop as a confused, somewhat functional family unit of sorts.

we were not married at this point (as bigamy is not legal in the united states, natch), so to the young lad, mommy was still daddy's wife and i was the girlfriend of his daddy. i was out in the ether, floating there without a title. it was tough to explain. roughly 6 months later, i was the fiance of his daddy, still somewhat in the ether but getting closer to terra firma. i had no legal ties to him and he had none to me. on occasion i think he wondered where his loyalty belonged. it was rough for him. it was rough for me. finding solid ground was nearly impossible.

but then, in august of 2010, his daddy and i got married. he was the ring bearer. he was excited and happy and finally had a title for me: step-mom. a little cumbersome, didn't exactly roll off the tongue, but it was definite. solid. terra firma at last.

as of this writing, i am happy to report we are a rather functional family unit, complete with couch, dining set, and daily routine. i go to parent-teacher conferences, make sure we have money for school pictures, give him vitamins, and even taught him to use a neti pot. my husband and i are deliriously happy and the little one can see that. our goal is to make his life stable and good. we hope to get a little closer to that goal every day. we certainly try.

so that's how we got into this mess.

ta da.