I've been a stepmother now for a little over 2 months. Certainly it has been an adjustment. I was fortunate enough to have spent a lot of time with Josh & Caleb on our own before my marriage. I'd taken care of them for whole weekends because of Kenn's work schedule. We had a pretty solid foundation, and I was perhaps a bit too confident about the ease of the adjustment.
It was an adjustment becoming a full time stepmom. Of course it was an adjustment. Writing it out seems so silly, like duh, everyone knows this. And I did know it on one level. Experiencing the change from you are responsible to and for yourself to you are responsible for 2 children and to them is rather daunting however. The weight of knowing that I help shape who my boys will grow up to be is not as heavy as I imagined. Make no mistakes, it is heavy; it is not crushing, though, as I've often heard.
Instead, it is pervasive, always there.
When I mess up, and I feel as though I mess up all the time, the voice in my head telling me I just screwed up? It is not yelling. It speaks quietly, firmly. It is worse that way. I am not proud of some of the ways I've handled disagreements, negotiations, and discipline. I have said no too many times. Honestly, last week I felt as though I'd made a huge mistake, interferring in these boys' lives, as though they'd be better without me.
And then this week happened, and I came through the major adjustment period, finally cutting through the fog. This is natural for me. I have a cycle that I go through with any major life change. The first couple of weeks I am happy, I am dealing. Then slowly, the hard things seem more like hard things, and I struggle. It is worst right before it lifts. I don't know why I have this cycle; honestly, I'm not looking to know right now. I have been through it going to Budapest, coming home from Budapest, moving to the apartment with friends, moving back home. To a lesser extent, getting married was that way, which is another post.
But back to the point. This week happened. And I feel more natural. These children are mine, though they are not mine, and I am not surprised by that anymore. I am not surprised by how little privacy I have anymore. And I can say yes more. I want to say yes to lots of little, unimportant things so the no's I will have to say carry some importance.
I have to be now who I want them to be later. I have to be thankful. I have to be considerate of others. I have to be selfless. I have to be devoted to God. I have to be generous. I have to be a hundred other things, and it is not only for me that I have to be those things. It is for them.
It is for Josh and Caleb, who cleaned up the living room for me before I got home yesterday. Where did they learn that sort of kindness? I want them to keep it. I don't know where they learned it, but I can return it. I can return it by doing their laundry and cooking their meals with a happy heart. They are chores, yes, but they are chores that can be used as gifts.
It is time to wrap up these ramblings. Most people have nine months to prepare for being a parent. I had time as well, but no one really tells you how to prepare for suddenly being a parent of an 8 year old and a 6 year old. When babies are born, they begin inside the mother, and a piece of them always remains. Josh and Caleb, you were never inside of me, and you are not biologically mine. I am not your mother; you have one whom you love. But you are in me now, and I will never lose that. I am your stepmother, and we love each other, but I don't know how a stepmother loves differently than a mother. Because, to me, you are mine. You two, your dad, and me? Not a mistake.