May 10, 2013

It’s Not Fair.

Posted in Parenthood tagged , , , , , , at 9:21 am by openendedcomment

Mother’s Day hasn’t always been fun around our home.  If you read my blog you know that we are a blended family.  In our blended family, the “other” mom, the biological parent of two of my sons, is severely uninvolved in their lives.  She hasn’t seen them in almost fourteen months and calls about every three to four weeks.  This has been the norm for the past nine years.  She will go in spurts of seeing the boys once a month or so for a bit and then it’s back to several month to a year absences with no warning.    She lives only twenty minutes away and works in our same small town.

This is hard on any child.  Clearly.  This is harder still on my boys.  The eldest has special needs.  He has never been capable of processing her behavior as something that does not reflect on him but rather on her.   It hurts him terribly and despite the hundreds of therapy appointments we’ve driven him to and from and the constant reassuring words we provide that he is worthy and he is good, I worry he still doesn’t get it.  Last week was terrible.  She had called, as she tends to do this time of year,  and he called her back.  During the five short minutes they spoke he explained to her what his adapted sports were and why he loved them (it is his fifth season and the woman had no clue what it was about), he told her how old he was though she kept correcting him and insisting he was older than he is and he again had to defend that he was not a bad son and wasn’t asking for too much for wanting to get a schedule set to see her.  My second son, J, keeps it all in.  He avoids speaking to her whenever possible and when he does he simply says, in his words, “Whatever makes her not mad at me.”

And that is why I hate that woman.

Not for anything to do with me, not for anything to do with my husband or anyone else on this earth aside from how she makes my children feel.  Every time she calls, she hurts them.  Each weekend she doesn’t bother to show and can’t even be bothered to call or cancel, she hurts them.   The dozens of instances she’s said she will be attending a game or a concert or sending a letter or arranging a  visit and doesn’t follow through or show up, I am the parent that picks them up, that shows up, that makes up for and consoles them.   I am the one that fixes what she breaks time and time again.

It isn’t me who does this because my husband can’t or won’t or doesn’t.  He does what he can do.  It is on me because I am a mother and these boys need and deserve to know what a mother should be and for most of us, is.  They need this not only for their well-being but for the wives and children they will one day have. They need to know that what she does isn’t normal and is not at all acceptable.   It never has been.

Nine years ago, when they came into my lives, I went upstairs to tuck all four children in for the first time.  I entered my second bonus-son’s room, placed the blankets around him and began to sing a lullaby.  When I was done, he had tears on his little three-year old cheeks.  When I asked him why, he said he didn’t know mommy’s did that in real life.   That was also the night I told my now-husband then very-serious-boyfriend that I had to know that we were going to be married soon or I couldn’t do it anymore.  I was in love with more than him.  I loved his children, too.

I suppose you’re wondering why this is being written about Mother’s Day when this is clearly not a post about a good mothering moment.  Well, here’s the thing.  She wants the boys for Mother’s Day.  She wants a day to celebrate her being a mother.  I realize I have to let this go and that I shouldn’t be petty and I should support their relationship with her, however flawed, because at the end of it all she is their mom and I am the step-mom.  When it comes down to it, if she does plan to pick them up and spend the day I will tell them to have fun and smile, for their sake I will be positive.  But for right now, here in my little blog-world, I’m going to go ahead and say what I feel which is that this isn’t fair.  I am the mom that does the homework, bandages knees, cheers in the stands, makes them clean their rooms and take their medication, grounds them when they need to be grounded, knows who their friends are, what size shoes they wear, what girl they secretly like, their code words for when they want to leave a friend’s home, what they want to be when they grow up and why.  I am the one the school calls and emails.  I am the one who makes the Doctor and Dentist and Orthodontist appointments.  I am the one who writes checks for year-books. field-trips and camps and makes lunches and cleans puke and does load after load of laundry and makes their favorite meals when their little lives stink and this just isn’t fair at all.  I am sorry for whining and I do realize I am, but every Mother’s Day for eight years has been chaos because of her.  If she shows up  to see them it’s at strange hours and I don’t get to see my own mother or really celebrate with my biological daughter and son.   On top of that, my husband is usually on edge because she’ll have made some awful comment or threat as she picks the boys up rendering him useless until they are safely home.  If she doesn’t show up and sometimes even if she does, the oldest is so upset by her that he takes it out on Mother’s Day in general.  He has broken every single Mother’s day gift I’ve ever received from any of my children.  He doesn’t always do it on Mother’s Day, it could be anytime of year when he is upset with her, but those are the things he destroys.

I have no little vases formed of clay.  No flowers of tissue paper, no cards with names barely etched out in wobbly hand-writing.  Over the years he’s destroyed each one.  His Doctors tell me it isn’t against me but an outburst of anger at her that he doesn’t feel safe expressing to her so he expresses it to the idea of a mom.  They’ve gone on to tell me it is actually a testament to my relationship with him that he feels safe enough in my love to be able to misbehave without fearing I would love him less or reject him for it.  I suppose there is truth to that, but it still isn’t fair.  It doesn’t make it better.  It makes me hate her more…and that is something I will never say to them.

To them I will say what I have always said: Your mom is doing the best she can, she loves you and you’ve done nothing wrong.  I’m sure things will be better soon.  When you see your mom, remember to keep it positive,  to have fun, be respectful and enjoy your time together.

I suppose this is a post for all of the step-mothers and adoptive mothers and foster mothers and aunts and grandmothers and single dads out there who are raising children who may not be your own and loving them as though they were.  This is for all of you who do the work of the women who will be celebrated Sunday and have to turn that celebration over to someone else.  This is for the women who are mothers without carrying a child  but who still carry the load, made heavier by their failings…this is your day, too.  And even if no one else realizes it or says it out loud: I get it.  I know how hard it is.  You are a mom.  You do matter.  You deserve Mother’s Day, too.  Cheers.