I’ll never forget the day (nearly five years ago now) when The Oldest said, in a tone so like her mother’s snide dismissiveness, “If you didn’t want to be a stepmom, then you shouldn’t have decided to marry a man with kids.” It hurt. I felt blind-sided. I had no good answer. Instead, I sat for a second speechless and nonplussed, and then the conversation moved on.
I didn’t want to be a stepmom. I don’t know if anybody ever wants to be a stepmom. So why did I become one?
As Christmas approaches once again, I find myself wondering, wandering in a liminal space. Asking myself how to teach children that realizing their own inner Santa Claus is infinitely more challenging than believing in some unlikely literal jolly-old-elf, and infinitely more rewarding. Asking myself where I belong, where we all belong, and how we belong to each other. Asking myself how I can tell the stories of my ancestors, pagan and Christian alike, to the children of my partner. What can I say that will be meaningful and relevant for them, that will share with them the “spirit of the season” that I have come to know and love and value? What will I say when they come singing, a penny for my thoughts?
Do you ever find yourself awake just before dawn, lying in the dark, your mind gnawing on some old, persistent anxiety?
This morning I was worrying about money. Not surprising — a lot of us worry about money these days. I was worrying about money because of an email yesterday from the Ew about a timeshare that she and Jeff had bought years ago when they were married.
To me, a woman without children, the idea that a mother might not have even a few hours to herself to nurture her passions and pursue her own dreams is horrifying. Who could be more deeply concerned with the future of our society? Who could have more at stake in the work to see the arc of history bend swift and sure towards justice? Who could want more for a better world for future generations, than a mother?
What words do we have for her? Is it enough to tell her that we honor her sacrifice and expect her to keep soldiering on? Do we pay lip-service to her noble self-giving as a way of refusing her the full depth of her desires, the fullness and complexity of her humanity?
Or do we find a new way of living together?