rooted, but still growing

Better.

Posted on: October 21, 2009

I’m still having some trouble with this stepmom thing, and I’m struggling to find ways to explain how I feel without sounding whiny and selfish. On the other hand, the months I’ve spent trying to bite my tongue have led only to a mouthful of blood and even the most diplomatic among us would eventually choke on it, too, so I might as well spit it out.

Well. The truth is, I *am* sometimes whiny and selfish. Sometimes, my best efforts at living life through loving get run over by jealous tendencies and unrealistic expectations. I spent the entire weekend in a funk, weeping onto Steve’s shoulder that I missed him, that I wanted something of our own. Other than having the boys for a few weeks during the summer over these past three years, it’s always just been Steve and me. I’m not claiming that my entire identity was dependent upon the “us-ness,” but N’s arrival definitely wreaked some havoc on how I saw Steve and me as a couple, and where I fit in this newly structured family.

It was – and is – hard. N was desperate for a strong male role model. He really likes his stepfather, but the guy is Steve’s polar opposite. We’re in the midst of an idolization phase, where everything Steve says and does is placed under a microscope, studied, and then carefully packaged and placed in a catalog for future reference. In short, N is constantly up Steve’s butt. And when you have a 140-pound human up your ass, it’s hard to concentrate on anything else. Including your wife.

This, I think, is one of the reasons I get so upset about things that ordinarily – in a “traditional” family – wouldn’t be a big deal. N has been taking Steve’s iPod to school and cross-country practice, and he’s been wearing Steve’s Black Label Society sweatshirt at every opportunity. I bought that iPod for Steve (twice, actually, because the first one I gave him was stolen out of his truck), and I scoured the Internet for that sweatshirt when every one we found in stores was either the wrong size or wrong design. I should mention that I was also broke-ass poor at the time, so it took quite a bit of planning, saving, and opening a credit card account that to this day I’m still struggling to pay off. Even though they aren’t mine, those things are special to me and it really hacks me off when I see the sweatshirt, filthy and tangled, lying in the dust on the garage floor, or when I see one of N’s sweaty, immature teammates listening to the iPod.

It sounds petty. I know this. But there aren’t many parts of our relationship that are just ours anymore. I guess that’s true for all couples with children, but it’s different for blended families. I didn’t play any role whatsoever in bringing those boys into this world. I love them, but they aren’t mine. They aren’t ours. I’d just like to hang on to the things – however small or seemingly insignificant – that exist between just us.

After a few days of my moping around, Steve and I carried out our typical conflict-resolution strategy: arguing via e-mail for about an hour or so, then finally getting to the meat of things and talking about it. He understands; I understand, and we pledged to work on our respective issues. I came away from that discussion feeling a lot better – probably better than I ever have. I feel good right now, and am looking at facing future challenges with a better attitude.

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