Friday, September 7, 2012

Figuring Out How to Be a Step-Mom, with Several Fight Club References

Hi.  I'm Dani.

(We've met.)

And. . . (*deep breath*) I'm a Step-Mom.

Hmmm. . . so I guess this blog is not going to scream 'encouraging!' when my opening statement sounds like the introduction one might make at a (court-ordered) appearance in an Anger Management meeting with a focus in the arena of Kitten Fetishes, or Narcotics Anonymous.  But, if I have learned ANYTHING from watching 'Fight Club' repeatedly (seriously ya'll:  REPEATEDLY.  I really cannot stress this enough.), it is SEVERAL things: 

1.)  Helena Bonham Carter might be one of the strangest, loveliest women on the planet.

2.)  All NA, AA, MAD, etc. type meetings ALWAYS serve coffee.  And it is okay if you smoke. (Though it IS frowned upon at the Sufferers of Tuberculosis meetings.)

3.)  I am NOT my f*&^ing khakis.  (This one is SO true.)  I don't even like the way my butt looks in them.  At ALL.

4.)  I think Edward Norton is JUST SO MUCH BETTER than Brad Pitt in that movie!!!  (I must say, I feel a bit guilty for even writing that.)  But I just love Ed Norton SO MUCH MORE than the traditionally hunky (and BUILT) heartthrob.  Of course, it could be the fact that Mr. Pitt cheated on his wife.  (Done that girl WRONG!!  . . . WROOOONG!!!)  I don't care that he cheated on her with She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.  I don't care that she's breathtakingly gorgeous.  So what?  You made VOWS, dude.  (And, just for the record, I think you'd make a really shitty knight.) 

. . . I guess I'm just one of those people that REALLY loves movies, and when I go, I like to be able to completely suspend reality for the time that I am there.  And even though he is gorgeous and actually CAN act (though I was never TRULY convinced of this until I saw '12 Monkeys'), I can't really do that, or enjoy the experience, if I am constantly distracted by what a screaming pile of turd-monkey the main character is.  Through extensive discussion with peers, I am almost certainly alone in this line of thinking.  It does not appear to be the general social consensus among straight women of a certain age.  Curious. . .  So I am forced to wonder about why this is. . .  But different thoughts for different days.  Moving onward!

So I am, indeed, a Step-mom.  (*Insert hideous cackle here.*)  And we all know that that title carries with it certain. . . shall we say. . . "evil" connotations?  So I'm just going to come right out and pump three rounds of the strongest ammo money can BUY into the damned arrogant White Elephant in the room and just say it:  I blame Disney.


For the whole CONCEPT of the 'Wicked Step-Mother.' I blame them.  I blame them completely.  I don't know what kind of jacked-up mommy-issues old Walt had going on, but just MY personal opinion?  Dude had demons.  Take a quick sec and think about exactly how many Disney heroes and heroines had mothers that were actually ALIVE.  Not to speak ill of the dead. . . I just believe he had some issues.

My step-mother, thankfully, was NOT wicked.  =)  Insane?  Quite.  Completely out of her mind?  (But in a good way.)  Oh, most certainly.  But NEVER wicked.  She was far from perfect, as am I, and she made mistakes, as have I, and as I will most certainly continue to do.  It is just the way of it, I guess.  But I will say this:  I have never seen two people (namely: my Daddy and Step-mom) absolutely lose their minds over and fall instantly and head-over-heels in love with a baby like they have with my son.  =)

 (Nolan and his Pawpaw =)

(Nolan and Lon =)

Step-parents kind of get the shaft, completely unintentionally, but the shaft nonetheless.  I AM a step-child!  I understand it.  For whatever reason, children usually seem to feel that they owe some sort of allegiance to their biological parent, and feel the need to express it from time to time.  I will admit, it took me a while before I realized the REASON for this behavior from Dev, but after that -- I was fairly cool with it.  But OH!  The first time Devin and I were playing in the den and having a good time and then out of nowhere he said, "But I still like my real mommy better." . . . I almost cried right then and there.

So while I was managing not to cry, because Devin had done nothing wrong and I didn't want to make him feel bad about it, I started thinking about how to best respond to him.  So I said to him the only thing I could think of to say:
"Sweetheart, you're SUPPOSED to like your mommy better.  She's your mommy!  I love MY mommy!  Everybody loves their mommies!  So it's okay -- I'm not your mommy.  I'm your Dani.  And that just means that I'm someone else you've got that loves you very much."

And the greatest miracle of all is that, for the child that NEVER stops asking questions about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, THAT actually seemed to be a good enough answer!

. . . I swear, sometimes I even amaze myself with my phenomenal and (to be QUITE honest--'amazing') parenting skills!!  It's like a freaking GIFT from the GODS!!  I should probably sacrifice a goat.  Or sell books that tell everybody else how to raise their kids.  Sadly. . . my twisted and often morbid sense of humor HAS caused 'issues' in the past.  Perhaps I should just speak with a publisher.  Or a shrink.  One of those.  Yes.  Yes, now I'm sure of it.  That's definitely the way to go.)

But were it not for Disney and all their 'wicked step-mother'-mongering, their evil queens, and their poor helpless girls locked in towers (by the way:  WHY were the girls locked in the towers??  Nobody ever TALKS about THAT!  Maybe they did something despicable!  MAYBE they committed a crime SO heinous that the whole town cried out for her death!  And maybe the ONLY ONE to come to her aid was her step-mother!  "Spare her!", I'm sure she cried.  "Just let me keep her in the high tower!  You'll never have to see her again!"  And yet somehow it all got twisted around, and the poor step-mother gets the bad rap.)  Damn you Disney!!!!!  (*shakes fist at sky*)  Were it not for you, then I firmly believe that society in general would probably have a very different view of the women who perform this thankless, wonderful, exasperating and terrifying, for-the-rest-of-your-life feat of magnificence.

And, though I never in a million years expected to feel this way:  These kids are mine.
Nolan by birth, of course.  Devin I met when he was just a couple months shy of his second birthday.  His dad and I had been dating for a few months, and were making a conscious decision to be cautious when it came to 'meeting the children.'  (It was a very big deal.)  We both agreed that before we crossed that bridge, we should decide EXACTLY how it was that we felt about each other.  We had only met at the end of August. . . this was around October or so. . . and that's not a very long time. . .

We were in love.  =)

(One night before we got married.  Our "Getting Hitched" Party =)

There was no wondering and no questioning and no thought of any other man on the planet from the very moment I saw HIM.  He was the one that was made for me.  I found him.  =)

And so it was only after a while that we decided it was time that I should meet them.  (It's so strange to think about now, but when Michael and I had JUST started dating, there were several times when I would talk to him on the phone because we weren't seeing each other because he had both of his boys over that weekend.  =)  I didn't begrudge him for it at all.  Boys need strong male figures in their lives, and Michael is one of the most honest, decent, and deeply KINDEST men that I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.
So I met Devin first, because he got to come see his dad more often (because his mom lives closer). 

I still remember walking into the loft (I had actually DRESSED UP to meet a not-quite 2 year-old!) in my long, billowy, ankle-length white dress.  Official Reason for Wearing the Dress:  It was very hot outside, and its spaghetti straps allowed for cool comfort.  ACTUAL Reason for Wearing the Dress:  It made me feel all swirly and ethereal and charming.  And that is EXACTLY how I wanted Devin to see me.  (I was TERRIFIED!!!!  What if I didn't LIKE him??!?  WHAT IF HE DIDN'T LIKE ME?!?!?!!  As it turns out, I had nothing at all to worry about: for the first half of the evening he just stared at me, and for the second half, after he realized that I would play with him, he COMPLETELY took advantage of the situation. =)

Devin was a pirate, and a knight, and a Jedi, and ultimately a child after my own heart <3

(Devin, lurking around the den wearing my elf-cloak and keeping downtown Birmingham safe from Sith Lords.)

But there was no escaping the fact that it was (for me, at least) a situation fraught with possible perils and disasters at every turn.  And yet we persevered, and continued on our path.  Because we were each just enough of a realist to know that. . . it most likely wasn't going to be easy.  But it was sure as hell going to be worth it.  =)  And hey---  We were in love.  <3

When I met Cana, Michael and I had driven to Montgomery to pick him up from school.  He was just 12.  And the cutest, skinniest kid I had ever seen.  (Michael always called him "Minnow.")  The three of us went to Taco Bell and joked around as I AGAIN tried to get over my terror of "What if he doesn't LIKE me??".  But it turned out that he was a pretty chill kid, easy to get along with, and with a dry sense of humor that I TOTALLY appreciated.  So we went to see 'Casino Royale', and a few months later, after Michael had proposed to me, the three of us stood in our kitchen while Michael asked Cana, "What would you think about us getting married?"

. . . And I held my breath until he answered, in typical pre-teen Cana fashion, "That's cool."

(I am Jack's Enlarged Sense of Self Satisfaction.)

So step-moms sometimes get a bad rap.  And maybe it takes a special type of person to do it properly.  'Properly' here, meaning: with love, patience, and the ability to sometimes have really thick skin.

So though I love all THREE of those boys with every bit of my heart, I am NOT going to pretend that this step-parenting business is easy.  Because it is SO NOT.

But it is NOT SUPPOSED TO BE.  It's hard, and it's head-achey, and fun.  And it is SO MUCH WORK.


And even when I want to strangle them or tie them up by their toenails. . . how unbelievably lucky I am to have them all.


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