Thursday, May 29, 2014

Graduation, Summer Shenanigans, and Step-Momisms

So several things have happened in our lives in the last week or so (huge happenings in our tiny world), and I guess it's time I cataloged them, and explored (via blog post) the age-old analrapist question of:  "How did that make you FEEL?"

"How ARE you??"

And also, just as a courtesy:


ITEM ONE:  Padawan is here to stay with us for the summer.  =)

This is truly fantastic news.

We generally get more time with all the boys once summer gets here, but this summer is going to be a little different.

The oldest is officially finished with high school this summer, and is preparing to start college in the fall.  And he drives, and works (two or three jobs, depending), and has a girlfriend, and generally has a life, and lives about an hour and a half away. 

So.  Scheduling.

The struggle is real.


And then there is Padawan.

A couple months ago, his mom contacted us saying that she didn't know what she was going to do about childcare for him while she was at work this summer.

Our solution was elegant in its simplicity:  Send him here.


So we agreed that we would keep him for the summer, and his mom would just let us know when she wanted him.

Our arrangement has only just started to play out in real time, and I am personally thrilled to have him here, as is everyone else.  =)

Though. . . Took is having a BIT of an issue adjusting to no longer being the only child in the house.

Which brings us to:


 Now, before I make my child sound like a COMPLETE asshole (but seriously, sometimes. . .you guys.  He can be a COMPLETE asshole.), I will say by way of apology that he is a child that likes his schedule.

Like, he REALLY likes his schedule.

For example:  Every morning when he gets up, we walk downstairs with an armful of assorted "babies" (Sheepie, Kitty Cat, Tigey, Sheep-Turtle), snuggle up on the couch, and he drinks his milk and wakes up and watches his stories.  (Usually Caillou, The Berenstain Bears, or Daniel Tiger.)  And on weekends when Padawan is here, he knows that they will have to SHARE the t.v. once his brother wakes up.

So I'm sure you can imagine his. . . we'll call it "emotional pain and suffering". . . when he woke up this morning to find that his brother had gotten up BEFORE HIM, was ALREADY SEATED SNUGLY ON THE COUCH, and had ALREADY SELECTED HIS OWN PROGRAMMING (which was NOT one of the programs on his Approved Viewing List).

It got ugly.


Actually, I think it would be more apt to say that it got ugly INSTANTLY.

Took was not even on the first floor of our home before he started with the indignant cries of "NOOOOOOOO!!!!  You not sit there!!!!  No you NOT!!!!!"

I did what I could to ease the tensions, but I'm afraid it was pointless.  

Took woke up to find that his brother had beat him to the couch.

Insult was added to injury when it became apparent that he was going to have to SIT THROUGH an episode of Spongebob before it was his turn to pick the show.

And by the time we got to breakfast, and he realized that we were having blueberry muffins (---he loves blueberry muffins.  . . .he just wasn't in the mood for them this morning.---) . . . well, he just SNAPPED.

Fists started flying, there were cryptic shouts of "NO, I NOT!!!  BEARS!!!  MY BASE!!@!!  MYYYYY SHEEPIE!!!  NOYOUNOT!!!!!!", I heard several solid-sounding slaps land, and I came running from the kitchen with just horrific expectations.

. . . only to find Padawan cowering on one end of the couch, hiding behind cushions to keep Took's flailing hands from connecting, while Took screamed in outrage about all the ways that he had been wronged that morning.  (FYI:  This was about 10 minutes after waking.)


Great way to start the summer.  =/

But on a serious note?  I am COMPLETELY not sweating it.

I know my kid.  He likes his schedule, and he likes to know what to expect.  He'll adjust, and the three of us will carve out a NEW schedule, together.  And how they get along during this transitional period is just something the boys are going to have to work out on their own.

In the meantime, I'm really just here to provide snacks, take the little one on potty breaks, and referee:

No slaps on the face, no sucker-punches, no drawing on ANYONE. The cats are off-limits, and Silly Putty is only allowed outside.

Keep it clean, guys.  We want a nice, clean fight.


And finally, we come to

ITEM THREE:  The high school graduation of Michael's first-born.


He graduated from high school last week, and it was an amazing night.


This is a very odd thing to write about, because I feel like we are all still processing our feelings about it.

Of course, we knew this was coming.  We got our invitation in the mail a few weeks ago.  We ooh'd and ahh'd at the graduation photo that accompanied the invitation.  We knew what college he had decided on, and had even gotten to tour it with him a few months back.

But we ALSO know that this same milestone looms in the future (hopefully) for the other two boys.

KNOWING that something is going to happen is still no preparation at ALL for actually EXPERIENCING it happen. . .

So the day of his graduation arrived.  Mister was at work, but getting off early to come home and change and hopefully set out with a head start on the traffic.

I spent the morning preparing.

Outfit for me and the baby?  Check.

Self-tanner applied and toenails painted?  Check.

Backpack for the baby packed, with diapers, wipes, toys, change of clothes, and clip-on bow tie?  CHECK.

By the time Mister made it home, we were ready to go, and a couple of hours later we found ourselves standing outside a beautiful church in Montgomery, with my Mom actively snuggling my bow-tied little boy, and waiting to meet Spawn's mom to get our tickets.

Me and my lady killer.

We said hello, got our tickets, and made it to a seat in the balcony without incident, where Took proceeded to prance around like the ORIGINAL Big Stuff, and I giggled and fidgeted and busied myself with being JUSTSOEXCITED while Mister sat on the end of the pew and tried very hard to just not lose his marbles before the ceremony even started.

Before we knew it, Pomp and Circumstance was playing, and a tide of blue robes was making its way to the front of the church. 

We picked out our man right away, and avidly watched his every movement, with quite a surreal sense of This is really happening.

And since we WERE watching him intently, we knew the exact moment when he looked up, and saw his dad on the very front row of the balcony, standing up and applauding his son.

And this huge, goofy, pure-gladness grin spread over his whole face. . . and from that moment on I don't think any of us stopped smiling.  Also from that moment on. . . I think my husband was okay again.  =)

Then it took forever, and it was all over too fast, and someone sang, and someone danced, and someone talked, and instruments were played, and suddenly they were lining up to receive their diplomas.  (That weren't really their diplomas.  Those were elsewhere.  They lined up to receive their lovely blue satin-covered cardboard.  Shenanigans.)

And Took was sitting in my mom's lap when Spawn's girlfriend, aka "Friend", walked up to receive her cardboard.  He saw her pretty face projected on the big screens, and had just one word:
"NICE."  =)

A few minutes later it was Michael's Spawn's turn, and we all just held our breath and beamed.

Afterwards, amid a swarming sea of people, we found him.


And it was fascinating to watch my husband take this now-grown man, clasp him in a fierce, full, bear hug. . . and almost come apart at the seams.

And the rest of the night was nothing but joy.  =)

We went out to eat with the new graduate, and even got to meet his Friend's parents.  Which means that yes, Took once again got to see Friend, and instantly went in for a hand-hold.

He is shameless.  =)

Too soon, we had finished dinner, and it was time to head back home.  More hugs, more photos, more moments when I stole glances at Mister, to see how he was holding up.  (I'm happy to report that he was fine.  Overjoyed, and glowing, and fine.)

So we took him back to his car.  And leaving him was. . . tough.

We weren't just leaving him for the night. . . and we all knew it.

And we just kept looking at him. . .  

This intelligent, kind, goofy, handsome, funny, AMAZING young man.  . . . If there was ever a kid with a bright future, if there was ever a graduate that could go anywhere, and do anything he wanted. . . it was THIS ONE.

And knowing that, and keeping it in the front of his mind, is probably the only way Mister was able to make himself put the car in gear, and drive away.


It was a long ride home from Montgomery, and I couldn't help but do a lot of thinking.

I was just SO PROUD!!!  

And I couldn't help but draw comparisons, and connect lines.

One day, hopefully, I would get to watch two OTHER young men graduate from high school.  Would I hold it together as well as I did that night?

Probably not.

Because THESE two little ones. . . well, I've seen them grow up. I'm gonna be there for all of it.  With Spawn, I only came in at the tail end.  I never had to put him in time-out, he was too old for that. I never had to discipline him, he had already been taught how to behave, and what was expected of him.  And I didn't get to see him NEARLY enough. . .

Still. . . seeing him in his cap and gown was more difficult than I ever imagined it would be. . .  I looked into that handsome, familiar face, and I could still see that little boy in there.  The long-haired kid I met when he was 12, who was already funny and goofy and kind and fabulous.  I close my eyes and see the braces again, way back before his head had grown to fit his teeth, and remember all the milestones that happened between you're-shorter-than-I-am to holy-crap-I'm-looking-UP-at-you-now??

And I cried a little, but mostly it was just. . . just happiness.

And I decided that THIS.  THIS was one of the perks of being a step-mother.

I got to go to his graduation, and experience the joy without (most of) the hard, heart-wrenching sadness.

. . . 

At different times over the years, people have asked me:  "Isn't it hard??  Marrying a man with two children?"

The answer is still: "No."

It can be hectic, but it is NOT "hard."

I was lucky enough to find the man of my dreams, and luckier still to find that he had these two boys that just owned my heart from pretty much the very beginning.

And a few people have even been brazen enough to ask if it has been difficult dealing with the two different mothers of these children.

Again (not that it was any of their business), the answer is still: "No."

I'm a grown-up.  I've had grown-up experiences.  Many times, many, MANY times, life has not worked out the way I planned.

And the same holds true for everyone.

But what I've found, through time and patience, is this:

You can make just about anything work, if you just ACT LIKE AN ADULT.

Those two boys' mothers?  They have never been anything but kind to me. Why would I have a problem with them?  We act like adults.

You know how you get a phone call from a 7 year-old on Mother's Day, when he is with his mom, and still doesn't know how to work a phone?

You don't be rude to his mother.  You don't snark about her behind her back.

You act like adults.  And you get along.  

You recognize that you won't agree on everything, and you don't HAVE TO, and you just act like an adult.

And when you DO?  

Good things happen.  =)

You get to keep one boy all summer long.

You get to go to the other's graduation, and share in the joy, and hug his mom, and MEAN IT.  Just from one mother to another.

I'm not my husband's first wife, and I didn't get to give him his first child.  And if I wanted to focus on that, and fixate on it, I could probably really make myself pretty miserable.

So instead, I focus on this:  

Yeah.  All that's true.  I'm not his first wife.

I'm the woman that got here in the third inning.

I'm the one that was lucky enough to get to know these two boys, and not get hung-up on the fact that I didn't get to be there from Day One, and I realize and appreciate that my family is a masterpiece of cobbled-together perfection.

I'm the woman that gave him his third son. . . 

And I count my blessings every day, because I'm the woman that gets to love all three.


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