You know, sometimes I am ashamed at how much I talk about my biological parents. There is part of my head that screams “get over it!” and “how old are you now?” and “it’s done; in the past, and you can’t change it!” That’s the voice of my inner critic. The one that is afraid I will be judged as a bad person, because I couldn’t manage to have a decent relationship with either my Mother or my Father. And to be sure, I am enlightened enough to understand, that much of that dialogue was placed in my head by them, telling me that their shortcomings were my fault.
If I had been thinner, more popular, a better daughter, more beautiful… perhaps I would have been a child they could have “gotten behind” or at least, got excited about owning, for the brief period that I was in their care.
I want different things for my step-son’s. I want them to be sage and wise. I want them to understand the world, without being afraid of failure. I do not want them paralyzed against trying. I want them to understand that life is a game, that the rules change and sometimes you get to make the rules too. That they are the architect of everything in their lives, from friendships to relationships, from careers to income, but most importantly, they are responsible for their own personal integrity, and compassion. For the planet, for other people, and everything in their microcosm.
For my part, as 25% of their upbringing since they were 8 years old (I met them when they were six), I want to inspire creativity and strength in my son’s. I want them to be doers, not talkers, and I want them to be both modest and fearless about trying new things. I want them to hunger for learning and experience. But most of all, I want my son’s to know they are loved, and to love themselves without limit. I want them to feel the strength of our commitment to their happiness and needs, and the responsibility of growing into the kind of men we will be proud of one day.
Also, Lucas has promised me that if I end up in a wheelchair, he will push me around to go grocery shopping. (For the record, he hates grocery shopping).
But my boys, you will never have to wonder if I love you. One day maybe you will read this and know that the part of me I thought was dead, the one that so greatly wanted to be a mother, came alive the first time I met you. You stepped all over my bare toes with your running shoes, and you were engrossed in such empathy, my heart melted. Your sweet, clumsy attitudes, your questions, the hugs, your stinky running shoes, the way you leave globs of toothpaste in the sink (gross), or your little boxer shorts sometimes in the bathroom, after a shower.
I never knew that boys could be so tender. So sweet, and so kind. So needing of love, affection and approval. I’m used to older men and tough guys, who I guess got taught to keep it on the “down low” that they had a tender side. I wasn’t ready for the chunk of my heart that you would take over. The part that misses you, and thinks that 10 days is never enough time every month. The part that saves all her “fun stuff” for when you are around, and money to do things with you. The part that is watching you grow into boys who understand responsibility, manners, goal setting and achievement, while I cheer you on and remind you, that you can do anything.
I fell in love with your father. I fell deeply in love with you both, a short time after that.
Maybe one day I’ll understand why I had such a long journey to find my own family; children and a husband that I would be able to call my own. Something that fit. A relationship where I didn’t have to pretend to be less than I was (business wise, creatively or ambitiously). I hope I am teaching you what an equal partnership looks like in marriage. I hope I am inspiring you to be brave, and to achieve your goals. I hope you never stay mad at me long, when I have corrected you, because I see the picture of your potential in my head, and take my job very seriously. Even if that means cutting back on the sweets you love, and stepping up on the hikes and other “punishment” that you find so life altering. Like a day without video games.
I’m doing it for a reason kids. And when the waitress says “Your boys are so well behaved!” or the guy at the Jeep dealership said “I can’t believe the manners on your son’s”… know that my heart bloomed like a thousand roses exploding in my chest, simply because you were being your best, and I was 25% of that.
I will never talk to you, the way my parents talked to me. Hurting you would kill me. That will never happen.
I will never reject you when you make a mistake. I will help you learn from it, and grow stronger and smarter because of the experience. I will always be a safe place for you to come to, when you have fallen, been hurt, or if you have hurt others and your heart is in pain. I will always be here for you, ready to listen, and ready to help you unravel the mysteries of life, relationships and experiences.
And I will always put my arm around you for no reason at all, and rub my hand gently on your shoulders. There are no real “steps” between our hearts. How I will always love and respect your Mommy, for allowing me the chance to be a step-mother to you both.
When I think about it a little more, perhaps I rehash my bad experiences with my own parents, so that I make sure that I do not make the same mistakes with you. So that I remember what it felt like to be hurt by a parent, and allow those memories to guide my hands with you, in a more loving, steadfast and patient relationship. I won’t fail you and I won’t let you fail, because I love you. And that will never change.
Everything I do, I do for this little family, in this little house, full of critters and the two little boys I’ve been blessed with.