Monday, May 30, 2005

Bad Mommy!

No, this does not come the mouth of a toddler in the throws of a tantrum because I won't let him use the couch as a springboard. This is a self-proclaimed title. This isn't the 50s and I sure as hell am NOT June Cleaver - though some folks do like to call me Martha Stewart but given her recent escapades I'm not so sure that is much of a compliment, but I digress. My point is, what is this obsession with being the perfect Mom? Honey, there ain't no such thing.

OK, so I admit it, I have let my son eat Cheerios off the floor beyond the
5-second rule, and lick the cake frosting right out of the can before dinner. Sometimes my kids don't eat lunch until 3pm because they're having too much fun playing together. I do use the tv as a babysitter, and at 3 months pregnant and still suffering the ill-effects of progesterone poisoning morning sickness, I have that right dammit! I have been known to feed my toddler a bowl of cereal for dinner because I don't feel like cooking, or let my stepdaughter eat cheese and macaroni 5 nights in a row because that's what she wanted.

And despite this, my kids are as close to perfect as those little martians can get. My 9 y/o stepdaughter thanks me every night for dinner (even if it's spinach), believes in the magic of Christmas and in Santa, and still thinks that "stupid" is a bad word and won't think twice about scolding any family member whom she hears uttering it. My toddler says "excuse me" when he burps, has better manners than most adults I know, and enjoys baking the cake with me prior to eating the frosting out of the can.

I'm not the perfect Mommy, and I don't want to be. Good enough will do just fine thank-you-very-much. You won't hear me (or my kids) complaining.

Saturday, May 7, 2005

“But, She’s Not My Mother.”

It’s a phrase that can make any stepmother cringe... especially when applied to Mother’s Day celebrations.

It’s a phrase that I heard for the first time last year.

My husband was discussing Mother’s Day plans with my stepdaughter when I had accidentally walked in on their conversation. Their discussion came to an abrupt halt once they saw me standing in the doorway. I pretended I didn’t hear anything but for a moment, those five little words stopped me dead in my tracks. I was hurt. Partly for myself but mainly out of the crushing realization that I, too, had once been a 7 year old with a stepmother. And I, too, had once shared the exact same sentiment.

As a young girl I never celebrated Mother’s Day with my stepmom. No card. No phone call. No present. In my mind, this was not her holiday. Not that I was consciously denying her this day... it simply never occurred to me that Mother’s Day also includes stepmothers.

As both a mom and a stepmom I now understood the importance of being acknowledged by your children. In our daily struggle to carve out a place in the lives of our stepchildren it’s especially important for stepmoms to know that our efforts are appreciated. My stepmother gave of herself so selflessly when I was a child (and still does) – and got so little in return. I regret not showing her the appreciation she so rightly deserved back then. I don’t want my stepdaughter to grow up with these same regrets.

Luckily, Mother’s Day has fallen on our scheduled weekend with my stepdaughter the last two years. So I have had the opportunity to celebrate with her before she goes to spend the day with her bio-Mom. It seems as though the older she becomes, the easier it is for her to accept me as a "bonus" Mom in her life. This year, in fact, she remembered me all on her own and split a classroom Mother's Day project between her bio-Mom and myself. It's these little gestures that re-assure me that I am doing a good job after all.

As for my own stepmom, I no longer forget to show her how special she is to me, and how much I appreciate the endless love, support and guidance she has shown me through the years. After all, without her, what kind of step-Mom would I be?...