E is where she is supposed to be right now ... maybe in the future that will change ... but right now her place is with R and I.
With that being said ... I do struggle ... E is amazing ... honestly one of the best kids that I have ever met ... and I have met a lot of kiddos ... ask anyone who I have babysat for (which I did from ages 12 to 18 ... that's a heck of a lot of kids!) ... she is a special spirit ... Heavenly Father knew what he was doing when he sent her to earth. So no ... it is not because of her that I struggle ... but because of my own selfishness.
In our Mormon culture it is not uncommon for women my age to have as many as three or four children .. I'm 24 ... I just learned that one of my beautiful sister-in-laws (who puts me to shame by just having her third baby over the summer) is a year younger than me ... Mormon fail on my account ... however, something happened to me while working for adults with disabilities ... something broke ... It was as if I had worked with children for too long (again ... since I was 12) ... adults with disabilities became just like children to me ... and that straw was the one that the camel regretted putting on its back because that straw broke it. I no longer wanted kiddos of my own ... they smelled ... they cried ... they were needy ... that was it ... done. luckily I have matured since then ... I still think those things about kids ... but at least I recognize that I will want some to come out of my own womb eventually. These have been my thoughts for about the past three years ... want some ... eventually ... and then came lil miss E. See ... I knew that we would eventually be getting majority custody of E ... could feel it in my bones ... and in the conversations between R and Kristen ... but I thought we had three years ... by that time R and I would be ready to have our own ... or I would be preggo ... but I was silly to think that ... I mean ... whenever you plan out your life rarely does it ever turn out like you thought ... that's just how life is ... and ours did that too ... turned itself upside down not even four months after our marriage.
What made it worse is that I just got back from one of the best vacations of my life ... to my favorite place in the world ... New York ... (shout out to my mom's sisters, my Uncle Steve, and my beautiful cousins who made it as amazing as it was ... and to my wonderful cousin who got married to her awesome new hubby who made it all possible!) ... getting back from that beautiful state/city always gives me DTs because of how bad I want to live and work there. This time I not only had to come back to lil ol Logan but one day later we got a call from Es mom saying she was coming to Logan on Tuesday to sign papers.
Enter panic mode ... holy crap ... I'm too young for this ... I need to be free ... I need to be able to do what I want when I want ... If I want to watch Ugly Betty all day long what am I going to do ... I can't do this ... I don't even like kids ... they smell ... oh my heck my house is going to smell ... oh my heck ... my house is going to be dirty ... oh crap ... oh crap ... oh crap ...
I told R to tell her that I couldn't be a mom that quick ... that I needed at least two weeks ... that enabled me to nest ... enabled me to quit my job (working swing shift [3-11:30pm] is not exactly conducive to having a kid) ... enabled me to wrap my head around being a full time mommy ... but that wasn't what happened ... I fell into a deep depression ... unlike my depression during my first marriage I knew that I was in depression. I felt different ... sad all the time ... angry at the world ... at the situation ... I wasn't ready for kids of my own ... how was I going to raise one that isn't mine? The depression stayed for a while ... I remember going to the family dinner that we have monthly at Rs dads house and just ranting ... going nuts with how much I couldn't stand kids ... I couldn't stop ... it was like word vomit ... spewing rant after rave after rant ... worse? of course it was worse ... my wonderful sister-in-law who I was ranting to is preggo herself ... (sorry Janiel ... your baby is going to be wonderful ... and kids aren't that bad ... I can't wait to meet him!). My poor fam must think I am so crazy!
At home it was just as bad ... two females trying to adjust to a new life that neither really wanted ... E wanting to be with her mom and not with the "mean mom" ... me wanting to work and play and not have a kid. We struggled ... together ... but separate ... in a way wanting the same thing but forced with the opposite ... and so we rebelled against each other ... E would cry ... I would yell ... tears and time-outs ... forced smiles ...
Then ... two things happened ... Heavenly Father sent me a friend who knew exactly what I am going through ... and I learned more about the law of sacrifice. First Sarah ... she was just a girl in our ward who worked in the primary with us ... then we talked ... and we continue to talk ... I can rant and rave all I want to her because she gets it ... she is there too ... she has a step-son who lives with them during the summer ... she knows how it is ... she knows how it feels ... she knows how it goes. I only hope that I give her enough time to talk!! (Sar - you can talk to me about anything whenever ... I hope you know that!) Now about the law of sacrifice ... when you think about it ... to know the fullness of joy we must know sacrifice. On top of that Heavenly Father asks us to sacrifice certain things to "prove" ourselves in a way ... sometimes our own life is required ... but that last statement means so much more than possibly dying for our beliefs ... it can mean giving up what we had planned for our lives ... giving up who we thought we were to be able to become something greater ... to do something greater ... hence ... giving up what I wanted in my life to raise a precious daughter of God ... aka: sacrificing my life for the life of someone else who needs me. It finally got better.
Lucky for me the depression is gone ... and it has gotten easier .... we still have a long way to go ... I still have a long way to go ... but I am learning! E and I have learned that if we work together we can get through it together. There are far fewer tantrums ... I cannot remember the last time E was in timeout ... our relationship feels more natural ... less forced ... more mommy daughter ... again ... I still have a long way to go ... but I am getting there.
Things to take away -
- Don't be freaked out if it takes a long time to form a real parent connection with a step-child - my mother-in-law Bev told me it took her about six months when Rs little brother went to live with them ... someone else took a whole year to form that connection to their adoptive child ... E and I still have not formed this relationship fully ... I can't wait for the day that we get there ... maybe then when she talks in the car for the entire hour and a half drive to see my sister will no longer start to get on my nerves.
- Show them love ... regardless - no matter how selfish you are feeling ... how much anger at the situation ... the child is ALWAYS innocent ... your insides may be screaming as they talk back to you ... or throw themselves on the floor screaming that they want to watch another movie ... but your outsides need to be screaming love. The child didn't ask for this ... they didn't ask for a broken home or a new person to boss them around. Sometimes all they need is a hug while they scream ... promise it will bring you closer together ... and an outward show of love often times will lead to an inward change of hard to feeling the real love.
- Make sure they know you are not there to replace their "real" parent - this one is hard for me ... E calls me mom ... I treat her like my daughter ... I have a very hard time with the decisions that her mom makes and the way it has affected Es life ... aside from that I feel like my heart loves so fully and so completely that often times I do think of E as my daughter ... but really ... you need to make sure that they know you are not there to replace their parent ... I tell this to E all the time ... your moma Kristen is your "real" mom ... I am here because I love you ... and I will always be here because of that ... but you are right ... your moma Kristen is your "real" mom. I think by doing this you are helping the relationship be better ... the child in turn trusts you more ... lets you in because you are not trying to take the place of someone who they love so much. It is really important.
- Regardless of age or how many movies a child has seen they know the stigma behind step-moms - lets be honest ... Disney is not exactly nice to us ... to be frank we are called evil ... yeouch ... how terrible is that ... and every child knows it ... even more terrible ... it creeps up on you too ... you can think that everything is getting better and then something is said that knocks you off your feet ... E just said to me the other day "you are my step-mother ... you know that ... my step-mother" , and the voice she used ... felt like it was laced with poison ... This happens ... often ... it's just the stigma ... you have to look past it ... refer to number 2 ... that is the only thing that makes it go away again.
- Sometimes being a step-mom is even more thankless than being a "real" mom - how dare I say that ... right ... that's what all you mothers out there are thinking ... well ... wait before you judge ... all I am saying is that your children love you so much that no matter what a step-parent does they still want their "real" parent (I hate saying real parent ... because we try to stress with E that I am her real mom too because I am married to her dad) ... but it's true ... no matter how much you feel like you sacrifice for your step-child mom ... or dad ... will always be better, stronger, smarter. But it is ok ... because it is not like they don't love you! It's just like when you yourself are sick ... there is no one who can match up to mommy ... even a spouse!
- Sacrifice - being a parent is always about sacrifice ... so is being a step-parent ... you may not be ready for it ... but here is comes ... after all ... you did make the choice to marry their daddy.
well ... it is late ... and so I wish you good luck! If you ever need to talk ... or rant ... or rave ... or rant some more ... go ahead and talk to me! We can work through it together ... something tells me that being a step-parent is a lifetime of work!