“Oy.” – Me
I have been stewing over something lately. I discussed it with my fiance and while he did his best to understand (as he always does) he still kinda looked at me with that “i don’t get it” kinda look. It is possible he did not get it because I did not explain it well. That happens when I am still trying to untangle how I feel about something. I cannot articulate to someone else until I know what it means to me.
I need to make sense of it first and then I make sense of it for others.
I am still trying.
The issue is best illustrated by a citing a recent dinner.
Present at dinner was my mother, my two sons, my fiance, his two sons, and me. It was the first time my mother had met my fiances son (age 16 and 19) and we went to Bertuccis and the six of us crammed into a booth better fit for four.
My mother was her usual chatty engaging self. She conversed freely with fiance’s sons and they did the same with her. There was much laughter, sharing and good food. I was slightly anxious about the evening beforehand but it turned out pretty well until my mother said this:
“So, now I have 15 grandchildren! Christmas should be even more fun!”
As those words erupted from my mothers mouth, something inside me turned. My head whipped quickly to the left in a mini-Linda Blair motion and I scanned the faces of my fiance’s sons as well as those of my own children for a reaction. My auditory processing was heightened and I listened carefully for some sort of response.
There wasn’t one. There was only a few grins and odd pause. And dinner continued.
My concern? My anxiety?
My mother had just staked claim to another woman’s grandchildren. My mother had just suggested to two teenage boys that barely know her that they should consider her their grandmother. I felt sick.
I realize, intellectually, my mother did nothing wrong. In fact, she probably did everything right (based upon the fact the young men later told my fiance they “really liked” my mom.)
But it bothered me.
And it has been bothering me even before that dinner. This whole blending of families thing is not easy for me. Well, that’s not quite right. It is easy for me to love my fiances sons. They are very good boys, young men really. My fiance and his ex wife did a fabulous job in raising them. They are men I welcome my sons to associate with and even emulate. I enjoy their company in our home and I gladly help and support them in any way I can.
But they are not my sons, they are not my mothers grand sons. I struggle with the idea of step-mother. I am not their mother. They have a mother. A good one. A mother that loves them. I don’t like claiming any portion of her title even if hyphenated with “step”. Can’t I just be Suz or dads future wife or something? I felt protective of their mother. Don’t take any part of her motherhood away from her. Even a title. (You readers of course surely see where this is going and what is at the root, don’t you?)
I really really really don’t want to be called step-mot…. I believe I can love and care for my fiances sons without that title. Can’t I?
During my processing of this stuff, I find that most people might find I am being ridiculous. They might give me that “I don’t get it” look my fiance gave me. They might say that I am over thinking this and reading too much into it. And they might be right. But that doesnt help me find a resting place for this confusion. (Are my fiances sons the next adoption trauma contestants? More collateral damage?)
I am not taking the boys from their mother. I am not even mothering them. They are young adults. We are friends. And yet, I cringe each time someone chooses to give them, or me, or my mother some sort of label. I realize of course, that adoption trauma, is at the core of this confusion. Had my own motherhood not been taken from me I would likely not think twice about indulging in the social construct of the step-mother label.
But my mother title was taken from me. I was erased and I therefore tread terribly lightly on any ground owned by another mother. I will not do, to any degree, to another mother, what was done to me. Her children are her children.
And yet, I wonder, if I had ever been acknowledged by anyone that really mattered, that I was my daughters mother, would I be comfortable with the idea of stepmother? For then, in that situation, I would have been taught that you can have two “mothers” love you and they can both matter.
But I wasn’t taught that, was I?
I was taught there is only one mother and it is not me.