Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On becoming real

Being "not-the-mama" hurts sometimes.  A lot. And it's not the stepkids that shell out the worst of it. It's the mom at the park who chats pleasantly until she learns that I'm the stepmom, then quickly ushers her kids away.  It's the husband's ex who is happy to use me for free childcare, but tells the kids that I'm just the babysitter and says I can't have a say in developing rules in my own home.  Or the comments from "real moms" that I will never understand what it is to be a mother until I have carried children in my body.  

I doubt that I will ever be a "real mom" in the eyes of most people.  But, I've been thinking a lot about the velveteen rabbit recently.  About how he was used, thrown away, teased by the bunnies that were blessed to have been created real from the beginning, and eventually, though broken and shredded to bits, made real himself.  I feel like that a lot of the time when I take on the burdens of parenthood without the inherent benefits that come from the biological connection. It's emotionally exhausting and heartbreaking a lot of the time.

Even if it's not universally recognized, I think I am being made real, slowly but surely, and I thank the people who help me to feel that.  My husband is a constant encourager, knowing my struggles with this step-parenting role, he constantly affirms me as a mom.  My dad, who sent me a mother's day card this year that brought me to tears.  My in-laws, who treat me with respect and offer praise and encouragement.  My stepdaughters who ask me to be a part of special events, and my stepson, who when I asked, "How was your day, my friend?" corrected me and told me that I needed to instead say "my son."  And the most surprising, though not necessarily consistent, my husband's ex-wife, who helped the kids make me something for mothers day, and has on occasion referred to the kids as "our children."  

Becoming real hurts.  But with a high pain tolerance and people to help me through it, I'm getting there.