I feel guilty admitting it, but Mothers’ Day sucked! I am glad it only comes once a year. Yes, I am the mother to one and the stepmother to five, and though I think of myself with fairly low expectations where that holiday is concerned, it was still pretty disappointing.
First, there is the issue of cloudy roles. My only biological child is an 11-year old boy. That means he is no longer in grade school and is past the stage where his teachers would kindly force him to participate in whatever the craft-of-the-year was that would be sent home on the Friday before Mothers’ Day. And since he is an 11-year old boy, he doesn’t have a great deal of initiative when it comes to creating something wonderful for mom on his own. He needs help. Or at least prompting. I took him to get a card for his stepmom. I made sure he signed it and took him to his dad’s to deliver it on Mothers’ Day, but I think there must have been a little confusion about who would help him make sure I was not forgotten. Justin’s dad and I are divorced so I guess he thought (and perhaps rightly so) that it wasn’t his role to make sure I was appreciated. I think my husband, Justin’s stepdad, might have thought Justin’s dad was taking care of it, so he too did not help Justin.
As I mentioned, I also have five stepkids ranging in age from 10 to 20. Some years they have spent half the day with their mom and then transitioned over to our house (usually Sundays are our days) and spent part of the day with me. For whatever reason, they were having a great time with their mom and so did not actually show up at our place until around dinner time. My husband had this grand scheme in his head about how they would arrive around lunch and all of them would head off to Lowe’s and then return home to do yardwork while I relaxed. As the day melted away and we still saw no sign of them, it was clear that his dream was not going to materialize. So, I got outside and did the yardwork myself. I tried to get Justin to help, and he did – a little.
The other kids showed up around dinner time, and in fairness they did have a card. The 18-year old who doesn’t care much for me had written, “Happy Mother’s Day.” The 15-year old wrote, “I hope your day was satisfactory.” The 10-year old who I think actually has a real fondness for me wrote, “I am glad you are a mom.” (Notice it did not say my mom or our mom or even like a mother to me. “I am glad you are a mom.”) Strangely enough, Landon, the one who was originally the most difficult wrote,”You are an awesome ‘bonus mom.'” which was about the nicest thing anyone said all day.
I hate to complain. At least they remembered it was Mothers’ Day and I did get a card, but all in all it was a pretty disappointing day. At best, I got a few lukewarm phrases. No one even signed it with the word “love.” Sometimes, it is hard to be the stepmom. We have my bonus kids 50% of the time. So, I do 50% of their wash, their dishes, the meals and make it to nearly 100% of the soccer games, the piano recitals, the plays, the concerts, and more, and yet, I guarantee you they see me differently then they see their mom. Mothers’ Day is one of those days when I feel that much more acutely. For now, I will focus on the fact that I have a terrific husband and that most days we do pretty well as a big, blended family. I know most of the books says the best way to find happiness as a stepparent is to lower your expectations, but I sort of wonder at what point lowered expectations isn’t an invitation to encourage the kids (or me for that matter) not even to try for more or better.