Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Truth

Having tried in vain since November to change it, or at least avoid it, I must now swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth:

I don't like being a stepmom.

There's no way around it. I've tried to convince myself otherwise or word it so that it doesn't sound so horrible, but it hasn't worked. Am I going to continue to be a stepmom? Yes, absolutely, of course. Do I like it right now? No, I do not. Will I always feel this way? I sure as hell hope not.

"But Sophie is great!" you protest. You're probably right. Everyone says so. So she probably is great. But if it were up to my rampant, imbalanced, batshit-crazy PMS hormones and my "oops! I forgot to take my happy pill until late this afternoon," whacked-out brain chemistry, you could have her as your own great kid right now. Since that's not possible, would you like to babysit a great kid every other weekend? Please?

I don't really know any other 5-year-olds well. I can't accurately remember what I was like as a child. Nor do I know if my mother thought I was "great" at that age so as to compare my younger self to her. I have a very limited frame of reference. The kindergarteners I visited as a park ranger were definitely less advanced and less well-behaved and made me extremely nervous. Of course that may have been because there was a whole ravenous, maddening hoard of them. All I remember is that I thought they were a bit too wild and I desperately wished someone (uh-humm...their teacher) would get them under control, but it wasn't going to be me because they seemed so breakable. I'm not great with kids below fourth grade. And I'm a horrible person for disliking small adorable children and fearing they might devour me like a pack of hungry wolf cubs.

Not that I dislike Sophie. I just dislike being her stepmother. (And exactly at the moment I was typing this she interrupted me to get me to open my stainless steel water bottle for her so she could drink out of it instead of her cup that she could have accessed on her own.) I too thought she was great when I got her in small doses - a few hours, a day, a weekend at most - before we all moved in together. I was thrilled at how much she seemed to like me and wanted to have as close as possible a bond with her. Now I see her 7 out of 14 days - every Wednesday/Thursday and every other Friday/Saturday/Sunday. Now what I want is space. The weeks when we only get her two days after school are great. But the five day stretches are awful for me. Friday afternoon hits and I'm crawling out of my skin, dying for it to be Monday again so I can have my husband and my life and my sanity back. Sunday afternoon comes and I'm losing my shit. (At which point she has now given me a handmade pink heart sticker with red sparkly pom-poms to prove that I am a terrible person.)

On the upside, I had a revelation last night in the shower (something about scrubbing my scalp seems to get my brain in gear) that made me like being a stepmom not even one ounce more but at least made me feel like a slightly less horrendous person for it. I have given up almost everything familiar and comfortable in my life to move to Louisville to marry and live with Tristan. Why? Because he's my soulmate, and he can't move since he has 50% custody of Sophie whose mom lives here, and thus if I want to have the love of my life in my life, I have to live here too. It sucks. (I know, boohoo, poor me, my life is so horrible, I found my happily-ever-after, and it's still not enough. I'm whiny and self-absorbed. I know. I'm working on it. Sorry. Bear with me for the next five to ten to 70 years.) Anway, back to my shower revelation. Psychologist-confirmed stressor number 1: I have moved to a new city. Number 2: I am unemployed and searching, unsucessfully, for a new job. Which leads right into Stressor 3: Money is very tight right now. Stressors 4 to inifinity: I am trying to make new friends, my best friends live far away, my closest friend is also my new husband about whose daughter I feel stressed and whom must devote his energy to his daughter instead of me every other weekend, making me feel even more alone. Summary: the average person would be ridiculously stressed out right now. And while I've spent my entire life striving to be perfect, I am in fact an average person who could really use, but not afford, a good shrink right now. 

So...part of the problem number one: I'm normal; therefore I am stressed; erego, I need lots of energy for myself to successfully work through this stage in my life.

Part of the problem number two: biological necessity. Kids require an insane amount of energy and attention from their parents to survive. Sophie (whether great or average) is normal; therefore she naturally requires lots of energy and attention.

Part of the problem number three: Sophie is not my kid. (This actually could be a subset of number two: biological necessity.) Therefore I do not have the biological instinct or urge to put her survival before my own.

Summation, biologically speaking: I am stressed and need all of my energy to survive. Sophie is a kid who needs to be given a large amount of energy to survive. Giving her energy does not in anyway ensure the survival of my genetic line. Therefore, I don't like being her stepmom right now because it requires energy that I can't give her without hurting myself. Erego, I am not as terrible a person as I seem.

Okay, so I'm not horrible. But not liking being a stepmom is just one more stress. So the questions remain: How do I adjust to living in a new place, and worse yet, a city? (I miss you, National Parks! Hardcore.) How do I make new friends? How and when will I get a new job that I like? How do I have healthy relationships with my husband and stepchild in the meantime?

I've got questions....Please tell me you've got answers. S.O.S.!!! This is me begging for advice, suggestions, and help. Please and thank you. Love, JawJ


  1. You left out the February/March cusp which in my memory is always about the suckiest part of the year. Desperately yearning toward spring, but still having to wear long johns. I feel your pain my dear. I passionately adore my children but after 24 years of being a mom I still have moments,days, and even weeks when I don't want to be one. Breathe deep dear friend.