Bull in a China Shop


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Hardest job EVER

Well, it looks as if there is a family theme forming here, because I have something to say about mothers. Dooce mentioned that motherhood is a job that most wouldn't take if they knew there were 12 hour days, no breaks and no vacations. I am whole heartedly sympathetic. I have no children of my own, (though when I was planning out my wedding when I was 9 I was sure 5 babies would quickly follow) I do, however, have a kick-ass step-daughter. I came into her life when she was 11, and married her father just short of her 13th birthday. Those years, in and of themselves, are a challenge, but when the child is not your own, there is an added measure of difficulty. And I can freely admit there were more than a few times I wanted to walk away, throw in the towel and give up.

Because she lived with her father as her caretaker for so many years, it was difficult for me to find my place as care giver, disciplinarian and resident shoulder to cry on. It became especially hard when we discovered that our parenting philosophies were wildly different. OUCH. Can you hear the thud of my expectations? I went blindly into a relationship thrilled to have a ready made family, expecting they would be equally thrilled to have my input and my motherly, feminine touch.

But, you know what? It turns out she wasn't, and still isn't your typical girl. She has taught me so much about myself, and about life.... its almost embarrassing. She once told me (at about 14) that she was glad that I came along when I did because it meant she didn't have to be "everything" to her dad. (Now don't go getting all weird and perverted now. You know I mean everything in the most honorable sense. Jeez.) And when I was able to allow myself to argue with her, and yell at her, she stopped me and said, "Ya know, just because I am angry with you right now, doesn't mean I won't wake up tomorrow and still love you." I mean, it took a child to explain to me that I can express my displeasure without damaging a relationship. Before that I was too afraid I might lose the other person's friendship, or respect, or love if I voiced my anger or frustration. Go figure.

So, this motherhood thing, whether by nature, by adoption or by marriage, or by whatever means one might become "Mother," is an amazing journey. There is much heartache, and pain and dealing with things you would rather ignore. But the rewards are rich and many.

As I mentioned in the previous post, my mother married a man with 6 kids of his own. She took on 6 step children, most of whom resented her at first, and she had to deal with 3 of her own. I am ashamed to say I wanted to give up the struggle over ONE child, because I now know my mother is a freaking SAINT for handling 9 children with class and grace! And most satisfying is that after my step-father died, his children (some of whom still seemed to resent my mother after 30 years) openly thanked my mother for putting up with them, and for standing by their father (even though on many occasions her was a big insensitive clod,) and for never treating them differently, and for loving them unconditionally, as she did her own children. They love my mom: THEIR mom. Our mom. She ROCKS!


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