In the 5 years that I’ve grown into my unique parental role in my step-daughter’s life, I’ve often looked up to the skies and whispered, “Funny, but I don’t remember deserving this much payback.”
Y’all, I love being a Mama and a Step-Mama. My kids are literally the coolest people. They are full of this magic wonder that leaves my head spinning and the way they give you just the perfect sort of love when you need it most- it fills my heart.
I am generally a genuine mess when it comes to day to day life. For as strict as I am about calendars and budgets and all things type A, I struggle to get anywhere on time and I talk in circles for hours if you’ll let me. I have it all together, but in this chaotic sort of way. So, as for being a Mama, I really just wing it…. and cry sometimes without literally ANY reason at all.
I say that so you’ll know that what I am about to tell you is likely pretty common knowledge, but it didn’t really click for me until today. So if you are that Mom that has it all together, your dinners are 5 star with all the right food groups, your kid doesn’t have food or pee or dirt somewhere glued on to their bodies, and they would rather read the book than slap you in the face with it….. If you get up every single day and put yourself together and don’t have food or pee or dirt somewhere glued to your OWN self (that you won’t find until you’re sitting an important 2 o’ clock meeting) well- you may want to stop here. This post is not for you. Hit the back button before you read that my kid definitely just licked the bottom of my shoe sitting by the door AND he likes it for sure…. calm down Susan, he is teething- I’m sure it’s almost perfectly fine.
My boy is still very young, but even still, he teaches me daily. Pip, though (short for her nickname, Pipsqueak), my nearly 9 near old stepdaughter… she teaches me so much more.
Girls are determined to be right. They are determined to know all the things. They are determined to do it their own way and fail a million times before letting you help. They are determined to grow up so damn fast that I can’t catch up. This determination is so wonderful because I know just exactly how it will help her in the future. Pip is a world changer and I tell her that regularly. She has a fire in her that refuses to dim and It. Is. Wonderful.
Unless, of course, like me- you frequently find yourself the challenger- but what good parent wouldn’t?
Every once in awhile, though, they teach you a lesson. I got one this week.
Since my stubborn and her stubborn have been duking it out so much lately, it seems we have been in a tango of figuring out some new boundaries. It’s been tough, but totally beneficial and what I think is happening in this shift is actually pretty wonderful because it’s the very beginning to our friendship which one day years and years from now will be more present than my parental role in her life.
What I want to share is simple. Seriously Susan, if you’re still reading, you’re going to be very unimpressed with this- because I’m sure you know ALL about it. For those of you reading that doubt yourselves from time to time, listen up.
They. Just. Need. Your. Time.
We went to the store together today (her request) and it was just her and I (my request). We went to Starbucks. We got the fancy drinks. We got some cake pops. We walked around the clothes, we ventured to the toys, we went through every toy aisle – twice. I let her have her time to lead and just tell me every single thing about every single thing and I didn’t look at my phone or hurry her along. Not once.
We talked about everything and nothing, really. It was by far the most simple way for us to reconnect and like a sponge, I could see her soak up every single second of it. Truth be told, I was too. She had me all to herself and for the first time in a hot minute- we were just being silly together. We weren’t focused on all the things we have been working on together, frequently not agreeing or not seeing eye to eye, or asking like a million times over for a certain task to be done. We just hung out. In Meijer of all places. Girls just have so many things to learn in this pivotal age and we’ve just spent so much time focusing on choices and the person she wants to be that our relationship- while ever present- wasn’t being NURTURED. I felt it. She felt it. It showed up often and when it did- to the corners of the octagon we went.
I spent a lot of time in prayer this week about fixing my own self. We have to find a better way to connect in a way that guidance and understanding is given and received well by both of us- and I really just didn’t know where to start. So we started with nothing. We just went and did nothing, together. I stopped trying to help her fix anything for a minute, and just decided to enjoy ourselves. I didn’t have to pay money and take her anywhere super special – not that I wouldn’t have and not that we don’t.
My point here mamas, our kids just need us exactly as we are, exactly where we are. They don’t need anything more than that. They don’t even need your best self- they likely prefer your real self. The sweatpants, bedhead, no makeup, halfway stinky self. They don’t care if the house is clean or the laundry is done or what is going on with that to-do list in your brain. Even more than their toys, they just want to spend time with you. Doing everything. Doing nothing. Talking all the time, or cuddling quietly in front of the TV. They just want that connection.
Okay, I admit it. I knew this already. It really is pretty common sense stuff but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t always follow through with it. As Mamas, we have all the things to take care of after all, but my prayer today is that God helps me slow down. To be even more present. To not care so much about all the things and just be patient with my kiddos. To sometimes allow them to lead and find myself laughing, a lot, like I did today.
For the first time today – I looked at my step-daughter as less of a kid. She’s growing up so so fast and I have been tasked, in part, to help raise her into the person she will become. I hope she will seek me out for guidance along the way. I hope that God gives me the right answers to all of the questions she has. I hope that one day she looks back and realizes that the best qualities in both of us is what made our relationship so passionate at certain points, but I hope she also realizes that my frustration only comes from the times where the potential I see in her is not being met- because this kid, this almost young woman who we are blessed to call ours and help raise… she is fierce and the world better watch out.
She’s going to change it. She’s going to help people. She’s going to do big, amazing things- and people will wonder where it comes from. She will have a heart of gold that refuses to quit, despite all odds. She will do this because she needs to, because she is driven to. She will be whatever she will be- but I know she will be great at it. She will be the best in class.
I just hope she lets me help along the way, and in the meantime- I hope she keeps teaching me all the lessons about the most important things. Girls are hard, but they are so so worth it. But I’m not surprised… the best things in life usually are!