Way before my daughter was born, I tried to blend myself into another family. Without getting too detailed, I share the parenting duties with my daughter’s father for his two sons who live with us, and I do extra curricular stepmom duty with two of his daughters.
Now the sons are mine by default. We’ve been on several vacations together, sans their dad, I go to school conferences, am a full disciplinarian, and spend a greater portion of the days with them because I haven’t worked outside of the house for three years. Birthday parties are my domain, clothing sizes are my responsibility, and all of this has been in place for the last five years or so.
The girls are a different story. They have different mothers than the boys and different mothers than each other. I take them on several weekends (their dad works weekends; that’s right, up to four kids per weekend) and have been the defacto “my-kid’s-sick-I’m-on-my-way-to-work-and-I-need-a-sitter” sitter. One of their moms had a four day stay in the hospital and her daughter stayed with us while her dad worked; er, um it was spring break so that’s three kids for the single lady. They have gone through potty training, the Dora years, and now Divaliciousness – all with me somewhere in the process.
Sounds pretty blended, right? Uh, yeah. Here’s where I get snarky. For all the love I show the girls, I’ve never been invited to one of their birthday parties. Oh, sure there was the year that I was invited so that the women could set me up for something I don’t remember, but I didn’t go. Other than that, in the years that I have loved these girls, I’ve never celebrated this occasion with them. And don’t think it was lost on them. When they were much younger they would remember one day out of the blue, as kids are prone to do, and ask me - not their mother or father, ME – why I wasn’t in attendance. And since I don’t think children need to be educated in the Baby Momma Drama Politics that is their life, I either made up an excuse or asked why they didn’t question one of their parents. They never question their parents.
Well, now I’ve added my own sweetie pie to the brood. They all play together although Joelle isn’t as fond of one of the girls. I can’t figure out why. The Divas are also a little jealous of Joelle. She’s a baby and with them being six and seven they remember when they were the center of my attention. They soon get over it when they start playing with the little baby doll-like creature. It all works out and I’m happy with the status quo until…
Birthday season. See, to me it is a gigantic slap in the face that my love is deemed worthy for 364 days of the year, but the day we take out to celebrate THE KIDS, these lovely, growing girls, is not shared with me. I can take the hurt, but when you are 22-months-old slights like this can be devastating. No, Joelle would not necessarily know today that she didn’t make it, but you know kids; they’ll be coming at you with the hard questions eventually.
With as much love as I have for these darlings, I forgot it was her birthday when I made plans to go see a play. Her dad must have, too, because we picked a play to see the night of the party. Oops. And it wasn’t just a play; it was a working thing so I had to go. That let’s the mom off the hook for inviting me, but what about my baby? Was she to be snubbed? Did she have to be the only family member not invited to this event? It got down to the wire and eventually I found out she was on the list!
Wow! This was the big time, but there were still questions. I didn’t get a phone call from the mom assuring me that my daughter was welcomed. On the contrary, just a week ago the woman reamed me out for my lack of care for her little girl. I was a little tense because her dad was also a little tight lipped, but I sent my daughter out all spit shined and ready to party.
My doubts were not only waylaid, but they were completely wrong. Joelle had so much fun at the party. She had her face painted, found a boyfriend (her dad didn’t know it’s his job to put a stop to that), and most importantly spent time with her family. And the other two moms? Not a direct quote from her father, but he said something like, “If Joelle wasn’t with Mom X, she was with Mom Y.” Really? I relayed this story to my bestie and cried a little.
See, I don’t need to “blend in.” These kids I love aren’t my family. They are, however, Joelle’s family. I always wanted an invite, but I also want better for my daughter. I can take the pain, rejection, and the ungratefulness of some, but I do not ever want my daughter to look back and think someone didn’t accept her, especially her family. I don’t ever want her to think that she wasn’t important to her sisters, never mind their mothers.
As confusing as this story is (it’s personal, and I tried to keep names out of it. Plus, there is no commitment between the dad and me), you can imagine what kind of life I live trying to keep the peace. It’s ok. I don’t mind … especially now. Good things come to those who wait, and the smile on my exhausted little girl’s painted face proves the good thing of blending this family has come to pass.
What about you? Have you had any problems blending your family? Is your partner’s family snarky or standoffish? Do you have a Baby Mama Drama situation in which you are being the bigger person? Leave a comment and let’s create our own Good Enough family connection!
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Ella Rucker is a mother of a 22-month-old girl and a guardian of two boys. She is currently working on dispelling the myth that being a “stay at home mom” has anything to do with staying at home. Ella moved from Ohio to New York City twelve years ago where she is currently assisting the head GEM and proving that sticking your neck out just might help you win the race. She loves to read, listen to music, and watch her daughter laugh, dance, and learn to be spectacular like Mommy.