I had another blog post scheduled for today, but sometimes it’s the day to day minutia that create the most important message – today, I felt was one of those days. Normally the reserve of an Instagram post, I’ve decided to start giving some of my more War & Peace style captions their own space – where they can be found, referenced to and just make someone (even if it’s just me) feel a bit better when the shit hits the familial fan.
It was a mere week ago, Mother’s Day, that I wrote of the magic (and tribulations) of being a step-mum – I often feel a responsibility to round-off my honesty with a dose of hope, to bring my ramblings full circle – ‘sure it’s shit, but it’s shit for everyone and we’ve got this!’ It’s almost a bad habit. And last week I did exactly that with THIS post. Well, in the essence of honest balance I’ll willingly admit this weekend, being a step-mum, was really pretty shit, and that alone.
Mr OG and I very much parent our own children; we come together as one family in the middle, but to ease the inevitable backlash of “you’re not my dad” or “don’t talk to my kids like that”, when it comes to the crap bits we manage our own DNA. This can make things clearer for the kids and for us, knowing where our boundaries lie, but it can also leave things unsaid and bubbling – with the end affect of creating isolation.
After a few days of me having to remind the boys of simple things, while tip-toeing on the invisible egg-shells that are scattered around teenagers like a fragile perimeter fence “erm, can you take your muddy shoes off before you go up the stairs I’ve just hoovered, pllleeeeaaaasssseeeee? / Can you not wind-up your otherwise peacefully playing toddler of a brother cos you’re Xbox game hasn’t loaded yet and you’re a bit ‘bored’ for 1.13 minutes? / Can you manage to move your cereal bowl from the spot where you sat to the freshly emptied dishwasher awaiting your filthy crockery? / Can you please turn down the Youtube shouting (wankers) emitting from your phone when you come into the kitchen, where we’re having a normal conversation, as it’s prohibiting any normal thought processes?”
After a few days of the above being ignored, receiving glares like I was sprouting a cock and balls in my hairline or a grunted, snide remark; coupled with my boys being at their dad’s leaving me without the squishy, cuddle buffers, I was feeling a bit like an outsider in my own home. Sunday morning’s reception from the step-children was the same as the snowy vista outside my window – cold, icy, hard, blank and frosty. We’d reached that point we come to every few months – the one where I feel I’ve over stepped a boundary for requesting reasonable things, realise they’re reasonable and become resentful that I can’t scream it at them ‘cos they’re not my kids; the one where they just feel like I’m the controlling bitch their dad shacked up with; and the one that ends up coming out all wrong when I try to explain it to Mr OG causing an evening (or two) of mutual silent treatment!
I’m completely aware of the fragility of the boys that live under this roof, both mine and Mr OG’s – broken families, patching up the cracks with Gorilla Glue-strength emotional adhesive. But sometimes, it’s inevitable, those cracks will show. If left untreated they can become cavernous cannons into which relationships, patience and understanding can fatally plummet.
So, what do I do? Just as I come to the conclusion that if ever I thought parenting my own children was a thankless task, step-parenting takes the proverbial biscuit – I organise one of their birthday parties at go-karting with take-away pizza for 4 friends, I cook them two different lunches, to their differing tastes and I wash and iron their school shirts ready for tomorrow – ‘cos that’s exactly what parents do. Whether it’s step, biological, foster or adopted – we just do like a tacky mug – Keep Calm and Carry On…. While pouring myself a tinned, M&S G&T and having a bit of a cr-ant (that’s a crying rant) to Mr OG!
And, that “thank you” with a wry smile in exchange for a tin of tomato soup and part baked baguette, will make it all ok again!
… See, there I go again, I can’t help but give, even myself, a touch of hope at the end!