I think maybe the worst part of being a step-parent, with no biological kids of my own, is my delusion that I have a blood-bond with a child that leaves no doubt that this is a false impression.
I don’t bother making the “step-kid” distinction very often (usually only when someone looks puzzled as to how I managed to acquire a 13 year old daughter while appearing in my teens myself. I am, in fact, in my late 20’s and technically could be her mom…if I had pulled a Lorelai*). We’ve been told we look alike, share mannerisms, we have long lanky bodies and often finish each others sentences. Whether we are home or out and about, to me they are simply my son and daughter.
But to them, I am always their step-mom. As it should be.
Nothing could have prepared me for this season of my life. I read books (my favorite: Becoming a Step-Mother with Humor and Grace), had counseling, and read through support forums online (whatever you do, don’t read through the support forums online. They are horror stories.). But the reality of being completely invested in a child’s life, and having no real control of their day-to-day disciplines and routines, is a hard one to swallow. Don’t get me wrong, Travis wants my opinion and asks for it often, but the bottom line comes down to what he and their mother decide, and that is what we execute.
This week in particular, we’ve all grabbed hands and run head first into a brick wall called “the teenage years.” I feel like I’m on the ground with little birds circling my head.
But, there are also small victories. Moments where we bond over music or Duck Dynasty. Moments where we meet as a family and talk about values. There are ‘I Love You’s’ exchanged with no hesitation, and hugs given, and cuddling on the couch. I pack lunches and help with homework, tutor Algebra and look up video game cheat codes. I dig poop out of underwear when there are accidents, and I bring forgotten homework to their mom’s when it’s left at our house. I bandage scraped knees and offer perspective when kids at school are cruel. I pray for them everyday.
My kids call me Gilly, and I’m not even sure how it happened, but it stuck. And while I will never be their mom, no one else will ever be their Gilly.
That’s a good feeling.