I’m dreading coming face to face with you. With Christmas around the corner, I know we will have multiple opportunities to see each other. To talk. But I’m scared of what I will say. I’m scared I won’t be nice.
This past year, I’ve gotten to know your daughter. She came into our home, tentative and scared. We didn’t have anything spectacular going on, but maybe that’s what she craved. Just a normal, everyday kind of life. Safe from your roller coaster world.
There are so many things I’d like to say to you.
Why couldn’t you get it together for her? She needed a mother who could be there for her. She needed a mother who could hold her hand through teenage fears and boy troubles.
Why haven’t you come to see her? Months have gone by and I’ve watched as her longing to see you has faded away to numbness. Characterized by the typical teenage shrug.
Why have you broken your promises? Your daughter’s room bears the testimony of your broken promises. We’d agreed to split up her room décor wish list for her birthday, and you never bought your share. From June.
Why did you lie to her? You told us all that you were leaving yet another bad relationship, but you lied. She was the last to find out, because you knew it would hurt her.
I am the one who sits here with her. I see her struggles and her pain. She is an excellent student and makes friends easily. But just below the surface, there’s a crack, forged deep by her broken relationship with you. It’s filled with insecurity, magnified by teenhood.
I wish I could reach inside of her and take away her pain. I see how it plagues her, makes her second guess her value. Is she not smart enough? Do her friends really like her? Was it her fault that she didn’t get along with you?
I want to tell her that it wasn’t her fault. She’s just a child and these issues are yours alone. That there is no fundamental flaw in her person that has caused you to act this way.
But I can’t. It’s not my place. And she loves you so much that it would only hurt her more.
I just listen. I am here for her. You see, I understand her better than anyone. Maybe even better than you.
I remember what it was like having a mother who loved me and hurt me. The whirlwind of her manic episodes: shopping and fun trips. The loneliness of her depressions as she pulled away from me.
I remember the crack. I had it too. It has taken many years to heal, and the scar is still tender to touch.
I feared I wasn’t enough for my mother. That I wasn’t enough to keep her around. Those fears spread throughout every area of my life. Because if my own mother couldn’t love me, would anyone ever love me? Will I ever be good enough?
But you know just as well as I do. I won’t say a thing. Our eyes will meet and we will both know, but no truth will pass between us.
I will try to be understanding of your choices. I know that you have your own reasons and your own hurts.
I am going to be true to the giving spirit of the holidays, and put on a smile. I am going to be grateful that you allowed us to shelter her from you in our home.
I will be the best stepmother that I can be. I will try to bridge the gap between truth and graciousness. I will try to fill her heart with as much love as I can give. I will lift her up and teach her to be strong. So, when she is ready to face you, she will know what to say.
About the author: Sane Mama is short for “Barely Sane” Mama, “Wish I Were Saner” Mama, and “I’m Running Away Until I Find Sanity” Mama. Follow her as she attempts to fight the impending chaos of parenting, stepparrenting, wifing, working and otherwise juggling at TheSanityPlan.com, @TheSanityPlan on Twitter, and @TheSanityPlan on Facebook.