I guess after my last rant about Veronica’s bus situation, some of you want to know “what happened?” Well, it won’t take me long to fill you in on the details. I met with some of the people from Veronica’s school this morning for our 504 meeting and needless to say the head of transportation was a no-show. The bus is now on a different route and I guess I have no reason to be upset anymore—at least that is what they tell me. (It’s not over…)
|Being a step-dad means you have to explain|
to your step-daughter that your cell phone is not a toy
Robby came with me to the meeting. It was the first time we have done the “parent meeting” together. It was nice to finally have someone on my side that I could trust. Robby is a special ed teacher, so he was a little nervous about being on the other side of the conference table. He did great.
It’s hard for me to let anyone help me. This ruckus at the school has been good for me. It has been a wake-up call for me. I realized that I tend to only let Robby be step-dad when I want him to help me. If the kids are acting crazy, then I have no problem telling Robby that he needs to calm them down. If I have a meeting or appointment, then I have no problem letting Robby take over and watch the children for me. But if I have a 504 meeting at the school, then I ask Robby not to show up so I can handle things on my own. It was wrong—I was wrong.
Being with me gives Robby a chance to be a dad and I love that for him. But I haven’t really let him take on that role completely. Robby is always very clear with the children that he is not their dad and that he is not trying to replace their dad. He is something different. But “something different” is sometimes hard to define.
|Sometimes being a step-dad means you have |
to be frustrated with the fact that step-daughter
doesn't listen very well
I don’t like to let people help me because it has always gone badly in the past. The times I have asked my ex-husband to go with me to meetings went badly—he would start yelling at people and negotiations would halt immediately. I was always left alone at the end to try to mend broken fences. My parents weren’t much better. They would never yell, but they would be so passive that I felt like I was being betrayed when they showed up to “support” me.
So when Robby said he was coming to the 504 meeting, my first response was “why?” I couldn’t figure out what his angle would be. It’s probably because he didn’t have an angle. He was just worried about me and Veronica and he knew he could help. I mean, this is what he does for a living. I should see him as an asset, not a potential enemy.
I realized that I was just flipping a switch on Robby from “help me” to “back off.” It was wrong and I apologized to him. He has a real chance to be a dad and I have been yanking that opportunity away from him every time I wanted to control the situation.
|Being a step-dad can also mean that you have to splurge|
a little to let step-children have the chance to feed a giraffe
Trust, control, love, happiness, etc.—they are all connected. You need one to have the other. When you lose one, you feel the need to control the others. It’s not that I can’t control these things anymore—it’s that I don’t want to control these things anymore.
I realized today that my past relationships have been physically exhausting. Trying to love someone who doesn’t love you back is exhausting. Trying to control a person who doesn’t care about you is exhausting. Trying to be happy around a person who is miserable is exhausting.
|Sometimes step-dads have to let step-daughters laugh |
at them for being scared of snakes
Four little words—“You don’t exhaust me.” Is that it? It sounds so simple, but yet its meaning is so powerful. And it’s so true. I used to feel like my shoes were made out of lead weights and that I needed to just close my eyes and rest for a minute. I felt like I had been walking for miles and miles and I was carrying a dense backpack. But I wasn’t. I was just carrying everyone else’s crap. I was tired of trying to make miserable happy. I was tired of trying to keep my head above water. I was tired of being the responsible one and paying bills on time and balancing the checkbook on my own. I was tired of being broke all the time. I was tired of cooking, cleaning, and being responsible for the children every minute of the day. I was tired—really, really tired.
In 1998, my ex and I moved to Fairbanks, Alaska with the Army. During the winter, it would get down to -40 or -60 degrees. One winter, I was working as a substitute teacher at the schools on post. We shared one Jeep. My ex was supposed to pick me up from work, but he forgot. I had to walk home in -45 degree weather.
I had to walk a little over 2 miles which is not much for me, but after a mile of walking in knee deep snow, I began to get really tired. I remember looking at the thick piles of snow on the side of the road and thinking that I would just lie down for a bit and get some sleep. I began to slap myself in the face to keep myself awake. I knew that if I ever gave into my body’s desires, then I would fall asleep in the snow and never wake up again. I made it home and collapsed on the couch and cried myself to sleep.
|Step-dads must also recognize the fact that|
step-sons look pretty cool in their sunglasses
That kind of exhaustion is the same exhaustion that I have felt for years. I realized today that it is gone. My back doesn’t ache from carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders any more. I have energy to keep up with school, my children, and Robby. I even have time for myself now.
I pray I will continue to allow myself to let Robby help me. I need his help. I want his help. And most importantly, I don’t feel guilty when I accept his help. He has lifted a weight I have been carrying for too long. I can finally lie down in the snow and let myself relax and know that I will wake up and everything will still be okay.