Adulthood is full of times where you realize things didn’t turn out the way you thought they would. Some of those are good and some are disappointing.
Step-parenting is full of those kinds of moments and most of them are the disappointing kind. I’ve grown lots of alligator skin over the years and have lowered my expectations several times.
When I got married, I envisioned a happy family. I imagined creating an environment where we taught the kids values and morals, respect and selflessness. That vision has slowly whittled away to dreading coming home on days they’re with us, using deep yoga breaths to extend patience with rude selfish behavior and hoping that maybe if they witness a healthy marriage and people communicating with respect it will somehow make its way deep into their subconscious and be available to them in adulthood.
Like the ocean carrying sand from the shore, the disappointments have slowly undermined my spirit.
Last night at dinner with a friend, I joked that if my marriage and sanity survives the next few years I will consider this a success.
And then I realized sadly, that I wasn’t kidding.
After being in my stepchildrens’ lives for over six years I am seriously entertaining the idea of quitting step-parenting. You can quit that right? I mean good step-parenting is a choice, not a vocation. All the hugs, tears wiped away, shoulders cried on, meals cooked, laundry cleaned and folded, hours spent driving them around (including hundreds of miserable school pick-up hours) that I’ve done have apparently put me no closer to their hearts than six and a half years ago when I met the wonderful man I married. I chose to do all of those things because I love them. But they’ll never love me back. Especially because loving me back would hurt their birth mom.
Its odd, once you develop the alligator skin and learn to know what to expect, you think you’re safe. But, like I’ve recently come to realize, even the toughest gator skin has weak spots. And it’s surprising! I’ve been cruising along, head held high, thinking I’ve got this pretty well figured out.
So, now that it looks nothing like what I thought it would, I find myself questioning my choices……continue to lower my expectations? Or quit?