Ask any divorced parent, of any holiday you have to calculate “is it my year or their year”, there is at the very least the reassurance you get the kid(s) every year on Mother’s Day (if you’re a mom) or Father’s Day (if you’re a dad). Throw in the blended family and it’s a whole new ball game. That particular holiday now becomes a crap shoot. Is the ex willing to share the holiday? Do the kids want to split it? The latter is something you need to wait on. No question. If your kids don’t approach you for sharing that time then you just have to deal with it. Similar to what they call you (as a step-parent), that decision has to come from them.
So let’s assume they do. I am both grateful and not surprised all the kids in our blended home asked early on for sharing the holiday. We have an awesome lil tribe and we’ve always been close! But the fact my hubby and I both brought kiddos means it was a question for both sides. Thankfully my ex was able to put the kids first and agreed to share Father’s Day weekend. We’ve done this for years and the kids love it. Unfortunately it is not so great on the other side. Any requests from kids or my husband have been met with a resounding no. And we’ve dealt with it. They are always sure to go over the top to celebrate before they have to leave — and it always leaves me with happy tears, so grateful for these amazing human beings I get to be a mom too!
While it does hurt to have the actual day come and only half my kids are home, the fact they make such an effort to celebrate beforehand helps to soften that pain. However, given the fact that days tend to bleed all together during quarantine/shelter in place, I’d forgotten Mother’s Day was this weekend. The boys are due to come home on Tuesday and stay through Monday. “I wish we could stay with you this weekend.” (This was oldest step-son). “You are with us kiddo!” (Hubby and I respond). “No — it’s Mother’s Day.” (Oldest). Oh.
Hubby tried again to reach out about sharing. No dice. Of course. Kiddos said they were going to try and ask too. I reassured them it was going to be fine — we would celebrate regardless of the day. I kept telling myself I should be grateful they still wanted to share the weekend. But my heart still sank. It sank because regardless of years of asking, their voices were disregarded. It sank because an adult in their life was unwilling to put their best interest first. And it sank because there is nothing I can do about it.
“It’s a long-game hon.” My husband tried to cheer me up. “One day it will be up to them and they can choose no matter what.” I know that. The sad thing is that they will have to choose. At least one adult in their life created an environment where they would have to. I hate the conflict for them. I hate knowing they know they have to wait to have what they want in regards to where they want to be. I hate that their bio mom is unable to strive for a working relationship with us for their sake.
These are things I have to deal with. And I do. So why am I sharing here? Partly, it’s cathartic to write out how I feel. And partly I want to give other step-parents the knowledge they aren’t alone. That awful platitude “this too shall pass” really is true. Someday our kids will be old enough to have their choices respected. Someday this won’t be an issue. You aren’t alone. And if you’re reading this and you aren’t a step-parent, or maybe just divorced but no bonus kids or your partner has the bonus kids — remember this! Love is not a finite thing you run out of. And if your kids are lucky enough to have another parent in their life to show them love, that’s awesome! In no way does it diminish your role or status in their life. Honestly you’re the only one in charge of how they see or relate to you. Love them and treat them with respect and that relationship will flourish! Treat them like objects you possess, and eventually you will have to deal with that fallout.
So ultimately, I would like to wish EVERY mom a happy Mother’s Day! Whether you are an adoptive, foster, step, bio, or surrogate mom — you matter to your kiddos!! And no matter what day you celebrate, hold those kiddos tight and show them all the love you have! Being a mother is far more than a single day. It’s every time you listen as they’re upset, every time you talk through those hard moments, every scraped knee you kiss and bandage, every jump with them on the trampoline, every endless question you answer no matter how tired you are of answering questions! And if you do get a break — don’t be sad they are away — pour a glass of wine and celebrate the time to relax and breathe for a moment!