(And yes, some of the thinking circles around how on earth I can figure out a way to watch 'Downton Abbey' without crying ever. single. episode.)
I've been thinking about my expectations in my career as a stepmom. In the world of normal careers (accountant, sales rep, , 6+ years experience in a position would be pretty great. I'd be at a point where I'd likely be experiencing the following:
- A substantial raise
- My own cell phone paid for by the company
- Praise for a job well done
- A bonus
- Additional vacation time
- Sick days
- Stock options
- Christmas parties with lots of booze
- A hot copy machine guy to stare at
- Impromptu "Let's get out of the office at 3:00 and never come back" days.
- No pay
- A cell phone that I pay for and use to try and communicate with my stepkkids. And generally get declined because Mama Ex hates that they want to talk to me.
- Some respect. None of which comes from Mama Ex.
- A little praise
- A lot of criticism - from Mama Ex, friends, strangers, etc.
- The never-ending feeling that I don't quite belong and probably never will.
- The privilege of acting as Chauffer
- And Cook
- And shoulder to cry on
- Hugs and kisses from my stepkids that are never full hugs and kisses. Those are reserved for Mama Ex.
I realize that all parents, not just steps, feel unappreciated some of the time. Maybe even all of the time. In fact, when I've made reference to the fact with friends or family that I do feel taken advantage of at times, it's often met with a chuckle and some version of the phrase "Well, join the club!" The problem is, as a stepmom, I CAN'T join the club. Even if I want to. My corporate card will never reach the gold level. I'll always be stuck at silver, or maybe even that ugly, tarnished bronze color. I'm like Eddie Murphy in "Trading Places", standing outside the restaurant window watching my colleagues live it up, knowing I don't belong.
As I write this, I realize how incredibly selfish I sound. Why should I expect that at some point I will receive anything just for being a parent-figure? As so many people love to say, "Hey Ruby, you signed up for this. You knew it was coming." At the end of the day, shouldn't I accept and understand that, though it's unacknowledged by Mama Ex, my stepkids or the world at large, I am playing a huge part in how these kids grow up. Shouldn't that be enough for me?
Apparently Wednesday is "Ruby Pity Party Day." But hey, we all need those, right?