You know when you wake up in the middle of the night and realize something you've never taken the time to realize before? That happened to me last night. I sat up in bed at about 2:30 AM and had an epiphany.
What I realized was, I spend a whole lot of time doing this one thing as a stepmom, and when I think I'll be done with it, it just starts back up again. It's not laundry (though that has its moments). It's not cooking. It's not a household chore of any kind.
Waiting and waiting and waiting. Then waiting some more.
Of course, everyone is always waiting on something. I mean, that's just life. But as a stepmother, the things that are at the top of my wait list have changed dramatically. As a single gal, my waiting list was something like this:
1. Wake up and wait for Taco Bell to open
2. Get back from Taco Bell and wait for hangover to go away
3. Wait for Friday night so I can drink all weekend.
4. Wait for graduation so I can get a big girl job and make money.
5. Wait for the 15th of the month so I can get paid from my big girl job and spend my money. Probably on Taco Bell.
6. Wait to meet Mr. Right.
7. Wait to get married to Mr. Right.
8. Get married to Mr. Right and wait for the rest of our lives.
It was all so easy, the waiting. There was no real stress in my life to speak of before getting married and starting my life as a stepmother. But then came the marriage, and subsequently, the role of my lifetime. I'm not complaining, I promise. But a little introspection never hurt anybody.
After a year or two as a stepmom, my wait list changed in ways I never would have experienced. Instead of worrying about hangovers to go away, I was waiting on a completely different set of circumstances. My waits changed to this:
1. Wait for kids to fully accept me
2. Wait for Mama Ex to accept me, even a little bit
3. Wait for child support payments to be easier
4. Wait for mediation dates
5. Wait for court dates
6. Wait for the Xanax to kick in during the court dates
7. Wait for court decision
8. Wait for completely messed up court decision to sink in
9. Wait for money to show up in bank account to pay for crappy court decision
10. Wait for the day we can forget court ever happened
11. Wait for kids to appreciate what we do for them
12. Wait for Mama Ex to appreciate what we do for HER
13. Wait to be recognized, just once, for being a good stepmom
14. Wait for Mama Ex to get divorced
15. Wait for Mama Ex to stop dating a guy the kids hate
16. Wait for Mama Ex to introduce us to her new boyfriend of three weeks that has moved in with my stepdaughters
17. Wait for school to end
18. Wait for vacation to start
19. Wait for school to start
20. Wait for the day the kids don't expect everything great in life to originate at our house.
21. Wait for the day that this all gets easier
#21 is my biggest wait. And what I realized lying in bed last night, was this. It's not going to get easier. Not ever. As I've said many times before, I'm in this for the long haul. My stresses and waits aren't going to go away when these kids turn 18. And my #1 wait? The one where I wait for the kids and Mama Ex to fully accept me? They might never, ever happen.
I think when I became a stepmom, I just assumed everything would fall into place like the damn Brady Bunch. But that isn't reality for me, or anyone else. Mike and Carol Brady never had to deal with their past spouses (where were they, anyway?). I'd like to see a real episode, where Mike's ex-wife lies and tells the kids that Mike isn't paying child support and that's why she can't afford cable. I'd like to see the kids be confused about who they can truly talk to, because they feel like no matter what, they're hurting one of their parents.
My waits are just going to get longer and harder as the years pass. Soon it will be waiting to see if my oldest stepdaughter takes our advice and tries to start a career, or takes her mother's advice and goes the route of "get married and let the guy take care of you."
There's no way of knowing. There's no way of seeing. I have to just accept that whatever happens what happens, and waiting around for it all to work out perfectly, tied up in a big red bow is an exercise in futility.
And as for that Brady Bunch episode that shows life with a real blended family?
I'm still waiting...