>Oh, just ignore me. Right, you already did that.

4 Oct

>Yeah, my blog is about the mostly funny side of starting a new life, in a new country, with a new language, and a new family. I also like to talk about food. This morning however I must focus on one particular topic that is ever-present: my new quasi stepmother status.

To be blunt, it’s quite shocking even still to wake up some days and realize that I have responsibilities involving children. Two of them. Under the age of 8. I confess to daydreams of an apartment that had been listed as ‘great for one person or a couple without children’. I confess also to longing for a sofa that is free of cookie crumbs, a toilet seat that is always down when I get to it, and just. plain. silence.

Now, there is no way that I’d rather be anyplace else – in general. But at times, yes, I would like to be teleported away. I’m sure The Pirate feels the same way as he’s got a lot on his plate as well. But, I do protest that he’s had a few years to practice getting used to this. Pas moi. I’ve been feeling …well…it’s hard to say really as I’ve been feeling many things, but mostly frustrated, so I turned to the all knowing interweb to see if I could find anything interesting to read about being a stepmom who hasn’t had any previous experience with children. I did find LOTS of information. There seem to be a few general types of sites offering information about stepmother-hood. I find them to be in one of the following creepy categories:

a. Way too positive and chirpy and hopeful for me to even begin to relate to. I think these people are not really stepmoms, but rather friends of stepmoms giving the kind of advice only non stepmoms can give, ala ‘oooohhhh, it’s not so bad..be happy and set a great example!. Okay lady. Spend an afternoon trying to convince a five year old that you don’t have the snacks he wants in the house – in French – which you don’t speak very well, while he cries on the floor for his mother, and then tell me that again.

b. Just a plain bitch session, and mostly about the mother of the child or children. I just can’t get into that. My stress points are my own and they have nothing to do with the mother of my stepkids. Thankfully the relationship with her is good. I really don’t believe bitching about the mother makes anything easier for anyone, and really believe it’s a harmful thing to do to the children and the ex husband.

The one thing I haven’t found yet – and I’m hopeful – is information about how to deal with the normal stresses of being a new stepmom while you are also learning the kids language. Because for me, it comes down to being ignored and I detest that.

In general, it’s easier for a lot of people to keep limited conversation with me, or to not try to talk with me. I understand this: I can only get so far in conversation in French, and if you can only get so far in English, well, there you have it. Entirely understandable. The same goes for the kids. Pile on top of that the fact that I’m still a relatively new arrival on the scene that is their everyday life, the fact that I’m not their mom, and the fact that they are human and just simply don’t want another adult around who has the authority to tell them what to do, and well….yeah…the amount of ignoring that happens is large. I mean really, they literally just….watch me talk, and then walk away. Or don’t even turn their heads when I speak, or act as if The Pirate is the only one in the room.

It’s easier for them. I get it. But you know what? It really sucks.
What I realized just recently in an ‘aha’ moment that left me pretty bummed for the remainder of the afternoon is this: No matter what I do, no matter how fluent in French I become, no matter how much time, energy, and emotion I put into this situation, I will never reap the benefits of being the person these kids turn to for much of anything except a snack. No. It will always be a parent. I will never be the first person they think of when they panic, I won’t be an automatic consideration for parent teacher day or anything like that. I’ll always be just one step outside.
It’s normal. It’s par for the course. They have parents. I have no desire to replace or better any parent. It’s strictly a matter of realizing, wow, I’m doing all the things parents do, the shopping, the driving to sports, the feeding, the coddling, the book reading, I’ll do it all, because any other way just isn’t natural to me, I’m not going to hold back…but in spite of these clearly parental actions, I’ll always be, as they say in baseball, juuuuuust a bit outside.

I must confess, it’s …well…it’s a bummer. Like I said, it won’t change what I do, but it sure changes how I feel. I have moments of spitefulness: ‘I’m just a babysitter, and for what?’.
So, the question to ask is, what am I going to do about it? Well, I’m enrolling in French school for non French speakers for one thing. Learning on my own simply isn’t cutting it. I look forward to being able to understand more and talk back more, both in good situations and bad. That should help tremendously, but it will take time. I’m going to read more from other stepmoms so I don’t feel so isolated and/or crazy in this situation. I’m going to ask my cousins who have raised amazing boys what I should expect, because I realize that a lot of behavior is simply ‘kids’ and not necessarily ‘step kids’, but how would I know the difference?
Lastly, The Pirate. The coolest guy I know. What to do with him when it comes to all this? To be honest I’m not sure. I think two kids, and having to help me with many things since I’m French deficient, well it’s already a lot. That being said, there may be some things we can go over, things that may need to be adjusted now that he has a slightly different type of family. For me it’s scary ground to walk on. I mean, if I know nothing, who am I to tell him how things should go?

I’m just going to put on some Bob Marley now, ‘Please, don’t you rock ….my boat….” Hahahaa…



2 Responses to “>Oh, just ignore me. Right, you already did that.”

  1. the Crawdaddy October 13, 2009 at 11:18 #

    >Being a kid from a multi-generational divorced family, I do have to say I enjoyed reading this story. Granted, I've never been the adult in this kind of relationship, but it sounds like you're going at it the right way. It's a much easier on the kids if all sets of parents don't view it as a competition and treat each other with the same courtesy and respect as you have displayed here.It's helpful if the kids are on board, but as my mom says "everyone comes around eventually"

  2. aha moments October 9, 2009 at 04:23 #

    >Really having a blast reading this blog! Thanks for sharing. What an unbelievable experience you are going through …."Family" can mean so many different things (I'm sure you would agree!). And nothing quite gets to me like family stories. I guess that's why the ones linked below are some of my favorites.I think you might find them really inspiring, I know I do. Hope you like 'em.Have a good night.http://www.ahamoment.com/pg/voting?moment=lkbdk

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