Wednesday, September 5, 2007
parts of me
I was checking out my "friends" on facebook who have recently updated their profiles and looked at some pictures of a girl who was in the Broadcast Journalism program with me at BYU. I didn't know her well because she was a year or so behind me in the program, but being the wonder that facebook is, I am able to keep tabs on her life, and I know that she recently got married. This is her second marriage, and she has a little girl (I think she's about 6) from the first. One of her pictures showed her, her husband, and her daughter. As I looked at this picture, I thought about how strange being a "step" is. How unusual it is for those in my age range, and the Mormon culture especially, to be in this situation. And I had a little insight as to how strange my life must look. My friend's husband became a step-parent to one child. I am a step-parent to three! What the hell am I doing?!
As we've made this transition to being just the two of us again, the strangeness of our situation has seemed more acute to me. During the summer, I was "Mummy" and did all the things any mom does for her children. It became my life. And as we all got used to each other and our roles in the family, it became quite natural and normal. But in the back of mind, I knew the summer would end, and the feeling of "playing house" never quite left me.
So now here I am back in North Carolina, kidless once more and trying to sort out some complicated feelings. One would think that I'd be grateful to be without them and have time alone with Jared again. And part of me is grateful for that. I am grateful for this time to be "newlyweds" again. To be able to go wherever we want, whenever we want, and do whatever we want, whenever we want. Another part of me misses the kids for the kids' sake. I miss talking to them and playing with them and hearing their stories and getting hugs and kisses.
And there is this part of me that misses simplicity. For some reason, being away from the children, makes me feel the complications of this situation much more. When I'm with them all the time, it seems simpler. I am a parent. But now that we are away, it's harder to feel that connection. I'm not parenting them on a day to day basis. I don't get to sing to them and laugh with them and teach them. Instead, I find myself wishing things could be different. And realizing that without them here, it's easy to wish that Jared hadn't come with three children. It's easy to wish that only my children were his children. That life was simpler. How strange it is that my first child will be his fourth! Just as Olivia wishes her parents weren't divorced, even though she really knows they are both happier now, I wish they had never been married, even though it's silly to dwell on wanting to change the past.
These thoughts are only part of me, however. And I accept them for what they are. I don't imagine anyone in my situation wouldn't have them from time to time. These are all things I thought long and hard about before we got engaged. I knew it wouldn't be easy. I have accepted the difficulty of all this because I love Jared more than I could ever express. I love who I am with him and what he teaches me and our conversations and the great fun we have together. I honestly can't imagine how our relationship could be better. Neither of us is perfect, but we each are helping the other to become more so. Life is complicated and hard and Jared's life has been harder than many. So while our situation may be complicated and difficult, our relationship is neither of those things. From the very beginning it has been easy and natural. I love him very much. And I love his children. I didn't give birth to them, but I feel so privileged to have a hand in raising them. To be another mother to them. At the end of the day, the only things that really matter are that they feel loved and know we want them to become good people, and that we figure out the best way to help them do that.
I suppose I will always feel those twinges of "if only this or that was different", but who doesn't feel that about something in their life? Life is about making the most of what we are given. I have been given so much--most importantly, I have been given love. Love from parents and family. Love from friends. Love from an adoring husband. And love from three little children. I am excited for what's to come.