I dropped Quinn off at her sitter’s this morning as I always do. It was a beautiful ride in this morning. The sun was bright and the clouds were fantastic. When I stepped in the house with Quinn I saw one of Asher’s t-ball teammates who isn’t always at the sitter’s.
With a big smile, making her dimples more pronounced, she said, “How come Asher didn’t come?!” Before the words even met my lips, I knew her response would reflect her confusion. “He’s at his Mom’s today.” She scrunched up her face as if to say, “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout Willis?!” But instead said, “But you’re his Mom!”
And there it was. I’ve been in this position so many times before. It’s not unusual for people to think I’m Asher’s biological Mother. His father and I are at every school event and sporting event. Winter, spring, summer, fall. We are there. We are friends with the other parents, we communicate with his teachers, and all the kids know who we are. We are involved. I don’t know why it felt so awkward as I stumbled to find an explanation for a six year old. I simply could have said, “No. I’m not his Mom”. But that’s not the case, either. I’m not the Mom, but I am a Mom. And though I’ve said it thousands of times, I’m not trying replace his Mom, there is always a guilt associated with the thought of denying him as my own.
As I drove to work after leaving the sitter’s, the awkwardness passed and I was flooded with feelings of happiness and pride. I’m doing it right. Whatever it is. Nothing matters other than doing what is right for our kids and our family. The fact that I don’t stick out like a sore thumb as a “Step Mom” means I 100% care for Asher as my own. I treat him no differently than I would had I birthed him. I don’t need validation from the dozens of people who regulaly mistake me as his birth mother, but it is a nice pat on the back and reminder that I’m doing okay.
Asher yearns for the approval of his Mother. So, he clings to any miniscule glimpse of an effort on her part. It can feel defeating to care and do so much, only to be pushed aside and have efforts go unrecognized while someone who is hardly involved gets all the praise. But then I remember he’s seven years old. And I’m not doing all that I do for myself or for recognition. I’m doing it for him. Amd though he may not appreciate it now, one day he will.
Having the time to reflect today made me realize that as much as it feels like we’re screwing the whole parenting thing up- we are actually doing a really great job at making a family and loving home for our children.
We spend so much time building our kids up that we sometimes forget we could use a little lift ourselves. Just keep chugging, parents. You have got this.