It is not easy becoming a stepmother--there are so many hurdles to overcome, especially since in divorce, time is relative. I married Belle's father not too long after the divorce from her mother was final. It was a situation because of illness, finances and a somewhat slow execution that the divorce was not final until two and half years after it was asked for. Such is life, I have found. If anything, our experience has taught me not to be judgmental.
My stepdaughter had a hard time with my arrival in her life. Because her dad and I were over 100 miles apart and she was being raised by her mother in another town, we did not meet until I moved in. Naturally, she was distant. Children hang on to the idea that mom and dad are going to get back together and can put off their grieving until someone eventually says, "I do." Such was the case for us. There were tears after the judge pronounced us man and wife. I didn't take offense, it was only natural, because the dream was over. Mom and dad didn't yell at each other, so in her mind, they were still viable.
For a while, every time she would come to visit--about once a month--she'd come in looking like she had come to a funeral. That was not easy on anyone, and there was a bit of acting out with her new (and admittedly, annoying) stepbrother.
Then there came Christmas Eve.
Her dad--an emotional pragmatist and admittedly, a man not given to magic--became exasperated when she started crying uncontrollably over her Elves. Now I knew she was into Elf on the Shelf, and had asked her father if I should do something with them here at the old homestead. He said, "No, that's kinda their thing." Huh. Well... that didn't seem to work, because it would be Christmas and she would be expecting the elves to leap into action.
He lost it when she started bawling when her stepbrother touched them. She was, after all, showing them to him in person. She had thrown something at her brother, and that wasn't cool. Red Bird read the riot act to her, told her they were not real, and they were certainly no reason to be mean. I was cringing inside. Pop didn't get it. It was real to her, and after all, she was only ten. He went outside to have a talk with the ex and explain that it wasn't right that she kept hitting her stepbrother--that's not how they had raised her. After all, mom was an intervention counselor at a local school: quieting trouble is what she does, and no one has ever faulted her parenting.
That night, when all was quiet, I got up and did things with the elves. The really did a number in the dining room where the presents were, tping the room 'n' all, hanging from the chandeliers. Also, reindeer elf pooped Hershey's kisses on the table. Poop poop poop.
One day, she'll realize that it was me, but it certainly doesn't matter now. And I didn't only do it for her; I did it for her mother, too, who couldn't be there to make the magic happen. I do all I can to make things good for all of us; I bear her no ill will, I just--like most step parents--wish we could see her more, but my husband's brutal work schedule as a manager just doesn't allow for it. Not yet. Our first married summer will soon be upon us, and I hope that our year will be inundated with events and the beauty of having our world rocked by his child's happy presence.
Meanwhile, we have Christmas, and we have being asked to sit in the back seat of the car on the way home. It's all good, peeps.