My ex and I have very open lines of communication. We often phone one another just to discuss something that happened in our daughter’s day or share funny anecdotes. We share information, and call one another for help. He calls me with work related questions (we work in the same industry), and I call him for directions when I’m in Toronto.
People who know us both, often say “please say hello” because they know we are friends.
This blog is to prove that no matter how good your communication is, sometimes signals get mixed.
I got a text from Keith today. It said “What type of fish did Rebecca have in the past?”
I responded. “She has had tilapia, salmon and sole, I think.”
Then I got this text: “I’m at the pet store”
The word mother is so much more than it’s dictionary definition (one’s female parent).
Mother, or mom, is synonymous with love. It conjures images of young women holding tiny babies at their breast, children with scraped knees running for comfort in their mother’s arms, and sleepy-eyed children being tucked into bed with loving hugs and kisses.
Entire marketing campaigns are based around the mother/child relationship.
The word step-mother, on the other hand, comes with such imagery as young ladies locked in bell towers, children forced to clean, and women who would do anything to exact revenge on the little girls who compete for their husband’s heart... lovely.
I found out this week, that the french term for step-mother is belle-mere... beautiful mother. So much nicer than Step-mother.
I know some people have adopted the term bonus mother in order to get away from the negative connotations that go with step-mother. It’s better than step, but it’s no beautiful.
I would like to propose that we come up with a better term; something that will clear away all that negativity.
We are going to need something that really captures the essence of what a step mom is, so I was thinking, maybe... super mom? No. Too, well, super hero-ish. Same goes for Wondermom.
Extraordinary mom? Too long.
I’ve got it! Phemom... get it? as in Phenom (a person or thing of outstanding abilities or qualities).
I’ll get the t-shirts made up.
This morning, I had a little reminder of how our decisions affect our children’s lives.
We were having breakfast, Tom, Rebecca and I, and Rebecca didn’t want to finish her breakfast. Now, don’t think we were forcing her to eat something she didn’t like, not that that would be a first. No, we were having chocolate chip pancakes, as per her request.
So, when Tom told her she needed to eat what was on her plate, she looked at him and said “You’re not my dad”. The words that step parents assume they will hear one day, but always hope they won’t.
I was astonished. My immediate reaction was to be very stern. In my best mom voice, I said “Rebecca! Tom is your step dad, and that means he makes rules. He and I own this house together, and we make the rules, together.”
I could see the embarrassment on her face. I asked her to say sorry, and her hands went over her face.
That’s when I softened. I told her it was okay to cry and that she was probably feeling uncomfortable because she said something mean. I told her that she needed to take her hands away from her face so she could talk about it and asked her, once again, to apologize.
She wouldn’t budge, so Tom used an example. He said that if he were going to get ice cream, and Rebecca asked for some, he would never say “no, you’re not my daughter”.
That’s when the tears started. We knew she felt bad for what she had said, but sometimes sorry is such a difficult word to say. At our house though, sorry is a must... and it has to be said nicely.
We talked some more about being rude, and how emotions can make us say things we don’t really mean. She still wasn’t responding. So, I enforced the rule and told her that she had one minute to say sorry, and if she couldn’t do it then she could go to her room. Her pancake would be waiting for her when she came down.
Finally, her hands came away from her face (at the very last second). She said a very unconvincing “sorry” that wasn’t gonna cut it. So, she said it again. Although it wasn’t great, we accepted it.
Now, she just had to finish her breakfast. There was no argument, she just ate.
Afterwards, when we were away from the table, I asked if she needed a hug. She came to me and we talked. She told me she missed her dad, and we talked about how hard it is not to see him every day.
I always feel guilty during these conversations, and I know that my decisions have put her in this position, but I never let that dictate how we will deal with the situation. There are rules for a reason, and although it’s hard sometimes, structure is needed... perhaps even more so in a blended family.