I am far from an ideal step-parent. I have days where I need a bit of time to decompress before facing my co-parenting duties and days where I forget what it was like to be five or eight and how everything is so big in the minute – I can be short or impatient on those days and I always end up feeling like a big jerk. There are other days though, like today, where everything goes smoothly – I am able to celebrate things (the minions set the table tonight for dinner without being asked! Minion 2 learned to tie his shoes!) and be really happy and content with my family.
Tonight, while Minion 2 was demonstrating his mastery of shoelaces, Minion 1 pointed out a big hole in the side of his own shoe that exposed his sock. As in most parts of the country, it’s going to be really cold here tonight (and it was cold this morning). I was upset that he was sent to school in shoes that don’t even cover his feet. I was upset that this has become such a regular occurrence in our house that when I mentioned it to The Boyfriend, he hardly reacted at all. And so, I reacted. (A bit of a backstory – I have only met The Boyfriend’s ex-wife once, when she was prodded by a friend, high school style, into introducing herself to me at an event.) For the first time ever, instead of suggesting to The Boyfriend that he should talk to her or telling the minions that I wished their mother would dress them better, I reached out. Directly to her. She has not always been the most reasonable – she has a tendency to lash out when she doesn’t get her way (c.f. Christmas morning when The Boyfriend didn’t acquiesce to her unreasonable demands, she called names and demanded that the minions wait outside in the cold for her to come pick them up so that she didn’t have to wait for them to put on their coats), and I generally try to just stay in the background and out of her way.
Tonight, I penned an email explaining why it upsets me that Minion 1 was wearing swiss cheese shoes and Minion 2 was wearing pants that are four inches too short for him (I do admit that he has hit a growth spurt, but not four inches!). I’m not sure what type of response I’ll get back, if any, but tonight, I feel a bit better for reaching out, opening a channel of communication, for my boys and for my family. Frankly, I’m a little scared about her hostility (and a little curious – oh to be a fly on that Facebook wall!) but I’m happy that I finally had the courage to reach out to her instead of quietly folding the too-short pants into the donate bin and quietly fuming to The Boyfriend about the holy (not in that way!) shoes. Maybe I am a better stepparent than I thought.