When we were first married after four whole months of dating, the children were thrown into a whole new world. Suddenly both sets of children (the two older were originally his at 12 and 16) and the two younger (5 and 8) were originally mine were in one household, in one state, with one new parent, and completely in one new state of shock. As a Southern mom from a conservative Christian background, beginning a third marriage ….I desperately just wanted to put on the mask of “normal”. To somehow sweep my battle scars, painful experiences and past under the rug and pretend it never happened. I dreamed of becoming one of the women I knew who not only looked polished, peaceful, and had a countenance that was so richly quiet, I begged God to let me be one of those girls daily….which would be in fact proof that miracles are for today. At that time, I was aware that they had been married approximately 60 years to ONE man and I hadn’t made it past 1o years yet with two batters striking out at the plate already…. Those ladies did not come with the lengthy pedigree or legal file like mine, when they opened their wedding pictures, it contained one bride and ONE groom…not THREE books with three different grooms. My pedigree was somewhat different than theirs ….divorced after an elaborate church wedding in the church your grandfather helped build, coming home single with two precious children on your own after a decade long catastrophe of a second marriage, and in our community, heaven help you if you divorced a second time. It was considered in truly bad taste to show your face at that point during daylight hours in town, it would be appropriate to sit in the small church balcony with the other social misfits in shame, and it was truly in poor taste to marry a third time. Having a desire to be the best as something, apparently my claim to fame would be to be awarded the most embarassing part of our family. The black sheep so to speak….and I not only was that sheep, but I wore bling and a loud bell….no quietness to me. There was a joke as old as the oak trees in my antebellum town,about a girl having to go out of town, out of the county, or out of state to find a husband….depending on just how far she had to go to overcome her reputation and here I was remarried to a boy from Oklahoma 400 miles away and found on the internet no less. I simply wanted to “get my act of together” down pat and maybe no one would notice that we weren’t all original parts of one family. The campaign began, we had coordinating clothes, same styles of clothes, and fresh coordinated haircuts, I even highlighted my hair with the colors my new children had in theirs to try to match…..In case you don’t know, children and step children really appreciate NOT having their wardrobe choices laid out for them from ooh, say 5 years of age on….nor do they like to look matchy matchy in a new blended family…..never fear, I was so in my own world, I never noticed….and truly thought I was being family building…kinda like buying “instant family” blocks that would go towards quickly building a true family.
This was simply the time of being busy creating my newest mask, the mask of “my children are original, mine, and we’re not different as a family…..really” I simply hated the word step at that time. To me Step implied that I really didn’t love them, or they were less…or I was less. Somehow it was really okay for me to say, they were my husband’s originally (totally ignoring the fact that they did have a mother somewhere….never intending to, just unaware of the consequences at that point) and saying something like “yes, these are my children, I married them and they were the answers to prayer for more children” Now doesn’t that sound holy? Self building? I could almost see people putting the halo over my head and perhaps changing their perception of my wickedness and my past failures….”She’s really come around” I could imagine they’d say. Step mother was somewhat akin to wicked creatures, witches, and ugly in people’s minds..or at least my own, so overcoming how to explain the answer of two older children suddenly showing up in my life immediately became an issue for my silly self. After all, they didn’t have the advantage of being young and overly rambunctious…they were older, a little awkward at teen years, and definately in a new environment from the city they had come from, with different rules, different economics, different schools, and a Waaaaaay different new step mother in their lives.
Meanwhile my step children had an immediate issue with being known as “my children” they had a mother, they loved her and she was quite real and she was not me. Spending so much more time worrying about appearances than realities at that stage of our blended family…..I simply didn’t notice there was an issue….until one day one of my step children identified me quite loudly at a church social to one of the Lollies(a lady over 70 at the church)…”No, She is absolutely NOT my mother, She is only my father’s wife, she’s some woman my dad found on the internet and managed to be stupid enough to marry….I think he did it to get me free Mary Kay, she certainly can’t do anything else right….she can’t even find clean socks for me to wear“
ding ding ding ding My very first comprehension that perhaps I had taken the children into my heart and world, but they most certainly had not returned the favor at this time…..and damage control department was closed for the season….we rode home in silence….1/2 my little country Southern church had heard the statements and in the country, where there is no internet connections or cell phones that work, the best source for gossip is a good ear at a country church gathering….and my cover had just been blown, the lightening fast community gossip line had a new lead topic, I’d done it again….I .was.not.together….lol…as if they had ever thought I was…after all they’d known me all my life…and in case you’re new to reading…..I live life out loud….whether or not I try….and ready or not, I had alot of new things to deal with …..and very few of them I knew anything about how to handle! (to be continued)
God is good…and thankfully, He forgive me daily, hourly, and loves me despite me.