Iím the newcomer. My partner, Deborah, has a
daughter. Callista is 12 and she lives half the week with her
other Mom, Jean, Deborahís ex. For now, I am not Callistaís step
and Iím not part of her family, as all agree Jean and Deborah
are her parents and Callista gets to say who is in her family.
I think itís possible that one day Callista will
see me as a step and a member of her family; Deborah and I have
been sweethearts for two years, and Iíve been living in the household
for a year, so itís early yet.
Iíve heard many people talk about how hard being
part of a step family is, no matter which is your role. For me
it is more accurate and helpful to take the perspective that itís
not ďhard,Ē thereís just a bit more pain floating around that
must be addressed.
I think my main challenge is to keep shoveling
away at my pain so I can come to the dinner table relaxed, knowing
I am cherished, ready to act like an adult! To me that means getting
enough emotional caring from Deborah and others at appropriate
times so I can sort out misery related to ways my family of origin
missed the boat for the children, including me.
Then I can sit down for dinner without a dark
cloud over my head, eager for what Callista has to relate about
her day, with plenty of attention to make sure this family doesnít
miss the boat for the children. I also try hard to provide perspective
for Deborah: though itís miserable sometimes to have a partner
and child both clamoring for her attention and to feel like she
has to pick or canít please anyone regardless, we all can find
Her pain will yield and soften if I can give
her good listening. ďAm I a good Mom?Ē or ďI hate it that I have
to miss your first soccer game!Ē or ďOh, honey, all I want to
do is give you some of all the love I feel for you, but I canít
right now,Ē all these and more are feelings that I choose to help
And Callistaís pain about losing her family of
origin and getting stuck with someone (me) that she didnít pick
and all the rest of it can be eased by loving time with her Mom.
I take very seriously my opportunity to facilitate
and protect their time together. And if Callista pushes Deborahís
buttons, I try to provide whatever support Deborah needs to go
back up to Callistaís room, persist til she opens the door and
then listen to more outpouring of pain til the end of it is reached.
Rather than having a hard life, we step family
members, whoever we are, have a bit more pain to handle. This
perspective is supported by knowing that pain does have an end.
Loving and holding and listening well make the household a place
of ease, at least until the next episode!
Return to Carolyn's Corner