There are lots and lots of articles and blogs out there about what to do on Mother’s Day for both Mothers and Stepmothers.
There are not a lot, however, on how to handle this day for people like me. People who are decidedly not parents. Not mothers. But who, as they are dating someone who has a child, do still perform some of the parent-related life tasks. And who, perhaps, are unsure about what to think about a day like Mother’s Day.
I am absolutely not a parent in a myriad of ways:
My planner is filled with things that, for the most part, are not dictated by where J is or what she is doing, unlike Christopher’s schedule.
I do not put J to bed every night or cook her meals every day. I occasionally make dinner or pack lunches, but definitely not with enough consistency to consider it “one of my normal tasks.”
And I certainly do not discipline her for unruly or unacceptable behavior (nor do I think it would be “my job” even if Chris and I were married, just for the record, but I suppose that’s for another day).
And yet, on the other hand:
I helped teach J how to tie her shoes. I have, on more than one occasion, driven to her school or to grandma’s house to pick up or drop off a forgotten backpack. I write her letters and ask her about her day and straighten up her things around the house.
I taught her how to do dishes, and use a hammer, and clean a bathroom. She and I have spent an incredible amount of time playing (or making up) games. And I attend all school concerts and presentations I can, sometimes alone if Chris can’t be there.
I see this child every single day and I am indisputably a large part of her life, and she of mine.
And, honestly, it is hard to feel like your situation is not viewed as legitimate, which is definitely where I think my weird reaction towards this upcoming day is generated. It can be difficult to not be able to define your “position” in life or, more particularly, in a family.
And so… here I am. In this strange middle-ground (and yes, sometimes “purgatory” does seem like a good way to describe it) where I am not any kind of official “mother,” (‘step’ or otherwise) and yet I can already feel myself dreading Sunday.
I know that I definitely don’t need or want anything from J – she has a mother she needs and deserves to celebrate and it isn’t an eight-year-old’s job to affirm me anyway. But… Do I want acknowledgement from Christopher? Or do I want Christopher to act like it is just any other day? I truly don’t know. Probably a little of both.
I guess what I’m getting at is that it feels like there is so little support for people in my situation – not biologically OR legally a parent-figure in a child’s life, but still a person who is present and there for him/her in a unique, personal sort of way.
I never knew that a day that, up until this point, had just been about my own mother, could hold such a strange and ominous air, but I know that I can’t possibly be the only one in this Limboland. And I suppose I wanted to put my thoughts out there to just be a voice for people who may be in a situation similar to mine.
I know that as I continue my relationship with Christopher, things like this are going to keep coming up – it’s just reality and, although definitely confusing, I wouldn’t say it’s a negative thing, per say. Hopefully, though, it will get easier. Or at the very least, my feelings will be less contradictory.
For now, though, I am just trying to settle into it all and accept the fact that it’s okay for me to feel weird about this. It’s even okay for me to not have a clue how I feel! This is new for all three of us, and it’s important that I remember that.