I jumped right into this with you. All mothers jump into motherhood in some way, of course, but when I arrived you were far too big to cradle in my arms and rock until you fell asleep.
You’ve always been a sweet kid, don’t get me wrong, but I can say with complete confidence that, at first, I was totally afraid of you. I was afraid we wouldn’t get along. I was afraid I wouldn’t like the way Daddy parented you. I was afraid you wouldn’t like me.
The first time I met you will forever be seared in my memory. I was standing at the top of the stairs to Daddy’s apartment – so nervous about coming down to meet you I was frozen in place. The funny thing? You ended up running upstairs anyway and forcing me to get over my fear. Forcing me to jump in with you.
In the beginning jumping in mostly meant playing – it was a lot of Draw Something on my iPad and silly videos with your stuffed animals and slowly but surely navigating my role in your little life.
The little things used to grate at me so much, Jess – how late you were allowed to have dessert or if we were ever going to get you to follow a bedtime routine or how frustrated I’d get when you were sassy to Daddy. It was like every tiny hurdle felt giant – how would this disagreement affect our relationship?! Had I ruined everything by not wanting you to eat that ice cream?! It sounds so silly when I see it written out, but that was the truth. Any little thing seemed huge and felt like it had the potential to ruin our relationship.
In a stepfamily, I think, it can be so hard to assess what is a “normal” amount of struggle and what is happening because you’re a stepfamily. (Spoiler alert: nuclear families don’t agree 100% of the time either.)
And now? Well, now a small part of me longs for those days of playing with Littlest Pet Shops and Spot It and making ridiculous photobooth videos on my laptop, but honestly? I am so happy with where we are. I’m so happy with the wonderful human you’re becoming and I’m grateful to be a part of it. I’m grateful for that day when I was too terrified to come down the stairs and you ran up to see me. I’m grateful that you still run up to see me – and that, now, a lot of times it’s me running up to see you.
Thanks for helping me jump in, lady. I’ll be forever grateful.