I’ve had many nights in my life…and I have posted before about how Step Mama is just sort of there at times. As an example… All three of my older kids are athletes. The oldest one, when he had his senior night for High School…my husband was out of town and for fear he would have no one there representing our side of the family…I left an after work social engagement early so that I could get me a seat in the stadium. I was by myself hugely pregnant and I was no spring chicken. The kids’ mother and her father, rest his soul, were there sitting a little farther down than I. Out of sheer pity I think, her Father came up and sat with me, asked me how i was feeling…I’ll remember him for that. I think he was kind hearted. So I don’t to this day know if our son actually saw me. I kind of think he must have though he never said one way or the other. The time comes for the honors and unfortunately for my husband he didn’t get to be recognized in front of the entire school for being the Father of one of the senior classmen. His Mother went to the field, stood with her son, got the photos made, got a flower….no mention of a Father at all. At the time, since to be honest and objective, I’d really only been a part of our son’s life for about 3 1/2 years at that point, I really shouldn’t have expected anything for myself I guess. What did hurt my feelings back then, was witnessing how my husband had struggled to provide all the financial backing to see that this kid got to do what he wanted, in fact to actually fight the kid’sMother on why participation in sports was important and making personal sacrifices so that he missed probably fewer than 1/2 dozen games in almost 10 years and neither our son, his Mother or the school think enough of Dad to even mention him or make sure he got any recognition at all. Sad.
Roll forward and we have two girls very active in sports themselves. I made it to more games when they were younger than I did when they were older due to the fact I needed to see that little guy was taken care of. Sometimes we went, but sometimes the games were either earlier than I could get to from work, or too late so little man would have struggled. But I tried to always make sure they had a hot nutritious meal ready when they got home, and ask how they’d done, nursed injuries when necessary etc. After many soccer banquets and team dinners through the years, once senior night was on the calendar, I made sure I was there. I went with a degree of resignation that I’d be in the stands with our son, and just be there for support. I was happy that my husband was at least going to be able to personally attend this Senior night, as he has been an ardent supporter of both girls and their soccer playing since their very first game. As an added bonus and as a complete surprise to the girls, our oldest son had come to town for the night, from college, to be there in support of his sisters. A very nice gesture I might say, whether he did it of his own volition or whether his Mother strongly urged him too and our little son always likes any opportunity to see his big brother. My in-laws were there in support of their grand daughters. It was even nice whether and in Kansas at this time of year we could just have easily been baking in that sun, but it was overcast with a nice steady breeze in from the North. It was looking as if it would be a pretty good time. The girls’ team had just finished a pretty abysmal year, better than the year before but that wasn’t saying much. They took the field and one of our daughters moved the ball all the way down, and single handedly made the first goal. Hooray!
Plan was at half time, all underclassmen on the team form two lines and the Seniors walk through, with their parents and are honored as their bios are read and future plans revealed. I figured the girls’ Mom and Dad would go through. So just before half time, the kids’ Mom comes over toward me and she has been video taping the whole game. Just as I’m getting ready to say sure, thinking I was assuming video duty, she hands it to my Mother-in-law and asks her to. All of a sudden my husband takes our little one, grabs my hand and they call me down. I asked the girls’ Mom if she was ok with me being down there with them and she said hey, you’ve been a mother to them too. Whoa! Huge! So one girl gives her Mom a red carnation, the other gives me one, their big brother takes his Mother’s arm, and my husband takes mine, and we walk down first with one of our daughters, then quickly we ran back so we could walk down with the other one. As the bios are read, and people applaud and the photos are being clicked I can’t help but be full of emotions. Where did the years go? How’d that happen so fast? It’s so cool their big brother is here. It’s so cool our little boy is part of this and that his sisters carried him down the field. Did I just hear what I thought I heard from my step ex? How sweet of the girls to include me this way. Gulp. sniff.
A local photographer for the newspaper took an awesome photo of one of our daughters holding her rose and her baby brother. I took my flower home, and put it in a bud vase and proudly displayed it on the entry way table. Just before it falls apart, I’ll dry it and someday somebody will find that dried up carnation in a bos somewhere and maybe they’ll get what it stood for to me, maybe they won’t. No matter…I’ll always know why I kept it!
Sometimes a thing will happen that just sums it up. I have cared about and helped take care of these girls for the last 8 years. In that one defining moment, I mattered to them in an outward way….everyone knew it….and it was awesome!
Even if you feel that your steps’ Mother doesn’t recognize your role much…at least out loud…or appreciate it; I think in most cases she does. I would imagine it’s difficult.
After years of driving into their heads how to be and act proper….what to say, do in social situations, how to say please and thank you to people who do nice things for you, how to step outside themselves and treat people well…the way they would want to be treated….they couldn’t have made me more proud of how they handled their split situation out in the public eye, than they did that night.
My kids teach me things all the time. Coming in behind them or in front of them to steer them is second nature to me. One lesson I’m learning now from them is to just wait. If I wait….lots of times, they step up and do and without the prod. Sometimes I just need to back off and let them show what they are made of. I hope to remember these lessons as their little brother comes up behind them. I feel it’s an important one.
It was definitely a night I will never forget and they did that…..they did that for me!