Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Real" Mom

Sometimes in my life things will be going along like normal, scratch that; usual - and there will come a reminder that I am not a "real" Mom. Today was one such day. I took my daughter to the DMV to take her test for her learner's permit. The lady behind the counter asked, "Are you her mother?" "Yes I am." So she asks to see my driver's license along with my daughter's pertinent documents and then looks at me and says, "You're not her natural mother?" "No, I am her stepmother." "Well then you can't sign for her." I explained to her that I, in fact, have a power of attorney giving me the right to make legal decisions on her behalf. She wouldn't consider, or even look at the document. So, because I am not her natural mother, she cannot get her learner's permit as her father is deployed and her natural mother lives in another state. It will be another year then before she is able to get her driver's license. (This is like death to a teenager) *disclaimer....I am not here to 'diss' biological mothers. Some of my best friends are biological mothers. In fact, I have one of my own and am one myself as well.* Today what this post is about is the frustrating irony of being a stepparent. I also am not here to say that all stepparents are the greatest thing on the planet and can never do wrong. We are ALL children of God and we ALL make mistakes, whether the child has our genetics or not.
That being said.....
I want to share with you some expectations. As a stepparent, I am expected to love my (step)children as though I gave birth to them myself and to treat them equally with the children that I did give birth to. However, I am not allowed to be called their mother. And, if I apply the same rules of discipline to my (step)daughters as I do to the children I gave birth to, people get offended and I am accused of mistreating them(no they are not ACTUALLY being mistreated). When decisions have to be made about their welfare, although I am allowed to give my opinion, ultimately I have no say in the final outcome. And in times when I disagree about those choices, I am still expected to open my heart wide with love and care for them and watch as others make choices that I think are wrong and could have wrenchingly painful consequences for me. When it is time for my (step)daughters to get married, the likelihood that I will get to be the one in the room with them helping them to prepare is low at best. I don't mean this to sound like a rant, I'm just attempting to give a glimpse of a situation that some people haven't experienced or don't fully understand.

There have been times in my life as a parent that people have referred to my daughters' biological mother as their "real" mother, implying that I am NOT a "real" mother. Even well meaning friends of my own have used this terminology and others like it. (I am not saying that their bioligical mother does not deserve credit - she carried and gave birth to them and she loves them and desires to be a part of their lives)

What I AM saying is.....I have lovingly and carefully pulled my (step)daughter's hair back and wiped her face after she has vomited all over my lap. I have stripped her bed in the middle of the night and helped her clean up after she has had an accident.(night after night after night).I have eaten the foulest meal ever just because she made it. Today I had to tell her that I was so sorry that I was helpless to help her get something she desires so desperately. I have literally 'processed' a fecal sample of my other (step)daughter's when she was having stomachaches that we could not explain. I helped them learn how to read. I have pushed them so high on the swing that it made them squeal in delight. I have endured their anger when they have had to accept decisions that they didn't like. I have prayed for their salvation. I have taken a good deal of blame for the wrongs of the world just because of my title. I have let go over and over again of my pride and my heart's desire to be greatly loved by them in order to allow them to love freely and without guilt the family that came before me. I will always put their needs above my own desires.
Any day over the last 12 1/2 years, I could have walked away without a second look back and society would consider that acceptable. And every day over the last 12 1/2 years, I have chosen to stay and take all that comes along with that in order that I could be a mother to them.
I have a (step)mom who has made these choices on my behalf as well. She is an irreplaceable treasure in my life.
If that's not a "real" mom, I don't know what is.


Shauna said...

*wiping tears* That was beautiful, poignant and 'real'! Sounds like you are an amazing mother to those girls. They are blessed to have you and I'm sure they know it. Kids know who loves them. And your love is the greatest kind - actions, not just words. Thanks for opening my eyes!

Marsha said...

I have a "step" dad that's been in my life now for almost 30 years. I have loved him as much or more than my birth father.

Blended families are tough and thankless at times. I just can't believe the law in your state. That's just not right they won't accept the POA!

I'm going to pray there is another solution here.

Zeek said...

Absolutely that's a real mom- in fact better than some "real" moms!

:::mumbling::: stupid person behind the counter /:::mumbling:::

whadda they know anyway? hmpf


mel said...

Wow. Very passionate and powerful blog of your "real" day. No wonder you wanted to hang out in my blog and read books and drink coffee with the virtual me.

Yes, you're very "real" to your kids. Too bad the other lady didn't recognize that. Surely there is some other way....

I can't even get into the awful treatment we received from those people in the department of transportation in LA....and in GA...when I had a cracked windshield, the base sticker couldn't be replaced, and our license plates expired -- all at the same time -- it was awful. I won't go into it any more. It's one of those things that could cause a heartattack...or hives.

Rest well tonight!

Jenn said...

I am so sorry what happened yesterday at the DMV - I will pray that somehow she can get her permit.

Not coming from a blended family, I want to thank you for sharing the struggles and the joys that you have as a step parent.
I am sure you are as real to them as your step mom is to you.

Saying a prayer for you.

Becky said...

You are very much their 'real' mom! You're the one that God has placed in that role in their lives, and you are doing the mothering...praying for them, helping them through life's stages and difficulties, and holding things down on the're the mom! Go you! It sounds like you do a terrific job of it, too, I might add.

Dealing with the DMV can be sooo frustrating. I'd double-check these things with the DMV headquarters just to be sure you didn't get a counter nazi that misunderstood, but stood her ground because she doesn't like to be 'wrong'. I had that happen recently at the Post Office.

His Girl said...

dang. now i have to hop back on a plane and kick some dmv lady booty!

*as an aside* you are an incredible mother. i have seen it with my own two eyes. and let the record show you are indeed her REAL mother.


Jenster said...

You sure sound like a real mom to me.

PJ said...

the "real" mom is the one who sits up nights when she's sick, listens to her sorrows, feeds her everyday. AND...I'm pretty sure that the DMV "lady" (With a capital B) is wrong. If you have legal responsibility, you have legal authority. (Is there a lawyer you can call? I'm reasonably certain this is wrong!!) OR...this is an election your state representative or senator who is running for office. They'll give here a learner's permit on a silver platter!!!