I always wanted to be a mom. When I thought about being a parent I imagined all the good stuff. All the positive things that come with being a parent came into focus: love, snuggles, playing with them and taking them places, laughter, buying cool toys. I never EVER imagined the realities of parenting before parent hood: the sleepless nights, the lost days of sleeping in, coming and going as you please, never having to share your food- or eating your children’s table scraps. I absolutely didn’t consider the gross bodily fluid stuff- yucky. BUT I also never imagined the way they take you by the hand and the heart on a path no one can possibly predict. Truth be told I had also looked forward to being able to mould and shape a child…to teach them really cool stuff and watch them grow as they develop into little human beings, developing a personality and likes and dislikes. THAT is a gift beyond the sublime. I never knew the possibilities of love and what that word truly meant until I held a sleeping child in my arms. My friend described being a mom as having a little person walking around and living with your heart inside their hand.
BUT I was a stepmom before I became a birthmom. The thought of becoming a stepmother isn’t something we plan for. It just happens. Like most stepmoms, I had no clue about the realities of stepping. BUT the only reality for stepmoms is that each one of us has our own experience our own reality. As a birth mom you contend with hard stuff like guilt, the relentless self doubt about if you are being a good enough parent, let alone good enough person, and always questioning yourself then second guessing or even third guessing. But then you have to add more levels and players on the stepfamily field, more guilt, more self doubt, more emotions period to stepping. Another friend of mine says she’s not saving for a post secondary education fund she’s putting that money aside for therapy when her kids become adults and want to talk about how crappy their parents were at raising them. I laughed but then thought how that was a pretty smart plan. One thing I know for sure is that I never expected becoming a better person as result of being a mom and step mom. It wasn’t because of those beautiful moments when we were happy and loving. It was mostly because of my epic fails and the pain that I experienced and likely caused. The pain has caused more growth for me than the moments of peace ( I owe a lot of that insight and awareness to my own spiritual guide…thank you Maien Elar) Pain and short term guilt made me want to do things differently and better and smarter…and in some cases never again.
If I were to take a pre- parenting test on personality, commitment, intelligence and growth with an attitude and opinion survey on what’s REALLY important and where I am now (post test)…well it’s probably close to a 180 degree difference. I am a different person now..more patient (although that is STILL a work in progress), more compassionate, stronger, smarter…better. Truly parenting has been my path to enlightenment. Much like Jack Nicolson’s character in that movie with Helen Hunt (“As Good As It Gets”)…they make me want to be a better person. Bottom line. I have never fully considered the consequences of my actions as much as I have since becoming a parent…I still have to work on this. I am human you know. But seriously…I do stop to smell the roses, I do appreciate the little things, I do know that they watch and do what I do and not do what I say – and thus I am more conscious, considerate and aware of what I say and do and the impact it has on my family. I talk to the caregivers of special needs kids on an almost daily basis and we all agree on what it is to grow and move outside of your comfort zones when you become a parent. ESPECIALLY when you parent a child not born to you. You think about everything through their lens and you also try to see everything around you through their lens. Pain can grow you up. It can also be a powerful force for change. The same friend that told me about her daughter holding my friend’s heart in her hand also told me once that pain reminds you you are alive, that you have a heart to be hurt. I never understood that but now I do. I am a better person, a better mom ( and friend, and wife, and worker, and sister, and advocate) because of it. And I am thankful in so many more ways than I was before being a mom…and step mom.