I know that I am not my stepson’s mother, but I constantly struggle walking that line between my head and my heart. Actions can lead to feelings. Sometimes all of the work of being the maternal figure leads me to feeling as though I am a mother to him. I want so much to think that – at least in my home – I can be that person.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
My husband was gone for a few days for work. Things have always gone smoothly for me and my stepson when we are alone together. He is a good kid who has never given me any real grief. His dad has always expected him to be respectful of me and reminds my stepson to listen to me.
I got off early from work the same Friday that my husband came home. I walked though the door, and my husband called out playfully, “Mom’s home!” We all had dinner and watched a movie together. It was after 11pm by the time the movie was over.
My stepson had been dozing during the last of the movie, and he woke when the credits were playing. He rolled over on the couch to continue to sleep. I got up to go to the kitchen, and I called out to him to go ahead and go to bed if he was going to sleep. He looked at me like I was crazy. I added that I understood if he wanted to spend time with his dad, but repeated that if he were turning over to sleep that he needed to go ahead and go to bed. Silence.
I looked over at my husband expecting support. He said nothing and looked at me like I was crazy. I immediately recognized that I was being left adrift. Feeling angry and hurt, I went to take a long hot shower.
After crying a bit in the shower, I realized that yet again I was trying to act like his mother. It is one thing to be in charge when I’m the only one home. When his father is home, I need to lay low and not attempt to parent.
It can be so confusing. Even though my husband will sometimes refer to me as “Mom”, on some level he resents if I attempt to parent in front of him – as if I am overstepping my boundaries. Even though my stepson will write sweet cards and thank me for “being the mother [he] never had”, he doesn’t actually want me to be “Mom” in our home.
He and my stepson only want my support of Dad as a parent. That’s it. This is the lesson I struggle with daily.
I might fill in as a mother in our home, but I can’t allow myself to feel as though I am Mom.