Step-on-mother

Does the word stepmother connote some kind of step-on mother? Does it mean, “blame me for all the wrongs and make me the bane of your existence?” It’s easier for stepfathers, so I’ve heard.  Now gone to the great gig in the sky, my stepfather was the kind who ignored my existence to avoid guilt. In 1980 my mom packed up my brother and went to live with him and they set up family without me.  I was 14 and my brother was 11.  My father lived in Kentucky and then in Cuba for a while before he was made aware I was living alone in a house with a roommate working two jobs and finally having to leave high school to support myself before I went to college and became a success on my own. 

Now I have stupid cancer, but part and parcel of my life, I am also a stepmother of two boys 16 and 18.  They’ve lived with us on and off and 18 has lived with us full-time for the past two years.  There’s no place like home…

Recently an opportunity presented itself to ask a friend what it was like to have a long-term mother and stepfather and father and stepmother – now a 45 year situation.  He considers himself lucky to have had four parents.  He’s a really good person and his parents co-parented well.  

I sat at the counter in my kitchen listening to my  friend as he recounted some of his life.  When his mom and stepdad decided to move out of the state both his mother and father gave him a choice to stay here in California or move with his mother.  Naturally, he decided it would be best to live full-time with his stepmom and dad.  Where he was welcomed.

His stepmother didn’t have an issue with him moving in with them.  And then again when he moved in after he graduated college.  My friend wanted to take some time to decompress for a while at his father’s  and stepmother’s house. He was welcomed again.    They’ve been married 45 years now. As a side note: His stepdad was a police officer, tough, very kind, and a great role model – another of his four parents who happened to be a stepdad.  I asked if this man had beaten him or hurt him, and he said no, but he took no shit off him.  He was glad because his stepfather gave him a true sense of respect and a good model of civic responsibility.

30 years later I saw was a person who I consider one of my best friends, and a wonderfully gifted and giving human being.  Never a bad word out of his mouth towards anyone, other than towards someone  who’s hurt me and on my behalf.   He’s got a lot of respect for all four of his parents. When I asked why his parents divorced he told me they were probably too much alike, both artists, and divorced when he was very young.  He split his time between his four parents and they co-parented well.  He’s well-adjusted adult as a result.

His case is unusual I think since generally no one wants a stepmother.  We’re a reminder to all involved of a family unit that was broken because the adults who made the choice to marry and have children found themselves unhappy to the point of irreconcilable differences.  In my case, I met my husband when he’d been divorced for over two years.  The boys at the time I met him were 9 and 6 1/2.  I’ve known them for over half of their lives. One has oppositional disorder and the other is turning out to be on the cusp of borderline personality disorder. His psychiatrist won’t waste our money because he cannot treat “a teenage boy who lies.” He has no problem lying and stealing from us and doing destructive things to our house.   

Dad won’t believe that he’s’ doing all this stuff and yells at me for it.  I’ve been yelled at too many times now and am on the border between in and out.  I get that Dad is in the middle of this mess.  I am the blame dumpster.  If there’s rain it’s my fault.  If the boys do something wrong it must be because of something I did or said.  If I bring some imminent doom to his attention I’m the villain.  I found out recently he’s been yelling at me on her behalf when she texts him some crap that 18 bitched to her about. It’s always untrue or so distorted I don’t know where I begin or end.  Recently I decided to stop putting up with it at all.  If they don’t like it, my cat and I are out of here.  My husband told me he’s concerned about my safety and my cat’s safety with 18 around.  I was stunned  Why tell me now.  I know I have cancer and that the aggravation factor increased my pain by 10x this past month,  My 18 year-old knows I cannot handle too much more stress so he increased it to keep me in bed so my eyes and ears stay there too,  I am better off as those three monkeys – hear no, see no, speak no evil.

I’ve been good to them, and drop back when I should, step in when I’m needed and honestly should have treated myself better than I did throughout our time together. I’m trying to decide if this is worth the rest of my life right now because of the uncertainty of  how many good quality years I will have with stage 4 cancer.  The mother of the two boys claims I’m to “spunky” to be telling the truth about my cancer. “I know what I see,” she said about 2 years ago – it’s better now,but back then I put on a really good face.

That’s my bitch session for the weekend.  I thank you dear readers for your kind understanding of my rant.  I’m going to try very hard to go and get my nails done so my cracked fingers can get a rest from the oven I had to clean.  Why did I clean the oven?  Because my stepson of 18+ put wax paper instead of parchment paper at 425 degrees and caused a huge fire.  The fifth and final kitchen fire I will allow and now he tells his mother I starve him.  No, I’m a Jewish woman.  It’s not in my DNA to let anyone go hungry.  Not even a stepson to whom I’ve given much of the last nine years of my life to and from whom I got one gift in all of those years:  An ugly unpainted screw eyed cat with no legs and a tag that read “Lobotomy.”

This is how they see me. The sadness  I’ve so desperately fended off for several years has crept into my bones with the cancer. I should not be sitting here behind the computer.  I wat too desperately breathe in the beautiful day that awaits me but I cannot seem to move at all my pain level is at a 9 out of 10.  I am stuck and I cannot move.  Recommendation – don’t get stage 4 breast cancer with bone mets and have two stepsons.

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