Friday, December 13, 2013

In Good Company

When I was about 8, I was in my brother's room playing with his toys (like so many other evenings, his GI Joes and Army Men were infinitely cooler when they hung out with my Barbies). My mom came into the room asking weird questions about dinner and softball practice and can we give her so-and-so's phone number so she knew what the regulations were for Cameron's Cub Scouts derby racecar. It was then that I decided to tune it all out, and I distinctly remember thinking, Okay Mom, Mr. GI is about to ask Skipper on a date, let's get moving.

This is easily one of the biggest regrets of my childhood conversations (another is that I once told my brother I hated him, and then I felt bad and apologized for 2 hours; my fits of anger never last long). Immediately after deciding to ignore her, she cried and asked if we thought she was a bad mother. I actually laughed because I was certain there was NO way she was actually being serious.

But she was.
Now, let me tell you something about my mother. She has an infectious laugh and the biggest heart I've ever witnessed on the face of this planet. She was also a really, really outstanding parent. We lived about 20 miles outside of the town where we actually went to school, and on any given evening, her schedule looked like this:

5:30 Pick up kids from daycare because she worked a full time job and my dad didn't live at home
5:30-6:30 Dinner and homework at McDonalds because we didn't have time to drive the 30 minutes home and back. Depending on the season, Cameron's football practice conincided with this hour, so my mom and I ate in the car by ourselves
6:30-7:30 Courtney's softball practice and/or cheerleading practice and/or campfire meetings (and sometimes all 3)
6:30-8 Cameron's Cub Scout meetings or baseball practice.
30 minute drive home.
And then bathe both children, pick out their clothes for tomorrow, read their bedtime stories, organize their backpacks, talk to them about their day, learn every detail about every friend in every class, sew costumes for school plays, help put together tri-board science projects, clean the house (oh my god, how was our house so clean?!) and somehow find time to take care of our three dogs, our two cats, a fresh-water fish tank, and then shower and take care of herself.

Wait. And she's asking me if she's a bad mother?!?!

Seriously guys, my mom is cray. She is a fabulous mother and I have never seen one better.

But I do think I finally understand why she cried and asked that crazy question in the first place. Being a step-whatsit is one of the few things in my life I feel pure passion for (aside from my family, my dog and my smokin' hot boyfriend). I absolutely love the cheer practice, the laundry piles, the sight of their sparkling clean rooms [even if I have to clean them myself], the way Noah smells after he's had a bath, every second of Peyton being clingy and snuggly, and then trying to learn details about their day without sounding like I'm doing some kind of prison-camp interrogation. Still, at the end of some days I find myself screaming, "Good lord! There's no way I'm doing this right!!!!" followed by "I will never be as amazing to them as my mom was to me because I haven't been with them from the start..."

After looking back on that terrifying conversation with my mom, I finally realized I don't need to have all the answers. I don't need to know every detail about their past. I don't always need to have it all together. What parent does, be it biological, step, or adoptive? None of us are going to know what we're doing every. single. day. We're not always going to know that we're doing it right - or that someone else could've done it better. Chris always says to me, "Just love them as best as you can. Be there for them. And when they're old enough to understand and realize it, they'll know you were their parent all along."  Hold just a moment while my heart melts. He really is the best partner I've ever had in my life. We make a great team, and I love every second of it.
I wouldn't know the first thing about being a parent or a partner if it weren't for my amazing mother. Knowing that she had the same, "Am I doing this right??" moments that I have.... Well, that makes me feel like I just might be.