I was thinking about my son’s step-mom today and it really hit me just how wonderful she has been to my son. I have never been in that position, being with someone who has a child by someone else. I am a step-child myself, so I have seen it first hand how difficult it can be to accept someone else’s child, but I was the child in the situation. I know it wasn’t easy for Cindy to accept me, to welcome me, to love me. Over the years, she has done all of that and more. She has been so supportive, caring, and wonderful. I admire her greatly, for many reasons. Dealing with my dad has been a challenge in and of itself. She did the bulk of the caregiving for my half brothers and sister. Don’t misunderstand me, this blog isn’t designed in any way shape or form to put my dad down. Despite the issues, I know my dad loves us. And a lot of people don’t know all he’s gone through. Does it excuse all that’s happened? No, but it helps me understand him a bit better. I know that deep down we mean a lot to him and we love him just as deeply.
Back to the matter at hand, being a step-parent has its own challenges. We do give credit to them, but not nearly enough. For all Cindy has done for me and all Abby does for my son, I feel they deserve special recognition. They’d never ask for it, just like most Veterans don’t ask to be honored. We do it because we want to, not because we have to. If you go above and beyond what is asked of you and people want to acknowledge that, let them. 😉
My son is not the easiest to deal with. At first, the school told Jason that our son was showing signs of having A.D.H.D. Jason fought that tooth and nail, mostly because he was diagnosed with that himself and didn’t like how quickly people are ready to medicate someone. Eventually as problems at school worsened, Jason complied with the school’s wishes and had Zach evaluated. He was put on medication in K5. It was against what Jason wanted for Zach, but the school was insistent, especially after all the trouble Zach had caused. It was so bad that he was being suspended. It’s difficult too because Jason only has Zach medicated during the week, unless he has a game/match over the weekend and only during the school year…except for when he’s in summer school. Many, including myself, believe it’s unhealthy to go on and off his medication. Jason won’t listen to reason thus far.
Over the years, things have gotten worse. I knew since Zach was about five years old that there is more going on inside my son than most could see. I have bi-polar disorder, have since I was young, only I didn’t know that until I was an adult. Growing up wasn’t easy to say the least. I didn’t understand what was going on inside of me; I felt like a freak and had no one to talk to about any of it. Watching my son from early on, I knew in my heart that he was dealing with much more than just A.D.H.D. I have tried numerous times to talk to Jason about this, but he always refutes any possibility of Zach being bi-polar. No one wanted to listen to me at first to be honest.
Now my mom sees it, the school sees it, other family members, friends, and now Abby sees it too. Maybe she’ll be able to get Jason to listen, but whether she can or not, I must admit it feels good to finally have others see what’s going on. It has been so rough for everyone, but we’re doing our best. It feels weird saying this, but as a parent myself, I think it comes naturally to love your child. I would do anything for my son to give him a good life, to help him, to be there for him. I am doing what I can to get him the help he needs with the mental health issues. I will not give up! But, that’s the mom in me, I suppose. I don’t even think twice about doing what needs to be done, it’s just instinctive.
What is more uncommon is loving someone else’s child and doing all you can to help raise them. You’re doing more than just tolerating them for the sake of the one you’re with, way more than that. The child(ren) become so important to you, that you’d do what it takes for them to be happy and healthy. Abby does so much for my son. She goes to his games, even when Jason can’t, and supports him, cheers him on. She helps him with his homework, because she values his education. She disciplines him, even though she hates doing it and feels a little badly about it, because she knows he needs to deal with the consequence of his actions. She takes care of him when he’s sick, because she hates it when he’s ill and wants to see him get better. She encourages him when he wants do something like join the school newspaper, because she believes in him. She loves him, not because she has to for Jason, but because she wants to. A weaker woman would have walked away, not been able to handle all she has. I really do admire her.
She and Jason had a son of their own in 2010. He was born three months early. The hospital did all they could between August and November, but he was just so sick. So they told Jason and Abby they had a tough decision to make. They told them that he wouldn’t live very long and that his quality of life wouldn’t be good. He was blind, connected to a tube to eat, would be in a wheelchair, and so on. In the end, they decided they didn’t want their son to suffer, so they had him pulled off all the machines. He died that evening, in Jason’s arms. My heart breaks every single time I think about this. I can’t imagine how hard it was for them. Sometimes it is still hard for Zach, losing his baby brother. And I can only imagine it’s rough on them sometimes too. I don’t know how Abby got through losing her son. I don’t know how she helps raise mine. I don’t know how she does all that she does really. She is so important to Jason and to Zach, really to me as well. Cindy has been important to me as well. I can’t thank either of them enough for all they have done, for all they do.
I know plenty of others who have stepped up and taken on the roll of step-parent. In some cases, the other parent is around and in some, they’re not. But, one thing is true of all of them, they love the child(ren), accept them, and do all they can to help raise them. I want to tip my virtual hat to each and every one of you out there who is a loving, nurturing, and wonderful step-parent. Your role in their lives is more important than you know.