Being a step parent

Because I went through divorce as a child I feel I know Apollo and Maia without knowing them well.  I hope that my experiences will make it easy for me to understand them.  I know the stress that can be involved when being raised by a single parent.  For instance, having all the responsibility without ever enough money can be a constant strain on the custodial parent.  In my case, I know Dad is more irresponsible than Mom so I know she worried when I visited him.

At one point I had a stepmother.  Dad remarried when I was 6 and redivorced when I was 8.  I didn’t much care for her but she didn’t seem to make an effort to like me either.  I remember not liking her cooking and hating the fact that she smoked cigarettes.  It appeared that she was smelling dog-do when I would walk into the room – her lips pursed up to her nose in a distinctive P-U facial expression.

The best thing about Dad being remarried was that it gave me siblings.  Up to that point I was an only child but was given new older stepbrother and stepsister; I couldn’t help but idolise my stepsister.  Had Dad stayed a bit longer with his second wife, I probably would have managed to feel closer.  To be fair, I don’t think I made much impact on her life, being so young and around regularly but not frequently.  Unfortunately, as it was, she was there and then she was gone.  I had to make my own way.

I found that there were times when it was easier to think of myself as two people – the Foxy with Dad and the Foxy with Mom.  Because they’re very different people, I found myself moulding to their expectations in different ways – with Mom I was encouraged to express myself and be creative.  I had private art lessons and wrote poetry.  Despite this flurry of creative expression, I never felt relaxed enough to be myself – I was busy trying to meet Mom’s expectations.  With Dad, I was the opposite: I was so relaxed I was horizontal.  Dad never put any pressure on me to do or be anything I didn’t want to be.  He taught me how to fix things and that God didn’t just reside in church.  Unfortunately, he also told me that it was OK to lie.  Had they been one parent, I expect they would have balanced one another out and, by meeting in the middle, I would have had one super parent to look up to – which would have been a bad thing because I wouldn’t have been able to live up to a super parent.  As it was, I felt I had to try and take the best of both of them and incorporate this into my personality.  I now try to behave responsibly and express myself creatively while trying not to worry about worrying and leaving the Big Picture to God.

My mom never married the love of her life.  He arrived in our family about the same time as my baby sister.  At first I felt that he was trying to take my place in our family: I liked the fact that Mom relied on me and didn’t think that she needed to rely on anyone else.  Over the years I begrudgingly grew to respect him.  He was a good man who died well before his time.  He was only 54 when he died of cancer.  I’ll say it again: cancer has a lot to answer for.  I couldn’t help but respect him.  We became friends.  Despite the fact that we weren’t biologically related, I grew to love him.  I’d like to think that I take some of him with me through my life: he was a funny, generous person that I’ve found myself trying to emulate.

Now I’m grown up.  Because I’m trying to carry the best of my parents and my sister’s father, I hope Maia and Apollo understand, respect and love me eventually.