The photo to the left is my husband & I with all our grown children taken June of “2014” at our Vow Renewal! If you read part one of Parenting V.S. Step-Parenting then you have a little bit of background information on what it was like for me being a step-parent. However you can’t imagine the heartache that I felt almost on a daily basis being in that role. Things got so bad because a few of the kids started to spread lies and gossip about what went on when they were at our house and of course I was the monster in that story! What transpired for many, many years though because of that just baffled me. See the lies spread through the family and even though they came from the mouth of my husband’s 2nd ex-wife, the same woman who had an affair with his best friend not once but TWICE, the same woman who showed up to school meetings with booze on her breath, the same woman who showed up to court with booze on her breath, the same woman who taught her kids that “hating” someone was okay. I could go on and on but you get my point.
Now I didn’t have the same understanding about alcoholism then that I do today but I do realize she suffers from it too. Growing up through the years I tried to protect the kids from their dad’s drinking. I suppose in some ways I used myself as a shield. They never knew half of what was really going on. As they got older and his youngest daughter moved in with us fulltime she was in complete denial about his alcoholism and she began to enable him in ways she never even knew. So by the time they all left home here is what the relationships with them looked like. I wasn’t close or in contact with any of them except for my own daughter. Occasionally his oldest daughter would ask me a question, his son was in prison, and my youngest step-daughter moved away with her husband (I wasn’t allowed to go to that wedding).
So moving forward I wrote a book titled “Married Under The Influence” which is my true story of being the wife of an alcoholic. The interesting twist on my book is it is like a memoir I wrote it from the pages of my journals I kept through the years which talks about all I had gone through with their dad and his drinking. Before the book was published I talked to my oldest step-daughter and explained some things to her about why I have been mostly absent from their lives the past few years. Now things were starting to make some sense and there was more understanding towards me and the “blame” was starting to lift from my shoulders. Also my oldest step-daughter had a weight loss surgery and was in the hospital recovering and my daughter and I went to visit her. On that particular day I broke down in her hospital room in tears with her and her husband when I told her how her dad had been unfaithful to me. From the looks on their faces in that moment I felt both relief and a bit pathetic. The healing process in that relationship began to happen because the more we communicated the more questions were answered.
Next my step-son got out of prison a few years back and still seemed very angry. After several months I took it upon myself when we saw him out one night to confront this issue. I told him that any problems he has with me or any questions he needs answered I wanted to get that all out in the open. What he said to me next shocked me, he said “I know growing up I didn’t make it easy for you” he said “I was an ass**** to you and I made sure I caused as many problems as I could” and he apologized. That is something I never expected would ever happen because he is the one that gave me the most grief and hated me. That night was a new beginning putting the past behind us with a new understanding. Then their was my youngest step-daughter whom I had no contact with for two years until she showed up at our Vow Renewal in June of “2014”. We had serious unresolved issues so I had mixed feelings seeing her but I was so completely happy for my husband because the joy in his eyes seeing her surprise him on our special day I know meant the world to him.
My book was published September of “2014” After my youngest step-daughter read it I received messages that read like this……
“I Loved the book it was very eye opening”, “Thank you for being there for dad and being his rock through it all, I don’t know where he would be without you or how I would have turned out”. She went on to say “I love my mom but she’s never been able to be there for me like you have been for my sister (which is my daughter) because of her addiction & I have always been envious of your mother/daughter relationship over the years”. She said the older she got the further apart her and I became because of how bad things were getting between her dad & I. She said she knew it wasn’t right selfishly taking his side . Then she went on to say this……”You are the reason I have to stop for every stray dog I see and why I have compassion for my own dogs”, “why things like photos and even a clean house or family nights are so important to me”. She said “I don’t know where I would of ended up or how much trouble I would have gotten into if you didn’t change my schools & I know I wouldn’t have stayed with my husband or be as happy as I am now, So I am very thankful & I am sorry it has taken so long for me to express it all to you but I love you and I hope the older I get the closer I get to be with all of my family”. These messages were quit long but it also said “I want you to be involved when we start having kids being their grandma and I can only imagine how wonderful it will be when we move closer and everyone is happy getting together for family nights and being together as a family like we always did at grandma’s house”. The last thing was “I hope that my sister and I become even closer as adults the way you always wanted it to be for us”.
Since writing this my daughter went to visit her sister for five days in Montana and they had so much fun together! Both my girl’s will be turning 21 in the next few months! These are the things that I have been able to hear since writing my book about my life being the wife of an alcoholic and the awareness it brought to my families eyes that they never knew. What I have learned about being a step-parent is that I did make a difference. I learned that whether your a parent, step-parent, foster parent, adoptive parent it doesn’t matter consistency & structure is what children need in their lives. In the end we are still all individual people and even children at some point start making their own path and rules to live by but I will say this….. setting a standard of morals, values, and rules to live by when they are young they have a significantly greater chance of continuing those values they learned as a child into their adult years. Even though raising my step children was not an easy task I never waivered from what my beliefs and values are. I stayed consistent in my ways. Today my step-sons girlfriend has a little girl that he is a Daddy too. When I saw him telling her what is right and wrong and giving a consequence I said “Now you understand what I was trying to do all those years with you and why it was so important” He said “Yeah I do and I say to my mom all the time now, why didn’t you give me consequences when I was younger “. Even something as simple as that has such a profound effect on someone.
The moral of my story is sometimes you never know if you make a difference in someone’s life but I can tell you this if it makes you feel good and if your following a path of good morals and values and you give and help people you will make a bigger difference than you will ever know. But someday you may get the surprise of your life and learn that you were a significant part of their life and because of you they have the life they now live. For me I never expected to hear that I made some difference in each of their lives. But to know that a little piece of me is in each of their hearts because of something I said or did over the years means the step-monster I was always made out to be all these years was just a terrible lie, it means even when I messed up I was the best step-mom I could be given the situation I was in and to me that is good enough.
I gave and loved my husband’s children with all of my heart when I didn’t have too but even on their worst days I never gave up on them because unconditional in any form means you love under any circumstance. Today I am proud of all our children and the adults they have grown into, and the ways I get to see how being their mom & step-mom did make a difference after all.
Wishing you Peace & Serenity always……….Harmony