Here’s the thing, parenthood, motherhood, step-parenthood… it’s all really fucking lonely at times. When I became an instant mom I whipped out my whiny asshole card a lot. “Woe is me, nobody understands my situation.” “I just wish I could go to the bar with friends and wake up hungover without tiny humans crawling on me.” It’s the classic, “if I knew then, what I know now” conundrum. Only here’s the thing, as I’ve learned, it’s not really a conundrum. Because that lack of knowledge taught me a lot of really painful embarrassing lessons. One of which is this, have a village. It’s the number one survival rule of parenthood. And it’s absolutely vital to step-parenthood.
The big kids are at their biological mother’s this week for February vacation. I fucking hate it. And I’m an absolute total nut-bag during this time. I actually sometimes think my marriage would be better off if during these weeks I sat in the woods alone far away from humanity. But, again see above; that part about painfully embarrassing lessons. As I’m learning, I think this is actually good for my marriage because time and time again my husband and I come out on top.
Coming Out on Top
So how do we keep coming out on top? It’s really quite amazing that we do. Which is sad being as I’m 50% of the marriage and in such disbelief. But, this shit’s hard. So, bare with me. When I reflect on myself and our relationship in the beginning and now, the biggest difference is this: my village.
I have the best village in the entire world. I get that I’m biased, but seriously we’re dope. And the craziest thing about my village is that only a handful are stepparents and that was by accident. See, here’s the thing. When I first fell headfirst through the concrete wall that is a blended family, I thought I needed to find people who understood me. (See: whiny asshole card above.) I craved with every fiber in my body somebody who understood me. I needed validation damnit, stomps feet. Because, surely this was an impossibly unique situation, that only million upon millions of other humans experienced in the world.
The Important Part of a Village
But, here’s the thing. The most important part of a village, any village, is not that all the members are the same, but that they’re different. Because what that affords us is the opportunity for perspective. Think about it, if I sat in a room with a bunch of stepmoms who were in exactly the same situation as me all we’d do is bitch about how our kid’s biological mother doesn’t deserve them because she gave them up, and how much our heart hurts when they’re gone… blah blah blah.
It’s not that I’m not entitled to those feelings because I really am. But, it’s that they’re just not productive in terms of how to keep moving. Sure, I need someone to acknowledge those feelings in a way that’s not, “shut the fuck up, this is what the law says.” But in a way that says, “I agree 100% sista-friend, ya-ya, now let’s go have a shot of tequila!” And then I pick myself up by the britches and move on in my badass productive way.
Accepting What You are Not
My husband is not capable of the ya-ya. If I was surrounded by a bunch of women in the exact same situation as me there’d be a lot of cyclical nonproductive whining sessions. But in my village, there’s a whole lot of ya-ya. And it’s not because they don’t get it, but it’s because they know me. And more importantly, they fill in the gaps.
You see? This village of mine, they’re amazing because they give me what I can’t and what my husband can’t. They offer me a perspective that could only come from the outside looking in. This village of mine allows me to see me in a whole new way. And when I’m afforded that, I’m proud and it gives me the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Because there is no way in hell I want to be defined by that whiny asshole card.
So this village, it’s my life-line. It’s all of the things I’m not or can’t be all the time. It’s forgiving, it’s ass-kicking, it’s transparent. There are no secrets or expectations beyond, “do your best, say you’re sorry when you fuck up and be relentlessly loyal.”
How do you find your village? It’s simple really. You have to accept the things you are not or cannot be. Then kick your ego to the curb and let a few good people fill in the gaps. And in between all of that, make time to say “ya-ya!” followed by a shot of tequila!
Your village is not like my village, or maybe it is. But the point is this: find your village. Have no expectations about what it looks like, only what it feels like. And then practice relentless loyalty to them. Because the difference between a step-mom flashing her whiny asshole card and a step-mom kicking ass and taking names is tequila shots. Kidding [sort of]. The difference is her village. Have a village. Let yourself go enough to have a village. Because I promise you, it will be your lifeline.