This past week has been insanely busy for our family. My husband has been battling yet another kidney stone (this time 9mm). He is also working 1km away full time doing what he had been longing to do as he is tired of construction: working with his tractor/backhoe outdoors, and soon to be overseeing a team. This is the first time since we have moved to PEI that he is not “flying solo”, and this is steady, almost year-round employment as opposed to sporadic intense contracts and projects and building a home to sell it (which after a few times became a bit tough on the rest of us). This is not a good time for him to be dealing with another stone. He is having it blasted on Friday.
It’s funny that you can have one adult present somewhere but the effects are entirely different than when another adult is present. I parent differently than my husband does. Sometimes this is great, other times not so great. We balance one another out. One thing we have both come to realize (reluctantly for me) is that I am the default /nurturer parent. Sometimes he calls it the overprotective-worrying-too-attached parent, but he also makes a point of making it very clear to me that my position as their mother is a very deep and needed seat to hold.
I suck at remembering to check my oil. My husband pays the bills like clockwork. While I am pretty darn good (if I do say so myself) at finding sweet deals to feed/clothe/entertain/educate/enrich our family of nine, I would hate to balance the finances. He does well at this, and I am grateful.
If he is working for three days straight and I am not, I am the primary caregiver and housekeeper. If I am working for three days straight and he is not, our teenage daughters are babysitting at least half of the time, responsible for meals, and “contracted” out to do housework and earn some extra cash. He teaches them work ethic and self-sufficiency. This is just the way it is. And there are so many things that I never need to worry about, just like there are so many things that he doesn’t need to think about. It works for us.
He starts my car for me on snowy mornings when he plows the driveway before I go to work. He is good to me.
But… things go better when I am here more often. Our expenses have actually gone up since I have been working because the resourcefulness accumulated over so many years of being home full-time goes out the window on days that I am gone and others take over. No fault of anyone’s; I have 15 years experience at it and my husband has other things to take care of. The girls do their best when they baby-sit. Again, this is just the way it is.
We had not expected my husband to begin working full-time again, nor had we expected both teenage daughters to choose public school next year. But it happened. I am lucky enough that instead of simply being replaced, I will be able to work Saturdays and the occasional Friday evening. I am grateful for this; I work for and with wonderful people, and enjoy being there. Family is priority, and I have no childcare as of September.
So far the four youngest (and I) are really looking forward to this shift. We seem to get a whole lot more covered on the housework/chore/homeschooling front when it is just the five of us. Then we are happy to regroup with Dad & everyone else and have our evenings and weekends together. I think sometimes we need a bit of space in order to truly appreciate one another. Even long for one another, which generally leads to road trips LOL…
Another thing that happened this past week was that my stepdaughter and her family visited for the first time since they left PEI. She has two boys, ages 4 & 5. When I was expecting my youngest, she was expecting her first. It was a wonderful visit. Too short. We are all looking forward to seeing one another in the fall.
The thing about being close to 40 is that you see life in different terms. I have witnessed so many people hit their mid-30s and long for children after focusing on their career. Sometimes this happened, sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes they were thrilled to become parents, sometimes… not so much. I have had three women in their late 30s & early 40s tell me that they were DONE at 1 or 2 because it was just way too hard. I think it was “way too hard” because they had spent the better part of 20 years doing whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. It’s tough to suddenly have to focus on someone else 24/7. It makes me grateful that I was (cough cough) stupid enough to throw my life away and have seven babies from 21 to 32… 😉
Because I married a widower who had three children, I became Insta-Mom. The thing about being a stepmom vs stepdad is that we already have a bad rap thanks to fairy tales. We are also expected to immediately become loving devoted nurturers to our stepchildren, no matter what their characters may be like. And if we don’t, it’s on us; not them, not their bio parents, not life, not anything or anyone else (unless they are adults). Stepdads seem to be expected to just accept their wives’ kids and be a friend. So this was a bit rough at times. And some days I was fed up and not the nicest.
One of my stepkids seemed to immediately, well, give me a break. It was like she understood that none of this (“this” being her mother’s early battle with cancer and passing and the adjustment of life afterwards) was any more my fault than hers. I will always be grateful for this, because I had no idea what I was doing. Some people were supportive, some called me on it when I messed up and set me straight, and some just waited for me to mess up because they had a difficult time with the whole situation themselves. So you would think that step-parenting could have easily become a “negative” in my life.
Well, some days, and for some stretches, it did. I feel like an asshole for saying that, but it’s true. And then life went on. I screwed up a lot, but I learned from it. I also learned not to be a stupid doormat just because others had suffered and I felt guilty (ENFPs always feel guilty about something).
This past week, my stepdaughter told her son to “say goodnight to Grandma”. It is a big joke to everyone because I am 38 and according to a whole lot of people look 10 years younger. I laughed, but I wanted to cry (ENFPs do a lot of that too LOL), because I felt… accepted. Fully. And honestly? Really blessed that I get to be Grandma already. Seriously. Because people wait and wait for grand-kids, and I have them already. Goodnight, Grandma. Goodbye, Grandma. Hello, Grandma. I am blessed…
I have learned to see things differently these days, because blessings are everywhere. I feel so very honoured that I have loved ones in my life: parents, a grandmother, uncles and aunties, cousins, a brother and sister (technically “in law” but neither of us has an actual biological sister so we have adopted each other), stepkids, son-in-law, and grandchildren. I feel like, with that last part (grandchildren), a fragile gift has been bestowed on me, and I should cherish it deeply. And I will.
Beginning with a Walter the Farting Dog story time Skype session… 🙂