my son once removed

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I don’t like the word step. Its fine for stools and stones, but with my varied past, I don’t find them appropriate for families.

Visions of slammed doors and hidden diaries plague me with the use of step-brother, father or child.

So when I met my person, and found that he already had a son of his own, it took some definite soul searching on my end.

I certainly knew all the things not to do. Don’t treat them as a burden, don’t shun them from your love, and never, ever make them feel like an unwelcome visitor in their own home.

Most importantly, I knew this child did not need another Mommy. He had one, and from the looks of things, she loved him more than a mommy brigade. From my experience, there was no coming back from trying to fill those heralded shoes. So I didn’t.

The day eventually came when this toe headed boy asked if he could call me Mom. I didn’t hesitate for an instant to tell him that I loved him bigger than my whole body, but that he already had one. I was sure we could figure something else out; that wouldn’t ruffle feathers or cause heated words with the eventual onset of teenage angst.

We never figured out a better term.

Many years and several moves down the road and I’m not sure if I was as wise as I once thought in my early twenties. I was there for his first training-wheel-free foray, and he was included in our wedding; fancy toddler tails and all. I had every intention of changing what couldn’t be changed for me, and creating an unconventional mold that everyone could fit into. But more often than not, those calls aren’t really up to us.

There was a period where I was the ultra-cool older sister, and was privileged to hear stories that he wasn’t comfortable telling his father about. We stayed up late, snorting over SNL and eating verboten snacks. We posed for silly pictures that may or may not have included matching Marilyn Monroe dresses (I’m hiding these for dating blackmail), and he stayed up late into the night, helping his father and I fill in for the Easter Bunny and hide eggs with dye stained hands.

Now my little brotha from another mother has entered high school. He lives three hours away from us. He’s discovered girls and invented punk rock, (just ask him). We’re going on almost a year since he’s slept under our roof.

While my children idolize him, they’re moving to that place where their brother is a mythical creature; spoken of, but rarely seen. My younger son mentions him with growing pauses, while my daughter unfailingly crafts pieces of her heart, mailed off for every holiday, with fervent wishes for him to visit, and soon. Heartbreaking does not come close to describing my feelings about this. Soul crushing may be a better term. She waits to hear back from him, and at this point, carrier pigeon would suffice, but it hasn’t happened, and I’m beginning to lose hope.

Maybe if I had allowed him to call me Mom, a dutiful bond would have come along with it, and he’d feel the pull to visit the other side of his family, regardless of whether his father and him see eye to eye. Its doubtful, but I can’t help but wonder if there was something along the way that I could have done differently, or better, to have family portraits that include five instead of four.

I don’t have a pretty little bow to tie this meandering up with. I hope one comes soon.


1 comment

  1. Joanne Woodie

    Omg, Michelle! This was beautiful. And, I believe at least, that you did all you could do. I remember those times. You were wonderful….

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