Dear Patron Saint of Stepmoms…

Lauren Hamilton
Oct 13, 2017 · 5 min read

…who does not exist: when I close my eyes and do that “connect to my breath” thing…please inspire me with wisdom. Lead me not into “wtf, how is this normal?” for, as good as my intentions may be, I am a sucker for Games People Play. Please, my Lady of New Wives of Husbands Screwed Over by Ex Wives and the Family Court System, forgive me my irritability, as I color code one more entry in the endless “documentation folder,” as I forgive those who boldly reference the decree, as in, “please have them at my house by 6, we’re following the decree (this week, based on my mood, as opposed to other weeks when I was feeling less manic and I asked you to drop them off bathed & doped on melatonin at bedtime).”

Yea, as ye humble me before the nonsensical Court of Mothers Always Get What They Ask For, and Fathers Are Considered Visitors of Their Children, please also humble her ass for a second…intervene, if you will, with Mary, or whomever the Proper Saint of Proper Motherhood is. Not like Mary ever asked to mother Jesus, as I never asked to mother my stepsons, but here we are. We were both, it seems, called.

I take my call seriously. I love the two curly haired boys my heart has adopted, what the hip stepmoms call their “bonus children,” as somehow this most benign of words, “step,” could deserve such negative connotations. I suppose it could be a step down or a step up, and either puts one mom in the penalty box and the other on a pedestal. I prefer to look at it as a lateral step to the left or right. I’m a step-and-a-skip-mom. A hop-and-a-jump-mom. The mom in the blue house, as opposed to the mom in the yellow one.

Howver. Reality, and Mother Nature, are not so equal in their terms. My step-kids are not built from my DNA, they didn’t reside in my body for almost a year, I did not birth or sustain them with that body. I have 3 children I *did* do all of the above for, and it is-it’s just…different. There’s a biological glow coming off my birthed children’s bodies that often hypnotizes me into believing they’re perfect, whereas my stepsons are unfortunately reality-bound in my perception. The opposite is true for my husband, and any blended family member will tell you this dynamic is real, and crazy-frustrating. I want to BOND, HARD, with my stepsons, wrap them up in blankies and keep them on my lap on a cold morning, singing them lullabies. I want to kiss their tear-soaked faces and calm their shuddering shoulders. The countless nights I spent worrying over my fevered babies I never got with my stepsons…and my mom-brain knows it. My husband gets more time with my children, his “bonuses”, and as a result, I can see that true bond forming the way plants grow — first there’s nothing, just a lot of waiting and then ONE DAY-a stalk. Then a leaf. Then a flower.

So this is why I implore you, Saint of Stepmoms I just made up…I only see those boys every other weekend, as does their father, which seems criminal and also pointless, as we live minutes away from their mother. But the less time we have, the more money we pay up to baby mama, and it is clear she prefers it this way. If I were her? And I am her proxy, as I too am a divorced mother who negotiated custody with the father of her children-I would take the time. The help. The influence of the kids’ frickin wonderful father, over the money, every time.

Instead, she whined to me once, about the dollar amount of her child support payments. “It barely covers tuition for one of the boys.” I felt a nauseous churn rip through my core as if I’d been violently flipped upside down. Squeezed my lips together so I didn’t blurt “MAYBE DON’T UNILATERALLY DECIDE TO PUT THE KIDS IN PRIVATE SCHOOL, THEN.” Instead I quietly explained that I don’t get child support because I wanted my ex and I to share time with the kids. Hashtag Moral Advantage.

Look, if I’m a bit smug, and more than a bit rattled: the child support we pay out every month is like two car payments combined, so. It’s nothing to sneeze at, lady. And she makes tens of thousands more per year? It’s like we’re paying her to hold the kids hostage and make us feel bad. If I were in an imaginary courtroom right now where things like this actually mattered, I would hold up the printed email wherein she asked us to send boys’ underpants to her house since she was “running out” (a thing she managed to blame on us-apparently on our 4 days a month we see them, they were smuggling in pairs of underwear?) and couldn’t, at that time, afford to go out and buy a 5 pack, and I would beg the court: tell me what she’s even using child support for?? When I left my husband, jobless, a woman with “stay at home mom” to show for her previous decade on a resume, my ex gave me $500.00 to “get my start”, and then for a couple months, $100.00 a week. This is a man who pulls six figures, but I was ok with it because I didn’t want his money…I wanted him to be the best dad he could be. I used this princely sum to buy clothes for the kids to wear while with me., diapers & wipes, other household sundry (I didn’t even take the towels when I left), and then, on my $100 stipend, bought gas to go get them, food for them, and yes, the occasional 5 pack of undies. Yeah, I had to coupon and price compare feverishly, yes, I had to shop at Wal-Mart. I did this, while looking for a job, and when I got one-my ex stopped “making it rain” with crisp 20’s unpeeled from a wallet clip.

Maybe, my Lady Saint of Lady-You’re-Crazy, I want you to exist so bad because I can’t talk about any of this in polite society. Isn’t that what Saints are for? To hear the downtrodden, pitiful souls writhing in mortality with their “not for polite society” probs?

Well, this is mine. My evermore, ever-failed, forever and ever.

Yours in temporal, mortal stupidity,

La

A book, a flower, and a sword. Sounds about right.

Lauren Hamilton

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Personalizing tragedy, politicizing the personal, I am a human woman who writes words.