It’s Monday, and MiniSir is back at work after a 3-week vacation. There are no video games being played, the baby is demanding to be held, and I’m already missing the extra pair of hands. Grunt is fussy because he’s going through a pretty significant growth spurt – this is the one where he begins to make cognitive connections. It’s neat to be watch him as he realizes he can make his toys sing by pulling the handle, and hilarious to take part in as he begins to mimic my facial expressions. His smiles now light up the room when he sees someone or something he recognizes. But since all these things are new and scary, he is constantly seeking the comfort of our arms. It’s a wonderful but tiring experience.
Still, I’m glad the growth spurt happened when it did and not the weeks previous to that; we kickstarted our vacation by flying to Ontario for two weeks. Every summer we get MiniSir’s four children for two weeks, and since they live in Ottawa, we fly out to have them there. We are really lucky that both our families are in that area so we are not lacking for places to stay and things to do, but going from a three-person family to a seven-person one is a big difference, one that tends to overwhelm us for the first few days each time we have them.
This was also our first time having them as well as the baby, along with the first time Grunt had seen many of his relatives. We were only there 24 hours before I broke down into tears in Old Navy. Everything was incredibly different, as going from being a mommy of one to a mommy of five can be, and there are always challenges to face whenever we take custody of my stepchildren. They themselves are wonderful, and my relationship deepens with them each time we see them. What causes the issues is the level of care and attention they receive in their own home – ie, next to none – versus the love and affection they get from their father, stepmother, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins when we have them. It always results in teary breakdowns halfway through their visit when they realize that eventually they will have to go back to their own home.
The crying on my part shortly after we arrived simply had to do with the fact that I wasn’t used to bring pulled in so many directions, and that even though MiniSir was on leave, this was not really a vacation for us. Moreover, the children’s mother sent them with lice, winter clothes, and shoes with holes in them. I would swear this was on purpose if not for the simple fact that she just doesn’t pay enough attention to them for it to be. So we pay to fly there, pay to fully clothe them, and pay for a van to drive them around in, and you’re looking at the same cost as a nice vacation for the three of us instead. Sometimes, it just gets to be too much.
Which leads me to having to be two different kinds of mommy: the mommy that loves them, that shows them time and affection, that nurtures and encourages them. But I’m also the mommy that will always come second no matter what because I came second into their lives. The sad part is that I’m not even upset by this – what upsets me more is when their own father comes second as well, simply because of the restrictions that have been placed on his ability to see them and the insinuation of their stepfather into everything that MiniSir did with them as he attempts to “win them over”.
Just FYI: parenting is not about who wins and who doesn’t. It’s about being a good parent, which is not and should never be, a contest.
What is reassuring is that MiniSir goes out of his way to assure me I’m being the best mommy I can be for them. And now I have Grunt, my very own sweet baby I get to keep with me and mould into a human, which will help me accept that being someone’s second mommy is still a great mommy to be.