Today’s For Better or For Worse hit a little close to home.
It reminds me of when Jim and I first began dating. Many times Jessie’s mother would be emotionally distant from her (out of spite to Jim), and naturally Jessie would seek the attention and love she craved from me instead. Then her mother would be “mommy” again, and Jessie would withdraw from me. This back and forth motion nonsense has gone on for years. There are many times I’ve felt like Elizabeth in the cartoon above … I wasn’t “mommy” but I was there so I’ll do.
Without knowing it, Jessie gave me the best compliment last week when she had gotten sick at school. She specifically asked the school nurse to call me and ask if I could come get her. Not her father. Not her mother. Me.
Her mother is hard to get a hold of sometimes, and usually they call Jim first. They’re supposed to. I’m not a biological parent, so I’m always “last in line” when it comes to these things. But she kept asking for me, and in doing so it hit me that when she’s been ill in the past, she’s always wanted me. She trusts me when it comes to her well-being, and in those situations, prefers me to her own mother. She knows I would never do anything to harm her, and always want what’s best for her.
I suppose that’s the best I could ever hope for?
I know I can never replace her mother, and I’ve assured Jessie of this for years. But being a step-parent is hard. Her mother views me as competition. She resents my relationship with Jessie and at times has taken her anger and frustration out on Jessie.
Being a step-child is harder. Jessie doesn’t want to hurt her mother’s feelings by wanting my love and attention, but she also doesn’t want to hurt mine by wanting her mother. Like I said, there a lot times I feel like Elizabeth –I’m not “mommy” but I’m there when she has needed me.
Maybe one day I’ll be more …