“Hi! I’m Jodi. I’m Colten’s dad’s girlfriend. Nice to meet you!”
Yesterday, we had a parent/teacher meeting. One of his teachers looked at me and said, “Excuse me, I don’t mean to pry into your relationship, but I’ve never met you before. How long have you been around?” As my cheeks burned from trying to escape my face, I heard myself giving a brief history of my relationship with Colten feeling like maybe I really shouldn’t be in that meeting.
Of course, I understand that it’s important for his educators to know the players in Colten’s home life. The question made me wonder if she would have asked had I introduced myself as Colten’s step-mother or Luc’s wife. I felt (probably unnecessarily) like I had to defend my position in our family as Colten’s dad’s girlfriend. It felt like it was one of those questions that’s not really a question but an accusation.
Didn’t we all spend some time in elementary school learning that families come in all sorts of flavours, colours, shapes and sizes? Everybody knows that…. don’t they? Did my presence, attention and contribution in this meeting alone not demonstrate my dedication? I guess not, and I get that. There are lots of important people in a child’s life who float in and out at their leisure. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been as offended if it hadn’t taken such a long time for Colten and I to develop the relationship that we have today. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been as offended if I hadn’t had a really hard time defining who I am in this family for myself. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been as offended if I hadn’t already asked myself how long I would be around. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been as offended if I hadn’t sensed people wondering the same thing numerous times in similar situations. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been as offended if she hadn’t poked me in my sore spot.
I won’t lie and say that I’m not one of those step-moms who try to replace the child’s mother. Because, honestly, I catch myself doing just that but I’m learning that that’s not the role I’m meant to play. But here’s a bit about the role that I am meant to play:
I laugh hysterically when he says things like:
“Imagine if the guy in that poster on the wall farted. That would be so amusing.”
“When I was born, I peed on the doctor cause I had to hold it in all that time.”
I listen to his stories, try to teach him what little I’ve learned in life, call him out on his bullshit when he needs it and adore him to no end. I watch him struggle everyday and it makes my throat hurt from trying to keep from crying. I, also, watch him turn his struggles into challenges that he can face and it makes my throat hurt from trying to keep from crying. I stand beside his father and try to help him become a strong, healthy, independent man.
I am Colten’s friend. I am Colten’s #1 fan. I am Colten’s Dad’s girlfriend.
And that’s a pretty blessed role to play.
Update: This wacky little family has since added two beauty girls to the lot who drive Colten to all ends of annoyance…