H as in hellfire and damnation.
I knew post-vacation reentry into the work world would be painful. I did not, however, anticipate a senior leader on my team telling me that I was “making the department looks like idiots” for not doing something I wasn’t told I was supposed to do.
H as in Holly Holy.
Because we are insane and because I love me some Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show, Mr. Wonderful and I spent six hours in the car on Thursday, journeying to see Neil Diamond. We met my brother and it was great. It was my third time seeing the Solitary Man, and my brother’s fourth. It was Mr. Wonderful’s first interaction with Neil.
And my brother and I call him Neil because we are so close.
Mr. Wonderful thought Neil should have closed the show with America instead of Brother Love. My brother responded, “It’s a tradition – he always closes with Brother Love! But, since you’re a Neil virgin, it’s ok. You just didn’t know any better.”
H as in holy shit.
I spent the weekend with Mr. Wonderful, the Ladybug, Mr. Wonderful’s parents, his grandma, and his niece and nephew. We were at the lake house for the Ladybug’s 5th birthday extravaganza.
On the way, Mr. Wonderful and I picked up the Ladybug from her mother’s house. I sat in the car with the dogs and waited. At one point, Mr. Wonderful came out by himself, opened the door and said, “We can go, but first we all need to have a conference. Come inside.”
I had my hand on my seatbelt and felt like barfing when he said, “Just kidding! I just came out to get her flip-flops.”
The kids stayed up way too late on Friday night and didn’t get naps on Saturday. You can see where this is going. Saturday night was full-out mental breakdown, pretty much across the board.
Mr. Wonderful was trying to put the Ladybug to bed and you could hear her screams outside the house. I walked in, thinking I could help … and then I realized that I was completely helpless. She is not comforted by me. Half the time, she doesn’t acknowledge me when I speak to her. I am not the mom, and I will never be the mom, and when she’s having a temper tantrum of seismic proportions, me getting involved does not help. I asked Mr. Wonderful how I could help and he just looked at me.
So, I went to the bathroom. I walked in to find Mr. Wonderful’s grandma, struggling to get off the john.
So while the house was filled with a temperriffic 5-year-old’s screams, I pulled an 87-year-old off the can. And then I sat at the kitchen table, feeling the screaming in the individual yarns of carpet. And Mr. Wonderful’s mom asked if I wanted a drink, and all I could do was laugh.
I am overwhelmed.
After the Ladybug fell asleep, Mr. Wonderful said he would apologize to my parents if, after that episode, I never gave them grandchildren. My response was simply, “What do you mean ‘if?'”
Becoming a stepparent sucks serious ass. I’m not saying that I’m not all in, or that I don’t understand the magnitude of getting involved at this level. I’m saying that finding the footholds, ironing out the communication, and figuring out roles and responsibilities – all of the transitional stuff – makes me feel like shit.
I’m going to be the Ladybug’s bonus mom. But right now, I am very tentative about what role I’m supposed to have with her. And the few times that I’ve taken charge, like I’m a grown-up or something, Mr. Wonderful has stepped in, either to take over or to “help me out.”
I’ve never pushed a baby through my ladyparts, but that doesn’t mean I’m an idiot. I babysat a shitload as a teenager and I have been around my friends’ kids. I am not socially inept. I don’t need Mr. Wonderful telling me to wish his daughter a happy birthday. I am not quite that clueless.
But it’s a fine line – Mr. Wonderful is desperate for more time with the Ladybug. And because his parenting time is so precious, I am reticent to step in as a parental-type figure, lest I rob him of some of that time.
But when the Ladybug – who at 5, is way too old to kick and scream over anything – is having a fit of epic proportions and all I can do is sit and feel the kicking reverberate through the floorboards?
Well, I feel like throwing a fit, too. At the very core is something so shameful and embarrassing: I am hurt that Mr. Wonderful married someone else. I’m hurt that he decided to have a baby with that woman. I’m hurt that now I have to have that woman – who doesn’t even make eye contact with me – in my life. I’m hurt that I now have to figure out how to navigate this situation and no one will give me a fucking map.
I’m hurt that he couldn’t wait for me.
Don’t get me wrong: the Ladybug is an amazing person. I don’t deny that, and Mr. Wonderful loves being a dad and he’s really good at it. I don’t mean to deny any of that. It’s just … it’s just that if we’re throwing temper tantrums, this is mine.
And now I’m done.