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“A Step-Mom’s Tears” by Margarite R. Stever

In a world so full of strife, it was wonderful to celebrate something happy today (Friday, June 19, 2020). We celebrated my step-daughter’s birthday by taking her and my grandson to a local Mexican restaurant for a tasty lunch. We enjoyed fabulous food, great conversation, and gave her the birthday present we had for her.

She’s not a little girl anymore. She is a full grown woman with one child of her own and another on the way. She’s a nurse who lovingly cares for the sick and weak. She also takes excellent care of my elderly mother-in-law.

In my heart, she’s still six years old. That’s was her age when I met her as her daddy’s new girlfriend many years ago. Her response to me was electric, sparks flying everywhere. We’ve had an interesting relationship that’s never been boring. Through it all, we always loved each other, even if we didn’t understand each other.

I wrote a narrative about the evolution of our relationship a few years ago. It was published in 2015 by Mamalode Magazine Better Together. The story’s timeline ends when my girl is still a year from graduating college with her degree in nursing.

Please enjoy this freshly edited version of “A Step-Mom’s Tears,” which still chokes me up every time I read it. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

A Step-Mom’s Tears By Margarite R. Stever

“My daddy! You can’t have him!” were Emma’s first words to me when I met her. I had never dated a man with children before and was shocked by her vehement outburst. The entire evening was strained with tension so thick that you could practically see it. She glared at me all through dinner and the movie we’d rented. I was certain the little girl absolutely hated me.

I drove home that night thinking that my new relationship was sure to be short-lived if my boyfriend’s daughter hated me. I was upset at the prospect of ending things since we had only been dating a few weeks, and I was already completely in love with him. However, I knew it had to be done if her animosity continued.

Bryan called me the next day as usual. During our conversation, I was surprised when his daughter asked to speak with me. In the precocious fashion typical of a six-year-old she asked, “When are you coming back to see me?”

“I’m not sure,” I replied. “Do you want me to come back to see you?”

“Yes! You can watch my favorite video with me,” she said.

The next evening, I sat in the floor of Emma’s bedroom and watched “Spice World” while she pointed out her favorite Spice Girl for me. We talked for a long time. She confided that she hated dolls and anything pink. Ironically, most of her bedroom was pink. “I’ve just had too much pink,” she explained.

Thus began my relationship with Emma. It could be described as a roller coaster with all of the ups, downs, twists, and turns. She wasn’t ready for a new woman in her life, and we both had difficulty adjusting to our new roles.

Emma often blamed me for her parents being apart, even though I didn’t even meet her dad until after their divorce. Through the years, I have often heard, “If it wasn’t for you, my mommy and daddy would be together.” She threw a screaming fit at our wedding because we refused to take her on our honeymoon with us. My brand-new husband actually considered it until I put my foot down on the matter.

“You aren’t my mom, and my mom says I don’t have to listen to you,” Emma often said when she was upset with me. Of course, she later hit me with the normal statements born of teen angst such as, “You are ruining my life!” “You will never understand me.” “You just don’t know anything!”

She acted out against me quite a bit. She cut up my book marks, tore pages from my books, put super glue on my bedroom door knob, tried to play her father, mother, and me against each other, and swiped my makeup on a regular basis.

I cried many tears of frustration, anger, sadness, and pain. Yet when Emma was hurting, she would run into my arms for comfort. When she needed something late at night for school the next day, I was the one she sought. When she had nightmares, it was my name that carried through the night in urgent wails.

As the years passed, our relationship evolved. The more she matured, the closer we became. We started watching TV together, going out to dinner together, and talking about boys. She began talking to me about things that upset her, worried her, made her happy, and made her hopeful. She even included me in her major decisions.

When it was time for Emma to learn to drive, she insisted that I be the person to teach her. She was terrified to get behind the wheel at first. I spent many hours driving her car with her in the passenger seat just watching me go through the motions. Once she finally got the hang of it, I couldn’t keep her out of the car.

She moved in with her mother for a couple years to attend college before deciding to transfer to our local university and moving back home with us. We had many long discussions about her potential career paths because she just couldn’t seem to find her niche and kept changing majors. When she finally decided that she wanted to be a nurse, I felt a huge weight lift off me.

Halfway through college, the car that we bought for her sixteenth birthday wore out. She insisted I go car shopping with her, and I was a part of that very big decision. Emma bought a reliable, sporty little car, which she has driven all over the state including a shopping trip to a major city with me.

She has one more year of college left before she graduates and becomes a registered nurse. Our relationship has evolved into something beautiful. She takes me into consideration and occasionally buys me cold drinks from the convenience store on her way home from work or school. She even gave me a Mothers’ Day card last year. It was my first one. We now have long talks about her future, and she asks about my childhood, college years, first apartment, first job, and what my life was like as a newlywed and new step-mom.

I am extremely proud of the young woman that she has become. She studies diligently, consistently goes to work (often working later than her scheduled shift), and still manages to spend a little time with her family and boyfriend. She has developed a compassionate and caring nature that will serve her well in her career as a nurse.

Last weekend, I was reading a sad story and crying when she got home from work. She came running up to me and demanded to know what was wrong. “Did somebody die? Did Dad do something? Are you hurt? What is wrong?”

When I told her about the story I was reading she said, “Oh! That hits you right in the feelings, doesn’t it? Do you want me to go get you a chocolate shake to make you feel better?”

Her concern brought me tears of great joy. Thank you for reading Ozarks Maven! If you’ve enjoyed my little seeds of wisdom and joy, please subscribe to Ozarks Maven, Like Ozarks Maven on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter @OzarksMaven.

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