Ahhh.. I remember vividly the first time I heard those words from my oldest step-daughter Megan.
It was the second time I had been with the girls on an outing. Their dad and I had been dating for several months. We could tell our relationship was heading into serious territory, so it was time to incorporate the girls into our relationship.
It was a beautiful sunny day and we were at a minor league baseball game just sitting in the bleachers. Todd had gone to the concession stand for a soda leaving me and girls to take in the antics of the mascot.
We were having a good time, lots of laughter and talking. Bri, the youngest, was sitting on my lap when out of nowhere I hear Megan say, “You know you’re not my mom.” She didn’t say it with spite or malice, just as a matter of fact.
I was completely dumbstruck. I didn’t know what to say and when I looked down, Bri was staring at me with anticipation. I don’t know if they thought I would be angry or upset; but as I sat there trying to think of what to say I actually felt sadness. Did she not want me to be her mom? In her eyes was I not good enough for her, her sister, or her dad?
These self doubts quickly went away when I realized that they were still waiting for an answer. So being as cool as I am, I said, “I know.” Alright, so not the most profound thing I could have said but it’s all I had.
Later that night when we sat down for dinner I was brave enough to bring up the subject again. At the end of our conversation I understood the need for her to say it. She wasn’t saying it for my benefit; she said it for her own. She is proud of who she is and where she comes from. It was important for her to put that line between us. She needed to feel secure in her place and the way to do that was to put me in mine.
Looking back, some 10 years later, (no age jokes!) I can be thankful that I heard these words the way I did. I didn’t get them screamed at me in the midst of a tween meltdown, and they weren’t followed by “I hate you.” No I am blessed in the fact that those words were uttered early on; that we got passed it and were able to move on in our relationship. Don’t get me wrong; in the 10 years since, there have been many tween meltdowns and TONS of teenage drama. But because such a young girl was eager to validate herself in her own eyes, she gained not just another mom, but a cheerleader in life.