Monday, May 14, 2012

What is family?

I haven’t been writing mainly because Girl Scout cookies have consumed my life this month.  I am in the very home stretch of this fiasco with cookies, cookie cupboards, writing receipts, counting boxes and managing all the side stuff, I am so done with cookies and I haven’t even gotten to eat any yet!

Stress in my own little world…..

Beside the cookie fiasco-ness, I’ve had my own fair share of stresses, things happening around me that I didn’t want to write about when they happened.  Then I realized that the people who this is about has stated “I don’t have time to read your stuff….” so I know I’m safe talking about this to the world because frankly, these particular family members don’t give a crap anyway.

What is “family”? 

Webster and Wikipedia have very interesting definitions of what family is (head scratchers, really).  Yahoo answers have down-to-earth answers that are more human-related.  Their answers basically boiled down to love.  Unconditional love, being there for each other no matter what.  “Family” doesn’t necessarily mean blood-related, but as long as you love someone unconditionally, be there for them in good times and bad, you can consider yourselves as “family”.

A disturbing phone call….

I get a phone call on the day we were supposed to visit with our grandson.  He just turned one year old and this was our third visit with him.  My stepson said that his son’s mother did not want me to be known as Grandma to their son (who would technically be my step-grandson).  I was taken aback by this comment and yet I couldn’t get a satisfying answer.  The only explanation I could get was, “please go along with this so I don’t have to have a 2-hour argument with her on the way home.”  I couldn’t agree with this new-found information and they were due to walk through our door any minute. All I could do was hang up the phone and pray.  I wanted to be mad, I wanted to play the brat and make sure I called myself “Grandma” in front of the kid just to prove a point.  They couldn’t tell me how to behave in my own house.  What gave them the right to disconnect me from family like that?  I thought I meant more to my stepson after all these years.  All I could do was pray because the way I was feeling, I knew God wouldn’t be happy with the behavior I wanted to convey.

Boiling water….

When you boil water on the stove with the lid on the pot, you know the water is boiling by the way the steam bumps up the lid ever so slightly?  That maybe, if you could turn the heat up a little hotter, the steam could actually shoot the lid off the pot?  That’s how I felt during this whole visit with our grandson.  In fact, the only way I could keep the heat down on my simmering veins was to stay in the kitchen for as long as possible.  When I was able to get my blood down to a simmer and know that I could keep it there, I joined the family in the living room.  I wanted so badly to give her the evil eye, call myself “Grandma” and start a satisfying argument in front of everybody.  But I didn’t.  Jeff didn’t even know what was going on (he wasn’t home when I got the call) and my “subtle hints” were apparently too subtle.  I knew how Jeff would react so I didn’t want him to know until after they left.  When the kids were ready to leave, she wanted a picture with Jeff, my stepson and our grandson.  I walked out of the room and no one even noticed I left.  No one asked me to join the picture.  I then knew both my stepson and her were on the same page with this whole stupid stupidness.  I couldn’t even wait for them to leave as I ran upstairs and allowed the floodgates to open.  I haven’t cried like that in years.

Why am I so upset over this?  Over a child that I will probably never see again?  Or once a year, at best?  Once my stepson moves in with his fiance, he won’t be living in Ohio and she won’t bring our grandson around for visits.  I had to get some answers.

So I called her….

You know what her answer was? “Grandma” is sacred and you have to earn to be called “Grandma”.  I’m not the only one who’s upset over this decision.  All the other stepparents are upset at not being allowed to be called “Grandma” or “Grandpa”.  So what does that tell you?  She’s outnumbered and that she’s really cheating her son out of the love her family wants to give her son.  She said that if her son wants to call me “Grandma” when he gets older, as long as it’s his choice, he could do so.  Now there’s a head-scratching-puzzler for you there.  The conversation ended with us having to agree to disagree.  I can’t tell her how to raise her child and I don’t have to tell her how I’m going to raise my family.

How I’m reasoning with this….

I believe in my heart the reasons I’m so upset about this whole thing is that I don’t want her to have her way.  I don’t want a snotty barely-out-of-teenage years girl to tell me what I can and can’t do, especially in my own home.  The other reason is that I have stood up for my stepson over the years, I’ve defended him, loved him unconditionally (and still do), understood him when no one else did and I supported him on whatever decisions he made for himself and this is how he treats me.  That I mean so little to him that he has to go along with her and whatever she says just to avoid an argument.  That he can’t stand up for himself or for his son.  That at that moment when he called me, I felt so little love from him and I just couldn’t comprehend it, for I have never felt so little love from him before.

So what is “Family”?

Family is still loving the people in my life in good times and in bad.  That even if they never return their love, I will still love them, no matter what.  Loving family can hurt, a heart-wrenching hurt that could rip tears from your eyes and even still love them back when there is no love there at that moment. Family is believing that love will be there in some way, some time, even when you feel it may never be.  Being a stepparent is not for the weak or faint-of-heart.  Being a stepparent means having even more love for a family because I chose to be part of this family, and I want to give love even though there may not be a whole lot of love given back.
I believe I handled this situation as God wanted me to, just like I prayed about.  I eventually told Jeff about this and he reacted just as I thought he would.  And that was exactly why I didn’t tell him sooner.  I gave this to God to deal with.  I’ve made peace in my heart, although it is very hard at times.  God has given me so many other avenues to love in the meantime, which I will blog about very soon.

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