Random Blog A Musing Farf

Saturday, November 04, 2006

OLD PICTURES

Recently I cleaned out my closets. Usually, I mean to do this every six months when the seasons really change but last spring Husband and I moved in March and, in order to make life a little simpler with the wedding looming, we put all of our winter clothes in storage. When they arrived back from storage last week, I realized I had never made room in the closets for them and, as a result, was forced to empty out all the closets and put everything away again.

In the midst of closet cleaning, I found a plastic bag filled with photographs which had fallen to the back of the closet while we were moving in and which I had never noticed. I started going through the pictures, all of which were of my Ex’s kids. Back in 1998-2001, I dated a guy named Andrew. In retrospect, he was an asshole with a penchant for drama and a general disrespect of women, but at the time, I did not see it. And, even when I did see, I was head over heels in love with his children.
Not longer after Andrew and I moved in together, his Ex-wife was arrested on drug related charges and the kids came to live with us. Andrew had been an absent father when he was married and as a result his kids barely knew him. The transition was hardly easy for anyone but in the end, we all settled into our roles as a more or less happy family. Ultimately, things with Andrew did not work out. His violent and explosive temper made it so that I literally feared for my safety on more than one occasion and moving to NY to attend law school was the perfect way to end the relationship. But, leaving Andrew also meant leaving the children. I had no means to protect them.

So, looking through the pictures, I started to wonder what ever happened to the little girl who would sit on my lap and sing me songs from the Lion King and Titanic. Does she still love the smell of nail polish and has she learned to sit still when someone tries to paint her fingernails? Does she still obsess over Barbie? She was pretty tough and too smart for her own good. And then there was the little boy who tried so hard to be tough but was so sensitive that my heart always broke for him. Between the divorce and his parents’ antics, he was damaged visibly but I will never forget the day, while skateboarding on Pennsylvania Avenue, when he grabbed my hand and told me that I was the only adult he could trust.

But despite my affection for his children, I could not stay with Andrew. Last I heard, he had married a woman with whom he had a passionate, but ultimately turbulent relationship.

That’s the thing about being a (almost) step-mom. You love these kids as if they came from your womb and spend so much time trying to make sure that they are happy, but in the end, you have no real say and no ability to follow-up. All I can do is hope that I was enough of a positive influence to break the cycle of abuse and betrayal that probably stretched back well before they were born. That is, if they even remember me.

So, I put the pictures back into the bag and placed the bag back into the far reaches of the closet. I will likely forget soon where they are and not notice the pictures again until the next closet cleaning. And maybe, one day, when they are off to college or packing for a long trip, one of the children will find some pictures of me in their own closet and suddenly remember that, no matter how things turned out, there was someone who loved them.

5 comments:

Peg said...

I'm willing to bet that they DO remember you--especially when the little guy told you that you were the only adult he could trust...

It brings a tear to my eye reading this--I'm glad you left him, for it sounds like he had HUGE issues, and you are obviously a perfect fit for your hubby.

But you nailed the stepmom thing--you can bust your humps, rend your heart, give all you can and at the end of the day--you don't get a say, and in my case anyway--I get to be a huge scapegoat for all that is wrong in my stepchildren's world. *sigh*

Great post--thanks for sharing it!

Sara said...

Actually, you inspired me to write it. I always read about Secret Admirer's children and am amazed by how you put a hilarous spin on Mommie Dearest's ridculousness (even thought at times it must be so difficult to laugh) and how those kids are lucky to have you in their life.

Peg said...

Wow--thanks! *blushes furiously*

You know, seriously, sometimes I have to laugh, or else I'd cry. And honestly, some of the shenanegins of Mommie Dearest are just un-friggin-believable, and funny in their own right--they practically write themselves!!

Suzanne said...

Damn, I did not know that kids were involved. It must have been really hard to leave them. Hopefull if things are still bad, someone else has stepped into their lives, even if your shoes are too big to fill.

Allison Fishman said...

Touching, wonderful, beautiful. Thank you.