I am not a step parent. So take my opinion for what you will.
Step parenting is the most thankless job under the whole umbrella of thankless jobs called Parenting.
You have to be positive about and deal civilly with a person or people that there's probably a very good reason your spouse left. You have to put the needs and wants of these children above those of your relationship and sometimes you have to let those kids go off with someone that you don't trust. Not even a little bit. And you have to be pretty cheerful about it in the process.
"No, I don't hate your mom. I don't hate anyone. Sometimes I disagree with her, but that's to be expected."
You're the latecomer, you're the 5th wheel and yet you're also the glue, the brains and the heart of the operation.
While being a good parent and making decisions that kids may not agree with you still have to be the first to forgive and the first to give with people who don't love you and shouldn't be expected to, except that you've got to live together now. I mean, these kids didn't fall in love with you, they didn't decide they couldn't live without you. It's just another decision that they have no control over that affects every single moment of thier lives. Like getting assigned a roommate at boarding school. If boarding school were life long and your roommate dispensed your allowance, checked your homework and cooked all your meals.
"You're not my mom!"
Yet, you love them. Because you can't raise kids without loving them. At least not well. You want the best for them. You delight in seeing them grow into amazing human beings. You cry for their losses and you grind your teeth in frustration at their shortcomings.
And that is possibly the worst part of step parenting. If you didn't love them you could stop fighting the good fight, stop doing the right thing, walk away from the relationship. We've all walked away from a perfectly good romance when things got hairy, for our own good, for our sanity or for reasons much less clear and defensible. But, there are kids involved now, so if you're a step parent worth your salt (the salt ground into your wounds almost every day) you stay.
That's pretty fucking brave. Right on the cusp of stupid. But in a good way.
So, raise your glass to a step parent today. Then give your drink to them. They need it.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
I am not a step parent. So take my opinion for what you will.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Back at her apartment she pointed him toward the kitchen and went to change out of work clothes. She never knew what to do at times like this. Did you really slip into something sexy and let them know you wanted them or did you pretend this was a friendly get together? There was Theresa too. Was he still with her? She compromised. Washed her face and under her arms, freshened make up, stripped naked then put on just a pair of flannel pants and a tank.
When she came out of he was drinking a beer, checking out her music.
“Since when did you go all country?”
“It’s not all country. There’s some stuff from the old days. Probably some Floyd, something you can get behind.”
“Well there’s definitely something I can…”
He looked at her sideways with a grin.
“Yeah yeah yeah”
She headed to the kitchen. While she opened her beer she heard Madonna come up on the stereo.
They sat down on the couch and started to talk. Slowly at first but the discussion heating up. Her job, his job, him going back to school, politics, her going back to school. While she got particularly heated over a point he lay back with his head in her lap to listen. She kept talking, currying his hair with her fingers, enjoying his admiring looks.
When she cooled down he reached up to her neck and gentled her to him, close enough to breathe each other.
“You are so beautiful.”
His tongue along her lips, his lips nuzzling her face and neck. She wriggled down to lay on top of him, giving as good as she got.
Like their discussions their kissing got heated, more insistent. His hands rediscovering her breasts, hers reflexively gripping his ass. She kept trying to think that something might be wrong with this but her skin took her attention away and then he flipped her over. He liked to be on top, in control. He didn’t mind when she was aggressive but only when he said it was time for it.
Suddenly he stopped and just looked at her. Her eyes flew open. He was just an inch from her face looking in her eyes, not quite touching lips.
“I came here for a reason.”
Pounding heart joined by a lump in her throat.
“I want to tell you something.”
It was all she had.
“I’m getting married.”
There was spit caught in her throat. She couldn’t swallow it. She was trapped, suffocating. All her energy in keeping her face neutral. Had to get out, get away from him now!
He looked hurt.
“You’re squashing me, can’t breathe.”
Her face was neutral but her hands and feet were scrabbling, shoving him off her so hard that when he lifted his weight she fell onto the floor. And she could see that if she hadn’t looked so pathetic he would have laughed.
Now the challenge was not to cry.
“You want another beer?”
Escape to the kitchen. Her shaking hands trying to open the bottles would give her extra time. But he heard her fumbling and came in. From behind he enclosed her in those strong arms and felt her tremble.
“Why? “ she asked.
The reasons didn’t really matter. He’d been with Theresa for years. Not as many as with Mags but steadier. Theresa was an architect, made good money. They had college, mutual friends, a dog; they’d already made a life together. This was the next logical step.
Love isn’t logical. And she loved him. Had for years on end. He loved her too. It had to be love if she was willing to break all the rules to be with him.
“You OK?” he asked again.
“Yeah. Well, no, but yeah.”
“You want this beer?”
He opened it for her and watched as she took a long pull from the bottle. A part of him wanted her to beg him not to. Give him a reason not to get married, something other than a lack of spark. Who leaves a woman after 10 years because there’s no spark? An idiot. And that’s just what his family would say and his friends. So he’d tried to ignore the spark issue. Easy enough for the most part but sparks burn and smolder. Inside him a jolly little blaze was developing from being so near Margaret. She ignited his body but also his mind and his heart and no matter the practical reasons for not marrying her he couldn’t forget her or even stay away from her.
Where do you put that sort of connection? How do you deal with it?
She wandered into the living room, stopped the CD player, turned on the television. He sat next to her. She handed him the remote.
She looked at him.
She looked away.
An hour later she was asleep, her feet in his lap and he had to go. His cell phone had been off for hours. Theresa would be wondering what happened. He needed to get back to his motel and be ready to leave on time tomorrow.
Mags woke up when he slid out from under her feet. Silently she watched him gather his things, put on his shoes. Only when he knelt to kiss her did he realize she was awake.
“I’ve got to go.”
“I’ll see you soon.”
“I meant what I said.”
“I know it was ages ago but I meant it. If you marry her I can’t see you anymore. I have to draw the line somewhere.”
He smiled, started to put on the charm.
“But why there? It’s just a piece of paper.”
“It‘s a commitment.”
“I was committed to her before. You knew…”
Mags’s eyes changed the smallest bit and it said everything. She hadn’t really known, not until now.
It turned his fingers cold to realize that. Changed the whole meaning of his engagement. But it was too late to stop now.For lack of anything better to do he smoothed the blanket around her and kissed her forehead. He kept hoping some words would come to him but they didn’t so he had to just get up and go.
Sunday, July 25, 2004
I have despair.
Sounds like I translated that but I just like the way it sounds. Because I have it. Hold it. It's an undercurrent these days. Politics, personal, friends, world, city.
So I just watched Whalerider.
Small community going to pot and one person makes a difference, bands them together and helps them to improve themselves. Beautifully done, gorgeous young woman, wonderful place, moving story.
But, not meaning to date myself, we are the world now. My boss talks about it, all the politicians do, all the environmentalists. We live it every day. Take your bank card to Europe and pull $100 out of your US checking account in under 3 minutes. Send off a note to your friend in Australia. By e-mail. And have it arrive moments later. Make a phone call. Watch TV.
We are billions of people. And we do have the ability to affect all of those other people. For the most part the only ways I can think of are violent and bad. Weapons, bombs, electing crap officials. With the right weapon one single person can affect the lives of millions of others relatively easily.
But how do we affect each other well? One person can't seem to stop even one of those weapons or change any minds. That's not true. I'm sure that one person can change some minds but not enough to make an appreciable difference. Not enough to change the course that we seem to be on. We still operate under a war time mentality, an imperitive, if you will, because those are the people with power.
The Power of Peace.
Never heard of it?
Me either. Because we haven't located it yet.
I know that I'm not alone in struggling with the question of how I can make enough of a difference to rest my heart. But I am one of those legion. My dream job isn't in politics or activism or even teaching any more; how can I help? I used to think that reaching one person at a time was enough. And, for my art, I guess it is. I'd rather reach more than one at a time but if I get one per performance that seems like enough to me. Enough reason to move forward and try to reach more people next time at least. But what if, in terms of peace and justice and cooperative globalization I reach just one kid - Rosa - or 3 kids - Rosa and Brendan and Kaleigh - is that enough? Because clearly not everyone, and I feel not enough people, are working in that direction. And even the people that are, aren't always reaching even as many people as I am.
I am paralyzed by my lack of confidence that November's election will elect anyone but Bush. I have little money. I can't fund a huge push for voter registration. I don't have an enormous amount of faith in the main opponent to our President. And I rarely, if ever, argue with ANYONE about something I'm not completely sure about. I suppose on that level I could argue that I'm fully certain that Bush should NOT be president. It's such an emotional issue, though, for me and for so many others on both sides. I don't think arguing will help. But perhaps it will.
I want to strip naked and paint myself blue and run screaming through Madison Square Garden during the Republican National Convention. I want to do something that will actually change the minds of more people. Many people. My complete lack of understanding as to why anyone could think that this lying, cheating, violent disaster of a president is our best hope makes it much harder for me to argue against them. It's better to see both sides.
It's a big issue. Every issue is a big issue now. Plastic bags. Fossil fuels. Education. Religion. Too big for one small person to shoulder?
Friday, July 23, 2004
The time I sat on the steps outside 117 Hudson clutching a lamp and 2 bags and a chair, waiting for the car service with my ex-friend L. M was moving out of the NYC home of the company and everything that couldn't be moved was sitting out on the street. A pile of boxes and bags probably 12 feet long and 5 feet high at least. I don't remember what we were talking about, because what could we be talking about? Life as we knew it was moving. And this family comes along, 2 women and I think 2 kids, elementary school age. They saw the couch and the living room chair and they were considering taking them home. L and I, desperate for our surrogate home not to be thought of as useless and trashy, proceed to sell the items. Not for money, I mean, but tell that family how comfortable and how easy to carry. We go down to the enormous pile of life and find the bag with the cushions in it, help them figure out the load, offer to wait with any bits they can't carry until they can get back. And we watch as they wander away with the living room furniture.
Walking behind my married boyfriend and his wife in a crush of people walking back to Columbus Avenue from the Delacorte Theatre. Knowing that he knows that I'm there but knowing that he'll wig if I show myself and, more importantly, not knowing at all if the wife would recognize me if she saw me. At the time it was exciting and surreal. Thinking about it now, it's embarrassing and ridiculous.
The time that my grandmother died and my mom took her wedding and engagement rings and told me to put them in my pocket because she wanted me to have them but she had to take care of it with my uncle first. So later that night we're getting into the car. Uncle J driving, mom in the passenger seat and me behind her. So I'm sitting there and mom says,
"J, I'd like Kizz to have mom's rings. I mean, after all, it might be the only diamond she ever gets."
I'm sitting right there.
I got the rings.
I mean, who could have refused that pitch in honor of my pathetic loveless life. I didn't realize quite how pathetic and loveless until mom pointed it out.
And I'll bet a dollar that if I told that story to my mom she'd tell me it never happened that way.
Thursday, July 15, 2004
What a day.
Apparently I'm good at helping people.
I'm a bit bored of it.
OK, not completely. But there's so much of it. People being hospitalized. People getting separated. People being afraid. Everyone needs petting. And hand holding. And some of them deserve it and need it. Most of them? Do not. Making me completely crazy.
I guess I'm very lucky. I know that if I ever needed anything like a place to stay or a ride to the hospital or a thousand dollars to keep me and my baby alive (my fictional baby) I'd have more than one place to turn. And I'd probably have more than one person who could look at this situation and figure out how to make it better, how to make the worst not necessary. It turns out that most people don't have that. How is that possible?
But anyway, I'm home now. I can do stuff for my life and I don't have a mother and toddler living with me and no one is homeless or injured or dead. And tomorrow is another day.
And I have a blog. That's pretty cool. The novelty has certainly not worn off in the last 24 hours.
Hopefully soon I'll be able to bring the funny.
Dear Big Cheese of Secretaries,
Here at Team Copoc we know that a job description is a jumping off place. The members have the opportunity to stretch their limits and use all of their skills. Sometimes ones we did not even know we had.
Given these wide parameters it is encumbent upon the members of the team both to explore our own boundaries and to know when our limits have been reached, for the good of the team.
Knowing this, it is time for me to bow out gracefully, for my own good as well as that of the team. Please let this serve as my resignation,
Perhaps in the future I can assist the team in another capacity.
The chick who is crying in the bathroom every day
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
I'm working on a lot of things. One of them is just doing stuff. Not waiting until it's perfect. Not checking out all the angles. Trusting myself enough to know that if I want to do it then it's worth trying.
I've wanted a Blog for a long time. I waffle between thinking I'd be good at it and wondering why I'm so damned interested in the lives of people I've never met.
You know what? Everyone and their dog has a blog these days. If I like this I'll have 2 pretty soon. One for here and one for events that will link to my web site (www.ElizabethHRobinson.com). And, particularly for this one, it doesn't matter if I'm good at it. And, if all they say is true, I'll get better at it the more I try.
Right now, no one knows that I have this. At least for the next few minutes no one even has a way to search for me. So I can do whatever I want.
I'll post all sorts of stuff here. Stories and ramblings and opinions without back up and erotica and who knows what else. I have no idea where to start. So this is it. A start. A way to get over the first tough step.
We shall see what tomorrow brings.