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#Sub60 10k: 18 of 61 – Stepmoms Run

Memorial Day Race
Blue & Lil Blue post 5k

Thursday morning, I ran with the youngest. He’s 11 and likes a good adventure as much as the next kid.

After a strong finish during a recent 5k race, he agreed with his father and I that running would be good summertime pursuit. He’s athletic, with a determined heart, and was undaunted by my description of Thursday’s running plan.

Eleven (almost 12) is that interesting age where some are still open to public kisses from parents, but are pretty sure they’ve got this thing (life) all figured out. Or at least they want you to think so.

As a veteran classroom  teacher turned new stepmom, it’s an interesting tug-of-war watching this play out, even as you know what’s going on. I know how kids generally work. I know where mine is on this or that developmental scale. But I (and every other parent) constantly wonder – am I doing the right thing? Stepmomming while running is no different.

He jogged the warm-up mile with no problem, and then it was high-low intervals on the track. He ran out of steam early (11-year-olds don’t sleep during the summer), so I left him to walk/run at his own pace while I continued mine. I knew from our earlier talk he was fine with this, and yet seeing him on the other side of the track, small and alone in the distance tugged at my heart. Should I sprint over to him to catch up and check in? Should I slow down on the next lap so we can run together?

Laughing while warming up today.
Laughing while warming up today.

Ultimately I stuck to my plan, checking on him and slowing a wee bit when we passed naturally. Each time he assured me he was fine, and on the way home, when I asked once more, he gave me a “knock it off” look. A polite one, a few steps below tween exasperation and eye rolling, but hinting at it all the same.

He didn’t join Blue and I on today’s 3 miler, opting for Saturday sleeping instead. Just as well. Starting this afternoon he has a big weekend-long sleepover with this friends. I’m sure he needed all extra rest he could gather.

Goodbye 40. Hello 41.

On Mother’s Day I cried.

I felt anxious most of the day. Irritable. Off-kilter. But I wasn’t sure why. Late afternoon I sat with Blue and he held my hands until I could say. I truly didn’t know until the words flew out: “I’m not a mother.” I buried my face, hiding tears.

It felt strange to say. And really it was more that I felt in between. Displaced? Out of place? I dunno. I was coming to love his children, but who was I, really? Despite the growing relationship we all shared, there was no neat space for me. Not stepmom. Not stepmom-to-be. But there they were. And here I was. A lovely conundrum in the grand scheme of things, but one that confused my heart. Normally, I don’t look to commercial calendars for commentary on my life circumstances, but for once that Hallmark holiday hurt. The silence stung.

Blue reassured me with his warm brown eyes and a tight squeeze, but there wasn’t much he could say then. We were little more than two weeks away from his proposal and he didn’t give away his secret.

Harp Family  Unity CeremonyI learned a lot in that moment, and in many moments of my 40th year. The lessons I signed up to master this lifetime have seemed to spiral each decade, although teachers and learning environments change as I do. One of the ways I move forward is by looking back and noting the wisdom I’ve gathered thus far. What follows is an admittedly incomplete accounting of my most recent trip around the sun.

  • Life’s victories and joys ebb and flow, not unlike the ocean.
  • You can be happy and content without being giddy.
  • You never step in the same river twice. You may get another chance at {insert thing here} but everything about it is different the next time. Including you.
  • Sometimes you expect what never comes, and get what you weren’t expecting.
  • Titles really do mean something. Act accordingly.
  • Watching and listening are active tasks and are best done with your whole heart.
  • Those who truly know you, understand.
  • Praise and encouragement are loving and effective motivators.
  • You can’t force change, although with clarity and warm persistence, you can influence your environment.
  • Human relationships are complicated. The best ones teach you something about yourself.

Here’s to another trip around the sun…

Sunshine, fog and love

I’m still waiting for the latest to sink in. Awareness comes in flashes, but it hasn’t quite settled in.

Maybe in a month? A season? I dunno. But seven days hasn’t been enough.

A week ago today Blue and I were married! I told him every day of our honeymoon it feels so surreal. I’m a wife now. And a stepmom. Wow.

Perhaps I’ll spend a few posts digging into these as I try these labels and responsibilities on for size.

The ceremony was short, sweet and intimate, and remains quite hazy in my memory. I was in a fog most of the proceedings, despite the clear, sunshiny day. Dina, our photographer, offered suggestions for poses and she had to repeat them all. I could hear her, but somehow she was talking to… someone else.

I didn’t feel nervous beforehand, despite the group of teenagers who walked by just before the bridesmaids went down the aisle. “Are you going to trip?” one asked. I’m sure I gave her my infamous side eye, but I responded with a shrug and something like, “who knows? I don’t plan to.”

When my uncle escorted me out the double doors, I found Blue and gave him the biggest smile. He matched it with his, waiting. I’d never experienced tunnel vision before that moment, but aside from the blur of guests standing, I didn’t see anything else. I wanted to get down the stairs safely and stand next to him, so I concentrated on that. Even the music – an upbeat tune from Earth, Wind and Fire – is hard to hear in my memories.

Friends and family posted a few snaps of us on social media, or emailed and texted us their faves. I’m floored to see them. That was US! We’re THEM! Each picture helps me recapture the moments I lost to the fog.

 

Tunnel vision.
Tunnel vision. Photo credit: Ray Gilstrap