Tomorrow is my step-son’s birthday. He’s 42 now and he was 12 when I met him. Thirty wasted years.
Early in the relationship with his dad we got engaged, and then maybe 6 months later we broke up, and I didn’t even think about staying in touch with his kids (13 and 5). Dating with kids was a fairly new thing for me. I had a daughter, but I had only dated guys with no kids or older kids. I thought they were a package. All or nothing.
Richard and I got back together and eventually married, but his son never got over it. It took us awhile to figure out why he had gone from being my greatest fan to being extremely angry with me. Nik felt like I had abandoned him. I tried to explain, I took the responsibility, I apologized again and again. Nothing mattered.
My sweet, happy “son” who used to bring me flowers, and play card games with me until midnight, who loved to walk with me and talk, suddenly was done with me. I was sure that over time he would come around, but it only seemed to get worse. We married just before his 18th birthday and he moved out for a few weeks. When he came back I said we had to talk. So we did, and at one point, he blurted,
“You didn’t have to leave me too!” My hunch was right. He was hurt and didn’t want to forgive.
Again, I admitted guilt, and asked for forgiveness, but he declined.
I thought I could love him out of it. But confidence and affection are not my strong suite. And after graduating, he moved out and was gone for several years.
He moved home for a short while. It was better between us, but still painful for me. His sisters loved having him home again. Then he got married. They’ve moved back in for short periods. I love his wife.
We’ve done ok. I know he loves me. I know he appreciates how his kids love me. But his birthday always makes me sad–the closeness we could have had blocked by unforgiveness.
We got snippets of what it could have been now and again; I would schedule my flights home from NC for early in the morning so he could drop me off at the airport on his way to work. Some of our best connections and conversations were that half hour every few months over a two-year period. And then they moved within a few hours driving distance of us, and those times vanished.
I still miss you, Nik, 30 years later. I still miss our relationship. I am grateful you don’t talk bad about me, and that you have always treated me with respect. I am grateful for your help whenever I ask. I just miss you.
And I think about how you will feel when I die. Probably because when my mother died I was close to her, but not really, arms-length-close was all I could do. And it killed me when she died. Thank God I allowed myself to cry and talk about it.
Will you have regret? Will you feel the waste then? Will you be able to talk and to cry?
I hope so. It makes it easier, and I’m pretty sure you haven’t grieved your first mother. You’ll have a backlog. Please allow yourself to feel…at least then.