All day long, this song has been playing in my head. This one hit wonder is an earworm that won’t leave me alone. Especially today.
This morning, when this blog idea came to mind, it was because I’ve been madly researching rats as pets for my 11 year old son.
Once upon a time, I would have never allowed my brain to imagine such a fate. Rats are disgusting creatures that sneak around and do bad things in the dark. They watch you when you aren’t looking, blatantly and proudly steal from you, and slyly leave their poop behind to mock their invisible presence in your life.
But my son is responsible and smart and sweet and hardworking and what he really really wanted for Christmas was a Corgi. When that didn’t happen, he settled on rats. And guess what? The whole family (minus a teenage brother or two) is on board.
But, this isn’t really about rats. Or kids, per se.
It’s about all those things you do for love; to give love, because of love, to hold on to love, and quite possibly and most honestly, to be loved in return.
Today my life is this song. It’s brimming and overflowing with all the things I do for love. FOR love and for LOVE.
Y’all, it’s hard being married. I’d venture to say that it’s sometimes even harder being married a second time. I swore when I remarried that I would learn from my former mistakes and not repeat them. And to be honest, I actually think I’ve done a pretty good job.
What I didn’t count on were all the mistakes I’d make as a second wife that are unique and original to being married to someone with a former family.
Being a step mother is incredibly hard so much of the time. I’ve written before about the difficulties that arise when another woman’s children suddenly share a space with your own. Making extra space in a small, cramped home is one thing, but finding room in your heart (AT TIMES) is quite difficult. If you think that it is simply black and white, clear cut, all love, all the time, then you are a better person than me.
I don’t mean to be insecure, overly inquisitive, curious or judgmental as a stepmother and a wife. I don’t mean to be distant and removed. Likewise, I never wish to be overbearing or too presumptuous. Do you see where I am going with this? Knowing and defining the boundaries is hard work. Unchartered territory is at once exciting and terrifying.
Sometimes I ask questions that don’t need to be asked and sometimes I ask the ones that must be said out loud. Either time it’s a risk. How will I know how I will be received? I do not instinctually know when and what to do. How do I know if things are any of my business? What should my husband share with me regarding his, or rather our (sort of) kids? When does my being in the loop matter or not?
I simply don’t know yet.
Every single day, y’all, I work to figure this out. Somedays I kick butt and other days I fail. And when I fail, I fail so miserably that I begin to question my worth.
But either way, whether I am winning or losing at this game of parenthood and remarriage and bleeding and blending, I keep showing up and I keep attempting to move forward.
Because I love Richard and I love his kids. I love my own children with all my heart. I have love for an ex husband who bestowed grace upon my wild and hurtful heart and I have love for an ex wife who feels betrayal and hurt.
You see, it’s not always just about me. It’s about all of us.
So, there are many things I do for love. For the kids, for Richard, for me, for our ex spouses, for all of us.
I keep my mouth shut when I want to let loose, I intentionally hug and kiss when it doesn’t always come naturally, I stand back and hide in the shadows so my presence isn’t too fully felt but also not forgotten.
It’s also the baking of a favorite cake for a birthday and the sitting at the table explaining long division when what I really want is to be done with that subject forevermore. It’s the washing of knitted socks that are crusty with wear and smell like stale popcorn. It’s the attempt to hold all of the kids to the same standard and expectations. It’s letting them know they all are worthy of nothing short of the best.
It’s communicating with people primarily via text and email that you once whispered to under the dark and cozy cave of the bed you shared. It’s averting your eyes when you want to hold your head high and it’s sticking your chin as far out as possible when you want to cry in shame and regret.
It’s the as close to unconditional love I’ve ever felt that I feel for a man who has two kids that aren’t my own. The man that loves me and tolerates my honesty and mood swings and spunk and bitchiness. The guy who makes me feel such raw emotions I choke on their edges and am intoxicated by their intensity. It’s the love I feel for this man that somehow manages to want to continue to move forward, despite all the hard work. The man that shows up. Every. Single. Day. The man that loves me in spite of it all and then some.
Truly, the things we all do for love are mind boggling and heart warming. They are exhausting and stressful and rewarding and so worth every single sacrifice.
So, you see? When you think about it, buying rats for an adorable kid is really nothing in the grand scheme of all the things we do for love.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Even on the worst days.