I mentioned on Friday that my stepmother was visiting this weekend. We had a great visit, but it's so hard for me to describe my relationship with her. She has been in my life since before I can remember (my dad was with her before I was born, if you get my drift). She was a lot of fun - she would play with me when other grownups in my life were either disinterested (my dad) or way too busy (my mom). But I was never super close with her. When I was growing up, my father made it very, very clear that his love was conditional. He would often tell me that if I did x (dye my hair, get bad grades, join some extra curricular he didn't approve of) that he would disown me. And I know he meant it, he had 4 other children that he never spoke to. Yep, I have half-brothers and a half sister I've only met once.
So my defense? Once I was old enough to realize what he was saying, I just didn't share anything with them (I rowed crew in high school for two years and never told him). I didn't talk to them about anything of substance, in case it turned out to be something that he would disown me for. We weren't close. Sure, I saw him weekly (I lived with my mother), but it was a very superficial relationship. And as I became an adult, I just had nothing to share with them. They didn't know me. One year, I didn't call Barb on her birthday (which, FYI, she didn't call me this year on my birthday), and he stopped speaking to me for 6 months (this was after I called and apologized numerous times and sent a card and a present). At first, it was a relief. It was finally done. The threatened 'disowning' that had been hanging over my head for YEARS happened. But it dragged on me, and I just called them and called bullshit on the whole thing. He said that he 'expected' a phone call once a week and on all major holidays. Basically rules for our relationship. I was just so tired of the drama that I did it. He lived far enough away that it wasn't a huge stress, and I just didn't have the energy to fight it.
Barb always introduces me as her daughter, and for the longest time, I would feel bad, because I just don't feel that way about her. I love her, but I really don't count her as a mom figure. And I couldn't figure out why. But my light bulb moment this weekend made me realize that although she was IN my life she was in it from a distance. And honestly it wasn't her fault. It was my dad. And I feel bad about it, but there it is.
It was a good weekend. We had some nice meals together, took the kids to Drumlin Farm and to a neighborhood block party. But a bit uncomfortable at times too. I do feel settled now that I've kind of figured it all out.