She was 14 when I met her. My husband had said he had a daughter, but in my mind, she was in pigtails and sucking on lolly pops. My brain knew she was 14, but I wasn't expecting breasts and makeup. What was I thinking, anyway.
14...and a young woman in her own right.
At that age, the woman that dates and then marries your father isn't truly your step-mother, she's more like your father's wife. And that's okay.... I get that. I was a pretty possessive kid, not to say that she is, but I was - so I can only imagine that a new woman on the scene would have been a bit hard to take. Especially if that woman was rearranging your kitchen, your schedule, your patterns, your life. Add into it that her mom and dad don't always see eye to eye, they are divorced after all, it makes for a difficult situation all around. One house has one set of rules, the other house has a different set of rules. That isn't easy, even if you're a mature child, you're still young and it's difficult to understand.
So...I try. And she tries. And sometimes we have so much fun together I have to pinch myself. This "parenting" thing is quite a kick. And sometimes she's so challenging I want to kick something...most likely her rear end. And that's okay too. That's normal, right? It's part of growing up - and figuring out what you believe and where your boundaries lie. If we don't go through it, we don't end up being very independent at all.
And truly, that's what I want for her. I want her to be independent. To go forward and make her life as she wants it. To make her mark. To grab life and live it. And I'm now old enough to know that mark making doesn't require one to be the next female president, have the most successful career of our "crowd", to keep up with the Jones, or to even want to keep up with the Jones. All it requires is that we love. When we are loved back, that's icing on the cake.
And it happens naturally when we love. When we find passion. When we do good in the world....that loving comes right on back to us.
And she is successful. Her bosses love her. She keeps her grades up. She participates in sports. She's a good kid. She's still a kid...I'm also old enough to know that turning 18 and graduating from high school doesn't automatically make us an adult. In the eyes of the law, perhaps. But in the law of nature, we've still got a way to go. And she'll get there, I have no doubt.
And maybe one day, when she's sitting where I am, I'll be more than her father's wife. I'll be her friend, too. And maybe one day she'll know that whatever her father and I did when she was a teenager that she hated, we did because we love her so dearly and want the very, very best for her. And maybe one day, she'll know what it feels like to have a child look back at you with your husband's eyes and know that even if you didn't give birth to her, her successes and failures break your heart in the very best of ways.
You are stunning, child of my heart, don't even let anyone convince you any differently.