Ten Years After?
I get an average of about an email a week.
They always say ‘Thank you’. Often in the subject line. They are usually a lot like this one:
I just read your stepmother essay online. I cant stop crying right now. Tears are pouring down and I feel inexplicably sad. Your words are so true. I am 33, soon 34. I am engaged and common law with my fiance who has three children 10, 11 and 13 - boy, boy, girl.
Being their stepmother IS the hardest thing I have ever done. It sometimes makes me want to run. I fantasize sometimes about having a partner without kids, no baggage, free to start a life with only the two of us.
I guess I just wanted to say thanks. Although you describe a tough, often thankless job, (and it made me cry!) I feel good knowing there's someone out there feeling these feelings. I am glad I am not alone.
Bob says to me that I should do a follow-up essay. A couple of days ago I came home to a phone message from Adam telling me about something that was bothering him and asking me to call him back. I called my kid back and we talked awhile. He’s at college and doing really well. He’s just my kid now. I’m lucky because of who he is and how he lives his life. He’s still the person who can get under my skin faster than anyone else in the world. And I suspect I can get under his skin just as fast.
I could write an essay about how well it all turned out. A happy ending.
I don’t want to, though. The women who are writing me…a lot of them will not have happy endings. Second marriages where children are involved are more likely to fail than first marriages. A lot of times it’s money. It’s hard to send money to support someone else’s kid. Hard to wait for money to raise someone else’s kid.
Not all kids are my Adam. Not all of them are smart, funny people who make a lot of the right choices. Not all of them would make any parent, biological or step, happy. Sometimes the situation is so complicated that from the outside, it’s hard to see how it could make anyone happy.
So if I write an essay called Ten Years After, I’m afraid I will steal consolation from the people who write me. I will make them feel that I’m different from them. That they are alone. I don’t think my writing is going to change the world. Very little writing does. But I like to think that I have provided a bit of consolation.