Saturday, July 21, 2012

Like Step-Papa, Like Step-Daughter

Having Roni and Jude in my life has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve been granted. Jude and I hit it off immediately. We filled a need we both craved in our lives. He needed a guy and I wanted someone to pass down all the Richardson ways of life to. We made our way through a river of pirates, explosions, and a certain Sci Fi movie we both adore to seal what we share.

Roni was trickier and not as easily impressed. We had a rocky relationship which eventually led a huge fight in my dining room. All cards were laid out on a table and I knew that I would have to leave if we couldn’t find some sort of common ground. We did.

Since that rough night last summer, a relationship has been forged where I now have a step daughter and she has what we refer to around the house as “Step-papa.” (It works better if you could hear it said like Christopher Plummer in his Sound of Music outfit) We bump heads frequently which I am guessing is just a hint of what the impending teenage years have in store. Quite honestly, the kid drives me crazy yet as I say this there is a big spot in my heart where Roni has taken over. (Roni doesn’t simply walk into Mordor)

Oddly enough, I recognize it’s our similarities which cause the clashing rather than our differences. Roni has my sense of smart assness and loves to get those zingers in. She can be fearless in waiting for that right moment to pounce then burn the shit out of your ego. It’s a quality that I respect and look forward to her using on boyfriends rather than me.

She has to be right. Being right is a Richardson family characteristic imported over from the Neders and the Mother country. To steal an idea from Game of Thrones, combining a quality like that into both of those houses will create a dragon of their own. I find myself arguing with my step-daughter over bullet points like what she said over dinner last night to what was the Professor’s name on Gilligan’s Island. (It was Roy Hinckely, Jr. by the way). I am 43 and have found the ability to walk away from pointless arguments so please explain to me why I find myself arguing with an eleven year old girl.

Today, the most impacting similarity came to light. I realized we both have disappointing relationships with one of our parents. This is the one that hit me about an hour ago and prompted me to sit down on the couch and write.  Roni’s father and Kim’s ex-husband have been brought up before but never in a positive light.  Quite frankly, he made it easy for me to come in be a Dad to Roni and Jude because he ain’t doing it.  I watch Roni around her father and she is never herself. When Roni is around her father, she makes a point not to make waves. They guy makes big promises with no intentions of fulfilling them and it breaks my little girl’s heart. Yet she says nothing but hugs on her father when he eventually shows up. She’d call me out on that shit in a NY minute.

   Granted the Roni I know and love is sweet, beautiful and intelligent yet I am well aware she has no problem with arguing with me or showing me her darker side when it involves getting her way. She is being herself which is good. I appreciate this because it shows me how Roni is not afraid that I will leave her. It stinks when we are arguing about which Netflix show to watch but I know we are in it for the long haul like I was raised.

Which brings me to me. I am not being honest in my relationship with my mother. The past year has exposed all the cracks and breaks in a relationship that not been healthy for some time. The majority of my decisions over the past four months have somehow revolved in a way either reaching out or trying to make my mother happy. Her actions show she does not want to reach back.

We had a huge sit down before the wedding to try to resolve all the issues brought to a head after the big incident with her boyfriend. I do not like the boyfriend yet invited him to our wedding to show an olive branch. She came to the wedding but bailed out on the reception to be with him. She felt that she had “done her duty” She and the b/f have been invited to Jude’s birthday party, over to dinner several times, and Jude’s first play at the Savannah Children’s Theater. No show.

It kills me because the kids really love her and want to love her as their grandmother. It makes me angry because I can hear Mom sayin to me how people turned their back her after her Dad died. Yet she is now doing the same to us. And we want her in our lives.

Jude was very hurt because she had promised to go to his play. When Kim spoke to her, she was going to be out of town. Jude was crushed. He wanted more people to go see his play.

For the past year, I have been like Roni. For fear of running my mom away, I have sat and taken this constant rejection. I’ve tried to be careful so as not to run Jan away. Kim has pointed out that I have internalized this to be an issue of my creation yet she’s not seeing it. Kim is right. Whatever sin I have done to create this, I have tried to reach out and make up for it several times over. It comes down to the simple fact that my mother no longer wants to be my mom. I am tired of reaching out. I am tired of hurting myself. I am more tired of hurting the ones around me because I carry this huge weight on my shoulders.

I feel for Roni because as I sit and type, I realize just how much I miss my mom and wish that she was a part of our lives like when she used to be Mama Rich. Mama Rich is gone. If I had tried any of this crap and choose not to be around the family like she has done now,  Mama Rich would be on my ass in a second.   

One day I suspect Roni will be at the same crossroads that I appear to be standing at now. I wonder if she will feel the same amount of guilt I feel as I try to decide what I need to do. It scares me as I look in one direction where I try to do what is best for me and family while the other direction focuses on keeping the status quo but with more sleepless nights.

I hope she will know what I know. It feels horribly alone bit I am not. She has a brother that is pretty comparable to the awesomeness that I have in a little sister. Maybe she will have someone in her life like I have Kim. I hope so.

I know this. I will be there because whether I am blood or not, I am her Dad. Someone taught me a long time that Parenting is a lifelong occupation. Besides, we are a lot alike and I know just how this feels.

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