stepson Trey started pre-K a few weeks ago, he had a really rough time.
Spoiler alert: He’s totally fine now! No more tears and will proudly say, “Sammy, wanna watch me not cry!?” But those first couple of days? Oh, boy.
were with us on their second day of school, so I got to see the tears and fears firsthand. Trey started crying while we were dropping his big sister off at her
school, and didn’t stop. He cried the entire time I was walking him in, cried on
the phone to his daddy and I could hear him crying as I left him sitting in his
desk. I managed to wait until I was outside to let my own tears flow and call my husband, begging him to take a few days off work so he
could do this.
I know I didn’t birth him or feed him a bottle or teach him to walk—but I have
been in Trey’s life since he was 20 months old, and it’s still so weird to
think about him being in school.
picked Trey up that afternoon, he was elated to see me, but told me that he
cried all morning and during naptime. “It’s OK to cry, isn’t it, Sam?” He
asked me, breaking my heart into a million pieces.
went by fast and Monday morning came before any of us were ready. As soon as
Trey realized where we were headed, he started to get fussy.
Chloe, tried to console him in the backseat as we headed toward her school,
but he wasn’t having it. He was terrified again and told me that he was afraid
no one would come to pick him up. He cried and cried, literally howling in the
I tried to
divert his attention—tried to talk to him about how he would get to see his
mama after school, but it only made him cry harder.
And then I
had an idea.
The kids’ mama was actually going to meet me at Chloe’s school to exchange clothes, school passes and a T-ball trophy. We had just planned on meeting at the front of the school to swap items and then I would continue to Trey’s school and drop him off. But as I listened to Trey cry even more after the mention of his mama, I wondered if there was something else at play here.
I was feeling a bit low that I couldn’t offer him what he so desperately wanted and needed.
will it help you to see your mama this morning? She’s going to be at Chloe’s
school,” I told him. His cries paused for a minute before he looked down and
fumbled with his shirt. He slowly nodded, anxiety practically pouring out of
him before sniffling again.
“I miss mama,” Trey whimpered, trying hard not to cry.
about it for a minute and I let my ego vanish. Being a stepmom has its hard
parts, but one of the biggest ones is that no matter how much I love these
kids, no matter how important they are to me and I am to them, I am still not
their mama. She will always be number one and I am second best. I’m OK with
this, truly. This is the way it’s supposed
to be, but would I be lying if I said it didn’t hurt my feelings a bit that I
can’t comfort them like she can? Yes.
would it help you if mama took you to school this morning? Would that make you
feel better?” I asked. As much as I wanted to be the one to help him, as much
as I wanted to drop him off and talk to him about being a brave boy, I have to
be a parent. And being a parent means putting my own feelings aside for the
good of these kids.
say anything, but continued to pull at his shirt and wrap his fingers around a
stray thread. I was feeling a bit small, yes. I was feeling a bit low that I
couldn’t offer him what he so desperately wanted and needed. But then Chloe
spoke up and changed it all.
know you can tell Sammy whatever, right? She told me not to worry about her
feelings when we need to tell her something. Just tell her whatever you’re
feeling and she’ll help you because she loves us so much.”
Yeah, that good parent feeling? Totally reinstated by my 7-year-old stepdaughter.
just want my mama,” Trey whispered. I was blown away that, at 4 years old,
he was already so aware that what he was saying might hurt my feelings. But I
was even more blown away by his sister’s declaration and that Trey knew what it
meant. He knew he could tell me what he was really feeling and I would do
anything I could to fix it. Because I love them so much.
I went into
action. I called their mom and asked her if she could take Trey to school. I
promised her I wasn’t trying to pawn any duties of mine off onto her,
especially since it was still “our time,” but that he really wanted her and
needed her this morning. Of course, she agreed. And then thanked me for it.
matter what, the root word of stepparent is parent.
And parents should always put their personal feelings aside to do what’s best
for the kids. No matter what.