Sunday, May 11, 2008

Losing my Mother's Day Virginity at the Senior Prom.

I've had some fun pseudo-stepmom moments in the past three years, but it wasn't until last weekend that I actually felt like the real stepmom that I officially became a few weeks ago. It was Senior Prom weekend - a huge deal nowadays. When I went to my senior prom (the same year my stepdaughter was born, actually), it wasn't as much of a 'to-do'...I basically just slapped a bow on my ass, put on some blue eyeshadow, made my hair super big (I did live in the South, after all), and wondered who was buying our beer for the night. Now, it's like attending the Oscars. There are nail appointments, hair appointments, makeup appointments, stretch-Hummer rentals, pre-picture parties, orchestrated after parties, and next-day King's Island roadtrips. There's a printed schedule of the day, for chrissake. It's absolute insanity.

My 18-year old stepdaughter asked me to help her get ready that day - I was elected the chick who made sure she was gorgeous and ultimately zipped her dress. I was excited, because I knew it'd be a blast and I'd get to live vicariously through her as I remembered all my own Prom memories (i.e., Lee press-on nails flying off as I danced to Whitesnake with my date). Most important, though, was the fact that she asked me to be part of such a hugely monumental day. I mean, let's face it - Senior Prom was the biggest night of her 18-year life thus far.

Fast forward to today. I was wished "Happy Mother's Day" for the very first time. Not only did I get a huge card, some dark chocolate, some potpourri, and this month's Cosmo (they really DO know me better than I thought), but my stepdaughter also orchestrated a card "signed" by my two dogs, Tess and Zeke. My husband later informed me that Crayola fingerpaint is definitely non-toxic if ingested off their paws. He knows this, because he ate some himself, he said. Nice.

I was somewhat shocked to receive such accolades on a holiday I never dreamed I'd celebrate personally. I'm an official stepmonster now. In fact, there is a whole Mother's Day section of Hallmark for chicks like me. It's a wonderfully strange feeling to be thanked for being some sort of a maternal figure in the lives of two young people I didn't even know a mere four years ago. I didn't birth these kids, and I don't really see myself as extremely maternal most of the time, but I'm without a doubt a definite adult female force in their lives now. I recognize this, and while I do take it seriously, I also have never stopped being myself in their presence. I've made it a point to always just be me, knowing in my heart that doing so would either drive them to proclaim my insanity or serve me well. I have never tried to be something that I'm not - namely their Mother or someone who's trying to pretend to be their Mother. I've just let them see all the weirdness and quirkiness that defines who I am. I do Chinese fire drills on the way home from family outings. I turn the radio up and encourage them to dance. I occasionally have too much of my 46-ounce margarita at the Mexican place and laugh too loud. I curse like a sailor at times. I answer questions about sex without flinching, and I slap their Dad's ass when I feel like doing so - whether they're watching or not. I have opinions about work, religion, politics, fashion, education, and life in general - and I spew them freely. My husband loves this about me, and consequently, I think the kids have followed suit by default. They already have the with me, they get a second opinion. An alternative way of thinking. An add-on option they didn't know they were going to get in life.

Am I maternal at all? I think so, as I do clean up after them, I root for them when they're playing sports, I drive them to various activities, and I make sure they're safe and healthy when in my care. I give advice when asked, and I give opinions when I'm not asked. I worry about them. I want the best for them. I want to see them become unbelievably productive, well-rounded, and happy individuals in life.

At the end of the day, though, I just like these young friends I feel like I met three years ago and have ultimately chosen to hang out with. I've found that I love them like I do those friends I can count on one hand - with that unconditional, pure, steadfast loyalty that's really hard to describe. Maternal? Perhaps.

Who would've thought I'd be a stepmom? Not me....but today solidified the fact that it's a welcome role. One of my favorites thus far. Huh.

And there you have it. Now, back to the duties at hand. Or as the old saying goes, "off like a prom dress...."