Families are complicated

Hidden Falls 012
Family camping trip

Ran a half marathon this morning. Got a bunch of stuff done, but never enough. Tomorrow, I am speaking at Cal State Fullerton to the Creative Writing Club. Last time it was kind of fun. I liked the students and we went drinking afterward.

When you’re writing, the most powerful scenes are often families. Fathers and sons particularly. In some families, there are huge chaotic scenes between mothers and daughters. In our family, there weren’t many of those. But, in plays, novels and short stories, dads and sons can duke it out. To become an adult as a girl, you don’t have to topple the mother. You become part of the tribe of adult females as you grow. But boys need to challenge the adult male.

Male deer fight with their antlers for the right to have a female. Human males don’t have to fight for females, but they do have to prove themselves to get them.

When boys get into fights with their fathers, (unless it’s abusive) the best thing that can happen is usually for them to fight it out, resolve the fight, get their antlers tangled up and get it over. It’s just testosterone and energy and wild and being one with the force. Males need to get rid of the energy to be one with the force.

In our family, each of the boys had their own run ins with the adult males. My personal favorite Steve comment to his dad was, “You’re a douchebag, dad.”

And his dad said, “Lots of people would agree with you on that, but you still have to do your homework.”
And to Mark, “The problem with you is that you think you’re the alpha male around here.” And Mark said, “Au contraire, I am the alpha male around here.”

Steve’s older brothers had their own run ins with their dad, but afterward they moved back in with their mother, so it was all quiet for years. We have great times hanging out with my oldest stepson now. And that’s what’s odd about families. Things come around.

Our daughter has always been consistent, hard working, and pretty easy to get along with.

The boys have all taken us on a long roller coaster, and that’s what’s great about being a parent, it’s all challenges and surprises. Jared, the oldest of the kids is one of the most talented people I’ve ever met—in art, music, and just being an overall thinker. I was always the bad stepmother. I tried very hard to be good but with little success. I even tried cooking more and making more cookies, and I also tried giving out as many privileges as possible. This turned out to be both unwise and not very workable.

Step parents for years have tried all kinds of things to get their step kids to like them. I was no slacker. But, it’s harder than you think to create and forge an alliance that’s mother like with someone who already has a mother.

To all future step mothers out there, what I would recommend would be to just be your own authentic self, and if they don’t like you when they’re teenagers, they might come around.

Things get better. When they get in their thirties, they’ll see you for what you are… just a person who loves them and is doing their best. Families are complicated, but they’re worth it.

Published in: on October 24, 2013 at 8:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

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