Last week, while relaxing in the billing department at my stateside OBGYN office, the friendly biller Angie and I started chatting about children. She mentioned she had two great daughters, 16-year-old step-daughter and a 9 year old daughter. I told her our lives paralleled with nearly 9 year-old Mini-e and 2 year old X. Angie rightfully bragged about her daughters and how they are best friends, and I asked the usual questions from Step Motherhood 101: full or partial custody, years as a stepmom, relationship with ex-wife. Her answers were 1)partial 2) at least 10 years 3) great wonderful amazing. She went to wax poetic about the holiday dinners spent with ex-Wife and how they all spend time together. Wow, I said. Our family isn't that blended, more like ice blended in comparison. Angie replied "It's the only way I would even consider being a stepmother. I wasn't going to stand for a bad relationship with the ex."
For about a day or two, I felt horrible. In spite of all the stereotypes of the step-mom/step-daughter dynamic, Mini e and I are lucky. We like each other a lot, and we love each other. However, our relationship doesn't come accessorized with an ex-Wife friendship. Mini-e's mother and I are polite, while the rapport between her and the Professor is acidic, on a good day. The thought of a dinner together (sarcasm, talking over one another and a 50% chance of tears) gives me a stomach ache. But perhaps I should try to be more encouraging and foster a three-some?
Like I said, this guilty feeling lasted about two days until X threw a tantrum in the passport control line at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. She cried "chupa chups " and refused to move in the direction on our about-to-depart flight to Rome. After assuming a beatified "it happens to us all" pose while X channeled Linda Blair in The Exorcist, I opted for Plan B and gave her a lollipop. And yes, I had a second lollipop in hand as back up. Several people shot me nasty looks, whether for my little demon's scenetta or my poor parenting skills (sugar, coddling, giving up).
It wasn't until I saw another lone mom on the plane with three small boys who were cradling Game Boys and snarfing candy that I realized all moms lie. X is not the only child to have tantrums, refuse to hold any hand or go to bed, striptease on the streets of Rome in January and eat sugar. And with that, step Mothers must lie too, I thought to myself after X collapsed from her adrenaline rush. Though Angie has an admirable, even enviable relationship with all parties in her blended family, I have begun to doubt whether or not she and ex-Wife get mani-pedis together.
PS Mini-e prefers Chupa Chups XXL