When they say a child is the product of their environment, it holds so true.

When we look at children in society today, we can see quite a few rude, disrespectful, and unruly ones.  The ones who cause trouble, start fights, and degrade others around them.

I witness children throwing fits while I’m working because their parents won’t allow them to have pop or a cookie.  I hear screams in the grocery store because they aren’t allowed to get snacks that are chalked full of sugar.  I see silent fits thrown if the word “No” is used more than once in a 10 minute span.

On the other hand, you see the children who are quiet, reserved, respectful children who don’t want to cause a disruption.  The ones who say please and thank-you, the ones who offer to help, and those who go out of their way to make others happy.

M&M are the “perfect mix” between the two.  In public, they mind their manners and they are respectful to those around them.  But, at home, they don’t like the word “No”, they like to defy, and they don’t like to work for what they want (not need).

Over the last few days, these two have definitely shown me that they have their father’s heart of gold on them.  On Saturday M (daughter) and I took a road trip together.  We spent the day shopping, talking, and just being girls.  We were in Target getting excited over a new line of cleaning products (we are lame like that) when she asked if we could go volunteer some time at the shelter; take some dogs out for a walk, play with the cats, etc.  This was one of the few days I didn’t have a time limit, so I agreed.  What better way to spend a Saturday?

While we were in the midst of all these activities, her and I were talking about how life at her mom’s had been lately.  She kind of shrugged her shoulders and said “Well, mom finally let me have S over to spend the night.”  I sat kind of speechless.  Her mom had let her have a friend over and she totally ditched her to come to Sioux Falls with me.  I asked her about it and said that she could have invited her with and she shook her head and said that S and her step-sister were pretty good friends so she would be OK.

We continued talking but I felt bad that M had just left her friend sit at her mom’s house.  Somehow the conversation came full circle again and she looked me square in the face and said “Really.  It’s ok that she stayed home.  You are more important to me anyway.”  My heart melted into a huge puddle.

The day continued on and when I looked at the time, it was almost 4:00PM and we still have the drive home.  She asked where we were going as we left the shelter and I told her home.  I could see the disappointment on her face.  I tried to comfort her as much as I could but I could tell no amount of words was going to make her want to go back to her mom’s.

The next morning, my parents drove down to attend church with M (daughter) and I.  That was a really nice surprise!  When I asked M if she wanted to go, without hesitation, she said yes.  So, we went to church together with my parents and then went out to eat afterwards.  She kept engaged in conversation and  minded her manners the whole time (which is pretty impressive if you know her!).  Typically, the kids go back to their mom’s after church but M wanted to join us for lunch after church. (Would have been the potluck, but we figured we would go somewhere that we could sit down as a family and talk)  But, she gave M the ok to go eat with us.  The service was slower and the time for M’s (son) last band concert was quickly approaching.  I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get her to her mom’s in time before she left so I had M see if I could just bring her to the concert and she could meet up with her mom there.  Reluctantly, her mom agreed but that didn’t deter M.  She was more than happy to come to our house and sit with my parents and I.

After a while, we took off to the concert and witnessed M perform his final jazz band and concert band concert as well as get awarded his certificate for a superior rating in contest.  During intermission, he walked up to where my family, M and I were sitting full of grins.  He showed my parents his critique and sat and visited for a while.  After the concert, M (daughter) came to my car to get her Bible and a couple of other things out before she went back to her mom’s.  She was about to run off to meet her mom when she stopped on a dime and gave me a huge hug.

After the concert, the kids went back home with their mom.  There I sat at home with the dogs.  So I decided to work on homework, dishes, and a few other things that I had neglected to do.  Staying busy is key.  The nights get pretty lonely but I try to hold my chin up.

Monday came and I had this feeling it was going to be a hard day.  I went to bed missing Shane and woke up missing him even more.  I forced myself out of bed, drug myself through the shower, and tried to encourage myself to pick my mood up so work wouldn’t be so long.  You can only fake it so long before you just wear yourself out.

Over lunch, I had decided that my night was going to consist of homework, Dancing With The Stars and The Bachelorette and praying for a call from Shane.  I returned to work to finish my shift and ended up staying late to try to fix some errors.  Punching out frustrated, I decided I may as well do a little grocery shopping while I was out and then go home.  While I was out, I ran into one of our church families and was able to talk with them for a while.  Being able to talk to them helped pick me up out of the slump I was in.  At that moment, I was thanking God for leading us to Cornerstone.  He provided us with a church family who cares for one another, a church family who looks out for one another, and a family who supports one another.

I got home, put groceries away and noticed a bright orange piece of paper sitting on the table next to my Bible and the flowers and pieces of paper from a scavenger hunt Shane put together.  It said:

“Figuring it out yet?  You probably know what the first word is.  Anyway, I came after school hoping to find you, but I didn’t.  I did grab my Bible and bike and rode off to mom’s house.  Made some coffee and wrote this note.  Anyway, see ya later!”

My eyes welled up with tears.  Something so simple had hit my heart.  M (son) had made a trip to our house after school just to check in.  I texted him and thanked him for the note and the coffee (which was much appreciated yesterday since it was 37* here!) and he said that he would be by in the morning to have coffee with me.  I immediately showed Shane what his son had done.  I couldn’t help it!  My night had gone from a dreaded one to one where I was excited for the phone call from Shane because I finally had something positive to say.

This morning, I bounced out of bed, made sure the coffee was on and that I was in and out of the shower before M (son) was over.  Around 7:20AM, I heard the dogs get excited and start jumping around.  M came through the door, poured himself a cup of coffee and plopped down on the couch next to me.  We discussed the last two weeks of school for him and watched Impractical Jokers.

Before I knew it, it was time for him to go to school.  He stood at the divider of the living room and the kitchen and said “I’m going to come the rest of the week too.  But I really need to get going now…well, more like 5 minutes ago.”  Again, the amount of happiness I felt just from that little moment is more than I can even try to explain to you.

It’s hard not having Shane here.  But knowing that I have two wonderful children checking in on me, a church family supporting me, and a best friend just being there for me is making it easier to deal with.  Any doubt that I’ve ever had about my “skills” as a step-mom have been wiped away by these two over the last few days.

I see so much of their father in them.  These moments are ones that make getting through the days easier.  I’m sure if I didn’t have them, I would be going insane right about now.

They will never know just how much those small things have meant to me. (Unless they read this… and then they may figure it out!)

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