So one of the kids told me this story the other day:
"I was at Dad's house, and I was starving. I saw a platter of cheese all laid out, with some crackers, so I took some. Next thing I know Secretary is screaming at me, telling me that the cheese is "NOT FOR YOU KIDS" and telling me that it cost like $20 a pound at Byerlys (a high end grocery store here) and that again, "IT'S NOT FOR YOU KIDS!!!". Then she screamed at me, "GET A JOB AND BUY YOUR OWN CHEESE!!". God, I was so mad, mom. I was hungry!"
I call this the "Let Them Eat Cheese" story, and I believe that it pretty much sums up the relationship my angels have with the lovely Secretary.
According to them, she keeps "her" food separate from "their" food. Which I get, believe it or not. I understand, to some degree. It's hard to deal with four kids who sweep into a kitchen like a swarm of locusts, leaving nothing but empty containers and dirty dishes in their wake. I have been known to hide treats in odd places, just so my foodie bloodhounds don't get their paws on them first. I get it.
But really, it's not like this whole step-parenting thing is new. She first met my kids long ago, long before Big Daddy and I were officially divorced. The kids had suspected that there was someone else shacking up at Big Daddy's house, but she was kept on the down low for quite some time.
I'll never forget the night Molly came home from Daddy's house. She was quiet, and looked like she had something to say. So I sat down with her, and asked, "What's up?".
"Mom, I found something at Dad's house. Something gross."
My mind immediately jumped to images of dildos, inflatable dolls, things of that ilk. But I just asked her what she found.
"There was a tampon in the garbage." Gaaah. There it was. I tried to play it light with her, I think I said something like, "Hey, maybe your dad got his period! That's awesome!". She and I laughed and the matter was dropped.
They were introduced to her not long after that little feminine hygiene discovery, and the rest is history.
They tried, very hard, to like her. I wasn't the best role model for them at first, as far as step-parent relations go. I was pissed, resentful, bitter, you name it. I'll admit it, freely. I said things that I shouldn't have said. The worst thing I let pass my lips was calling her a whore within earshot of the kids. Do I regret saying it? Kind of. What I really regret is that they heard me say it. Somehow Big Daddy caught wind of this slip up and let me have it one day, out in the driveway when he came to retrieve the kids.
He was leaned up against his little car, like he always was when we'd have a "talk" out there. "The kids told me what you called her" he said. "I can't believe you'd say that. You're their core, you're the one they look up to." I felt badly, and apologized, and I did watch my mouth from then on. As best as I could.
But kids are kind of like dogs. They can sense when they're in the presence of someone who's not a fan. Secretary tried, I'll give her that. How it must have felt, to go from being Big Daddy's dirty little secret to being thrown into the ring with four kids who were going through the hardest time in their young lives. I don't know if I could have done it, personally. But she hung in there.
She took Molly shopping, took my boys to the grocery store, played board games with them, watched movies with them. She did a good job, at first. But then the grind must have started wearing on her, poor thing. The kids started coming home with stories about being screamed at, having hair pulled (yes, pulled hair. In public, no less), being banished to a yucky basement while Big Daddy, Secretary and their posh group of friends would sit upstairs, drinking and eating.
And then the cheese.
I've often wondered what kind of stepmom I would be. The closest I have come to it was while dating the victim I refer to as Mullet Man. He was the one and only victim whom I allowed into my kid's world, and that was really only because he had three kids himself. I liked his kids, but I don't know if I could have loved them like they deserved to be loved. Who knows, maybe it's something that comes after time. But Mullet and I didn't have more time. We broke up shortly after he told me that he wasn't really divorced. Oh, and he was a felon. More on that one later, promise.
Anyhoo, as I was saying, I don't know how I'd fare as a stepmom. My own kids can tweak my very last nerve, to the point where I fantasize about dropping the whole lot of them off at the bus station and waving bye bye. But at the end of the day, I love them with my whole heart, with every fiber of my being. "With the heat of a thousand suns", I always tell them. Because they're my kids. Could I ever love another person's babies like that? I don't know.
But I do know that I'd share my cheese with them. I'm nice like that.