When I was six or seven, I had two pet names for my father – Naa and Ego. Although I don’t remember their origin, I suppose I was following suit from seeing the diminutives my parents used for each other on Christmas gift tags and Valentine’s Day cards. (P.B. and E.S., which stood for something sweet and romantic.)

Naa died out quickly but Ego remained. I’m not sure why my father let me call him Ego -he didn’t have a large one and I didn’t know the word’s true meaning.

Now ego has become a caution sign on my road through stepparenting life.  Only by becoming aware of my ego have I been able to move into a phase of life where I mostly accept my evolving relationship with Brianna and Bud.

“But you are their mom,” insist many who learn of our story. It’s not quite that simple. As we’ve learned through this reflection together, their mom is still their mom, living or deceased.  A Thai exchange student whom I supervised on her program in the USA stated it well. “You have to respect your mom. She is the one who gave birth to you.” Thank goodness for the Asian culture of honoring their elders.

The acceptance dance becomes a pretty straightforward dynamic. When I release my ego’s need to be fully accepted by Brianna and Bud, then I accept whatever behavior from them comes my way.  Though lately the behavior is really all quite positive, there have been times…. But when I become angry because, for example, Bud will only go to his Dad for support and reinforcement, then I know my ego has flared.

The ego wants recognition and justice. For any of us who have kids, since when does being a mom net you all those rewards? I can at least protect my ego by reminding myself that my service heart makes me a good mom.  Like the stepparent version of Elliot Ness, I continue headlong into the world of “doing good.”

Mama J writes about family dynamics and relationships from her bay-windowed office in Northern Colorado.

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