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Six more lessons learned from my son, Eliott

IMG_8858Two weeks ago was really hard for me. We spent a fantastic summer with Eliott. But we just dropped him off in Michigan with his mom for the school year. I went from a full-time mommy to empty house.

The summer started in Tennessee, where we picked him up from his mom. We spent some time together and then went to Washington DC for a friends retirement party at Vice President Biden’s office. What an opportunity for a kid!!! And for us, too. We then spent some of the 4th of July holiday at Disney World and the beach. Things seem to calm down after that as we spent time at sports camps and being a family. We had several adventures this summer, each with photos and memories to last a lifetime.

Being a step mom is challenging and awesome at the same time. You are with this little being for only limited amounts of time. Entrusted to care and take care of them, as a mother would, but always knowing that this person loves their mommy with everything they have. And should. But somehow if they love you fully, it is being disloyal to their “mommy.” I am okay with that most days. But every one once in a while it is really hard to be just a step mom. You are often in the shadow of “the mommy.” I know I didn’t give birth to him or see him grow for the first years of his life. But he is so special. And I am very blessed to have the chance to love him. To truly love this child is one of the easiest things I have ever done.

As my relationship with Eliott grows, the things I learn from him grow. This is part two of the lessons I have learned from Eliott.

1. Be adaptable. This kid goes from one parent to the other, and is always saying goodbye to his mom or dad. He is a trooper. For the most part, he goes without too much of a fuss, but you can tell it is hard for him. The amazing thing is, within five minutes he is okay. He lives in the moment and goes with the flow. He really is one of the most easy-going people I know. He rarely asks to speak to his mom when he is with us. Because he is just too busy having fun and living life, in the moment. We suspect it is the same when he is with Mommy. We are probably the furthest things from his mind. And that is ok, even though we miss him something fierce.

2. Creating things is cool. Whether it is a blanket fort, a story about an ant, or a picture of the Disney castle for his wall, he puts his whole self into creating a masterpiece. He loves to show off his work and will even invite you to come along for the process. He loves to create and sees very few limits on what is possible. The power of his imagination is simply… amazing.

3. Kindness works. I was having a tough time this summer, sometimes he saw me cry. He never hesitated to come give me a hug and ask if he could help. When he thought I was crying over my dog Sebastian’s passing. He assured me that my dog was playing in heaven with his old dog Sassy. The kid is wise beyond his years. He was so quick to give of himself and wanted to make things right. Asking nothing in return.

4. Gratefulness starts young. Every night before bed, we say prayers together. We bless family and friends—even new friends. But we always end prayers with what we are grateful for. Eliott always went first and to my surprise it was rarely about some new toy or material item, but more about the experiences he had and the time he spent with us. He clearly understands what is important in this life. Some of my favorite moments from this summer are those moments of gratitude. To have him remind us of life’s special moments. He helped us to stop and smell the roses.

5. Be excited. Trips to D.C., Disney, the beach, and first days of camp were like Christmas Eve to him. His excitement oozed out of every one of his pores and often turned into a happy dance of sorts. He was excited. Like… really excited. Honest smiles and true squeals of delight were common occurrences. And if we got a dollar for every time the word “awesome” was uttered at Disney, I think I would have been rich. Dreams really do come true. I teared up when we walked down Main Street towards the castle and he was beyond excited. What a treasure to be a part of this magic for him. And for us.

6. Motherhood is a state of mind. Sometimes he calls me mom and sometimes he calls me Beverly. But when he asks for tickle hugs, couch snuggles, or to play our fun “make up a story” time, it is clear we have a bond. We have shared jokes, tons of giggles, shared memories, trust and love. Lots of love. There is no box that a mother has to fit into. Motherhood is fluid. It changes. And while I don’t have him under my care right now, I still love him and want him safe. That doesn’t go away when he is not here by my side.

Ultimately, the feel of his little hand in mine is something that I cherish. His smile and those eyes that trust you with everything are priceless. He has changed me—From the inside out, in ways, I never could have imagined. I am better because he loves me. And I am super proud to be his stepmom.

 

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