Sometimes the Universe presents us with what we think we can’t handle but — it happens anyway.
(Note: dear Readers, I have made the switch to a Mac and am sprawled out on the learning curve. Please forgive lack of images as I haven’t figured how to do that yet. Thanks for your support, Lordflea)
This is precisely what happened when I decided to marry Carter. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into regarding what it takes to being a good stepparent. Ahh, if only I had had this writing in my hands back then, how much easier my decision, how much clearer, brighter my picture would have been, how much more inspired I might have felt that I actually could be a good stepparent. And by “good” I do mean as best as I could be. Some people might settle for less than excellence in whatever they choose to do, but when it comes to parenting I think all of us can agree that everyone of us wants to be the best we’re capable of.
What does a “good” parent entail?
To me this is an easy question because it means trying to be the exact opposite of what my experience with my parents was like, growing up. No disrespect or harsh judgment intended to my parents, they did the best they could. Yet I would never want to raise children they way they raised my only sister and me. So perhaps a good way to define what “is” is to start by saying what it “is not.”
A good parent does not criticize, but supports and signals love in many ways, through words, glances, simple expressions sometimes. A parent wishing to be just, practical and at the same time spiritually in-tune with humankind’s true possibilities, will practice acceptance of who and what their child is . The only exception to this is the child breaks one of the ONLY 3 rules ever used in our home:
1) See God in Each Other (more about this in the next section)
2) Listen and Do (he or she must obey the parents!)
3) Hands, Feet, Words to your own Self (children can be so cruel)
Even when a child invents, discovers, or shares that which might be opposite from what a parent believes to be true, total support is called upon for spiritual parenting. Using “no” in any form, other than when the three rules above have been transgressed, is injurious to a developing soul.
A good parent, therefore, nurtures his or her child, and respects their separate needs and identity. This kind of unconditional support and love allows a child to blossom to their true nature, without any feelings of inadequacy, guilt, shame, or fears.
A good parent does not put their own needs above what’s best for the children’s welfare.
Thus, a good parent is often called upon to make sacrifices, in order to sustain the illusion at least — of security —which creates an atmosphere that fosters unlimited self-knowledge in a growing child’s world-view.
A good parent accepts what is, and does not try to change the way a child feels, but guides them through hard times by allowing them to express their sadness, fears, or insecurities, fortifying them, comforting them with shared experiences from their own life, yet letting go of any expectations about how the child might respond to their guidance.
In other words, a good parent, stepparent or biological, does not expect their wards to be little clones of themselves, feeling, believing, trusting to be true everything they, the parent, has. The trick about step-parenting is, for the step-mom or -dad to realize that just as their own imprint is, much of the biological parent is also instilled in the child’s psychic, social, and spiritual makeup. This fact is verified through DNA research and observed by behavioral scientists as a result of any early-child contact a step-child has with the non-present parent. Accepting this is true, and not judging or denying it, is essential for a happy, harmonious integrated family of biological and non-blood-related members.
Before agreeing to marry Carter, I went into my meditative mode many times, asking my inner Self if I was capable of being a “good” parent. Even though others had their doubts about my nurturing capabilities, including my own mother — Carter never did. I asked myself hard questions, such as
Am I capable of sacrificing my total freedom and lack of responsibilities, which I’d purposefully designed and managed to enjoy all of my forty-four years — to raise someone else’s kids? Someone I didn’t respect? Someone who’d already tried to hurt me with false accusations as soon as I entered her children’s lives?
Did I love this man Carter enough to take upon myself the task of loving, nurturing, guiding, providing for, cooking, cleaning, guarding, teaching, and generally role-modeling my life as an example to these two little “scared rabbits” as one person called Fonya then 5, and Cully, then 2? Was I willing to change so drastically? Move to another city even, one that was devoid of my previous level of sociable culture, spiritual fellowship, aesthetics and adventure?
Could I picture myself as Angel Mom to these two little towheads, so needy, so grievously wounded over the separation of their parents?
Could I, I wondered, be strong enough to stand impervious to the ex’s fabricated allegations, which she hurled at me various ways. Was I willing to subject my well fought-for inner peace to deal with a jealous, vengeful woman who’d sadly lost the privilege of raising her own children?
One of the most important questions for me, for any person deciding to step-parent other people’s children is: “Is my love for Carter true enough, strong enough to prove stronger than any of the feared obstacles, real or imagined, that will come trooping up over the horizon — trying to dissuade me from being Angel Mom to these two kids of his?”
All three of them needed me, needed to be healed with love. And even more honestly, I instinctively knew, I needed to love them in order to heal myself, totally, from my life scars. So the biggest question of all, the one I spent the most time on, was:
“Do I love myself enough to love three other badly damaged individuals?”
So yes, after a year and a half of inwardly and outwardly asking these questions, reading every book I could find about the subject, discussing the pros and cons ad infinitum with Carter, and working with professionals, a pre-marital counselor we hired for consultations and to work up a formal psychological evaluation (on Carter’s behalf), in addition to our two birth charts I ordered, compared by competent a and long-trusted astrologer (on my behalf) — I decided I could do this!
Consciously, spiritually, open- and full-heartedly, I decided I could BE Angel Mom to these two kids who so needed me. Mostly I knew this, because they were part of the picture of loving Carter. After all, I reminded myself, when Fonya and Cully were fully grown, in about 15 years, he and I would be alone. And I knew my love for him was strong enough to stand the test of time.