My bonus daughter is my muse. She is my reason for watching my words and making sure that all of my steps are in order. Why? Because she watches everything I do. I used to think that she would watch me to see how many times I could screw up in a day. Then I noticed she would start asking me questions about everything that I did, watched, and said. Innocent questions. Nothing too serious. Could it be that she is starting to admire me? Let's hope so.....
She is older now so the conversations are getting deeper and the glances that she gives me are becoming more prolonged. She has gained her voice. A voice that has long been silenced by the confusion surrounding a transition that took place in her life when she was only three years old. A confusion that caused a barrier to be formed between us from the start. It wasn't until we were forced to quarantine that we were able to begin to understand each other, heal, and begin to form the genuine relationship that we have today- Priceless.
Because I brought a son of my own into the relationship with my now husband, I thought that I was equipped to handle all of the complexities that plague bonus family relationships. I was SO wrong. I was completely unprepared for the emotions that engulfed us- the emotions of my bonus daughter being the most complex. I came into her life when she was three and I've been there everyday since. Yet in still, she needed a mother. Her mother. I felt myself feeling like I the third wheel in her life, honestly. When her mom came around or showed an interest, I felt like I was not wanted and not necessary and it hurt. Where did I fit in? It caused me to build a barrier of protection around myself to avoid being hurt and disappointed. I can admit now that I had a very surface level relationship with her for years because I did not know how to truly connect with her. Thinking back, the toxicity that her mother brought into our blend hindered me from being the best bonus mom that I could have been to her during that time. It prevented me from understanding what she was going through because of my own selfish thinking. My thought was, "I'm here and I'm doing the work so she should see how valuable I am to her life." Wrong. The one thing I was not doing was listening- Not just to her words but to her actions. Her actions were showing that she was a very confused child who just wanted to feel safe in showing her true emotions.
One of the good things the COVID-19 quarantine allowed, was that it forced us to sit still and spend time with our families. In doing that, I was able to learn how to talk to my bonus daughter and truly connect with her. The time opened my eyes to truly appreciate how she felt abut everything- me, the whole transition, and her mother. Those years of being surface level had long been recognized by her and she felt it. She admitted that she felt unwanted by me too. So there we were, two scared and hurt people trying to learn to love one another. We are talking about years of just existing within a transition that she still didn't quite understand. As we peeled back the surfaces, we both recognized that there were a lot of truths that needed to be told and misconceptions that needed to be cleared up. We talked, we laughed, and we began to build an open and honest relationship without any further fears of being hurt by one another.
I came into this situation as a mother thinking that I could handle it all. It was an arrogant assumption. Yes, I was a mother but I was not her mother. There was to be a learning curve there that would take years to gain an understanding of. I had to understand that I was very much needed but, that I was needed to fill a void that could never really be replaced. There was growth that still needed to take place so that every toxic moment that happened between myself and her mom did not cause me to withhold myself from her. I had to learn a lot and I'm still learning how to navigate this delicate bonus mom + bonus daughter relationship but it's worth it. We are in a place now that I had honestly given up hope of ever getting to.
The key component to it all was to sit still and listen.
Sometimes it's the children who really do know best....