It's kind of like wearing a shoe that doesn't fit, but you wear it any way because a) you spent a lot of money on them and b) they're a really cute pair of shoes. This is how I refer to my situation of sudo sort stepmom. Really, I am childless, without child, consciously barren. I am one of those women who just decided that motherhood would not be my bag of tea. Sure there have been moments when my ovaries have twisted up at the sight of a cute baby and a tiny voice has ever so quietly whispered "hey...we should have one of those." But I also think at times that it would be nice to just have a baby something...alpaca, goat, pig, monkey. Babies are cute for a biological reason. It is so we won't eat them. I have a million excuses for not having one of my own like timing and money, lacking the abilities required to raise a good human being, but if I take an honest look, those excuses can be boiled down to just one. I am a selfish human being.
I mean I'm not selfish selfish. I give to charities. I occasionally give my time as a volunteer (I should actually do more of this). I tend to put others' needs before my own. Really, I am a giver almost to the point of being a doormat. I let people walk all over me and take advantage of my generosity. Case in point: I once gave a monk ten dollars for a cheap beaded bracelet. He had asked me for a donation while popping the bracelet onto my wrist and when I pulled a five out of my wallet, he saw the ten. He said I needed to give ten. So I did. Like a sucker. Because they needed to finish building their temple. I bend over and into a pretzel to make those around me happy and comfortable. So when I say my reasons for not having a child is a selfish reason, I say it because I feel this could be one area of my life were I could be completely selfish without making anyone (too) unhappy. Let's face it. Children are not easy to please and they let you know in no uncertain terms that they do not like something or are not happy about whatever. I didn't feel like being a constant disappointment to yet another person.
Gratitude and appreciation is not an ingrained behavior. It is not just enough to know what those things are but to practice the art of being grateful every day. I know plenty of adults who struggle with this idea daily. The Cabbage has gotten better at this. Her tone is filled with less disdain when she doesn't like something. She's gotten better at being quick about saying when she does like something and saying 'thank you'. I think a big part of it has been that I've stopped trying so hard to please. I don't twist myself into that pretzel where she is concerned. If anything, the Cabbage has taught me to not be such a doormat. So there's that. The Cabbage is very quick to tell people that I am not her mother, which is great because it keeps me from having to explain. She tells people that I am her stepmom and I correct her and say "wicked stepmom". Though I don't really consider myself to be a stepmom either. I understand that there's a need to label things and people.
People mean well when they wish me a 'Happy Mothers' Day" and every other weekend you can find me doing mom like things. I make sure a six year old has access to the short list of foods that she will consume, that she has clean clothes to wear and goes to bed at a reasonable hour. I have cleaned up vomit, wiped a snotty nose, and cleaned her butt. But I am not her mother. I know that there are those who resist my anti-mother stance when it comes to the Cabbage. It comes down to that need to put a label on me. Also, I have yet to hear about a National Stepmom Day (thank the gods). So my whatever role gets lumped in with Mothers' Day because I am female and a part time care giver to a child. In fact the feminist in me screams against being lumped into the Mothers Day group. The things I do for the Cabbage are the things any general care giver would do. It does not make me a mother. My womb does not ache when she's not with me. In fact there have been times I have sighed with relief after dropping her off at her mother's.
I do recognize that I have influence and I'm helping to mold her brain. I have become one of the women in her tribe of women who are helping to raise her. It takes a village right? I am happy enough to be part of her village. No label required.