When Zach had to go to the hospital last month as I talked about here, I had commented how I was so glad that we didn’t have divorce drama to contend with. We were all able to wait together supporting Zach without all the tension and awkwardness that just is lame for everyone. I commented to Rob how I dread the day anything happens to one of his kids because of the unending divorce hostility he’s the recipient of (for absolutely no good reason I might add).
Of course, I spoke too soon.
As I talked about here, Sam was in the hospital this past week. So glad he is fine.
But it did present with some drama – but really more of an internal struggle for me.
When Rob first took him to the ER, I stayed home with the other kids, which was the natural thing for me to do, and spent the evening with them. However, later Rob called to say he would likely be staying the night. The kids were all in bed (and can be left alone) so my natural instinct was to obviously go be with them at the hospital.
But his ex was there too.
I decided to pass.
She’s just uncomfortable to be around. Fluctuates between being hostile and then just plain awkward. I figured it was bad enough her being in the same room with Rob, I didn’t want to add me to the mix.
But she left at 10:30 and so I went to join Sam and Rob and stayed until after 1.
By that time, we knew they were admitting Sam, and Rob was staying with him obviously.
I also knew that his ex would be back bright and early the next morning.
Now, if it were Zach or Josh, there is no question that I would be there with them round the clock. But so would their Dad, and so would Rob (unless he had to take care of the other kids). And we would all be fine and maybe take shifts for food, but everyone would be fine with everyone because it was about the child.
But given the nature of the relationship with Rob’s ex and both of us, I felt like I had a dilemma.
Should I stay or should I go?
If I go there will be trouble. But if I stay it will be double.
Thank you Clash. I understand the song in a different way now.
I wanted to be there for Rob. I didn’t want to be there because of his ex.
So I 10-10-10’d it.
Should I go to the hospital the next day?
The first 10 – well – it would be awkward. His ex would not want me there. She might be civil, but would likely make comments afterwards to people about me stepping on her toes. She might be rude. She likely would not acknowledge me. Overall, it would just be uncomfortable.
But for Rob, he’d appreciate my support. However, he would also understand if I wanted to remove myself from the tension too. He just finds the whole awkwardness weird and annoying really (and doesn’t get the hostility given their history and the history of their divorce). So, he’d be accepting of whatever I was comfortable doing.
The next 10 – 10 months – well whatever her issues were with me would still exist whether I went or not. I’m either the overbearing Stepmom trying to be the Mom, or the you-know-what Stepmom who should be doing more. Nothing would change in 10 months really. As for Rob, he again would be the same as the 10 min scenario – Ok with whatever I decided.
Then I did the last 10 – 10 years. That’s when I really realized this had nothing to do with Rob or his ex!!! This had everything to do with Sam! I was thinking about the wrong question. Should I go to the hospital for Sam? And the 10 year outcome screamed Yes!!!!
I quickly backtracked to the other 10’s. 10 minutes – he might not care – he’s being entertained, he’s got his Mom and his Dad. 10 months – he actually might question me – “where were you Leah”? Given how hands on I am at home, and how much I love him, he would likely wonder why I wasn’t there for him??
10 years? I thought about the relationship I want with him in 10 years. Completely independent from his parents. I want to be his Stepmom with our own unique relationship. He’s my little Sam the Man. My Finnigan. I needed to be there for him- awkwardness and all – for the sake of me and Sam. And for Sam and me.
So, I decided to tread lightly and as respectfully as possible, to try to avoid the hostility, while making sure Sam knew he was loved and supported by me too. I went for a few hours in the morning, and then a few hours in the evening. In the evening Sam’s Mom left to go home for a break, and Rob needed to catch a few winks after being up for 2 nights with virtually no sleep, so I got to hang out with Sam on my own for a bit. We went on an adventure walk around the hospital, made sure we had some good pictures to document his journey in his yearly photo book, and then just hung out and read some books together.
Was it awkward when his Mom was around? I guess?? But that’s really not my problem. Did she feel like I was stepping on toes, or was annoyed when I was there too? Maybe. But you know what? Such is the nature of divorced lives. It’s all part of the special divorce package.
I’m so glad I 10-10-10d it. I don’t purposefully want to step on Rob’s ex’s toes, but realistically, I can’t control how she takes things. I can be as respectful as I can be to her, but at the same time I need to prioritize my relationship with my step kids and be respectful to them too. I can likely never appease her, I will always do the wrong thing in her eyes and I’m sure the awkwardness will be life long. But that is her problem to own, and not mine to take on.
It became crystal clear to me that my priority is not my relationship with her and I should not waste an ounce of energy worrying about my relationship with her. It’s all about my family: my husband and my step kids (and my kids- but they aren’t affected in this scenario). There will be lots of important shared events: parties, graduations, weddings, special occasions- to come in the future. I’m so glad that I had this experience that really gave me clarity on how I will handle future ones: respectfully, keeping my eye on the long term priority, which is a beautiful relationship with my family: husband, kids and skids.
Thank you 10-10-10!