Happy Sunday. This is a reflective Sunday for me, I think. Teresa is having a celebration with her friends for her upcoming 16th birthday and I’m a bit stunned by it getting here so quickly.
I am very blessed when it comes to my family. I realize this now (and have for some years) but I wasn’t always convinced I had been blessed. When Rhondi and I first got together, it was very difficult for me to step into the stepparent role. To be honest, it was one of the hardest things I have experienced in my life. I was also pretty terrible at it for a long time.
This is a hard thing for me to admit.
For years I felt like a total hypocrite because people would often praise me for stepping into a situation where I took on four children. I never felt like I deserved any praise for that. I fell in love with Rhondi and she had four kids. I wanted to do what was best for her and her children and stepped in to help however I could after I met the kids, but it was very tough.
We butted heads. I was an asshole. I said things I regret to this day and was a total bastard when it came to any type of line crossing. If the kids fucked up, which kids do, I was aware of it and hypercritical. I had no idea of the dynamic that exists between siblings, and it put me at a disadvantage. There were so many things I should have just let them sort out. There were so many things I wish I could have just stopped myself and thought about where there were coming from and not about how their actions were some sort of slight against me.
I’m sure I took a lot of things personally that were not about me at all.
We were in a tough place for so many reasons. If I had it to do over again, I think my step kids and I would have a much better relationship. I’m not the same guy I was in 2005 and they have grown up into being very cool people who think for themselves and realize there is a lot more to life than the rather crappy hand (my opinion…and nothing against my wife at all. She is an amazing mom in so many ways they don’t even understand yet) they had been dealt in so many aspects of their life.
When Teresa was born, I shifted my entire focus to her. This was also a bit shortsighted and caused damage to not only my new relationship with Elise, Ashton, Hayden, and Devin, but also with Rhondi. As I have chronicled here, I didn’t get to have that infancy time with Ryan. We didn’t get to bond the way parents and children can bond when you are there from day one.
I got to experience the type of love that I had always wanted to experience, and it was all-consuming. Luckily, my job with Casa at the time allowed me to spend a ton of time with Teresa for the first few months of her life. Rhondi had to go right back to work, and it was Teresa and I figuring things out. It was fun but taxing and it probably made things worse between the other kids and me.
Patience, though, please dear friends. I will get into more of that later. There is a ton to unpack, for sure.
As I think and write, I sit here today reflecting on how quickly these years have gone. I’m thankful the hard stuff of the early days is behind me. I’m not naïve that hard stuff can’t still happen. It will. Life is not a bowl of fucking cherries. Life is real and I am glad I am now in a place where I can be supportive to the kids when they need it.
In the early days with my “Bean,” as I still sometimes call Teresa, I just felt pure joy, for the most part that I got to be her dad. I would play guitar for her, and she would smile or get sleepy. She took the best pictures, too. Total Gerber baby.
I remember sitting and watching playoff basketball with her in the spring of 2007. Teresa was on my lap and I swear that she was getting into the games. The Suns were playing the Spurs and it was getting tense. Teresa was sitting on my lap and had one of my thumbs in each hand. Teresa would give my thumbs a hard squeeze during the tensest moments, and it was crazy. I remember telling Rhondi and my mom about this and they thought I was imagining it, but I wasn’t. She was rooting for the Suns then, but she would never do so now.
She was a pukey little thing in those days. I can laugh about it now, but we were very concerned about her stomach in the first year of her life. We even had to take her to the hospital at least once when she wouldn’t keep anything down. I remember one day very vividly. It was during her first winter and I was getting ready to take her to daycare, which was at the wonderful Karen S’s house, and I was wearing a sweater.
As you can guess, she thew up all over my sweater and herself as I was getting ready to put her in the carrier portion of the car seat. While I was getting her changed, I realized she had also managed to shoot diarrhea up her back, too. I had to quickly bathe her, get her in clean clothes, change my clothes, and get her to daycare. There was time for me to still make it to my first class on time. I think I was teaching at North High that day, so it was an easy drive from Karen’s.
This was the day I realized there was nothing special about GG Allin. Before the next fifteen minutes was over, I had been puked on, peed on, and shit on. Two pairs of my clothes down, two pairs of her clothes down. I called in sick that day and we spent the day on the couch watching movies and napping. Winter, 2006.
See you tomorrow.