Monday, September 13, 2010

Lil' Lauren Lou

I've talked about Paul's kids quite a lot on this blog. I've posted pictures and told you about the things we do and the funny things the kids say. But I haven't talked much about the process of learning to be a stepmom.

I've been included in Paul's family for a little over a year now, and I think I can finally say I'm getting there. I've calmed down. I'm starting to put less pressure on myself. We've successfully passed the point of initial relationship building and now we're moving on to a rhythm of life together. In hindsight, I wish I would have documented it, because it has been one of the hardest things I have ever done.

This post is about Lauren. Lauren was just shy of 13 when I finally met her, and I was ridiculously nervous about meeting her. Paul is enormously proud of all of his kids, and when he talked about Lauren I could tell that she meant the world to him. He bragged about her constantly and was always telling funny stories about things she had said and done as a little girl. I knew that it was very important for Lauren and I to connect.

Lauren is an amazing girl. She's smart, and a little flighty sometimes (she is a teenage girl, after all!). She's a talented budding artist and shows interest in a huge variety of subjects. She learns about the things that interest her and takes pride in having that bit of knowledge to share.

Lauren is her own person, and even at the impressionable age of 14 she doesn't let anyone take that away from her. She exhibits creativity through her clothing and loves to push the boundaries with her hair and makeup. Instead of spending all of her money at Hot Topic (though she does shop there), she loves to glean her accessories from antique stores and thrift shops. She's a kickback to the resourceful punk spirit of the 80s, and she is truly unique in a time when 'unique' has become uniform.

Lauren is mature for her age. She loves to help out, especially with the little kids. I've been hesitant to let her because I don't want her to feel like I'm taking advantage of her willingess, but I'm finally learning that it's ok to let her help me. She truly enjoys it, and she knows that if I ask her to help it's because I'm working, too. I hope she knows how much I appreciate her.

While Lauren and I have gotten along extremely well, I've felt that we haven't been as close as we could have been. We're comfortable around each other, but I think we each held back a little bit. I was terrified of doing or saying the wrong thing, of invading her life too much or too little. The fact that she was a teenager intimidated the daylights out of me. I had no idea how to take care of, spend time with, or entertain a teenager. I tried my best to make her comfortable in our home, and as much as she reassured me that she was fine, my own insecurities always left me feeling like I had fallen short.

Paul had drill this weekend, and it was the kids' scheduled weekend with their mothers, but Lauren decided to spend the weekend helping me paint our new house and pack up our old one. We worked insanely hard this weekend (in between episodes of America's Next Top Model and Starbucks Frappuccinos), and we managed to pack up a good chunk of the house and paint the entire living room. I would never have accomplished as much as I did this weekend without Lauren's help.

As we worked together, we talked or didn't. I felt my hesitation slip away and I enjoyed Lauren's company. I stopped worrying and just enjoyed her. She's funny and slightly sarcastic. She notices little details that completely escape me, and she has decided opinions on many things--just like her dad.

When Tracy and Troy stopped by to pick Lauren up on Sunday evening, she held her arms out to me and asked, "Hug?"

It took me by surprise. She had never asked me for a hug before and I, not being much of a hugger, have worried that I don't show her the affection that I feel. It was an amazing sensation and I felt like we reached a new level in our step mom/step daughterness. (Ok, so the title isn't official, but it will be before long! I consider them my step kids and I love them each as if they were my own) I feel closer to Lauren now, and I hope she feels a little closer to me, too.

Lauren, I do love you very much. I'm proud of you, and I enjoy spending time with you. I feel honored to be allowed to watch you grow up and mature into a young woman. I'm glad you're in my life. I appreciate you so much, and I'm continually grateful for everything you do for Dad and me. 

Pedicures. October 2 or 3. You in?


Tiffany said...

Oh Lauren! It's such a blessing to be her Aunt Tiff. She definitely deserves a step-mom like you!

honestabe said...

What a great - gee - I don't know, story, article, insight, sharing heck all of it. All my nephews and nieces are so special and you have captured the specialness of one of them.

Heather said...

How about bragging piece?

Mom said...

Wonderful. I can't wait to get to know her better. She's a sweeetie for sure!