Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My summer daughter

I met Haley when she was 10. Blonde hair, big blue eyes and a curiosity for life that could kill 100 cats.  She was smart, mature, thoughtful, caring and like any 10 year old, wanted to be part of everything.

I was 23 at the time and thought "oh cute! a 10 year old! This will be fun." I moved in with Daddy the beginning of June and Haley flew in for the summer very shortly thereafter. I was in for the biggest surprise of my life.

It had always been Daddy and Haley ever since he and her mom split up. Daddy and Haley were the 2 amigos. Best of pals. Driver and Navigator.  Yin to Yang. Peanut butter to jelly. Sonny to Cher.  She never had to call shotgun, it was a given. He gave her all his time, it was a given.  Road trips, camping trips, Krusteaz blueberry pancakes and Ragu. They were fine with this arrangement. It worked for both of them. Happy as clams they were.  How bad could it be with  new person in the mix? A fiance, a step-mom, a new friend.

For the first month we were all trying to figure out this new arrangement. Who sleeps where? Who sits in the front?  When do we get private time? Who's running errands? Who's going to get ice cream with who? Who gets date night? It seemed like instead of doing everything as a threesome everything was getting done as separate teams. Somebody always getting left out. Each female wanting private time alone with her main man. When we did do things as a family unit who sat in the middle? who got to hold hands with who? To say there was competition was a HUGE understatement.

I was not cut out for this. She was 10 years old and was way more mature in this situation than me. She was patient, kind and understanding while I was mean and selfish. I couldn't take a step back and look at it from another perspective. I had no right breaking up their happy twosome. I was the outsider even though I treated her as such.

The end of summer came, we all survived but some major damage had been done. Irrevocable damage. Daddy and I were not sure this was going to work out. I went back home to clear my head and sort some things out. Although this part of our lives is up for much debate. He thinks I left him, but I really just needed to get a handle on the situation. that's a whole different story all together.

We decided we would make this work. Summers and holidays brought Haley back to us. It was a difficult dynamic for us. I was too young to be a mom, too old to be a friend. Somehow we made it work. It's taken a long time for us to build our relationship, as most good relationships do. Seeing someone once a year can make it hard.  We've found our groove together and found a closeness i'm sure we both wish was there since the beginning. With 4 people vying for his attention, Daddy has had to stretch himself very thing at times but we're a family. The 5 of us. Every summer we are whole. Haley completes us. When she leaves, she leaves an emptiness with us.

Today is Haley's 18th birthday. She lives in Germany with her "school year" family. Her mom, step dad and 2 siblings. (coincidentally the same age as Aiden and Sarah-Eve)
We have spent the last 8 summers together. Last year being the last. She graduates in June and will be off on her own going to college.

I wish I met Haley at a different time in my life. I wish I had treated her better. I wish I been more patient, kind and understanding like she was with me. I will never be able to give back the time I took from them, though I wish I could.

She is a wonderful young woman with big ideas and a big heart. With a family as big as hers... you have to have a big heart. I love her tremendously and couldn't picture my life without her.  It has been a wonderful thing to watch her grow into the person she is today.  She would most definitely give you the shirt off her own back.... as long as her undershirt matched her shoes and earrings. If not, then forget it. But she would figure out a way to get you a shirt no matter how hard it was. She wouldn't give up.

She worries too much, she studies too hard, and cares too much. But I admire her for these things.  She get's straight A's, scored sky high on her SAT's, plays sports, is kind to everyone she sees, gives without expecting anything return, she's unbelievably thoughtful and just wants to see everyone around her happy. She is loving, sweet, funny, happy, caring, charismatic, smart and has a thirst for life I wish I could bottle up and keep in my medicine cabinet. She's one amazing girl.

When I grow up, I want to be just like Haley. 

1 comment:

  1. That was amazing! Being a step-parent is not an easy thing. I hope that someday I can express my emotions like that to my step-son.