My Mother

My Mother

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The Google definition of the word mom is “one's mother…. In my paper I’m going to discuss my relationship with one of the biggest role models In my life, and although she may be unrelated to me, and I may refer to her to other as my step-mom to others, to me she far exceeds the stupid Google definition to what any mom should be.
I was like most children seem to be, once a member of a loving family of a dad, a “mom” a sister and myself. But just like half of marriages in the United States and Canada my parents got divorced (McCornack Pg.326). After a long and dramatic outing with my mother I eventually was forced to mature at a young age and decide that living with my mom was not what was best for me and my future. I moved in with my dad full time and joined the lifestyle of the bachelor pad. But even though I was more than happy just living with my dad and my sister, I was unable to fathom how my dad must have felt at the time, and I realize now that no one likes to be alone. Even though he had us kids which I’m sure he would say is more than enough to make him happy, I can now see that everyone wants to have a significant other in their life and I couldn’t be happier now that he didn’t let us kids turn him away from that. But let me assure you it hasn’t always been that way. My dad started to date Renee Brisbois, and eventually married her on August 11th 2006. Renee was everything that anyone could want in a mother figure, but at the time that’s made managing my emotions such an issue. We both had a mutual love for my dad and I had a hard time sharing him, this was early enough in our relationship too where Renee and I hadn’t established very good interpersonal communication and communicating skills so I never expressed my frustrations with her in an effective way. I just used negative non-verbal communication like ignoring her, or negative body language every time I saw her with my dad. This was a very emotional time period for the both of us and it went on for moths until she became very honest with me and told me that she isn’t trying to replace my mom, but to be the best wife and step-mom she could.

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After that, and as I grew, it was only positive news from there. We both grew together, she learned how to parent a teenager while I learned how to respect the motherly figure that I had been lacking in my life for so long. I have now realized that our relationship didn’t need to develop to make my dad or anyone else happy, but yet that we needed each other much more than we ever realized we would. I was lacking the respect for women that I should have had as a kid, and Renee was lacking the patience and understanding it requires being a mom. This mutual development I firmly believe has been a large part of the man I am today.
As I touched on in the last paragraph, the relationship that I have with my stepmom today could not be any more genuine and true. Throughout the years not only have we grown extremely close but between the two of us specifically we have co-created meanings of our own and specific ways of sharing emotions. One way that may seem subtle to many, is the relationship my step-mom and I have created with our dog. My step mom had never had a dog of her own as an adult, and I was never really old enough to have any part in raising my previous dogs until we got our chocolate lab puppy coco together. Since then we have co-created a handful of phrases to describe our dog and her actions. One example of this is when my step mom gets home from work and I would be coming home for dinner. Coco (our dog) gets super excited and will literally be prancing and hopping around us. We have come to call this her “dinner dance” because she always does it we believe to symbolize that she is hungry. This is funny to us every time we see it and can turn around either of our moods instantly just seeing how happy she is to see us. Another more meaningful relational maintenance strategy my step mom and I have is our ways of sharing emotion. This is one of my most cherished characteristics because I feel that she values my opinions just as much as I value hers, which is rare for a mother son relationship. I never feel like she is treating me like a subordinate, but more as a peer. Since my step mom went from having only her one young son (my now younger step-brother) to stepping into the role of parenting a very difficult teenage boy in myself, she never had the gradual familiarization with how to handle this age and what is common and what isn’t. Now that I am older, a lot of what we share and discuss is how to handle my little brothers situations. I think this means a lot to her because although I can only imagine that a parent must worry about every little thing their child does, I can help her by explaining what is just a normal punk teenager role. Vise versa to this my step mom has literally lifted thousands of metaphorical pounds off my back as well. Growing up under the eye of mostly just my father, it is sometimes hard to share my opinion when I disagree with him. My step-mom has provide me with someone who I can share my emotion with about my family and not only be taken seriously but who I know will help me out and treat me like an adult.
The way I communicate with my stepmom is something that I think is very unique to our relationship. We have an ongoing relational maintenance that I feel has not only brought us extremely close but also allows us to continue to grow even though we are apart.

Even though I could not be happier about how my relationship with my step mom is today, there are still some things I think we could work on in our relationship. There are a few forms of communication competence that I think would really benefit us both to acknowledge and try to change in the future. The first form of this is I have work on is self-monitoring how my actions affect our relationship. I often get so caught up in what I’m doing that I forget that my actions don’t just affect me and I believe that detracts from our relationship. A perfect example of this is that I sometimes forget to personally call my step-mom on a regular basis. Now this has nothing to do with me not loving her or not wanting to talk, but more that I just forget by getting so caught up in college life. I have had to self-monitor these actions and realize that when I don’t call her it doesn’t just hurt myself, but I forget that she often needs me. She may never admit this to me especially because she doesn’t want to stress me, but I know this is just a sign of her shyness. I often wish she would be less shy with me when she has personal problems but I have learned that this is something I cant expect her to change, but now more of something that I can adapt to by asking her myself if everything is ok. This method of taking her shyness that could easily be something that detracts from our relationship and turning it into something that enhances our relationship has helped a lot. This is definitely something I want to continue to work on because she has given me so much physically and mentally for years now and has helped me to go through hell and back, and the least I can do is always be here for her.
Like any relationship should, there are always ups and downs. But in the relationship I have with my stepmom I find it very full strengths. One of the best strengths that we have is our listening skill, which I believe has drastically enhanced our relationship. I firmly believe to have good listening skills you have to have respect for the person you are listening too. I think that the level of respect that I have for my stepmom is sometimes something that she can’t even understand. This really allows me to listen to what she says and not only listen but interact with her. This is a huge part of communicating because almost everyone can listen but its how you act upon what you hear which is valuable in a relationship. Another enhancing factor in our communicative process is trust or in the terms of our textbook self-disclosure. Our textbook describes self-Disclosure as “sharing your private thoughts and feelings with family and allowing them to do the same with you” (McCornack 62-68). To open up to your mom is something that is difficult for anyone, but opening up to a woman who isn’t actually related to me was even a bigger step. Once I allowed my self to do so with her though, I gained much more from our conversations. I learned that what I told her would stay between us, and that what she tells me she can trust I will withhold to. I think trust is very important in a relationship not for keeping secrets, but it allows you to talk about those tough situations that bother you the most that you cant explain to everyone. I think that these strengths my stepmom and I hold are much deeper that a lot of kids relationships with their real parents and I think this far exceeds the definition of what a mom relationship should be.
Although my step-mom and I great relationship I think that there are a few things that we could do to make it even better. I think personally I could focus more on Assurances with my step-mom. In chapter 10 under family relationships McCornack explains that assurances are “offering regular assurances of how much your family means to you” (pg. 300). I know my step-mom knows I genuinely love her, but I think I could do a better job of expressing that more frequently. Also on the topic of Assurances I think that ever since I have gone to college I have to change the way I show appreciation. I should be telling her how grateful and thankful I am for providing me with everything they have. The last thing that I think could improve our relationship would be our management of power. This has been a relatively recent struggle since it didn’t really come about until I returned home from college last summer. After being on my own for almost a whole year, It was hard to come home and have a curfew and structured rules to live by again. I think I had a bit of a battle with my parents especially my step-mom over small tedious tasks like keeping my room clean or picking up my brother from soccer. These frustrations built up between the both of us and I think added a lot of tension throughout the summer. I think a lot of it is my fault to understand that they are still my parents and I have to respect what they want, but at the same time I think my step-mom could also work on listening and understanding that I’m not used to being supervised again and to have a little more patient with me.
There is a quote from “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts” that says “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring – all of which have the potential to turn a life around” (Chapman, Gary). This is my new favorite quote and I don’t think could fit my relationship with my step-mom any better. It says nothing about being a mother, a mom, or providing any stupid pizza; but what it does say is how everyone can turn someone’s life around if they try, and my-step mom, Renee, Mom or anything else you want to call her has don’t just that. She turned my life around, and I will always love her and know she feels the same.

Works Cited
Chapman, Gary . The 5 love languages. 2009. Print.
McCornack, Steven. "Reflect & Relate." Bedford St.Martin's. (201

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