A blog by Lori Lyons

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Goldfish Love

In my 10 years as a parent (and 16 as a step parent), I have learned that car drives sometimes are the best places for serious conversations with children. With spouses, too.

Not only are they captive audiences in close proximity, there are few distractions and no interruptions.

Despite the gorgeous weather and my poolside hammock calling my name, Lora and I had to spend quite a bit of time in the car today. And we talked about a lot of things.

I told her I really want her to learn to ride the bike we bought her last summer so that we can go riding together. She's really not interested, but I'm trying bribery.

We talked about going fishing. We live right next to the area's greatest recreational fishing spot and we were passing dozens of anglers along the highway at the time. It's on our summer bucket list.

We talked about how leery I am to let her go off to visit the home of the new friend she made at a party last night.

"We barely know those people," I told her. "Suppose they came over and saw Lollee (our dog) and said, 'Hey! That's a great dog! Can we take her home for the weekend?"

"We would say no," she said, outraged at the very idea.

"And yet you expect me to let them take YOU?"

And we talked about love.

Lora has a friend whose parents are divorced. Her mom is dating a very nice man. But, Lora said, obviously repeating what she has heard, he's not her friend's dad.

"She said she will never love him like her dad," Lora said. "He'll never take the place of her dad."

"I understand that," I replied. I had both a stepmother and a stepfather growing up, and now I am a stepmother. I get it.

"It's not that they're taking the place of her dad," I explained. "No one will take the place of her dad. But it's just someone else in her life who cares about her."

"But she won't ever love him like her dad," Lora said.

"Maybe not," I replied. And I thought about my own stepfather. I resented him. He was not my dad.. Never was. And I had a lot of issues with that.

Then I thought about my own two stepchildren, who were 6 and 8 when I met them. I'm sure -- no, I know -- they struggled the same way.

So did I.

It was very difficult at first, as we all tried to figure out our proper places in each other's lives. I know I overstepped at times. I know they resented me for it. Eventually I learned to take a step back and quit trying so hard. I found a way to just be in their lives. And their mother and I found a way to work together (with their dad)  to raise two absolutely wonderful people.

But I am not, and never will be, their mother.

"Look at Daniel and Courtney," I said to Lora. "They probably don't really love me.  They probably like me and care about me, but they don't love me."

"Yes they do," Lora protested. "They love you."

"Do you think they love me like you love me?"

She thought about this for a minute.

"No. They probably don't love you like I love you. But they probably love you like.... like... like a goldfish or something. It's like goldfish love."

And we both broke into a fit of giggles.

Goldfish love.

I'll take that.


  1. Love this post, Lori. I have step-parents and I struggled alot. But I am so grateful for their presence in my life. And I definitely love them more than goldfish. LOL. Please let Lora know. Ha, Ha!

  2. Thanks Kristal! I will let Lora know. Daniel and I shared quite a giggle over it, though. "Am I your goldfish, Daniel?" I asked him. "You're my goldfish, Lolo," he replied.