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Showing Up for Bleacher Butt

Perhaps my greatest legacy as a stepmom is bleacher butt.

You read that right. Bleacher butt.

My stepdaughter loves to tell people that her dad and stepmom started dating at her volleyball games. She’s not wrong. We were both lawyers with full time jobs, homes, and all of the accompanying tasks. Plus he had three kids and spent time chauffeuring them around to their various activities. His time was limited. So, yes, many of our early dates consisted of grab n’ go food at volleyball matches or basketball games in gyms across the state. It was the only time we had to get to know one another. We’d race out of work and head out to whatever activity was on the schedule that evening.

Initially, the times sitting on those bleachers were dates with my future hubby. They became dates with my future family. I wasn’t just dating him. I was dating them.

Those evenings in the bleachers became part of our routine as a family and we have great memories of those times together. We started rating the popcorn at the concession stands where we attended volleyball games. We stayed up late in hotel rooms eating pizza while on the road for basketball games. We put a lot of miles on cars and listened to a lot of tunes. For better or worse, I learned a lot of teenage stuff. (Some of it not fit for print.)

Sounds so “Pollyanna.” Truthfully, I was tired. Actually, I was beyond tired. I was billing hours as the newest lawyer at the firm. I had bought my first house so I was learning the ins and outs of being a homeowner. I had my own laundry to do and my own trash to take out. Yet, I found myself running the roads with my new gang more often than not. As an introvert, I needed time alone, in a quiet room, with a book. I struggled to carve out any time for myself at all. I saw my friends less. I worked out less. I gave myself less. But I kept going, trying to work out a balance that kept life intact for all involved.

I remember my stepdad once telling me that his parents never made it to even one of his high school wrestling matches. Not one. They had other children. They were working to put food on the table. They were trying to make a marriage work. Still the fact that they didn’t take an

interest in his wrestling career left an indelible mark that he still recalls more than 50 years later.

I suspect that you are pushing yourself to keep going right now. Maybe you have given up on tending to yourself. (A whole other blog post!) Maybe you aren’t able to make every game. Maybe you can’t see every performance. Maybe co-parenting situations haven’t made it comfortable to co-exist in the school orbit just yet. If you have your own kids, you may be shuttling them places. Maybe Covid has put a damper on getting to see your stepkids altogether. But be mindful that if you are making the effort to be involved in their interests, their hobbies, their lives, they will see it. Asking the questions, knowing their friends, and showing up; it’s the devotion that’s most apparent.

Life isn’t just about grand gestures. It’s about the thousand ordinary things week in and week out. As a future stepmom, I was showing my husband’s kids how important they were to me, how much I enjoyed being part of their lives and cheering them on. I was showing up and becoming part of their lives. The bleacher butt was an investment.

Photo above: Our next bleacher butt generation also known as my grandkids.


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