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A stepmom’s worries

My stepdaughter is currently journeying her way to the dark and dirty world of peer pressure. It’s quite normal as she’s already 13 and is in first year high school. Every now and then she’s been telling me about her classmates having boyfriends and wearing makeup, and how does it feel like to have some sort of arm candy. She also asks me why girls get boyfriends, or why boys and girls at that age go into relationships and find the status to be cute.

As a parent I constantly remind her about not getting into those things yet, as they are better seen in front of the camera and not under the spotlight, although I could not hinder her way from learning lessons on her own. There’s one bug that’s biting me though, and that’s what if she makes mistakes and could not get out of her entanglement later, especially when she proceeds to Birds and Bees 101. Even if she’s not my own kin, I worry about her welfare like any mother would for her precious little girl.

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I also went through this phase called high school. It was fun, at times terrible. I was however, very much different from my stepdarling, as she’s the “kikay” outgoing girl who reminds me of Jessica Wakefield, while I was the socially inept bookworm suffering from selective ADD. But despite that I was not excused from getting through the same thing she’s heading to: peer pressure.

My best friend had a boyfriend, and a bunch of suitors. I had my own share, yes. But rather than pursuing relationships because of love, admiration and inspiration, we entered relationships more because of the status symbol, the class standing and the feeling that “Oh yes, I have a boyfriend! I’m so pretty!” At first it was fun, but in a way it was also disturbing, as after a few weeks of being in a relationship I felt weak and disinterested about life in general, and I lost the point of moving on together. We became bored with each other, and in the end we broke up.

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My first real relationship arrived when I was in my last year in high school. He was the one person I held on to with a whole heart, and when we broke up I was crushed into pieces and was as if left for dead. I always wanted him back, even after a few years from the time we broke up, as we still managed to be friends. However, the relationship left me a big scar not necessarily in my heart, but in my pride.

Along the longstanding heartache was the urge that it had to be fixed at the soonest possible time. The next relationships lasted for only a few weeks, nothing serious, until I met this one guy who acted not just as a person for me to love and to hold, but also as a competitor in reaching for the same goals. Our relationship became more of a war zone, with all the external forces playing on us like we were marionettes. We were partners in our own set of crimes, served as each other’s support group, yet at the same time we fought endlessly until we realized that we were not in love with each other after all.

The next moons were mediocre. I had an empty heart, a restless soul, and most of all, a damaged pride. I tried to find a place in someone’s heart but there was no vacant room for me, and it happened on a recurring basis. It took years, until one day I tried to look back on everything that has happened, and saw through it. I wasn’t looking for love. I was just pressured to find love and belongingness from people who do not even care a damn thing. I sort of regret of wasting all those years, but then again there’s nothing I can change with the past.

Maybe it wasn’t culture’s fault; perhaps I was just exposed to the wrong circumstances which I was not able to handle. I made it through though, after taking the effort of seeing myself in the mirror and starting to work on my own faults, bit by bit.

Meeting my stepdaughter’s father was a chance encounter, and looking back I could say it was the best love story I ever starred in. Unlike the previous hits and misses, our relationship is driven by sheer luck, friendship and romance, and we nurtured what we have away from the mad world of peer pressure. And from where I am standing now, I guess he and I are going to greater heights sooner or later.

One day my stepdaughter would read this and try to see if it applies to her own set of ordeals. But since she’s relatively much normal than me, I guess with the right amount of guidance and bonding, she’ll get through just fine.

Fae Cheska Marie Esperas, 25, is a housewife and freelance writer living in Palo, Leyte. She currently writes for websites and occasionally contributes to newspapers and magazines in Region 8.

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TAGS: growing up, motherhood, peer pressure, School, stepdaughter, Stepmom, teenager
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