I recently had the privilege of catching up with a childhood friend of mine who I affectionately know as “Efi”. She and I have known one another since middle school and had only seen each other here and there in passing. So now that we were both experiencing motherhood in different ways, I knew I wanted to learn more about her perspective and hear about her experience with motherhood.
So Efi actually goes by Tattiana Hubert now. She is an accounting professional who earned her Master’s Degree from Prairie View AM University and works in the Oil and Gas sector here in Houston, TX. She is married to Christopher Hubert who is an Engineer and has a son who will be 16 years old this month. She is a working Mom who evolved into her role as a wife and stepmother.
Efi: Ok, so I don’t even know how I ended up here. Life really comes at you fast. Let me just start by saying. I was a single woman working long hours as an accountant when I decided to try online dating from the suggestion of a friend who had met their then-boyfriend now-husband on POF. So, I ended up meeting my husband on POF and I knew pretty much right away he was going to be my husband. He had photos of him with his son on his profile and he was very proud of being a father and made it very clear that his son was his priority in life. Once the appropriate time came to meet his son, I was very nervous because I knew that in order for things to work for him and I, they also had to work for his son.”
MelaninMom: So how did you meet his son and what did you do to cultivate the relationship as time went on?
Efi: Oh gosh, hahaha. Well unfortunately I got caught sneaking out in the morning from staying the night with his Dad. So, it was a very embarrassing moment for me. But then after the ‘cat was out of the bag’ I would come over during the day and just sort of hang around and do whatever they were doing. I didn’t want to force a relationship or create curated experiences to be a ‘pretend family,’ especially if the normal everyday experiences of family-life had not yet been experienced. So, after some time we started going to parks around Houston and various family-friendly events together. One thing that brought us together was Pokemon Go. I love being outdoors walking, jogging and just experiencing the outdoors. They love video games, so when that came out we really all connected trying to catch Squirtels and evolve our Charizards hahaha. That was a great way to bond as we all would walk like zombies, staring at our phones trying to level-up in Pokemon Go and battling wherever we went. One year after dating we got a dog named Badger and then I officially moved in with my guys.
MelaninMom: How did the transition go? Because now you live there, there are household needs, possibly disciplinary needs, so I imagine harmony is something that requires some type of guidance.
Efi: For the most part the transition from living alone to living as a family unit was a positive experience overall. I let them both know that I was just an extra person in the house. I was not trying to replace his mother, I am an adult, but my role was sort of the fun auntie who lets you curse and takes you to the store to buy snacks hahaha. But in all honesty, I let his mother and father discipline him. I was uncomfortable with trying to discipline him, so I learned to be mindful of my tone, word choice and things I chose to correct. Plus, nobody wants you to talk about their child so you have to proceed with caution. His father and I have the same parenting style so that came easily.
The hardest challenge was finding harmony in cleaning schedules. My guys are very simple and I can say I am much more complex. For example, I separate my clothing by color, material, temperature, purpose etc. and they would wash everything together in the washer on cold. And my husband is so sweet, and he would take all the clothes at once and would be so proud that he washed everything and I would be dying inside. My work clothes, exercise clothes, towels YOU NAME IT. It was washed in there hahahaha. So now we have a routine. My son is a teenager and he is responsible for all of his chores and we have found that harmonious rhythm as a family.
MelaninMom: Your son is a teenager, how does that make you feel that he will soon be an adult?
Efi: Well for me, I feel like watching someone grow from a preteen into an adult in a VERY short amount of time is a very rewarding and bittersweet experience. I am experiencing motherhood on the back-end of his upbringing. I have always seen him as independent, capable, strong and highly-intelligent. I think naturally his biological parents still envision him as their plump little baby boy. One pivotal moment for me was when I got home from work around 9:30 PM and I come into the house and my son is in his pj’s and he tells me, “I got a 97 on my history test, good night”. We had been working on studying for this test and we were both very nervous. The fact that I was at work so late and he waited ALL day to tell me that just broke my heart. I knew I had to change how I wanted my life to be and to really be present every day or I would miss out on even more of his life, since I didn’t know him the first 10 years of his life. Soon after, I quit that job and began to work elsewhere that allows for a better work-life balance. Also, I am honestly astonished at how he is so grown, not only physically, but mentally. I know he plans on attending Texas A&M in 2 years, but I am not ready to accept that he will be gone. I remind him all the time that he will always have his room to come back to.
MelaninMom: You mentioned how his parents envision him. What is your relationship like with his mother? How does that shape your relationship with your son?
Efi: So, his Mom and I get along great. We both have the common goal of supporting and raising him in a loving, positive environment. I think a contributing factor to the harmony is that my husband and her already had a great co-parenting relationship for some years, so I just folded into how they chose to do things. As I mentioned earlier, I let them do the heavy-lifting of parenting and I try not to overstep my bounds. If they call me in for reinforcement then I am happy to step up, which typically happens to be extremely hard calculus homework hahaha. If there is a parent meeting at his school, we all go in together on a united front. He sees that we all respect one another and get along so he is happy and healthy and well cared for. Also, I should add, throughout this interview you may have noticed that I always refer to him as “my son”. I don’t like to say “stepson” because I never wanted him to feel different or like he was on the outside. I never had stepparents, so I don’t know what that is like and it just felt weird. So, I just say son, never step. Ironic considering I am his stepmom and it would be totally weird if he ever called me Mom. He calls me Efi as most of my close family and friends do.