The Value Of A Step-Mom
After my divorce, I was single with three children. I decided I was ready to date, so a good friend advised me to think about my “hard no’s” before doing so. All I could think was, “I don’t want a single dad. No babies or Baby Momma drama.”
I met a few people, but I wasn’t really interested in anyone. I wasn’t interested, that is, until I met him. He was a dad, but I figured I would give it a shot anyway. I mean, he was super cute after all. After our first date, I decided to see how he was with children. My youngest child was barely a year old, so I knew he wouldn’t remember if this didn’t work out. I decided to invite him along to the zoo with my son and me. That’s when I realized I had NEVER been so wrong. He was so amazing with my baby. It was so cute! I decided that he would need to meet my older children. I prefaced this meeting with my one ground rule: the kids were here first. If they didn’t like him for a legitimate reason, it was over.
We both agreed. I cooked dinner, and he and his daughter came over. Everything went well that day, and although there have been some bumps in the road, we have been together since. He has always been there for my children, two of whom he has since adopted.
They clicked with him almost right away. The same has not been true for his daughter and me.
As hard as I have tried, I have never been able to completely connect with her. This is my very raw, very real story.
From the moment my now husband and I started dating, my step-daughter- let’s call her R- never made an effort to fall in. My children were used to a family. There were three of them. For a long time before me, it was just Dad and R. Mom was in and out of her life, and her life was never stable. She became one of many when they moved in with me and my children. Very early into our relationship, I became pregnant, making R the middle child. And boy is she the quintessential middle child. I’ve lost count of the things she has done to try to come between us, to try to make me look like the bad guy, to try to get her daddy to herself again. Obviously none of this has work. Even after we were married, even after she’s lived with me for over 4 years, she continues to try.
In R’s eyes, I took her daddy away. I took the place of her mom, even though her parents were never married and were not together when I came along. I have never asked her to refer to me as “mom”. I have never referred to her as my step-child. I don’t like the words “step” and “half”. We are just family. Somehow, I think my thought of inclusion made things worse.
Despite all this, I find a value in being her step-mom.
And I think she is beginning to see the value in having a second mom. She is starting to realized that I am here for her, not against her. I am not the “evil stepmother” she imagined. She has begun coming to me with problems. She asks me when she needs things. She talks to me when she wants to do things. She realizes that Dad is going to come to me anyway. She is realizing that I am not trying to be mean. I want the best for her. She is realizing that she can talk to me about things she wouldn’t want to go to Mom or Dad about. She realizes that I am the reason Dad attends events or knows what is going on. I am the keeper of the calendar. She is realizing that I am hard on her, just like I’m hard on everyone else. They all realize this is because I love them and know they are capable of more.
I see how rewarding it is to be able to love and praise a child who was not used to this from a parent.
I see how rewarding it is to be able to provide stability for a child who had no idea what that meant. I’ve realized that I have to change the way I do some things. I did not raise her before the last four-and-a-half years, and therefore she responds to things differently than I’m used to. I see the value in parenting a child like R. She is so different from my bio children, who are passionate people, sometimes to a fault. R doesn’t find joy or passion in much, but when she does, she glows. She exudes confidence. She smiles from ear to ear. This is the best part of being her step-mom- just getting to experience this!
Life with R hasn’t been easy. There have been so many bumps in the road. I don’t imagine that will change any time soon. We don’t fully understand each other, as hard as I try. We don’t exactly connect, despite many attempts. But every bump brings a new realization for one of us. Every problem brings us closer. Every issue brings a change.