I have faced many challenges in my lifetime, most coming from my own making and something I can usually resolve myself. This one is the hardest one I have ever faced, a situation of which I have no control and that’s being a step parent.
When I met my now husband Alex I knew he had kids from his previous relationship but for a long time I had nothing to do with them (roughly the first year or so!) so although it was something I was aware of our relationship was based on a couple s and not a parenting role.
I am going to be open and as honest as I can about the relationship we have.
It went from being kept away from the children to a very intense parenting role very quickly which I struggled with. I had nephews at the time (one I lived with and helped raise for the first 2 years of his life) but this was a very different story.
James is Alex’s oldest son (10) at the time he came into my life he was 5 and had been through a hard parental break up. He was young but smart enough to know how to play his parents off against each other (kids learn this so quickly) that mixed with Alex’s feelings of guilt for the breakup he was allowed to dictate the situation but for some reason other than his neediness of his fathers attention we have always gotten on well and I like to think now 5 years later we have a good relationship. He listens to me and we are very open and honest with one another. I help him with tasks such as homework and I seem to be the one who can talk to him when he’s being irrational and he always takes what I say on board so hopefully this will continue into his adulthood.
Alex’s youngest son Josh (5) was not even born when we got together so has never known his mum and dad to share a live in parental role. Alex spent long hours at his ex wife’s home when josh was born (which I was understanding and accepting of, maybe a little more than I should have been!) so I took a massive back seat in our relationship, which I will be honest I was at times a little resentful of. The first real memories I had of any kind of interaction with josh was his first birthday at our tiny one bedrooms flat. It was nice and the boys came to stay every weekend after that. The relationship I have with josh is a very different one than the one I have with James. I feel like I take on a more parental role with josh than that of a friend role like I do with James. I deal with tantrums, bad behaviour and punishment with josh, he is closer in age to Tilly so they normally get into trouble together so are both usually in the firing line. We have a more temperamental connection and there’s times we get on like a house on fire and he tells me he loves me and then there’s times he says he hates me, when it gets to this point I’m not usually his biggest fan either. Since marrying alex our bond has strengthened and shows hope for a better future.
I feel people with step kids are usually made to feel like we should automatically love the kids as if they are own but I will be honest and say this is not a reality. When you have a child of your own (the same goes for a child toward there own parent) you sign a unwritten contract which ties you into a love that is unconditional. Step parenting is a role that takes hard work, it’s not something that always naturally happens but with time and the right energy it can become something that grows into a very unique connection. Don’t get me wrong I always refer to them as ‘our boys’ i protect them and am protective of them, I feed them, clean their clothes, talk to them about personal things but I have no desire to be mum to them they have a mum of their own and I would never over step my role in the boys lives.
I know some people may not understand why or how I feel this way but think about it, what do you find wrong? Do I love them? Yes, do I look after them and their welfare? Yes but in the same way as my biological daughter? No. The boys respect me and their fathers relationship but they don’t love me like a mum and I am totally fine with that. I will continue to support my husband and the pre made family I signed up for and when they have babies of their own I will be there for those babies too. Love comes in all shapes and forms so don’t ever think you know better. It takes a certain type of person and a strong heart to love another persons children and raise them when you don’t technically have to.
Signing off with love and lipstick,