Being a Step-parent
From the Beginning
There are many terms used for Step-Mothers, and while in society the use of the word STEP is normal, I for one hate it. Now I will explain why.
For me, as I am sure it is the same for many women who find themselves in the role of Step-Mom to your husband’s child/children, it can be daunting, strange and a little scary. What if the child hates you? What if you can't get past the fact your husbands ex will always have input in your life? What, what, what? The fact of the matter is, when you marry a man/woman who has a child you are marrying a package, not just the man/ woman of your dreams, but a child who will look at you for guidance and understanding, but most of all love.
The word STEP to me gives the impression that you are something you dislike, or that the child in question is not someone you want in your life. When there are so many likeable words for a child you will love as your own, STEP isn't one I would call affectionate. While some may find it perfectly appropriate. Like everything else in this world, a difference of opinion is what makes life interesting.
I first met my bonus son when he had just turned three, and by then he had already gotten used to having his daddy all to himself. We had gone out of our way to make sure we had Karen and Finn days, time to bond, to get to know one another. Then the day came when I tried to explain that I would be marrying his daddy. He cried and said he didn't want me to marry his dad. I was devastated, but had to ask why through the lump in my throat. His response, "Because you're my friend, and if you get married you won't be." If that doesn't break your heart like it did mine, you are made of stone. He was then five years old and had grown used to having not only daddy time but Karen time. It was the perfect balance, and with never knowing anything but myself and his dad, this was upsetting for him, until he got to pick out a suit lol and learn what it all meant for us as a family.
But is this completely different than what a biological child would feel? Or is it worse for a child who knows who his/her mother is? Or for an adopted Step-Child? After all the child still knows who their biological parent is. Especially when that biological mother is not you, regardless of how much you love them? For so many, being a parent is the hardest job of them all. Being a step-parent is harder. You love, do what a biological parent does, care, respect, wipe the tears, kiss the bumps and scratches, tell the bedtime stories yet you will never be MOM. I wonder if that is what lays heavy on the hearts of Step-Moms?
Would you not die for your child even though your love begins in your heart, and not your womb? Does it matter that as a step-parent you didn't give birth to this child who fills the empty space you never thought you had until he/she filled it?
Has anyone ever paid attention to how people see you as a step-parent? The "Ohhh, I thought you were his/her mother," or the "Ah, that must be difficult," but my favourite is, "I could never love a child that wasn't my own, I don't know how you do it." Let me address these comments without offending the biological parents out there who have kids that have step-parents.
1. Not biological, but I see myself as a mother, my husband sees me as a mother and most importantly my bonus son sees me as such.
2. Yes, it is difficult but so is going to work when you would love to stay in bed. It is called prioritizing.
3. I'm sorry you feel that way, and I hope you have ten children that you gave birth too and that you can love unconditionally, because you gave birth to them.
No one tells you that being a Step-Parent will put your self-esteem to the ultimate test in so many ways. But is it worth it? Of course it is :) Just remember, being a step-parent doesn't mean the child needs another parent, what it means is that you have a chance to be a friend for life. That you will always wipe the tears, kiss the bumps and tells stories of years past even when they are in college and the latest girlfriend/boyfriend wants to know the most embarrassing tales. And like his/her parents, you tell them. Why? Because you were there too.