Being a step-mom is hard.
It can be thankless, and exhausting, and enlightening, and beautiful all at the same time. You don’t always know when to speak up, because you’re afraid of stepping on toes. You don’t know how hard to discipline sometimes, because you don’t want to cross a line. You’re terrified of hurting more than you help.
Being a step-mom is hard.
But the part I struggle with the most, is the constant reminder that this beautiful child, who I love and adore as my own, is not really my child.
My step son is two and a half, and I entered his life at one and a half when I started dating his father. Though my boyfriend and I are not yet married, we do live together and I’m always there when it’s his night or weekend with his son. I help out and do everything a “real” parent does, but there's always someone around to tell me that I’m just not as important as his biological parents. And I get it, I know I’m not and I’ve worked very hard to let his mother know that I have zero intentions of trying to replace her, and in doing this, we've become a good team.
I know that I didn’t give birth to this child, that we don’t share blood. My name is nowhere on his birth certificate or any other important document. I’m not his mother, but I am someone to him. Someone that matters. This child who is not mine gives me a kiss goodnight, and asks me to play with him, and listens when I discipline him, and lets me hold him when he cries. How can all this be true, but I’m still not as important?
My step-son has two fantastic parents, who love him and provide for him and make co-parenting look easy. This kid is so lucky to have these two people as mom and dad, but who's to say that I can't also bring something to his life?
Don't get me wrong, most people let me ramble on about this kid and think it's great! It's not those people however, who keep me up at night with their words.
I've heard it all. People tell me...
"Well, he's really more like your nephew."
"You're only dating so it's not that big of a commitment, you can always walk away."
"You don't have a son."
"You're not raising a child, [my boyfriend] is."
Every time I look into those big blue eyes, I'm struck by how much love I feel for this child, but in the same breath I remember that I'll never be his real mother. That is a tough pill to swallow, especially when my heart is so full.
I remind myself everyday that "I don't have a son." I don't need you to rub it in. I'm here to help and give this child even more love, why then am I receiving such negativity?
I can't just "walk away." I did make a commitment, and walking away means shattering a relationship with this kid who I adore, and walking away from the love of my life. Does that sound easy to you? I didn't think so.
Please, think twice before you think to say these things, or any or negative statement to a step-parent. The truth is, you have no idea what they're going through, and the internal war they're having with themselves is likely already far worse than anything you could say to them. Don't add to the struggle.
Flesh and blood is not all it takes to be a parent. I know what my step-son likes, hates, and needs. I am an active participant in conversations between this boy’s mother and father and my input is both welcome and appreciated. I change him, feed him, bathe him, put him to bed, play with him, and teach him things. I AM raising this child with his parents.
I am in this, not because I have to, but because I want to. I love that boy so much, I dream of his future and I wish for him all things I would wish for my own children. So please don’t tell me that I am lesser than…you are simply incorrect.