STEP-MOMMING THROUGH STICKY BOUNDARIES
Our first date I saw a car seat in the back of his pathfinder. I was like “scuse me? you got some explaining to do.” I wasn’t saying out loud in my head “red flag”, but it did cross my mind. Oh shit, he has a kid? Well, nothing ever comes quite perfectly packaged like they said marriage did in the story books, so let’s just put that baby to bed. Marriage is messy and complicated and step-momming, well, yes, it can be tricky. And sticky. Messy. And also quite beautiful.
This isn’t the first time I’ve discussed step-momming. But it’s the first time I’ve read back my own words and re-learned that boundaries are incredibly important within the heavy load it can be, that of a step parent. And that being said, we (step-parents) can all learn a thing or two from experience. Because if we’re not learning, we’re not growing. And if we’re not growing, then we suck as parents. Period.
Being a step-mom is difficult. And contrary to popular belief, wildly wonderful. But let’s talk difficult and get it out of the way. I like to parent. I like to make decisions. I'm good at it. A professional. And I like to know that my decisions benefit the well beings of my life….my children. When one of them is not your child (by birth), sometimes, it kind of not your place. And that’s weird. But it's also because, boundaries. For example, yes, when money is involved regarding the child and decision making (financial) and education or recreational (financial) let’s just get it out there, finances and children, are a shit show. And when it’s not your child (by birth) it can exasperate the shit show by tenfold. But it shouldn’t, and here’s why.
The child you are a step parent for in many cases has 2 parents. And we (meaning you and I) are the bonus parent(s). Woohoo! How exciting! Well, sadly, this means extra work, less return. Kind of like an internship for life. And that can feel sucky. Because you work and work and work and love fiercely and your return is nada. It’s hugs here and there, and a birthday call and thank you’s occasionally. And truthfully, that can feel like a whole lot of non appreciation. And why am I even called a step-mom? My opinion counts some days, but ultimately, not really. And here’s the reality. None of that matters. Because step parenting is not an internship. It’s family. Your family. For better or for worse, it’s there, for life. It's the ups and downs, the rapid growth, the emotional rollercoaster and everything in between toddler to teen and much much more. And no matter how you might shape that in your mind at moments of frustration because you desperately want to matter in the conversation that matters, at the end of the day, it isn’t important if in that moment, that you don’t matter. His parents co-decisions are what matters. Again, it’s not that you don’t matter. It’s that, his parents have the last word. And you? You being the loving parent that you are that smiles when all is said and done, that’s really the only thing that matters. And that is your job.
And perhaps your situation is different and perhaps you are the only mother in the picture and perhaps you make all the calls. It can still have sticky boundaries, where you’re not sure what territory is yours and which is not. Where you feel not a hundred percent on solid ground and where you really aren’t sure you’re making all the right decisions for this child that isn’t your own. But again, that’s missing the whole point.
Loving him or her is the point. Loving him is the job. There’s no other way to see the job of step-momming. That’s the role you play. You play the role of unconditional love. And love sprinkles over that child like lava, smothering him up so he can be rest assured that he is in fact loved more than he will ever be able to understand. Because love is the only way to step-mom. It’s the only way to do step-momming right. It’s the only way to parent at all. And I kid you not, sometimes this is beyond hard. Sometimes it’s harder than you thought it was the day you became a step mom. But I promise you this. What I lack in patience on certain days, I draw from experience in my daily parenting and I prevail. Because love is always greater than fear. And even when you can’t see the light of day because there are too many moments to count that you are not the most important person in this child’s life, he must know always, that he is the most important, because without that reassurance, and without that love, he simply cannot thrive. And we want him to thrive. Like we want all our children to thrive. We pray for it. And at the end of the day, is there any other way to see it? Nope.