YOU DON’T KNOW, WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW
I absolutely hate being a step parent! Sound harsh? Hear me out. I started dating my husband in 2009 it was meant to be a casual fling. I knew he had two young children. However, at 23 I never knew what a life together would look like as far as being married and a vital part of their lives.
Fast forward to 2013 as our relationship got more serious (after some break ups and make ups). My husbands kids lived in his hometown, 4 hours away from where we lived. He was the every other weekend parent, so it was always easier for him to go to Tyler, and spend his weekends there as opposed to spending majority of their time on the road bringing them to and from Austin. It’s important to note though, that even with being a “weekend parent” the relationship my husband has with his kids is much more similar to a mother and her kids (no disrespect to my husband intended) than the typical part time dad!
I’ve never been a kid person.That coupled with the fact I knew their mom preferred them not be in my presence. It never really bothered me that he was keeping those lives pretty separate. I didn’t know, though, that it was laying the bricks for the wall between us that still exists today.
In 2015 we got married and pregnant two months later. Immediately I wanted a home, a place for my little girl to have space and a backyard! I pictured a beautifully decorated nursery that the condo we inhabited at the time could not provide. I started to see us as a family.
My step kids, however, weren’t in that vision.
Although not commonly discussed and God bless you if you’re not one, but most women, married to men with children don’t picture their life with another woman’s kids FULL TIME. Children are a lot of work, they’re burdensome and not always easy to deal with. When they’re yours, though, you build an unbreakable love and bond that typically sustains you through the tougher times. Now, that same bond or a version of can be formed with step parents and step children but it takes time and effort. The very time and effort we skimmed over in the beginning of our relationship.
Parenting vs. Step-Parenting
My step children are fundamentally good kids, so it’s not about them. It’s about the structure that has been inadvertently set for my role as their step parent that I despise. For instance, if I wake up tomorrow and Slade is getting on my nerves. I can yell from a mountain top “Slade is getting on my nerves” and no one would question my love or intention for him. But if I say one of my step kids is getting on my nerves; my husband goes into protection mode and feels my tolerance for them is lower than that for my own kids. If I post a picture without my step kids to social media, I’m subject to a comment asking where are the two older kids. As if their absence is some reflection of neglect and disdain! It’s frustrating taking the same test over and over.
I’m very much a control freak. As a mom, I just do! I don’t check with the gate keeper (my husband) on what’s right or wrong. I confidently execute my ideas and structure without second guessing. My husband actually expects that when it comes to our boys. The exact opposite of our step parent dynamic. That plus disparaging differences in how we were raised and parent muddies the waters in our marriage.
Tyrell spent his kids younger years over compensating for not being in the home. He was the fun dad that fulfilled all their WANTS unconditionally. This made the transition to full time parent, in 2016, when the kids moved in, trying on him as well as me. I parallel my experience with step parenting to getting a promotion at work with more responsibilities, less pay while your manager constantly questions whether or not you like your new job, or want to be at work!
It’s not all him, though, based on my personality and our experiences, I’ve set imaginary boundaries for myself as well. Im the step mom I would want for my boys in the unfortunate case that became a reality. I guess it’s safe to say there’s no one person to blame. As much as I’d like to put it all on my husband (hehe). Im have to figure out how to step up, step out and maybe even over step in what’s become my new reality.
What’s your step parent dynamic? Am I way off or can you relate? Let me know in the comments, I love seeing your input!
I’m excited you’ve come to this platform to hear from all this incredible moms, this is only the beginning of my Mommi chronicles. Be sure to follow me on Instagram and read Stepping Up, Stepping Out and Over Stepping: Step Parent- My least favorite title! PART II
T. SmithMarch 5, 2019 3:08 am
OMG….. i totally get it. I have a similar introduction….. i didn’t see his previous kids much and didn’t see a true future during the dating phase. Fast forward 4 kids of our own and he tries to reintroduce me and expect an instant bond….. it can’t happen that way because the foundation wasn’t introduced properly. I have no issue when the kids do come around but like you said, you feel as though you can’t even speak to the others without feeling a way
K. SmoothMarch 5, 2019 2:59 pm
I really feel like you just wrote my story…like get out my head! Lol!
My husband was a single dad and I thought that would make bonding with my stepson easier since I saw him daily. Wrong!! Eight years in his life and I still don’t fell like they see me as a “real” parent. My husband often says I don’t communicate with my now 13 year old stepson, but when I do he steps in and criticizes my methods. I choose not to be the disciplinarian because I don’t want to be the “evil” stepmom but then nobody sets boundaries. I don’t feel respected as a mom because my stepson doesn’t know what a mom is and how to adjust to this woman that broke up their boys’ club. And now we have a 6 month old son and no matter how hard you try not to treat them different, it’s inevitable. Parenting is hard in general, but add the step in your title and it will feel like a battle that can never be won! Praying and working on this daily ❤❤
MaurissaMarch 5, 2019 3:56 pm
Don’t be like me, I failed Stepmom 101, 102 & 103! Just remember it’s challenging for your older children as well. Best wishes as you step up! ❤️
TiffaniMarch 5, 2019 8:32 pm
Not a mommy or stepmommy yet, but, for years, I was afraid to be a step-parent. I just knew I wouldn’t be able to not over-step my place. Now, I’m not opposed to it. But, it’s something I’d definitely have to work out in depth with my future husband before we get married.
MoniqueMarch 5, 2019 9:06 pm
I’m not a step mom yet, however don’t look at yourself as their step-mom but their Bonus Mom and them as your bonus-kids. I don’t like the work step mom, because it makes me think of Cinderella. There’s not manual on how to to be a great mom or bonus mom however as time goes on you will master it.
Catherine SMarch 5, 2019 9:49 pm
OMG. I am not the only women in this Step-Parent roll. My spouse had three children prior to us and I had one. We do not have any kids together so we are step-parents on both ends. It is a struggle daily. The bond building is a struggle because I have a bond with my child and the step children see it. I don’t object to building that bond but then I ask myself ” am I crossing that boundary of motherhood”? Then the other problem is having to deal with the outside parent. What are the boundaries? What does communication look like that is comfortable for everyone? Being a step-parent is a struggle.
NeshaMarch 6, 2019 2:27 am
OMG….. I totally get it. I have a similar introduction, only difference is I did get to see his other two kids until their Mother got in a mood and was on the “I don’t want her around my kids thing” and believe me nothing ever happened negative for her to say that it was feelings she had to adjusted
To. Fast forward to now we have a son of our own now and when his kids are allowed to come around since they are alittle older and the energy one parents gives off its like kids are kinda stand off towards me ????????♀️ and he tries to reintroduce me and expect an instant bond but it is definitely challeneging. I have no issue when the kids do come around but like you said, you feel as though you can’t even speak to the others without feeling a way and I pray daily for them to get the co-parenting under control because until That is healthy I think this “step” mom will forever feel weird! But I love this post! ❤️
LaFran LawtonMarch 6, 2019 4:13 am
When you married him you also married his children… I wouldn’t use the word step, Bonus children.. The same rules that apply to your kids apply to them.. Just make them feel loved and wanted
KeyiaMarch 6, 2019 1:23 pm
I promise you are a ghost writer…who just stepped in my head and wrote my exact experiences and thoughts, except the kids are local, there are TWO mamas and one of them is bittteerrrr as crap! Here for the knowledge and even willing to learn to see does this ever get less muddy?!
JayMarch 6, 2019 4:29 pm
Hey Shari! As a former runner myself (competed with Sanya got my first medal with her in 2012), just wanted to start with I adore your parents and sister and I’m sure if we had met I’d feel the same about you!!
I am to be married in October and my fiancé has a 9yo daughter that has always lived with him full time. We just recently relocated across the state 6.5hrs away from her mom and other siblings that live with their father. We’ve been thru all the typical “baby mama difficulties” that we could have gone thru and I hate the term baby mama but that’s how she was acting. It took a long time for her to finally step-up like an adult and converse with me like I figured would’ve happened from the very beginning.
With that behind us, I find myself in a weird space where being in that “step-mom” role it’s hard to navigate. There’s things I don’t think should be ok that he allows. There’s things I wouldn’t do because it’s unnecessary that he feels he has to in order to keep her happy since she’s now away from her mother and siblings that she saw every other weekend. In my opinion it’s like well where does it end? If you feel so guilty about moving her you will always allow things that shouldn’t be ok. If it was going to be such a big deal why didn’t you just leave her with her mom that she’s never lived with? At some point she’s going to pick up on I can act or react this way and he’s going to give me whatever I want.
I get the same thing from him that You said Tyrell would give you when I do express something (and I really pick n choose when to) I’m tagged the insensitive one or being mean when it’s really something simple. She and I have a great relationship and when it’s just me and her, she doesn’t act all extra like she does when he’s around. I really don’t know what or how to voice any opinion I have about how she acts without him getting defensive.
We plan to start trying for a baby soon after the wedding. I find myself longing even more than baby fever forces me to just so I can have my own baby and make rules as I see fit. Of course that’s not the only reason for wanting a child not even the main reason as I would be incomplete without having one.
I know I’ve gone on and on I just needed to express it to someone that could understand possibly and not feel judged.
Thanks for letting me vent. I look forward to your part 2
AGMarch 8, 2019 12:32 pm
I am happy to know that I am not alone. Not in the misery loves company sense, rather as a step-father (also my least favorite title), I have found difficulty in walking on invisible lines and abiding by unwritten rules. My step-son was around off and on during our dating and pre engagement, so we got to know one another and everything was good. Our foundation was solid. Once my wife and I moved forward, had a child, got our place, my step-son stopped talking to me and became withdrawn. With the help of his father, I became the reason why his parents are no longer together. To add injury to insult, I am often seen as the enforcer or disciplinarian because my step-son lives without responsibility or accountability for his actions. As an adult, it is my job to best prepare the young man for the world. He is 9 and I have been instilling and arming him with rules, roles, and responsibilities. My wife feels that I am doing too much and that I need to slow down. Her and her ex are trying to outdo one another to make the child happy, and he gets whatever he wants. Then here I come raining on the parade with a dose of reality, thus making me the bad guy! He lives in my house and he picks and chooses when he speaks or acknowledges me, and my wife takes his side. As a parent, I understand, and I also know that we have to get a hold of this and nip this behavior while he is young. The world is not a sweet place. I feel like it is me and our son, versus her and her son, in my own house. I feel like I don’t belong with my own family. When he goes to be with his father, then and only then does my family feel like mine. Our newborn, as he gets older, will be raised mych differently because he is my child and my hands will not be tied. Being a step-parent is an even more thankless job than I imagined. I cannot win and sometimes, I don’t want to try. All I can do is continue to provide the best way I know how and pray. Thank you for your story and I appreciate this space for allowing me to share mine. Hopefully this can help someone else.