There’s a delicate balance that comes from being a stepparent. You’re parenting a child who has a mother and a father who are both involved in his life, and, in my case, a stepfather as well. Four people parenting one child is a dance, especially if you’re the stepparent.
Some days I really hate being a stepmom. Please don’t take this the wrong way, I love Z as if I’d given birth to him. I treat him no differently then I treat (or will treat) Vincent as he grows up. I’ve been in Z’s life since he was 3 and now he’s 8. I feel like every single bit of his parent as his biological parents.
And maybe that’s where the trouble comes. I’m not Z’s mom. I don’t mean this in any way except the truth. I’m not his mom. I never will be his mom. He has a mom who is very much involved in his life, and I’m not a replacement. I’m a totally different “mom like being” in his life.
Do I do all of the mom things with him and for him? Absolutely. I cry with him when he’s hurting, laugh with him when he’s silly. I attend his sporting events and encourage him in everything he does. I take him to and from school. I help him with homework. I pack his lunches. I teach him to be the best person he can be. I pray for him. In that respect, I’m his mom. In other respects, I’m not.
I’ll never be able to take him to get his drivers license because, legally, I’m nothing. I can’t sign papers at the hospital. I’m not the one who gets called if something happens at school. (Although, sometimes I am, but only because I work at the school he attends, and I’m easily accessible – once he gets to high school it’ll be a different story.) I won’t dance with him at his wedding. I didn’t go up with him when he received his first communion. Any time any event has seats for his “parents” it’s not going to be me sitting there.
I have plenty of opinions about how he should be raised and what he should/should not be doing, and sometimes they matter, but sometimes they don’t. Because, ultimately, it’s not my final decision. I can vehemently disagree with a decision his mom makes, but it might not matter because, at the end of the day, she’s his mom. I’m just the stepmom.
Now look, Husband and I have a great relationship with Z’s mom and his stepdad. We could really be the poster family for divorce. I love both of them, and they respect what I have to say in raising Z. We truly co-parent, and I’m very blessed to be living in such a great situation because divorce is messy, and I know other stepparents who are not as fortunate as I am. But, I’m having a bit of a pity party, so just indulge this blog for me please.
It just really sucks to love a child so much, raise him for (essentially) his entire life, and be pushed to the sidelines whenever anything important comes along. And it’s never by Z – I’m pretty sure in his mind, his stepdad and I are just as much his parents as his mom and dad. (There are times when Z’s mom and dad have crazy schedules and his stepdad and I are the only two parents represented at certain events.)
I know he loves me as much as he loves them. This is really in my own head, and my thoughts on what society says about parents. If I call him my son and then in the next breath say “oh, he’s with his mom today” people look at me funny. But if I call him my stepson, it seems like I’m unnecessarily labeling or bringing attention to the fact that he’s not my biological or permanent son.
There’s so much more to write about, and I plan to continue writing about the joys and struggles of being a stepmom, but I’d love to hear from other stepparents. What’s your situation like? How do you balance co-parenting? What do you do about disagreements? What does it look like once your child is old enough to drive? Who does he spend the most time with?
Wow…the more questions I think of, the more blog posts I’m writing in my head. Anyway, I hope to hear from a lot of people because I can’t imagine I’m alone in my stepmotherhood journey, and there’s certainly strength (and comfort) in numbers.