When I was growing up I had a step father in my life. He and my mother met when I was about 7 and then married when I was 10. He was a great step father. He was very active with me. He would play catch with me outside daily, took me swimming, fishing (yuck), and 4-wheeling. I hear stories of so many people that have awful step parents and that was certainly not my experience, I was very lucky to have him.
So with that, as I got older I figured it would be pretty easy to be a step parent. I met a man (now my husband John) who had a 4 year old son, Domenic. I thought it would be fun to have him around doing all fun kid stuff. I never wanted children, at this point in my life, but I wasn’t afraid of taking on the responsibility. Domenic’s mother is very present in his life, she and my husband split time with him 50/50. She is a great mother to him, and they have an amazing bond. A bond that I, soon to be step mom, DID NOT EVER want to disrupt. I fully understand there is a line, a line that no one should ever cross when both parents are involved in a child’s life. I never wanted to confuse Domenic, or ever give him the impression I wanted to take her place. SHE is his mom! I knew where that line was, and I never wanted to ever get close, not even a little. So it is a difficult balance, trying to be a parental figure, but not seem like you are trying to “take someones place”. I wanted to love him, give him attention, play with him, watch him play sports… However when he was driving me crazy I also wanted to be able to tell him to stop, tell him he needs to do his chores, tell his father he is crazy for letting him stay up until midnight when something important is going on the next day. I tried to do all of the above. Love, but not too much. Give him attention, but not more than his mom could. Play games with him, but tell him he needed to clean up after. I also would come down on him when he had done a half ass job on his chores. I would do all of this but knowing in my mind where that line is. This line, made it very difficult to for me to feel a bond between us. I kept a wall up, I am tough on him sometimes (I think because his dad isn’t, he parents out of guilt). I love him, but not too much, because I was/am afraid of that line. I sometimes feel guilty now because with our 2 little ones it’s different for me. I’m their mom. I kiss their boo-boos. I tuck them in at night, I hold them when they are sick. I read to them (almost) every night. I give them baths… I personally can not say I love Domenic like my own children. I love him, yes, for sure, but different, because of that line. It is a real struggle to know how to be a good parent and I believe it is even harder to know how to be a good step-parent!
Every situation is different, some moms are not in the picture at all, some make it difficult for the time to be split between both parents, some are just wonderful. So when I thought being a step parent would be easy, (because I had one growing up) it isn’t! However it is worth it and I wouldn’t change our family dynamic for one second.
Good luck to all of you step mothers and father’s out there, it is a very delicate balance!