The Joys and Heartbreaks of Being a Step-Parent

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September 15, 2016

There are times when being a step-parent is just So. Damn. Hard. In a way that you can’t understand unless you, too, are a step-parent. Traditional parents, the Moms and Dads of the world just can’t inherently get it. It’s a constant struggle to find your place, which is more of a moving target than a tidy place on a shelf. You love these kids like they’re your own and you try to see these little people who already have a mom (or a dad) as your family when they don’t see you that way. Mom is family, Dad is family, Grandma and Grandpa are family, maybe an aunt or an uncle… But you, you have a category all to yourself. And you’ll never be as cool as Dad or as good at making owies go away as Mom. And sometimes that’s a really good thing. There’s no one like you. You can be more of a friend than a parent. And then there are times it sucks. It sucks balls. There are times that it is heartbreaking in a way that makes you wonder why you try so damn hard all the time to make the kids happy, to give them a good life, to be a parent… And if you’re one of the lucky ones, the kids will grow up and see all that you did for them and they’ll love you as another parent. The majority of us, I suspect, will try our hardest yet always remain 3rd tier. But there is always hope that you will be one of the lucky ones. So we keep trying, and we keep having our hearts broken, and we wonder why we try so hard. Tonight I don’t have an answer for that.

October 18, 2016

It’s been a little over a year since I step(ped) into the lives of these three boys. 13 months that we’ve been a household. Perhaps less since we’ve felt like a family. I wrote that last note just before we hit the One Year mark. The time where it’s official. And totally not. I read a post recently that spelled it out perfectly. It said that my “Instafamily” is not really an instant family. Building those relationships takes time. And there are days where I feel like I’m getting there. And days where it feels so far away. I included that in my first post because it’s what inspired me to start this. To write down all these new confusing things I’m feeling. To maybe find others who feel the same.

I finally feel like I’m getting to the point where I can handle being a step-parent and being myself. I’m getting back into my hobbies. I can handle Curtis’ hobbies and his fire-fighting. Last night felt like a parenting win. Ok, so the kids got to bed a little later than normal, but I did it all myself. Curtis had a fire call. The kids and I had some quality movie time (with a movie I started picked to watch with kids and that they WANTED to keep watching the next day). Reegan read all his books, I got all the lunches made, all the clothes picked out, I found where Taitum lost his shoes… I did it all myself. I even got to watch the end of the Jays game. And through all those amazing wins, I still felt the huge hole that if something happened to Curtis at that fire, I would lose these kids and all I’ve been trying to bill. It all feels so tenuous. It’s hard to bond with them when it all feels so temporary. Like it could all be pulled away in an instant. As I literally struggle to breathe with the cold Taitum gave me, I figuratively try to remember to breathe and take in the good moments. And try not to obsess over the definition of family and having a child of my own.

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