There are a lot of things I didn’t know about being with someone who had kids when I started seeing Michael. It’s not something I really thought about. I just happened to meet this awesome guy who just so happened to have a really adorable kid too. I didn’t understand what that meant at first. It took time for me to see the many dynamics involved.
As time passed I really started to see how things worked. I came into things so blindly, I didn’t even really know what I’d gotten myself into. And that was a hard reality. I was overwhelmed with so many life changes at one time. I was used to being in relationships that were simple. Two people, maybe a dog. My life was completely different.
Now I’m a parent figure. I organize family outings and do the back to school shopping. We do “Family Fun Night” once a week. We’re a family no matter what way you view it. And I’m happy. The happiest I’ve ever been in my life. But things aren’t always shit and sunshine. Playing the step-mom role you’re faced with a lot of hard realities. Difficulties that I never realized existed until I assumed the position.
If you’re about to venture into a relationship with someone who has children, you might want to prepare yourself for some of the difficult aspects that may arise. They’re real issues. And while they aren’t exactly deal breakers, you should be ready for what’s to come:
1. You’re not the mom.
You are not, have never been, and never will be your step-child’s mother. And that’s going to hurt sometimes. No matter how many awards ceremonies or teacher parent conferences you attend. No matter how many kisses goodnight you give or family dinners you cook, you did not physically give birth to them. You are not their mom. But that’s okay. You’re something different. You’re someone who CHOSE to love them. You make the choice everyday to wakeup and dress them for school. You decided to live a life with them in it. And that is just as great.
2. You’ll be playing a continuous game of catch-up.
I think this gets worse with age. The older your step-children, the more you’ve missed out on. I came into Riley’s life when he was five years old. That’s five years that I’ve lost with him. I wasn’t there when he was born. I didn’t get to see his first steps or hear his first words. A lot of this feels really sad when you think about how much you love this little person and wish you’d been a part of their life sooner. All of the negatives become a lot easier when you change your mindset. When you think about the fact that although you missed out on a lot, you have so much to look forward to and be a part of- the little things don’t seem so big.
3. People aren’t going to understand.
No one will understand why you do what you do. First they won’t understand your choice to be with someone who has a child. I got, “You’re too young!” quite a bit. Then they won’t understand why you give so much. Why on earth would you put so much time and energy into a child that isn’t yours? Be prepared for it. And the people who do so might surprise you. It’s your friends and your family. It’s your co-workers. It’s people you wouldn’t expect. I’ve gotten a lot of crap since I met Michael and became a part of his son’s life. At the end of the day it’s because people don’t understand it. But that’s their fault, not yours. You’ll recognize the true friends who stand by you and your decisions, and even find new friends along the way too!
4. The lines will be blurred.
Be ready for the unknown. Much like parenting, there’s no how-to manual when it comes to step-parenting. You learn as you go. The trouble with this is you’re not just a part of a single team. You’re now a new portion of a parenting triangle. It’s not just about making your partner happy. You now have to worry about the thoughts, concerns, and wishes of another parent as well. Remember that whole ‘you’re not the mom’ thing? Well someone is. And they have opinions on how you interact with their child also. How involved should you be? What can/can’t you say or do? Nothing is black and white. And it’s within your best intentions not to step on any toes, but sometimes its hard. It’s a learning experience. You’ll make plenty of mistakes before you find out what works for your family. But you will learn and all will be well.
5. There will forever be another woman.
Get used to it. Until your step-children are grown you will always have to foster a relationship with the ex. She will always be involved whenever it comes to important family decisions, and she will be in constant contact with your significant other on a regular basis. This is an important part of the parenting triangle and it’s simply unavoidable. If you are the possessive or jealous type, this may not be your cup of tea.
6.You’re mental health will be put to the test.
Get yourself a counselor because it’s a wild ride. You name the emotion and I’ve felt it in my blended family situation. I’ve been happy, angry, jealous, frustrated, and sad. There have been nights I’ve cried myself to sleep and many long days I’ve wanted to throw in the towel. The reality of becoming a step parent is that it’s hard. And it doesn’t stop being hard. You’ve entered a relationship that involves so many more elements than the typical relationship. It’s stressful. I went from dating to becoming a parent figure within a matter of months. It’s a lot to take in at times and it’s completely normal to feel a wide array of emotions. The one thing that will get you through it is having someone to talk to. I’m fortunate enough to have an incredible partner that I’m comfortable telling anything to, and a great support system. It really helps.
7. Your schedule is no longer in your hands.
One of the biggest adjustments for me has been adapting to a new schedule. My alone time with Michael is centered around Riley’s visitation schedule with his mom. For the longest time I was used to being able to do anything at the drop of the hat. I can’t plan last minute weekend getaways. But at the end to the day, I always knew I wanted children and that this would become a reality. It came sooner than I expected, but I wouldn’t change a thing. If anything, this can be considered quite the positive. I know Michael and I have considerably more time to spend together than those families who aren’t in blended family situations.
There are a lot of aspects of venturing into step-mom territory that I wasn’t prepared for. When you enter into a relationship with someone with a child, it can sometimes be more than you bargained for, especially if you’re anything like me and you have no children of your own. But when I say it’s been the most rewarding experience of my life, I truly mean it. I’m different from what I ever thought I could be. I’ve learned more about myself through the duration of my relationship with the boys than I have my entire life. Never before did I think I had the capacity to love this much. It’s a new experience for me and I’m learning something everyday. It has its ups ad downs, but hey that’s life! I wouldn’t trade my boys for anything in this world!
Men be good to your children’s step-mommas. And step mommas don’t lose your minds! What’s your experience? Did I leave anything out? Let’s chat below!