Step-parenting has got to be the hardest job on earth. So many tears...so much hurt. It flat out sucks some days. I wish there was a manual that came with it. Unfortunately there isn’t, so it’s day to day learning experiences.9 years in and it’s harder than it was in the beginning. I was recently made aware that some people have made comments about me only posting about my girls, and not my step son. I am the mother of 2 beautiful girls and the bonus mother of a handsome step son. Does it mean I don’t care about him? Hell, no, I love him so much it hurts, but I am not his mother. I am his extra support system every other week. I am not with him like I am my girls, so I cannot capture every moment with him and also don’t want to steal that joy from his real mother, who I respect a lot. You will see me at every football, baseball & school event, you will see me cheering like a crazy woman from the sidelines. It’s a love that can’t been explained unless you are a step-parent and can understand. It’s also a lot of emotional crap that we don’t talk about. It’s feeling left out, it’s feeling like your opinion doesn’t matter, it’s feeling like you have no say in discipline. It’s hard. Step mommas I feel you. You are not alone on this journey. Recently, I made the decision to stop parenting my step child. Wait...hear me out on this. See, in my family, I have always been the strict one, the one who lays out the rules and follows through on discipline. Basically, I was the one everyone knew to listen to. I said, no, I gave consequences, all of it. It just made sense, considering I was the one home with them most of the time. Everyone knew this is just how it was and it worked well. Did I get eye rolls? Yes! Did I get back-talk? Yes! But it just worked well and we rolled with it.
But then, my kids got older. My oldest daughter began resenting my husband, her step-dad every time he would try and step in on discipline, and my stepson began just flat out not listening to me or majorly resenting me every time I tried to discipline. I mean, they were teenagers, isn't this what they are supposed to do? But it felt different, it felt like I was nobody anymore, especially with my stepson. He was no longer in favor of me being the rule maker or the disciplinarian. It led to major blowups and arguments, that I was afraid if the neighbors heard, we'd be hauled off in the back of a police car. It wasn't pretty anymore. I felt like I had lost control, I wasn't his "mimi" anymore, in fact, he stopped calling me "mimi". I was Sarah to him now. (Backstory, when my stepson was 4, he began calling me "mimi" and it just stuck) I didn't like how all of this made me feel. It sucked. I came to the conclusion that my stepson no longer liked me. I took it all so personally. I had always been the one putting him to bed, helping him pick out clothes to wear, helping him with his homework, volunteering in his classroom, going on field trips. I was doing all the parent things with him. I legit felt like I was his parent too.
It took me a few weeks, but I just had to tell myself...Sarah, he is a boy and is going through puberty, he doesn't hate you. But I mean lets be real, in the back of my head, I still felt it. I had to figure something out that made us all feel good inside, something that wouldn't make me want to drink an entire bottle of wine each night, sucking up my sorrows and feeling bad for myself. I had to do what was best for our entire family. I mean we are a weird dynamic and it wasn't fair to these kids if I just sulked about my feelings everyday.
It was time to reestablish my role as a parent figure in his life. I didn't want him to obey me, I didn't want him to do everything I said to do, I didn't want him to expect me to put the fear of God in him if he acted out. I just wanted him to respect me in my home, and to know that I love him. I wanted a healthy relationship and a healthy home life for him and my other children. We needed a healthy home...mentally!
So, recently, I have stepped back in parenting my step son. Do I still get him off to school, make him snacks, do his laundry, talk to him about his day, take him to practice, go to his games? YES! YES! I still do all those things. I am still there cheering him on every single day out of love, but when it comes to the hard stuff like discipline or consequences or boy stuff (that did not come with a manual) I let my husband do those things. If my husband comes to me and asks my opinion, I will gladly give it but I do not expect him to follow my opinion. I do not expect it to be my way of discipline.
One majorly hard lesson I have had to learn through this transition is how to back off, let it go and bite my freaking tongue. I mean watching someone else take over discipline, when you've been doing it for 9 years, is not a cake-walk. It's super hard. It's mumbling under my breath what a crappy consequence that was and "how is he ever going to learn from that" but it's something that had to be done. It's not my place anymore. I took a step back....I gave my stepchild some space.....I'm letting him come to me. I'm letting my husband (Dad) take care of the big stuff now. My focus is having a healthy relationships and an all over healthy family dynamic in our house. I'm hoping for a new found happiness in our home. I truly believe this shift in parenting is going to benefit each and every one of us in our home. In many (but not all) situations, a relationship with a stepparent is different than a relationship with a parent. It’s not as unconditional. Children forgive their parents far faster than they do their step-parents, and rightfully so. Often stepmoms are resistant to taking a step back, when their relationship with their stepkids isn’t going so well. They try and stand their ground and assert themselves as a “parent too” - But honestly, I think this shift is going to be the best thing we can do for our own sanity and the relationships with my step son and for the sanity of our family as a whole.
Shaking up my life- finding a new perspective.