I absolutely adore my step-sons. I really do. I love my husband even more. And of course, my girls are nothing less than precious to me. But step-parenting sucks sometimes. It's probably one of the most self-less jobs a person can have and brings on so many additional challenges when compared to parenting your own children.
Here are just a couple of things I struggle with:
- The TRANSITION period. Children of divorce get the worst deal. They have absolutely no choice in the option of splitting living time between two separate households. And even harder for them is the difference in rules between houses. Unfortunately, when biological parents fall at opposite ends of the discipline paradigm, these poor little kids fall on their face. Well, at least when they get to our house they fall, because we actually have rules that we enforce. And for them coming to our house, it takes a at least a couple of days to simply transition to how they know they can behave in our home. And this leads to a whole other frustration around being the "mean" parents, or the "assholes". But from the words of my therapist, they will later appreciate or benefit from having structure and set expectations. ("When??!!" I ask, "When???") Rules and appropriate behavioral expectations will benefit them in the long run. I wish they could see that now though, instead of seeing me as the "step-mom" who should have starred in Cinderella.
- MY HUSBAND, THE DAD. I miss my husband when his boys are here. And I realize that he probably feels the same way when his kids are not here, and my girls are clinging to me almost 24 hours a day as if I were their lifeline to survival. Yet, for those 10-15 days each month when those little terds are here, they are glued to my husbands body as if he had a sudden growth on his side that was irremovable. How precious is the fact that they just eat every waking moment with him, because that is what they crave and desire. But inside, I miss him and feel selfish to even type the words.
- BLENDING A FAMILY. With two girls of my own (7 and 10) and my husbands two boys (6 and 9), when we are all together I couldn't be prouder. Yet blending 4 creatures together and cramming their entire lives under one roof for undefined periods of time can only result in chaos. Competition. Argues. Fights. There usually comes a point in time where I literally have to simply "check out". I've even told them that. I can't do it anymore. And then, I hear the uncontrollable giggling amongst them all in the basement, or the constant chit-chat at bedtime when they all insist on sleeping in one room together even though we just moved in order to give them all their own space. And then I fall in love with each of them all over again. Thank God.
I struggle every day hoping that what I do is the best thing for each of them. I hope that I choose the right words, the right timing, the right battles to fight and ultimately that one day, somehow, they will look back and possibly think silently even for one moment in their adult life that I loved them immensely and did the best I could.