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Am I a parent already?

Posted by Good Fortune , 13 March 2011 · 1443 views

I have 3 step-daughters. I have a husband whose vasectomy reversal hasn't worked in any meaningful way. He has an ex who has since had another child, because she can. I am forty and for one reason or another IVF hasn't worked so far. It's hard.

We have the girls every other weekend, and it's okay. I have my ups and downs with it, but it could be a lot worse. At least they don't appear to resent me and now they're older I find their company far easier. And DH does put us first. In other words, he isn't at his ex's back and call, thank goodness.

Today is Sunday, and as DH pointed out, I'm always in a grump on Sunday mornings. It's like the morning after a heavy party. Clothes and crap everywhere, dirty dishes and mugs everywhere, and where are the kids? Already on stupid Facebook at 7 in the morning! That's when I get the familiar white-hot surge of anger. It makes me so mad! I find myself thinking redundant thoughts like, "Kids have no responsibilities, they never see the mess they make, they expect it all to magically vanish so they can just carry on playing. You wouldn't tolerate it in an adult!" I mean, come on, that is the point. They aren't adults! Their brains are wired differently.

And the reason Sunday mornings are always a bomb-sight is because more ofter than not we do something really fun the day before, like go for a long walk, or see a movie, or go to the theatre as we did last night. We're in such a rush doing fun things that housework gets kind of forgotten. Then Sunday morning I get the face on!

Despite occasionally cursing being a step-parent, in some ways it's cooler than full-time parenting. Naturally I would feel more affection for my own child, but it would still make a mess and make me angry. Every day. Not just once a fortnight. I would have that drudgery every day. And we'd be poorer and wouldn't be able to do cool things every evening, or indeed have the energy to.

The girls do look to me for guidance and approval, which I sometimes even give LOL! I try to convince myself that I am nothing to do with them, but when the tallest one wants to borrow my scarves and shoes and bags, or the eldest one wants to confide she tried a cigarette, or talks to me about life at home and how little individual attention they seem to get, I get the urge to be that mentor, that guiding light for them. It's hard though. I find myself going so far with it then pulling back, especially when I feel cross with them.

I had a look around for a stepmum forum, but those I found were so toxic and full of whining women all wanting their story to be the most pitiful, competing for who had the most ill-mannered, moronic stepchild! Being a step-parent isn't all bad. On balance I am glad for the experience at parenting it has given me. I am a bit distant, because I'm sometimes hurting, but at least I can see that parenting isn't the be-all and end-all. There's an awful lot about it I don't care for.

I don't know how the kids will look back on their times with us. Now that the eldest is 16, she rarely comes round. We've told her countless times to just get on a bus any day and come over, but she doesn't. It's weird because she has always been the most demonstrative and demanding of attention. Fickle teenagers!
Will they look back and remember all the many many outings and holidays, mealtimes and silliness? Or will they just bemoan the fact that our garden is too small and we didn't playing enough board games with them? Or didn't take them swimming (yawn!) every weekend or weren't there every day to pick them up when they fell? Yes we have the means to treat them and do some extravagant things, and yes, we mostly choose to do stuff that we'll enjoy too. Is that a poor substitute for proper parenting? Having fun then giving them back when they becoming annoying? Bearing in mind the ex left DH, not the other way round, she did make the choice to have another child and heap more strife on herself. We don't have that option, so is it so wrong make our "job" as enjoyable for ourselves as possible?

Having the kids is quite nice and quite irksome at the same time. I can only imagine that being a real parent has higher heights and even lower lows. Not sure it befits my need for calm and harmony at all times!

Mar 13 2011 08:28 AM
I'm a step mom too and it's always ups and downs. You are for sure a parent, just not their birth parent and it's totally possible to have a motherly type bond with them that they will treasure.My step-dd is turning 12 and rarely comes anymore which is heart breaking for her dad but we knew this day would come
Def agree that you're a parent - and a great mentor/influence for them to have in their lives. I suspect that what they remember and the impact you've had - is something that will evolve throughout their lives and while they mightn't be grateful or even much aware of it, you've had a significant hand in molding the people they are and will become. You craftsman, you!
Mar 13 2011 10:06 AM
You are a parent, and a darn good one IMO.
I think you are. Quite a few of my friends were partly raised by their 'steps' and in some cases those people actually had a much greater influence on their upbringing than the parents they are genetically related to.
It sounds like you are a great parent! Your step children are very lucky that you care so much about them. I wouldn't worry about being grumpy on Sunday's, who isn't at the end of the week :)
Mar 13 2011 11:01 AM
Definitely a 'real' parent. No questions asked.
I agree, you are a parent. And I think like mouse says their perceptions will continue to change as they grow up. Once they are adults I hope they will look back and appreciate all the extra enrichment you have provided them.
I love being a stepmom, but I agree it has its trials. Making sure the kids take all their "crap" to their rooms Saturday nights definitely helps, at least it isn't in the kitchen and living room then :) I've also learned that the kids don't mind emptying the dishwasher (first thing Sunday morning) and taking out the garbage, especially if it makes my day happier and calmer, which always benefits them too. Don't expect them to remember though, you have to ask every time.
My DH is also a step-parent and had the unfortunate time of when to come into my kids lives, ugh teens! Tough for sure, but as my kids' birth parent I can tell you it really isn't that much different. Sure I have a greater affinity for them as I can recall when they were helpless in my arms but that doesn't help when they have pissed me off! Oh and your only grumpy on Sunday mornings? See my kids decided a long long time ago that I am a complete Beotch every morning and that I should just stay asleep and let them handle themselves, which actually works out ok, lol!!Definitely a Parent GF and a good one!xoxoxo
I am a step-mom as well. My step daughter lives with us full time. I often think about that question as well. Am I really a mom? She doesn't call me mom. She calls her alcoholic, drug addicted, neglectful womb donor her "mom", even though it's been my DH from the start who's been both parents to her. I've been her stepmom for 3 years now, full time. I still get irked at her laziness (she's almost 11) and her back talk towards her dad. I think I'm getting a little better at step parenting, but I always think to myself how much better of a parent I would be if she was my own. I'm still a little uncomfortable with disciplining her, or being affectionate with her. Mind you, I'm not a rock. LOL I do show her that I love her very much and I say it every day. I have no basis to compare, but I think that step parenting is HARD. My stepson is a little easier because he doesn't live with us. He did live with us for the first year and a half, but moved after his "mom" told him that my DH isn't his biological dad. He now lives with his older sister and grandma. "Mom" is nowhere to be found. Grrrr... Sorry for the "me" post. Just know that I can relate.
Mar 14 2011 04:40 AM
It doesn't matter how you label it. It all comes down to your relationship and the bond you have. Labels tend to be a very shallow thing. In day to day relationships, they are seldom even thought of unless somebody specifically asks about "your child" or "your husband" or "your mom". The day to day stuff is all based on feeling. It is based on the relationship and the bond that you have and the respect you have for other person. If somebody loves and respects you and treasures you, it is not because of how the relationship is defined. It is because of the relationship itself. And remember, it's not about what you think your role in their lives is. It is about what their role in YOUR life is. You can't control how they feel about you or how they view you or how other people define your relationship. That is for them to decide. But you can decide what they mean to YOU. In your life, that is what is most important. I have had 3 glasses of wine so I hope that made sense!
Step-mom here as well to 3 teenage boys who we have 50% of the time, week on/week off. I love being a step mom because like you said, they ask for Guidance, Approvals, and they confide in me a lot more than their father or their mom. I know all of their secrets, well, some of them, and they know they can count on me if they are in need. I will always come through for them.Sorry that you are struggling with IF... but do not let that think that you are not a parent, because you are 100% a parent, and it seems like you have a great bond with your step-children. They won't forget that.

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