In honor of my step-daughter’s 15th birthday, I thought I would describe for you some of the ups and downs of my first 13 years with the title, Stepmom. As you know there are two sides to every story, two perspectives of every event, and different definitions of what is good or bad. I am the custodial Step-mom, which holds its own delights and drama.
I have had days where being a stepmom has been over-the-top demanding. Being the parent who toes the line is hard enough with your biological children and sometimes it is downright ugly with the step-child. A precarious tightrope I walk in determining when to push forward and when to walk away.
Some days I totally rock in this stepmom role, being deliberate in conversations and activities. After a successful experience, I see any parenting challenge in my path as doable. I can look at a fresh new year with dedication. Because that really is what this job takes readers. Sheer determination. I’m the available parent which gives me a front-row seat to pretty darn near everything in her world. When she smiles at me and we share a knowing look, I have no doubt we connected at that moment.
However, it is degrading when I am referred to with derogatory terms by my step-daughter to her peers and even worse with her biological mother. Some days it can be damaging to my confidence as a parent when it seems truths are not forthcoming from her. It requires a step back on my part for her to reset and figure out who she is and why she is making certain choices. Often it feels demoralizing when I know in my heart I am trying to set healthy boundaries but she kicks against them with all her might. Again and again. Some days it is depressing when she makes decisions that I know will set her back.
Taking risks is not part of my genetic makeup, but for my stepdaughter, (my only daughter), I will be daring to have those discussions with her that must take place. We are constantly developing a relationship and with growth comes change. We are different from each other on some levels as night and day. What I strive to point out is that our distinctive qualities make us who we are and exactly as our Heavenly Father created us. She thinks I want to define her, but my heart wants her to be like Him.
I must admit that as I get ready many mornings, I have been disillusioned about what kind of a positive difference I can really make. I fight through discouraging days when the reality hits me that the loyalty to her biological parents will always be stronger than it is to me. There is no “ordinary” step-parenting situation. We are a diverse group who arrived where we are through unique circumstances. The successful ones will continue dauntlessly no matter what. In three more years she will be deemed an adult. Until that time, I will continue to teach her discernment in choosing friends and discretion in the words, texts, emails, updates, and posts that she authors.
At the end of the day, it is decidedly clear that step-parenting is a whole lot like biological parenting, with just a few added stressors (and parents and conflicts). But I did choose this direction when I married her father, Technology Man. Although it has been a much harder uphill climb than I ever anticipated, I pray daily for wisdom and encouragement as I’m told it can be darkest just before dawn. And when she throws her arms around me and says, “Thanks for all the work you put into my party!” I’m delirious!
Parenting is a roller coaster ride, with predictable and unpredictable moments of dread and of delight. Through it all, I’m devoted to being the mom and being the stepmom. For life.