It's Blogapalooza time again and ChicagoNow bloggers have an hour to write and publish a post on challenges, a challenge unto itself. Ready, go! My one hour post on my own personal challenge.
Have you seen many Disney movies? I have and in the case of The Littlest Mermaid, more times than I can count. One theme that seems to run through these movies is a missing parent and a really crappy step parent will show up to torture the young lady featured in the cartoon. I am here to tell you that Disney has it wrong, step parents rock.
When my husband and I met we both had kids, yay, right? Well, sure, or so I thought having caught just enough episodes of The Brady Bunch to be composing our theme song pretty early on in the relationship.
It was tough going at times. On our first date my husband met my youngest because she was prancing around begging for attention. My oldest was a Senior in High School and her annoyed voice floated down from above "Are you going to be home early so I can go out with my friends?" When I told her we were going to dinner and a late movie her response was "Shit!" I turned to my date and explained, that's my oldest daughter.
One year later we got married, yes, he's a brave man. Cliff and his daughter moved into the condo. Our youngest daughters were in the same grade. They were now in the same school and mainly, sortof got along.
My step daughter left her school, town and neighborhood when she moved. My husband had recently gotten custody. Her Mom had gone to live elsewhere and her older siblings were on their own. She was not happy about all this. At all. Understandably. It was really hard for everyone.
When you raise a child from an early age you teach that baby your morals and values, You mold it to be somewhat similar to you and they accept your rules. (Until they are teenagers.) You also somehow get that kid to not do the things that really bug you to death. They do other goofy things but not ones that drive you crazy. You are used to that kid and they are used to you.
When you meet a child who is nine, there is a lot of history and molding that has already gone on. When that child misses her Mom and doesn't want to share her Dad, it adds additional challenges to an already tricky situation.
To say that the two sets of expectations and rules clashed is to understate the reality of step parenting. It is the absolute hardest job I have ever done, the hardest challenge I have ever faced and I have faced a bunch.
My step daughter pretty much hated me. It took my breath away. I had been a teacher all my adult life and thought I knew kids. I had been raising two girls on my own for four years and felt I could handle parenting. I thought being a step parent would be a piece of cake. I was wrong.
My husband was also step dad to my girls but as their father was out of the picture it went easier. My girls started calling him Dad early on and years later he walked my oldest down the aisle. They call him with their fears and triumphs and he is 100% their dad.
My step mom role didn't progress as smoothly. I was the hands on parent in the house. I was the one there when they got up for school, had breakfast, came home and did their homework. My husband worked really long hours and had a long commute. I was the one laying down the rules and setting boundaries. There was resistance, like the French resistance in World War II type resistance.
We tried everything we could think of. We read parenting books, talked to friends, enemies, anyone who would lend us an ear. I got advice from my principal, the counselor at my school and professionals. We won some battles but after four years, we failed.
When my step daughter's mother's living situation changed, she left our home. It was a hard time for all of us.
We had to take a deep breath and face the challenge of going on and still loving that child in spite of how much we were hurting with her decision.
And we did it, amazingly enough we did it and found our way back to love and acceptance of each other. My husband paved the way, time helped and my step daughter growing older and more mature did the rest.
Today, we all get along. She and I send each other funny texts. She and her mom let me be the bossy butt when she took an interest in sewing. They let me choose the machine, sign her up for lessons and give advice. She sends me pictures of completed sewing projects and I send her extra fabric and thread I find in my sewing room. She's the only daughter who took after me and actually used the sewing model and lessons I provided. Can you beat that?
Hey, Disney it's time to lay off step parents, particularly step Moms. We are not the evil creatures you have painted us to be. We are instead real people, trying our hardest, sometimes failing but we get up and try some more. And in the end, we rock.
And being a parent who rocks, step or otherwise, that makes me Sew happy!
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