What’s Yours Is Mine? Confessions Of The Step-Parent Lifestyle

November 5, 2015  |  

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My first confession is that I’m not a step parent so you may think that the title is misleading. I have three children, and they are all biologically mine. My husband though is only the father of my youngest two. To my oldest, he has been a great step dad. He has taken care of her since she was three and I believe that when she grows up into adulthood, she will really understand and appreciate everything he has done for her. We are a blended family and our situation is very common these days, so we never really think about it. But I have the step mom conversation with someone very close to me quite often, and it’s made me appreciate my own situation. She has been a step mom for the past (CAN’T SAY) years, and she is still struggling with it.

“So are you a family of four or a family of five?” I ask after a lengthy conversation about how she can’t comfortably answer this question in public. She ponders the question, and she says, “Well, most of the time, we are a family of four.” Their stepson lives with his biological mother, and is only there (with his biological dad, her and their kids) every other weekend. That would make them only a family of five, on average, four days out of the month. But that just doesn’t seem like the right answer. “From now on, you are always a family of five,” I say to her. “You have to answer it that way even though you know it’s technically not true. Your husband will always say five, so you have to as well.” I try to put myself in her husband’s shoes. Would I feel the same way if my husband answered two when asked how many kids he had? I don’t know, because he always says three. But, then again, we all live together and they don’t. Their youngest two don’t even know their older brother’s mother.

After a visit with my friend recently, my four-year old son, who is very familiar with their family, asked me why her step son wasn’t there with them. I explained with an answer that doesn’t really answer the question. “Sometimes, he lives with his mom and sometimes he lives with his dad.” I’m sure my son doesn’t understand, but my tone is definitive and he doesn’t ask a follow-up question. Or maybe he just gets it, because for as long as he can remember, his older sister has had two dads.

I think she loves her kids more differently. As a matter of fact, I know it. And I’m sorry but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I tell her it’s natural, though we both believe that it’s something we can’t say out loud. (Uh oh, I just said it). I’ve always told my husband that if he felt that way about our kids, if he loved them differently, I would understand. But he says he doesn’t. He jokes about it and says, “actually, I’ve known Kayla longer than those other two Bebe’s kids.” And it’s true. He eased into his step dad role because we had six years as a family of three before our own children came into the picture. I never realized how it made our step status so much easier to deal with. That’s not the case for my friend. She was thrust into it, the courts were involved and she doesn’t have a good relationship with the biological mom. It has made things very uncomfortable for her.

I can only imagine. I’ve never been embarrassed about my situation. But there have been times, in conversations, when I just didn’t feel like explaining myself. When people ask questions about our family, sometimes I just avoid the conversation altogether. My friend’s step son and her son were born within a year of each other. That’s explaining she just doesn’t want to do all the time. And I get it.

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