I’ve mentioned before that my husband has a daughter from a previous relationship and I’ve been in her life for almost three years now. We’ve had our ups and downs, but the hardest part of this entire process is trying to walk the fine line that is “step-parenting.”
My husband has had to do the same thing with my daughter, although I’m under the impression that being a step-dad is insanely easier, at least when it comes to girl children. My daughter has her biological father in her life just as much as she has me, and I don’t always agree with his actions, but overall she has a strong understanding that she has “daddy”, and “Steven.” It’s not quite as easy with little girls and their moms though.
Chloe is four years old, she’ll be five in June, and our relationship has been rocky at best. One of the hardest parts of this whole thing is that her biological mother and I have almost nothing in common, and Chloe takes after her mom a great deal. I like the outdoors, exotic food, hiking, trying new things, summer weather, being extroverted, and being productive. Chloe likes routine, cold weather, television, bland food, lounging, and doesn’t really like the outdoors unless it’s developed land (like a public park or a paved walkway). She likes dogs, I like cats. She likes pop music, I like everything under the sun. About the only thing we have in common is a desire to do Yoga and an affinity for My Little Pony. So that’s what we use to bond. I also tend to come on rather strong in my personality while she’s very timid and soft-spoken, which can cause issues when I’m reprimanding her for something. I have a short fuse and she ignites it on a daily basis because some of her personality traits happen to fall into my pet peeves category. To sum it up, I have serious trouble relating to her experiences and it makes me feel like a pretty bad step-mom.
I also don’t necessarily agree with the way Chloe’s mom, let’s call her “Alison” for this post, raises her. I don’t like the morals that she instills in her kids, nor do I agree with the life choices she makes for Chloe. Alison is her mother though and naturally people love their moms. Chloe is also only four years old so at this age, her mother practically can do no wrong and I will always be seen as the reason her mom and dad can’t be together anymore. I am a constant reminder.
This entire situation has left me thinking quite a bit about exactly what the role of a step-mother is. Obviously I have to help keep order in the house by enforcing rules and doling out punishment or reward when it’s needed, but other than that, I’m really just trying to be her friend. She has a mom. She doesn’t need me to give her life advice, teach her lessons about friendship, or stay awake at night worrying about the progress she’s making. I don’t have a say in whether she’ll go to speech therapy, or if we’ll hold her back a year from kindergarten. I can’t come to mediation to make sure the holiday schedule is fair and I can’t spew curse words at Alison when she deserves it, even if I feel like my husband is being way too nice. I only know how to love as a mother, but some of those motherly things are just out of my jurisdiction. I’m stuck between loving hard, and trying not to care too much.
I’m just a step-mom. I’m the friend/bad guy who’s there to play board games but also make her eat her vegetables, and that’s really all I can be. Alison is her mother, and I’m just her step-mom.
Do you have any experience with this? What has been the hardest part for you? Let me know in the comments!