I consider myself a step-parent.
I never wanted to have kids, and never thought I would be a step-parent. When I met my Person (hereafter called “G”), he had an 11 year old son from a previous relationship. We dated for about 6 months before G let me meet his son (“N”), which was fine with me. I wasn’t sure this relationship was going to last either (hello from almost 6 years later!), and I understood and respected him for being cautious. The reason I say that is cause for an entirely separate blog post, which I may or may not write someday.
It seemed to take N all of about 45 seconds to decide he liked me, and we’ve gotten along ever since. He’s 17 now, and a great kid. I try not to “mom” him, but I do point out when he’s being a jerk and remind about things like putting on coats or shoes, and I tell him to use soap in the shower. Teenagers, right!?
Too Many Cooks in the kitchen?
While N has “plenty” of moms if you ask him (his mom married an awesome woman since G and I have been together), I get frustrated when people don’t necessarily acknowledge me as a step-parent. I have been helping to raise and shape him for almost 6 years now, in however small a capacity, so I think that should count! I do love the kid, and I worry about him as if he were mine. But, because G and I aren’t married, people seem to think…well, I’m honestly not sure what they think. Maybe they feel that I don’t help, or don’t contribute? There have been plenty of times I’ve given him advice, or gone to pick him up or drop him off somewhere.
The important thing is that I feel I am a step-parent, and G does too. It’s not the most conventional definition of step-parent, but I think it still counts.
G and I aren’t married yet, and that seems to makes other people uncomfortable. Yes, we have been together for 6 years, and living together for 4 of that. No, we aren’t married yet. Yes, we plan on getting married someday. At this point, it won’t really change anything in our daily lives. It’s just a piece of paper and some jewelry that has legal perks attached.
We attended a wedding for some of my college friends recently, and when I told my older table-mate we weren’t married, she actually GASPED and said “WHY!? Do you want to? Is there something wrong with him?” Rude.
While I freely admit we have a but of an unconventional relationship with N and his moms (which sounds like a punk band!), we all get along and it works. Is it “normal”? No! Who has a normal relationship or family in this day and age!? No one I know, that’s for sure.
I believe G and I making the choice to not have kids pretty early on (date 4 maybe?) is also a factor. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “you’ll change your mind” or “clock’s ticking!” by an older female. It is infuriating. I figured out a while ago that my maternal instincts – or lack thereof – extend to “Auntie” status on good days. I *like* kids, but in small doses. While I will happily hold a baby, as soon as they start screaming or stink, I want to hand them back to the adult responsible for them.
I have been called selfish for not wanting a baby. Well, if that makes me selfish, then so be it. Why should I be judged for realizing and acknowledging that I most likely would NOT be a good parent? I can barely handle being a “parent” to the dog and the cat most days. There have been times where I’ve driven to Starbucks to just have 30 minutes of silence. I have days where I don’t want to hear obnoxious licking noises, and I don’t want anything touching me. Celia Mae is a rescue. I call her my “Velcro dog” because she likes to have me in sight at all times, and she’s usually curled up next to me if I’m sitting or laying down in the house.
Is there anyone else out there who is a largely unacknowledged step-parent? I often feel invisible, and I feel like we need a support group! I can’t be the only one in this situation.
There are a lot of subjects that are “taboo” in this country. This may be one of them. In talking about this subject online, I have come across other people in similar situations, with similar feelings. But no one talks about it! I say it’s time to stop being silent about things if don’t fit the mold of married with 2.5 kids in the suburbs. Let’s band together and change the narrative about families in this country!
If you want to come talk about it, join me here in my Facebook group!