Rewarding for sure, but difficult at times.
It’s weird to love a child like they’re your own, but not have them be your own. I have to remember and respect boundaries. Not step on mom’s toes, which can be hard to do when mom isn’t your biggest fan. I do a lot of work in raising this child, but get none of the credit. The reward, obviously, is helping to shape her into her future awesome self. That’s good enough for me…most days. I mean, everyone likes a little credit and recognition now and again, after all.
One interesting and unexpected benefit has been that I see a different face of Frey than her parents see. She opens up to me and is candid in a way she isn’t with her actual parents. I think this is because she sees me as some sort of aunt/older sister/cool older friend combo. I’ve used this knowledge to help D understand her better, and to lobby for certain things for her. For example, I convinced her dad to get her a cell phone for her birthday and then I convinced him it should be an iPhone instead of the Android he wanted to get. (I swear, he’s such an engineer!) Even before we all lived together, I worked hard to convince D to let her get her ears pierced, and was finally able to convince him it was an okay thing to let her do. I speak his language, and she doesn’t, so I’m able to bridge a lot of gaps between them. In fact, I do this same thing for his ex though she doesn’t know it.
One of the hardest things about step-parenting is the disciplining aspect. Sometimes Frey will do something shitty, like everyone does from time to time, and I have to come down on her for it. That’s extremely difficult. Our relationship feels so fragile at times that it feels almost dangerous to be too hard on her, but at the same time, I’m not her friend. I’m her step-parent. I’m a role model. I have to be the parent sometimes, even when I don’t want to be. I’m not saying it’s easy to discipline Jackson, because it’s not — I hate it. But I guess I trust our bond more. I know that no matter what happens, at the end of the day, we will still love each other. Things are just easier with him, because he’s mine.
There is no real point to this post other than to simply say: step-parenting is difficult, but it is incredibly rewarding. I feel very blessed (ugh I hate that word but it works here) to be a part of Frey’s life and I hope she’s happy to have me in it. Most of the time, I can tell she loves our little family dynamic, but there’s always that little nagging voice in the back of my head.
Sigh. What can you do, right?