As a kid you grow up reading the typical fairytale storybooks. A princess meets her handsome prince, they slay a few dragons together, have a dope house on a cliff overlooking the ocean, end up married with a beautiful family!
But nobody ever reads you the book about how maybe, just maybe, your prince has baggage and that the dragon you slay in the OG books ends up being your prince’s ex girlfriend/baby mama. Literally, she breathes fucking fire and the second that she finds out about you she wants to burn your house down to the ground.
So, since you’re the fairest of them all, you agree to meet her for bitch therapy and squash any underlying issues over a glass or two of wine. Listen Linda, I’m not here to replace you. I am just dating your ex and taking really good care of your child. Just be nice to me. We don’t need to be friends but don’t make me your enemy. I imagine that it is painfully hard to see another woman step in as the mother of the household but you should be thankful that I am a class act and not a bougie hooker. I have manners, I have morals, and I am passing them along to your child. I cook healthy dinners for her, I pack healthy lunches for her, I take her to school, I buy her clothes, I read her bedtime stories (not this one yet- there is still time for happily ever after), I make sure that she has a clean room and a clean bed to sleep in, and I always make sure that she knows that she is loved.
I have friends who have somehow made this co-parenting situation a breeze! And I AM JEALOUS. I have tried. I really have. I have been put in the middle, I have been told things about my SO’s past that has nothing to do with my current relationship. But the only way co-parenting truly works is if the ex’s can get along and look past their bullshit past and worry about their child. When there is a toxic form of distain that is still present, there is just no way around it. I feel like everything I have ever said gets filed away in a dark dusty dragon cave only to be used against me when the time is right. Just a constant shit storm brewing. And you can’t control the weather. The art of letting go is a beautiful concept that we should all try to familiarize ourselves with.
You think being a mom is hard? Try raising somebody else’s child. Let me tell you, it is not for the faint of heart. Not only is it the hardest thing in the world, but nobody seems to appreciate the efforts that you put in. You live in a constant state of uncertainty. It’s a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation. Who wants to feel like a foreign entity in their own home? You put actual sweat and tears into this and the day that the child calls you “mom" is the day that once again your house goes down in flames. As if I asked for this? No, I often feel like I am sitting on a fine line of being a babysitter/parent. I am the topic of conversation at the dragon’s Sunday brunch with her girlfriends. But instead of building me up, I am torn apart. I am sure everything down to my eyebrows is discussed. It puts your self-esteem to the ultimate test. But here I am, a person who is helping grow and raise a child to be the best she can be.
A step parent, and I use this term loosely because I am not married, is so much more than just a parent because they have made a choice to love you when they didn’t have to. I choose to make the conscious effort to be a role model and a loving human to this child because I know she needs it. I’m sorry, but to “woman up” and raise someone else’s child as your own, makes you not only a great step parent but it makes you a hero.
I grew up in a broken home. I have been raised by step parents. I understand that there are boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed. I know what works and I know what doesn’t. I hope to god my step parents know how appreciative I am of them and that I fully respect their love and acceptance and that it is completely reciprocated. So to all of the step parents out there, THANK YOU. I applaud you, I applaud your efforts, I applaud your patience, and I am so sorry for any time that you have ever felt alone, unappreciated, and at your wits ends. YOU DA REAL MVP.
To all of the men out there that are dating a hero, take time to ask her how she is doing. Have weekly check-ins. And understand that sometimes it is impossible for her to be everything you need her to be. Chances are she is hiding a lot of her turmoil from you because she doesn’t want to look weak or like she can’t handle it. “Thank you” goes a long way.