Here’s a post about step-parenting.

July 2007 - Age 1

One of my motivations for starting a blog was so that I would have a place to talk about the experience of step-parenting.  It can be a pretty isolating experience especially since I don’t have any friends in the same boat as me.  I know there are other step-parents out there since over 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and a lot of those have kids involved, which means when those people remarry, step-parents are created.  But step-parenting is not widely discussed.  The main images our culture is familiar with are: evil step-mothers in fairy tales and Disney movies, or occasionally happily-ever-after step-parenting in sugary sweet movies where the mom or dad dies of cancer and the kids gradually bond with their new step-mom or step-dad and after some difficulties all live happily ever after.  Yeah, right.  But what happens when both parents are still alive and well and the step-parent isn’t evil?  Where’s that story?  It doesn’t exist because nobody wants to talk about it, even though it’s incredibly common now.

June 2007 - age 1

Nobody likes step-parents and nobody wants to acknowledge them.  It’s awkward.  Nobody knows what to say.  “Oh, you’re not his mom?  You’re his step-mom?  Oh, that’s awkward.”  And then what are they thinking?  “You’re not a real mom, then.  You don’t understand.”  Or maybe, “How awful.  You must have broken up a happy family.”  Who knows.  All I know is it’s not a topic people want to talk about.

September 2007 - age 1

I had a dream last night that Bryan and I were sitting next to each other on the couch, and Talan came over, and Bryan placed him on this couch next to himself.  Talan started crying and said he loved both of us and didn’t understand why we always placed him next to Bryan and never next to me.  He crawled over onto my lap and I hugged him and told him I loved him, too, and he could always sit next to both of us, he didn’t always have to just sit next to his dad.

Yeah, that would never happen.  I think sometimes dreams are wishful thinking.

February 2011 - age 5

The reality is that Talan likes me, and he also doesn’t like me.  Just as I like him, but I also don’t like him.  He won’t ever hold my hand.  We make him hold someone’s hand any time we’re in a parking lot or crossing a street, and he’ll go out of his way to hold his dad’s hand, even holding onto Bryan’s sleeve if his hands are full rather than hold my hand.  If I’m alone with Talan, he’ll hold onto my shirt or arm, but will not hold my hand.  I don’t know why.  I haven’t asked him.  It hurts my feelings though.  Yesterday in the car we had to find a parking place, and I suggested to Bryan that he should take Talan and go check in to the race while I parked the car.  Bryan was not sure about this, and Talan piped up and said, “yes, dad, I want to go with you.  I want Stefani to go park the car.”  Another time Bryan needed to go to the store to get some things, and asked Talan if he wanted to come with him, and Talan said, “Why can’t we make Stefani go to the store so I can stay here with you?”  Another time we were driving to go pick up Bryan’s car, and Talan said “Am I going to have to stay in this car with Stefani?”  He says things like this a lot.  He makes it very clear that he doesn’t always want me around.

September 2007 - age 1

At the same time, he does enjoy being with me.  He likes doing things with me.  He has fun spending time with me.  He just doesn’t like me as much as his dad.  But he also doesn’t like his dad as much as his mom.  He makes similarly hurtful comments to Bryan all the time about how he prefers spending time with his mom, and he always makes it clear with his comments that he would always prefer to be at his mom’s house instead of at our house.  So Bryan gets a good share of hurtful comments as well.  The difference is for him that he’s Talan’s dad so he LOVES him like a father.  He has that BOND where no matter how hurtful Talan his, he loves him immensely and Talan loves him, too, since he is his dad.  But where do I fit into that?  I’m not his mom.  I don’t love him like a mom.  He doesn’t love me like a mom.  I’m just Stefani.  I just happen to have been around in his life since he was 14 months old.  I just happen to be married to his dad.

May 2011 - age 5

It’s also very hard because we only have him a limited amount of time – every other weekend basically plus holidays and 4 weeks over the summer.  It’s hard because he’s primarily raised at his mom’s house and I strongly disagree with a lot of the way he is being raised and who he is as a result of his mom being who she is.  It’s frustrating because I know if he WAS my kid, he would be VERY different.  He wouldn’t be used to eating a diet of junk food, candy, and koolaid.  He wouldn’t be used to being spoiled rotten, given a new toy every day, playing violent video games rated for teens, never having to use manners, not having any chores or responsibilities around the house.  Of course we enforce our own rules at our house, but it sometimes feels like bailing out a sinking ship when he just goes back home at the end of the weekend and goes right back to playing those violent video games and running the household.

April 2009 - age 3

I’m also stricter than Bryan is.  Bryan loves his son and wants Talan to be happy and wants Talan to like him, and Bryan also likes to eat candy and junk food, so he like to let Talan eat those things, too.  I on the other hand think that 5 year olds should not be eating candy and junk food, and so if Talan asks me if he can have a piece of candy, my general response if no.  So Saturday he asked, I said no, and he said, “I’ll just go ask my dad then.”  He went and asked Bryan in the next room, Bryan said yes, and I said, “I just told him no.”  So Bryan told Talan no and told him not to do that any more.  Bryan’s good about that.  But it’s still frustrating because Talan knows that I’m more strict so he just asks his dad instead.  It’s just not how I’d raise him if he were mine.  But he’s not.

April 2009 - age 3

I do think that we do a very good job of teaching Talan to be a well-mannered, polite, respectful kid while he’s at our house.  He’s generally very well behaved with us.  and I know that’s a result of us being very strict with him and showing him that he does not rule our house like he does at his mom’s house.  But it’s still frustrating because, for example, with things like the violent video games, he says, “whatever.  I’ll just play it at my mom’s house.”  Makes me want to scream.

May 2009 - age 3

That’s all for now.  It felt good to get all that out.

May 2011 - age 5