We have had the kids alot in the last two months. It's just worked out with Spring Break, and weekends, that they've spent alot of time with us. I have always struggled with being a good step-mom. Always. I think when you are helping raise someone else's children on an ongoing basis, it's incredibly normal to question yourself and wonder if you are doing things right or wrong. In fact, I probably question my parenting to my stepkids more than my parenting to my daughter.
I have kind of changed my mindset about my stepkids. I think I have been harder on them then I should have been at times. I've expected things I shouldn't expect, or wanted them to be something that they weren't. As Jordan is getting older, it's becoming less and less important to me to feel like the need to correct everything he does and more important to create a relationship with him where he likes me and wants to be around our house, and most importantly, his dad. I know if I keep pushing him and keeping him at a distance, he eventually will not want to be over here as much (now that he is getting to the age of having more of a choice) and above all else, it would break my heart for Jason not to see him as often because of me. I know this is not something I should probably be worried about, but it does cross my mind.
Step-parenting is one of the most difficult, trying, and rewarding things I've ever experienced. Difficult and trying mostly because of me, not because of the kids. Sometimes, I've been so wrapped up in rules and expectations that I forget that they are just who they are, and while there are certin non-negotiables, I don't have to fight every battle presented to me. You could say that about biological children as well, for sure. But it's especially true for kids you don't see all the time.
I've also come to understand that the love I have for Avery and the love I have for my stepkids isn't the same, and it never will be. It's not supposed to be. They have a mother and a father who love them unconditionally, with the love that only a father and mother can give. I love them both, but in different ways. I used to really beat myself up over this, but have learned that it's OK and it's the way it should be, that I love them in different ways. I love them, period, which is more than I can say for alot of stepmothers out there, so I think I am doing pretty good.
I hope that despite the mistakes I've made with them in the last four years, they can see the things I've done right and be able to look back on their childhood with me in it, in a positive way. While I may have made mistakes, I've also done alot to make sure they know I love them. I make it a point, in every house we've ever lived in, to take time and decorate their rooms. They have toys here, and nice clothes here, I try and make their favorite meals, and take them to do things they like to do. Kids don't always understand how adults show them they are loved, but I hope they know that I do.
Nothing really happened this weekend to make me feel this way. I've just been praying alot about being a stepmom lately, and I think God is guiding me to be more accepting of our situation and our relationship. Along the way, He is opening to my eyes to the wonderful and unique kids they are, and before, I would sometimes get so bogged down in what they aren't doing right or what I don't like that they are doing, that I forget to appreciate them and their personalities. That's true for any parents, though isn't it? I don't want to miss the neat things they might tell me in a conversation, a conversation that might not happen if I am too busy being upset that they didn't put their shoes away when I asked or something equally as frustrating, though trivial.
Do any of your struggle with being a stepparent? I would love to hear your stories.