Thursday, March 21, 2013

Attention: Leanne Rimes and Brandi Glanville

Bonus- parenting 101.

Definition of stepparent: 

Noun  1.  stepparent - the spouse of your parent by a subsequent marriage
parent - a father or mother; one who begets or one who gives birth to or nurtures and raises a child; a relative who plays the role of guardian
stepfather - the husband of your mother by a subsequent marriage
stepmother - the wife of your father by a subsequent marriage

That's it. That's all they give you. Such a simple definition. 
A noun.
Pretty sure stepparenting is anything but a simple noun. 
I do not claim to be an authority on being a step-parent, but I do have first hand experience in being a bonus-mom. 

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd ever be a stepparent. Then along came Robbie. 
I met Dalton when he was almost 6. 
His parents were in the middle of a very difficult divorce. While I was the fall-guy for the failed marriage, it was broken long before we ever laid eyes on one another. 
We were married when Dalton was almost 8. 
The custody agreement was shared custody. 

Whoa... wait a second. I'm going to be helping raise someone else's child? I didn't sign up for this. 
I did everything right: finished college, got a great job, paid my bills, waited for the right guy... 
Oh hold-on...that perfect guy has a child. 
A very smart, witty, cute little boy. 
Okay Mare... pull up your big-girl-pants and lets do this. 

Fast forward 9 years. 

9 years of changing the urine soaked bed sheets, plunging toilets and washing clothes. 
9 years of fighting over homework, meals untouched, alarm clocks ignorned and un-brushed teeth.
9 years of being constantly berated and undermined by his Bio-mom. 
9 years of getting my birth family and my married family to be comfortable around each other. 
9 years of Dalton wanting to love his bonus-mom, but feeling the guilt from his bio-mom to stop that natural growth.
9 years of jumping into a mothering role that neither he or I was prepared for.
6 years of navigating through bio-children vs bonus-child dynamics.
6 years of proudly watching Dalton achieve, learn and become a great big- brother. 

Do you see very many nouns in that description? 
Yeah.. me neither. 

He chooses to call me Mom more times than not. 
He pushes every single button I have. 
He is constantly praised by his teachers, strangers and peers for his manners, helpfulness and contagious spirit, making me extremely proud. 
He chooses to forgive my short temper, often. 

Dalton and I have our issues, but bottom line we love each other. We have traveled these unfamiliar waters for many years and will share that bond forever. 

Love is not a noun. 
Stepparenting is not a noun.
Neither are simple. 

It's messy and frustrating, exhausting and hard. Most things worth it, are.  

Peace out: 
Wendy Mary - Dalton's Bonus-Mom

P.S. For those of you reading this that have children being raised by stepparents, please take this post to heart. 
I'm not so naive to think that all stepparents and stepkids have the relationship Dalton and I have, but I have to hope there are still decent people that have willingly decided to accept your children and help to raise them the best they know how. 

What is clear to me, is that a Bio-parent will always trump a stepparent. Don't put your insecurities on your child.

Yes, your marriage failed. Yes, your spouse has moved on. Yes, another woman or man has some say as to how your child's day goes... keep that in mind while dealing with them - it makes a difference.
Let your child love all the figures in their life that are helping to mold them into the good human beings you want them to be. 

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