People often ask me the same basic questions:
1.) How do you do it?
2.) Why do you do it?
3.) Isn't it so weird?
It's easy. I learned early on and not even from my own experience that if I was going to pursue a relationship with Sean, it would be important for me to have a relationship with his children. What I also considered very early on is that I would also need a relationship of some form with their mother. Why? Because she is and always will be their Mom.
I do it because I love them, I do it because their opinion of me and feelings toward me have always been and will continue to be important to me. Who other then their father will help influence those feelings? One way or the other, their Mom.
It isn't weird at all. We are like any regular friends. Sometimes we annoy the shit out of each other and other days we talk on the phone all day about regular life, kids, husbands and work.
When I am sick, she worries. When I need a listening ear she is almost always the first person to answer. When I am in a bind, she is usually my "go-to". Sometimes, people even confuse us for a lesbian couple.. thats about the only time it's "weird". We have spent holidays as one big happy family and other's doing our very own thing with the kids. Every year it changes for their needs and every year it is something we work on, together.
We don't always agree, we don't even parent the same. What is always consistent though is our love for "our" children.
Here is what I can share with you about being a step parent.
It is SO hard. It is even harder then being a biological parent. My bio children HAVE to love me. Forever I will remind them of the growing pains I endured to get them here, forever they will be half of me. They HAVE to love me, at least until they pay their own bills.
Being a "bonus" mom means I have to work hard, every other week to have a relationship with my bonus daughters. I try to find common interests, I try to share in their passions, struggles and every day goals. I do my best to build them up, to motivate them and to be the best asset to their life I can be.
I also have to do this with an invisible line between them and me, I have to not cross to far over but never stay far on one side away from them either.
I do this because I have an unspoken respect for who their mom is, always. I ask her permission for trivial things, I consult her when I feel that their struggles or triumphs need her more then me.. always, I walk the step mom line. I even side with her over my husband in certain parenting situations. GASP! RIGHT?!
I do these things because I love them. I love them unending, I love them without condition, I love them as though they are mine. I never want them to have to "choose" between her and me.. and if they ever feel that way, I pray they choose her every time. I pray this because she is and always will be their Mom.
This does not mean I don't parent like a "mother" though. For sure.. I parent teacher conference, I doctor appoint, chaperone, play date, shop till I drop and chat like a mom. Sometime's with their mom and sometimes completely alone. I take them to amusement parks, to movies, to friends houses.. just like I do my very own children. I consider their presence and lack there of in every decision made for and in our home.
You know what the most amazing part about co-parenting with their mom is? It's fun.
Though I strive to be an asset in our daughters lives, Jeanette continues to be one in mine.
The most important lesson I have learned about co-parenting with Jeanette, Brandon, Sean and myself is that it isn't about any of us. Ever.
It's always about the greater good for our children. Raising healthy human beings who love and respect all their parents. It isn't about being wrong or right, being the better parent or one up'ing each other. It's about fulfilling our children's needs.
I am no expert on step parenting, co-parenting or even parenting. I am sure we are doing lots of things wrong but some days, like this one.. things just seem right. Things seem to be working and working well.
It's never easy but it's always worth it.