Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Raising a child and being a Bonus Mom: it's an honor

When I married I became a stepmom.  Now, if you know me, you know I always wanted to be a mom.  I had visions of little dresses and sailor outfits, hours spent rocking my baby to sleep, taking the kids to baseball games and to pick out a Christmas tree, letters to Santa and parent teacher conferences.  I looked forward to the first day of kindergarten and crying as my baby grew up and became independent.  I have adjusted my goals as I got older and things didn't work out.  

What I have instead is a beautiful, independent, stubborn young lady who knows her mind already and is sometimes too smart for her own good. I am blessed.  

So, being a stepmom or bonus mom or whatever you want to call it is my calling instead. What I have learned in a few short months is that kids need to know they are safe, loved, and wanted no matter how old they are and how you come into their lives.   They need to be able to trust their parents to be honest, good examples of how to live. 

What I have learned from my stepchild is that what you say or do isn't just about you.  You are showing them with your actions what matters in your life.  If you make time for them, find common projects to share with them, and take the time sometimes to snuggle and watch a movie or just listen when they are upset because the school bully is calling them names or treating them wrong, they will come to you. Being a stepmom is part about being a parent and raising them and part about being a friend and safe haven.  I don't get between her and her parents, I encourage her to talk to both of them. 

Someone asked me if it bothered me that she "wasn't mine".  Not at all.  She isn't a possession to fight over.  She is a child who needs love and that love can come from 2 parents or 4. The key is that the parents put aside their differences and do what is best for the child.   I look at helping to raise her as a beautiful opportunity given to me by my husband & his ex-wife but more importantly by her.  I was lucky because she accepted me and my family.  She has embraced my nieces and loves hanging out with them. She has that boys are dumb approach to my nephews that all 11 year olds have and it makes me laugh...because boys only get dumber as we grow up! She is a great kid.  Not perfect, no child is.  

So I started thinking about all the people who miss their opportunity to parent because they are too young or too selfish and it makes me sad.  I am sad because I know first, having a baby, watching it grow first inside me and then in the world, is an experience I would have given my left arm to have and there are people who take it for granted, throw it away, or simply never give their kids the time needed or moral example to have a chance to grow up healthy and strong.  They put themselves first and never think about how their actions effect their kids.  

It's a cruel world.  Life isn't ever going to be easy for any child.  Every family has a unique set of challenges and struggles but parents, in my opinion, have to grow up and be responsible adults and good examples.  Things don't really matter to kids but time does.  Giving your children the time by taking them to the park, woods, or fishing and teaching them the value of a dollar by giving them chores and an allowance and making them earn things.  These are the things I have found matter.  Take it for what it's worth from a part-time mom of someone else's amazing kid, who lets me be a part of her life and family.  Count your blessing and thank God for your chance because once you screw it up, the kid won't forget or forgive easily.   

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