I want to admit something. When my husband first proposed and I realized that I was on the verge of becoming an “insta-mommy”, I was terrified. Sure, I had known his kids for a long time now. We had talked about getting married. We had talked about his ex. We had talked about parenting the girls together and possibly having more kids of our own someday. So you would think I would have been ready.
But there is something about getting that ring on your finger that screams “THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING!” Suddenly it was a reality that one day soon those little munchkins would be living in my home. And I suddenly felt totally unprepared and anxious and …. terrified. Being a parent is a huge responsibility!
As it turns out, just like any other kids, step-kids don’t come with a how-to manual. But there is all kinds of advice and opinions about how to get this step-parenting thing “right”. I knew the kind of parent I wanted to be to these girls, but a lot of the advice I got was getting was to back off. That these weren’t my kids. I would always be second to their real mom, and second in the life of their dad. That I was somehow going about this all wrong.
I had made a decision to be a hands-on parent. I take part in discipline and rule-setting in our home. I go to school events. And piano practice. I cook with the kids and they help me out around the house. We take family vacations and family pictures. Because that’s what we are. We may not be a “traditional” family. But we are family and just because those tiny people didn’t come from me and they have another mom out there, that doesn’t mean they are less a part of my life and my family.
Being a step-parent is hard. You have to learn to build the relationships in your own new little family, while being careful not to overstep into the role of the other parent. And everyone goes about this step-parenting-thing a little differently. (…Just like every other family who parents a little differently, I might add…)
What I have learned along the way is to trust myself and the decisions that I make. To step-up and be the parent that I want to be to my girls and worry less about what other people think. I had to choose what was best for me. And for my husband.
And most importantly for my step-daughters.
Jenny Jurchenko is a new bonus mom to two beautiful little girls ages 5 and 7. And she is thrilled to be adding one more to her little family in July! She has been enjoying learning a little more every day about what it means to be a stepmom. You can learn more about Jenny at her blog http://www.thesugarandspicelife.com/ and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/