header image from pixel2013: s. hermann & f. richter, at pixabay.com
In just over a month, Stacy and I will have been together for four years. It’s hard to believe both that it’s already been that long, and that it’s only been that long. Somehow, we’ve managed to maintain a sense of newness and timelessness.
Building a relationship with someone who had young kids, and who wanted an active parenting partner, demanded nothing less of me than jumping in with both feet.
It’s different–step-parenting–than parenting. Neither endeavor comes with an instruction manual. Although as adults we like to feel like we know what we’re doing, the truth is, especially as parents, we’re making it up as we go along.
One major thing that I think I’ve noted before is that when kiddos are babies, parents get majorly cute memories with them as they are bonding. Then, as the littles get older, and start doing things that are less than majorly cute, the parents can draw on those memories, which helps keep the kids alive (don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about). When you miss out on those majorly cute years, you don’t have that reserve from which to draw, making things, at moments, precarious for both them and me.
Another thing about parenting young kids is that they want to be touching you all of the time. If you were a part of creating that little life, or have been there from the start, that probably feels more natural to you than if you get there after the party has started. At lower- and middle-elementary-age, they both still crawl all over Stacy like he’s a jungle gym–sometimes, so much so, that it weirds me out. But, he’s had LaLa since she was ten weeks old, and he brought Bubs home from the hospital–they are his kids. It’s taken me time to get used to the fact that a kid may walk up and grab my hip, or kiss my belly, or try to lay their head on a boob… because that’s what’s accessible to them at the sizes that they are.
Navigating school with them was also a challenge. I never felt totally legit being there as a parent-person. Perhaps you read this post, about me being the designated dentist parent… it’s kind of the same thing. But even though nobody really questioned my being at the school or taking care of school-related things for our kids (because I am the adult who is able to be there), I always felt like a bit of a fraud–in writing, we call it having “imposter syndrome”.
I can’t pinpoint exactly what’s happened over the past few months that have led to a change, but something has changed in me–something just clicked on a molecular level, and those kids became my kids.
Maybe it’s that I’ve been with them long enough now that I have built up my own reserve of Majorly Cute, making me exponentially less likely to pluck them bald, hair by hair, than I once was That’s good for both them and me. Maybe it’s that I’ve grown accustomed to them crawling all over me, and I finally understand that even though I’m not the touchy-feely type, they are, and it’s important for them. Maybe it’s that I’ve been doing the school and dentist and doctor thing with them long enough now that I do it like a boss.
Whatever it is, it’s nice. I feel more settled, so they feel more settled, which in turn makes me feel more settled. It’s a positive self-fulfilling cycle–one that I wasn’t sure was ever going to happen, given how things began. It’s not a cure-all, but it makes the rough edges smoother.
What things about parenting or step-parenting came easy for you? What were some of your challenges?