So, today's talk is going to be about the person usually left out of the happily ever afters.
Not the typical, current day villain. The villain we remember from most fairy tales; the wicked step-parent.
Clearly written by someone who was looking for someone to blame because, from my experience, the stepparent is rarely that. Instead, they are the person who is always there but rarely gets the credit. The person who makes the choice every day to show up. None of that, I remember, was in the story books.
But, I admit I had been guilty of painting the picture of the unscrupulous step-parent in the past. Making myself believe it was a relationship that was based on obligation rather than what it was, this patient and compassionate human that just shows up and becomes one of the leading roles in your childhood. I didn't know how incredibly errored my thinking had been. But it was based on years of being put in the middle of a fight that wasn't my own. I have learned a lot from growing up a child of divorce. Living it firsthand. Because, like my own children, I was a child from a "broken" home. That statement alone lends itself to the most negative and traumatic portrayal of an outcome that can actually be quite the opposite. But, I have never dwelled or really cared to ask my parents what happened or why I figured it out for myself as I grew up. But, I have memories of the experience. The most vivid was meeting my step parents. Here are these previously unknown adults that came into my life during a time when so many changes were happening. Yet, there they were, offering something, what that was I don't think none of us knew... but they were there nonetheless.
Looking back, I can't imagine how hard it was for them. How difficult it must have been in a world based solely on this perfect picture of a nuclear family. Not to mention, I was a dramatic teenager that did not make it easy on them. Plus, the concept of co-parenting was non-existent. They did not have it easy and I have so much regret for all the years I spent keeping them at arm's length.
But, we grow and learn and years later and I find myself in a similar situation that has really provoked a feeling of awe for stepparents everywhere. I don't know how you do it.
Fresh out of divorce and parenting plans and big changes, I met my wife. I was clear from the getgo, I would not enter into our relationship obligating her to parent my boys. She would be my wife and not some babysitter or co-parent that I was needing. I wanted her to be part of their lives, but only to the extent she was ready or she wanted. I had heard others say how it was a step parents job to be responsible, how they "knew what they were getting into" and a multiple other negligent and idiotic phrases. No, that is incorrect and insensitive. Another person in a relationship is just that, in a relationship with you. They were not looking for children, otherwise, they would have had their own or better yet, they may have their own. No, they are with you because they love you, and you just happen to have these little humans who are a huge part of your world.
The best part of a child and stepparent relationship is the flexibility it takes on, how they create their own relationship. I am in wonderment sometimes just watching the boys with my wife. To see their relationship grow and to see how significant she has become in their lives is the best part of it all. I know it can't be easy. Being a mom isn't easy and I gave birth to them, much less someone who chooses to love them. Someone who never asked for the mess and chaos and hectic life of a family of 4. Yet, she's still here baggage and all. Believe me, I have sooo much baggage. I know it has to be hard when the kids hear the negativity of bitter parents and bring that home each time. When the kids get put in the middle of problems that aren't theirs, it can add a layer to an already complicated situation. But, in the midst of it all, she is here. She is my hero, and so is every step parent who steps up to the plate. I see you and know how incredible you are even if you're made out to be the villain, you're my hero.