Saturday, March 3, 2012

Step is parenting none the less

I am linking up with Kelly's Korner for her "Show us your Life Series"....this week the topic is Step Parenting.

Being a step-parent is hard. And I am going to go with it and say, if you don't have kids of your own, to step-parent is SUPER hard. I will explain this theory in a second....

I have two step children.
Aaron, is Jason's biological child, he was 6 years old when I was friends with Jason, but when we started to officially date, he was 8 years old, and at the point of us dating, Aaron didn't remember meeting me the handful of times, so it was like starting over learning me.
Alyssa is not Jason's biological child, she is Jason's ex-wife's daughter from another relationship, however before she was born, Jason felt God leading him to father this child by giving him "the little girl he always dreamt of having". He declared his love for this baby, and vowed to always be there for her and give her the life she wanted and deserved. It's a complicated situation as she is mixed race, but we don't even notice it, until we tell people she is his daughter, and they look all confused...sort of funny to watch their reactions, but we don't care.

Jason has Aaron at our house full time, he is now at the age where he decides to go to his mom's house or not (unless we are at a situation where he has to go...or if he is in trouble here at our house, he typically uses her house as an escape from punishment) but on average he is over at her house at least once or twice every two weeks.
Alyssa is at Jason's ex wife's house because technically that is not his daughter. But after school she comes to our house and we take her to church on Wednesdays and Sundays, those two days she typically spends the night with us as well.

I fell in love with my Aaron first. I fell in love with him way before I knew I was in love with Jason (my then boyfriend, my now husband). Even to this day, Aaron loves hearing how he was my favorite first.
When I met Jason, Aaron was little...a few memories I had of Aaron before I was dating Jason (we were friends for two years before we started dating) was Aaron eating bean burritos and hot sauce from Taco Bueno, and also Aaron showing me his two tiny mini turtles and me trying to convince him to let me babysit him.
Unfortunately at the time Jason and I were just friends, up through our first year together, Aaron's mother was not around, and that means neither was Alyssa, but when I finally met little miss Alyssa, I was blown away. This little (in size, she is tiny) firecracker was so mature, wise and smart for her little 4 years of age. She had spunk and sass I had never seen, she could keep up with adult conversations and read words from the Olive Garden menu like a professional Italian person. I was blown away.
After a few years of absence, Tracy, (Alyssa and Aaron's mother) came back around. She started to rebuild her broken relationship with Aaron...and I was still in the process of learning her, and the kids personalities, and quirks.
We spent most major holidays together, as a blended family, with no problem. When Jason and I got married in 2009, we had a decent and manageable relationship with Tracy. She was very friendly with me and only (sometimes) fought or had problems with Jason (Jason did and still likes to push her buttons sometimes, you know, he is one of those "push the envelope" kind of people). But in 2010, Jason and I had an opportunity to get away and have the honeymoon we never got to go on. We were going to Florida, his friend had a time share he gave us for the week and we were going to live it up. My first thought was, I am going to Dinsey....then it dawned on me, I couldn't go without taking Aaron, and then I thought, it wasn't fair to go without Alyssa, and then my next thought was, how horrible it would be to know that Tracy missed out on her kids experiencing Disney for the first long long story short, with a few more people involved we had Tracy with us on our family vacation, which seems right, because we were a family...
Now Tracy and I get along great...we team up and harass Jason, all three of us are involved with the kids decisions, discipline, health, etc...and we make sure to have our own family traditions and memories..we are the definition of blended family.

I am just "Layla" to them, and that is all I want to be. They have a mother they call "mom".....

(Funny story, poor Alyssa didn't know what to call me, and since I stay at home, I would typically be the person who would go up to the school, volunteer, etc. and when someone asked her who I was, she told them I was her "Aunt" so for a long time, before I knew that no one explained the situation, they thought I was Aunt Layla. ha ha)

BUT to say everything is always peachy keen would be giving into a fantasy that all step parents dream of. I have had my fair share of "You are not my mother". I have had complete disregard and disrespect that no one else but I have seen from both of the children. I have had to find my groove with each of them, and most times when I think I have an idea of where the groove is, I am taken for a ride just to find out I was completely wrong.....I sometimes over compensate for the lack of structure Aaron was raised with, I over compensate for what I feel is the "baby-ing" that happens way too much. I hold the kids up to a standard that sometimes Jason and I don't agree to because I am way too strict and on top of actions and behaviors that I come off as the bad person all the time...but, at the end of the day, (most days) Aaron will hug my neck when he goes to bed, and tell me he loves me. And that works.

I feel being a step parent is hard when not having kids of your own, because you have to learn to love the kids after the honeymoon phase is over. After everything you did was cool, neat, and awesome, and now everything you do is wrong, mean and horrible. You have to learn to love the kids without knowing what loving "your" child really means. There is no basis of comparison between the child/step child love....I have no other place to start than from where I am with them no matter what the age...and that's what is hard, not knowing how to love like a parent......however just because I don't know what it feels like to love a child that has come from my womb doesn't mean I don't love them with a passion. After 21 years of babysitting, I have had my fair share of falling in love with kids. And with all those experiences, I can "hand on the bible" say that I love my son and daughter with all my heart, and would lay down my life for them in a heartbeat.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to connect with someone who may know where you are in the world of step parenting.....I am pretty easy going and would love to chat with you!


  1. I'm also a step-parent and I have to say -- your relationship with your husband's ex is amazing! I really do wish I could get along that well with my husband's ex-wife. We're civil but that's pretty much the extent of it. Good for you!

  2. Brandi,
    Sometimes civil is all that can be the begining, civil was great! It got better, but time is always what makes it easier... :-)

  3. Hi Layla! I am a bio mom to 3 girls and a step mom to a boy. It's amazing how each step family is similar yet different in so many ways, and still something non step families don't understand. I am glad to connect with you as their are not many places to turn when dealing with step issues. :)

  4. Peace Love and Kids! I am all about connecting with people who can give you a different outlook on situations! I will check out your blog! I am sooo excited! :-)

  5. I'm coming over from Kelly's Korner. I realize I'm reading this post months late, but I couldn't help but want to scream at the screen "YES" when I read about how you over compensate for lack of structure at his mom's, over compensate from "baby-ing" and sometimes end up being the bad guy. This is my life exactly these days!! I have a 10 year old step son who lives predominately with his mom and I struggle with this often. So nice to hear that I am not alone or a terrible person for feeling/being this way!