Saturday, May 30, 2015

9 Months a Stepmom

Little batman, little batcave
Little Batman in a little bat-cave

As of May 16, I've been a stepmom for 9 months. Wow! I met Daniel when he was 8 when he was out in Colorado for spring break. Brian and I went to  the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo with him. When he wanted to ride the ski-lifts up the mountain and when we were on them, he leaned out far to look and I instinctively put my arm in front of him.

Now he's a big 10 year old eating off the grown-up menu. This May, Bri-Bri got him some Lego Movie sheets because he was getting too old for his Cars sheets. When he sprawled out on his bed to test his sheets and rest his head on the Emit side of his pillow, I noticed he's 2/3 of the length of the bed. His shoes are almost as large as mine - almost. He's still smaller and shorter than me and has to use a booster seat in the car.

Seeing myself as a valid part of the parenting team took a few months. I found myself conforming to the idea that I wasn't Daniel's 'real' parent because he didn't share my DNA or I didn't have a court order of adoption with his name on it. Yet I reminded myself that step-parent has the word parent in it. Therefore, I could think of myself as a parent even though Daniel docent call me mom. I'm OK that he doesn't call me mom. He has a real mom in Fountain, Colorado and he also calls his step-father by his first name.

The support I receive as a new stepmom has been immensely helpful. Beth at work has been a really great resource.  She has a six-year old step-daughter.I talked to her a lot those first few months after marriage and the months before. Oddly enough, drafting estate plan summaries helped validate my position as a step mom. Clients who have their stepchildren serve as fiduciaries meant that they trusted those children in that role. Clients who left their stepchildren a share of their trust or estate meant that they wished to provide for the children beyond their lives.

The coolest validation came from my mom when she mentioned my wedding in her Christmas card. She said something about how she has a sweet son-in-law and step-grandson. Did I cry in a good way? Oh, yes, I did. Of course, Mom still gets questions from me that start out: "So when I was a kid did you ever..." One day she told me that she thought I was good stepparent to Daniel. Again, I cried in a good way.

I'd be lying if I didn't say there were challenges in being a stepparent. One of the hardest things is watching him long for more dad time and wondering why the judge allowed his mother to take him to Pittsburgh for so long. I also struggle with not holding a grudge against Daniel's mother when she frustrates my Bri-Bri. When I hear about others reacting to his ADD/ potential Asperger moments, I get upset because his needs are not getting met when others don't react to him in an understanding way.  Daniel's past hasn't been easy and I want him to have a better smoother development than I had.  As a step-mom, I do what I can to give him the love and support he needs when he is with Bri-Bri and I. 

Letting Bri-Bri take charge of the parenting wasn't hard for me. He's a good dad and he connects with Daniel well. I enjoy being the supportive adult who reinforces what Bri-Bri says. I have had to get used to allowing Daniel to be more vocal about his disappointment or about his frustration that I was allowed to be when I was growing up.  I want to teach Daniel things that will help him, so the important thing is sharing that with my Bri-Bri so we can approach these things as a parenting team. 

The best part of being a step-mom is having the opportunity to love a really sweet unique little guy. I'm thankful that I get to be an influence in his life and I pray for guidance in this role. Most of all, I pray God will use me in his life so he comes to know his Savior. Being part of Daniel's life and seeing him smile and grow is a blessing indeed :) 

Daniel and I in front of a Lego US Capitol