First go at parenting.

I have something dear to my heart that I need to talk to you about today.  Many of you don’t know this, but I am a step-mom.  I choose not to speak of it as part of my posts for personal reasons, yet at this point in life, I feel it’s the right time to share this piece of my story.

When I met my husband he had a daughter from a previous relationship.  He made this clear to me on our first meeting.  His daughter wasn’t present at the time.  It wasn’t until a few months later that we actually met.  The reason was because we dated long distance for several months before I moved to be closer to him.  His daughter and I met on the evening of our first official date.  It was quite new for me, dating someone with a child.  At the time, she was 10 years old.  He didn’t have full custody of his daughter, yet saw her several days per week.  Anyhow, this aspect of our relationship was unfamiliar territory to me.  I had never dated someone with a child.  Also, I never expected to be in a parenting role at this point in my life.  I was completely unsure how to approach this relationship.   Fast forward several years and I now have two biological children of my own and a seriously damaged relationship with a step-daughter that I’m eager to fix.

You see, I made mistakes that I clearly take responsibility for.  Ones that were damaging to a father/daughter relationship, as well as a step-parent/child relationship.  We all know that pre-teens and teenagers are not the easiest to handle, but obviously, neither are adults.  I can’t say that I consciously made an effort to put up walls towards his daughter, but I definitely didn’t take those walls down either.  Looking back, I understand that by doing so, I made things difficult for all of us involved.  And for that, I am truly sorry.  There is no child that deserves to feel left out, loved less, or unwanted.  I fear that I made her feel that way in our years of growing together.  As I look at her now, I see a young woman who is striving to be the best she can be.  Someone who has goals; a girl that knows that hard work really does pay off.  She was raised by parents who, like many of others, were better separate than together.  Perseverance could be her middle name.  This girl has shown me (the supposed adult) that no matter the obstacles, she will overcome them and blaze right past.  She has accomplished anything that she puts her mind to.  Now, understand this, she is a normal teenager.  She has her struggles and everyday issues, but she has not let them get her down.

I can’t begin to explain how much  I regret being a part of the troubles in her life.  As any child or teen would agree, an unwilling parent is an unnecessary addition to already harsh years ahead.  All I can do now is make the rest of our years together a success.  Sadly, it has taken me some time to grow as an adult.  I had to realize that being her step-parent wasn’t something that she asked for, but something we threw at her.  She didn’t ask for any of this.  She wasn’t consulted on the relationship between her father and me.  When her and I met, it was fun.  I was the new lady in her dad’s life that was cool, new and somewhat of an adventure.  Her and I did fun things together and made memories.  Then came real life.  The one that required I be an adult.  I lived in her father’s house and was allowed to implement rules.  About one year later the fun wore off.  At this point I was just another adult telling her what to do.  Later that year her father and I got married.  Shortly after that we added “We’re pregnant!” to the mix.  All of these things completely threw a wrench in this girl’s life.  She went through her father’s deployments with the military, a divorce, living in two separate homes, a new step-mom, and now a baby!  Everything was still okay, but taking a slow decline.  I had a new responsibility.  Waters that I had never swam before.  I took my role very seriously.  Too seriously.  I was no longer fun.  I was no longer easy to get along with.  I had a baby.  And she, well, took a back seat.  (Disclaimer:  you have no idea how much it hurts my heart to write that.)

Less than two years later, we introduced a second baby to our growing family.  At this point, I think she was emotionally broke.  Too much so to remain in our home.  Soon after, she moved out of our home to live with her mother full-time.  It makes me sick to know that I may not have been the entire cause (because there are aspects of her life that I won’t speak of), but I was a culprit of her pain.  For this, I am sorry.

When we as adults embark on a new relationship we have a responsibility.  If there are children involved, we must be prepared to take parenting seriously.  We can be the cool, fun parent or the hard to get along with one.  We choose by our actions.  And, as we’ve learned when we were kids, actions speak louder than words. By not choosing love we are useless in the role as parents.

Rachel, I promise to be nothing less than the best step-mom you could have.  We may not always agree, but I will always be there for you, no matter what.  You are a beautiful young lady and I pray that you get what you deserve… the most wonderful life possible!  You astound me every time we talk.  You have grown to be a responsible person, one who has made incredibly us proud!  I love you.