a love letter to step-parents everywhere

So my biggest boys are off camping with their dad. Actually, that’s a lie. They’re not with “their” dad, they’re with dad and “used to be step-dad who it became too hard for once me and your mum weren’t together anymore” and I am sitting in my lounge room at home with my husband and my 3rd born son. Phew…

I watched my husband relax tonight (this camping trip is 8 days long). We have been married for 5 years and our little guy is 18 months old but we have spent very little of that time away from “evidence of my previous relationships” (my older kids) and it feels both lovely and guilt-infused that we get to enjoy being our little mini family for a little while.

Step-parents do it hard. They rarely get expressions of love and gratitude, they have to demand time with their partner, they have very little rights when it comes to discipline, they don’t get ‘sorry’ and ‘I love you’ cuddles but they usually cop as much aggression and lash back as anyone else in the house. It seems to be that their role is to be present for their partner, a pit-stop team kind of support that may hopefully get the chance to get some love back at some stage.

Through my choices I have facilitated the creation of THREE different step-parents in my life… My husband is a step-parent to my two older children, my eldest son has step-mother and and my middle son not only has a step-mum but he also has a step-brother 3 months older than his youngest brother so he became a big brother 2 times over in two separate houses almost simultaneously…

Confusing much?

This is not a blog about judgement or any kind of statement or comment on how confusing our family roles have become. I’m also not a psychologist or counsellor so I won’t be recommending that anyone do anything differently. My life has been mad and wonderful and honestly completely 100% considered consciously at every turn (for the most part) but I have still ended up here with 3 gorgeous kids that have 3 wonderfully beautifully different dads. I didn’t plan things that way but that’s how it’s gone.

Let’s get to that love letter:

For all the times you’ve tried
For all the distraction that you’ve planned
For all the meals that have failed

thank you

For every time you’ve winked
For every time you kicked a ball that wasn’t returned
For every light switched off

thank you

For each reminder of homework
For those lunchbox treats
For every hard and awkward but necessary talk

thank you

But from me (and others like me):

Thank you for staying and remembering in each moment that I am not a ‘me’

I am a ‘we’

and until they can function on their own we don’t really get ‘our’ time.

If you are here for the right reasons,

YOU are special.

You have patience and tolerance and kindness that I will never be able to completely understand

Thank you xx

2 Comments

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2 responses to “a love letter to step-parents everywhere

  1. Annette

    This is beautiful Penny… You touch my heart…..How wondrous are relationships?….and what wonderful grounds for growth they are….xoxo

  2. David

    Thank you Penny. This is lovely – and so true. You’ve made me think afresh about how much I love my sons, and my step children ( all now grown into wonderful young men and woman).

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