I thought that I would always struggle with being a step-parent. To some degree, I do. Little habits are irritating, old routines have been long since outgrown (but not dropped), attitudes are frequent occurrences, and the difference in expectations/discipline/upbringings cause tiffs here and there.
But even though I sometimes struggle, I also find times where M&M are teaching me lessons.
1. My patience is not as long as I thought it was.
In high school, I had unending patience. I could wait an unspecified amount of time for anything and it wouldn’t bother me. As I’ve gotten older, I just want to hurry up and get it done and get on with my day. I learned that my patience is terribly short this past winter. We bought M lace up snow boot/shoe things that he could wear as he walked to school (since we only live a few blocks away) as well as during school. I figured that since he had been tying his shoes for years, we wouldn’t have an issue. WRONG. I would have to urge him to start getting his coat on, hat on, boots on, gloves on, etc. around 7:30 AM or he would not find his way out of the door before 8:00 AM (and he said he needed to be there around 8:10 AM) Are you kidding me?! 30 minutes to tie a bow, zip a zipper, slide on a hat and gloves. Some days, I swear this child is operating in reverse. It got to the point where I would start getting ready for work while he was doing that because my patience would get so thin with the amount of time it was taking.
2. They love you for who you are.
Most of you would think that this is a given. It wasn’t. It actually took them quite a while before they really warmed up to me. Which is fine, because I know their past and some issues with trust and things that they may have had. But once they got comfortable, they opened their arms to me; literally. M is more of a hugger than her brother. She will give nightly hugs or hugs if she’s really excited about something. Her brother, hardly ever will hug. But that’s ok. They don’t ask anything from Shane and I other than we be there for them, support them, and love them and they will return the favor.
3. Don’t make empty promises or offer false hope.
Again, a pretty common sense thing when it comes to any child. However, these two are a little too used to it. They were promised a certain amount of money for their report card grades. However, because exactly 1/2 of their parents decided to use it more of a bribe instead of a reward for a job well done, the other 1/2 of the parental structure gets stuck footing the entire bill so they have something. Because of the lack of follow through for a lot of promises that were made to them, they have a hard time accepting new tasks/chores/challenges, because they feel that the payout will never come. It’s hard to see the heartbreak when the opposing parents end of the deal isn’t held up.
4. You are never to old to jump around and act a fool.
Life is too short to take it too seriously. If they catch me on the right day, I am more than willing to go blow bubbles and watch the animals attack them, be (daughter) M’s partner in crime, run around the house and make the dogs run after us, play Rockband and sing terribly just to appease them. However, there is a time and a place for play. But those two bring out the playful side in both Shane and I more often than not – even though it may seem opposite if you read my blogs.
5. Treasure the friendships/relationships that you have.
Of course Junior High and Middle School drama. (rolls eyes) Friends come and go so quickly that we cannot keep track of who M’s “BFF” is or who M hangs around during school. But, one thing is for certain, the friends that they hang on tight to are the ones that have more “troubled” lives. (i.e. death of a parent, struggling with self harm, come from a split family, come from abuse, struggle with keeping out of trouble in school, etc) You may be wondering why we are ok with them hanging around people like that. Well, truth of the matter is, those children need friends too. Our children are comforters, protectors, and supporters. They hang onto their faith and they proclaim it where they can. Truth be told, we become close with their friends too. We have an open door policy to all of our (and their) friends. We would rather them come to us when they are struggling than run.
It’s amazing how a 12-year-old and a 13-year-old can teach you things like this. Honestly, they have probably taught me more but having been around it all the time, I don’t realize it.
There are lessons to be learned from your children, all you have to do is take the time to see them.