I’m in my early 20’s, attending my first year of college. I’ve been with my boyfriend for just over a year and a half, and his beautiful baby boy is almost 2. Being a Step Mom has changed my life in so many ways.
As you may have read in some of my older posts, I struggled a lot with jealousy. I also talked a lot about how I dealt with my jealousy. I’d like to say that I am over the whole jealousy aspect, but that wouldn’t be the truth. However, it is not the same as it used to be. I have grown and matured as a person a lot, as I learned that I needed to start letting things go to move forward.
I’m not comparing myself anymore.
I don’t look at her and wish I was similar anymore. I don’t wallow in the fact that she is Little Boy’s mom and I’m not. I’m over all that now. I dropped the anger towards her (mostly).
I’m happy with where I am. I’m getting an education, my summer job (that hopefully transitions into a permanent position) pays amazing with benefits. My boyfriend and I are saving up to move out when I’m done college. I see a bright future for us.
I still struggle with balancing our life and the life that Little Boy has when he’s with her. Sometimes I feel like we have to walk on eggshells and hold our breath just so we don’t set her off. It was getting to the point where I wanted to be careful with what I was posting on my very privet social media with fear she will somehow see it.
So, my best friend and distant cousin (I brought her up briefly here) explained a little something to me that I will call The House Model.
The House Model.
You’re looking at a home from the road. What do you see? You see a curb, a small patch of grass, the side walk, the front lawn, driveway, and the house.
The Side Walk.
The side walk is the Bio Mom. The side walk is owned by the city. You do not own the side walk. You do not need to maintain the side walk, except when you have to (like shoveling snow).
I’m going to repeat that again. You only need to do minimal maintenance to the side walk, when needed. Otherwise, you do not need to worry about the side walk. It is there. It is in front of your home. It is always right there, but you do not need to give it much attention.
The minimal attention you give your side walk, like to Bio Mom, is only during the exchanges. What did the kids have for dinner tonight? How did they do on their test? What did the doctor say? Nothing else.
The lawn are your Step Children when they are not with you. Your lawn is part of your property (okay, but children aren’t property… it’s just a metaphor). Your lawn needs regular maintenance to look it’s best. It’s in front of your home, but not in it.
You take care of your lawn. You mow it, water it, fertilize it. You look after it more than the odd time. However, the lawn is not in the home. We take care of it more than the side walk, but less than the interior of our home. For the most of us, we do not have our Step Children all the time (as much as we would love to), so it does not need to take up all of our energy.
You give you Step Children the attention and love that they need when they are in your care. But, unless they are with you, you cannot stress over what is going on when they are not. You cannot control what is happening when they are not with you. You communicate with their biological parent when they are not in your care, but only when it is necessary.
You don’t mow your lawn every day.
The house is your home. In your home is you, your significant other, your (step) children, your pets, etc. You own your home and all it’s contents. You are always preforming some sort of task to keep up with your home. You dust, clean, vacuum, renovate, pay bills. Your time, energy and focus goes into keeping a healthy home.
You give your significant other all your attention when you are together. You constantly maintain that relationship, clean it up, and fix what needs to be fixed. You give the children in home all your attention when they are there. You feed them, fix relationships, and ensure they are clean and cared for.
Focus on your home.
Your home needs to be healthy. Take care of what is in your home, as that is what needs the most attention.
Mow the lawn regularly, but do not do it every day.
Shovel the side walk, but do not do repairs on it. That is not your job.
I only know of two women my age that I went to school with that have children. Everyone else my age is focusing on school or their career.
There is only one other “Step Mom” that I went to high school with.(both of us are not married to our significant others).
I needed Step Mom support.
I joined a Facebook group that was designed for Step Moms who stand for The Fathers Rights Movement. It’s one of my favourite groups because the administration makes sure that only step moms are added, as they don’t want any privacy problems with high conflict exes seeing what’s posted. The women in this group have so much knowledge and are so supportive.
What I found, was not support.
My first post was an introduction of myself and my situation. My introduction included my age, how long my boyfriend and I have been together (which wasn’t that long at the time), and my very high conflict situation. I asked for advice on whatever was going on at the time, and some general support.
I was bombarded with older step moms telling me to run and never look back. I was too young to be with a man with so much baggage. I was too young to have to deal with a high conflict ex. I was too young to be tied down by someone with a child.
Even from others.
It wasn’t just these step moms telling me this, either. It was family members, friends, acquaintances. Everyone was telling me I was “too young”.
I was too young to be tied down by a man who has a crazy ex.
I was too young to “play house” with someone else’s baby.
I was too young to be tied down by the financial situations of court and child support.
It pisses me off to no end that people make these comments to me. I know how old I am. I know that my boyfriend has a lot of “baggage”, I know it is difficult to co parent with someone who doesn’t want to acknowledge you exist, I know it’s hard to be a parent figure to a child that is not yours.
Then, I found some.
Eventually, I found that person that stood behind every decision I made. She is always in my corner, she is always a phone call away. I am so lucky to have connected with her. She is my best friend. Funny enough, after a year of being best friends, we find out that we are actually cousins.
It’s all about Resiliency.
I am determined to prove others wrong. I want to prove to her that I am committed and I want this. I want to prove to those older Step Moms that I am not going to run away. I want to prove to everyone else that this is not a ball and chain.
I may only be in my early 20’s, but I have always been an “old soul”, as my Mom says. I am a home body, I’m not into partying and being overly social. I matured early in age, and I was always wise beyond my years.
I love my boyfriend, and I love his son. That is a key factor everyone seems to ignore when telling me to run and never look back.
You may or may not have noticed my absence the past month. As my readers, I feel as if I should explain my reasoning.
Things with her are not good.
Before on my posts, you would have read how things with her had been getting better. My blog was all about keeping things positive. That positive streak had ended. Things had gotten a little sour. I felt as if I couldn’t write about positivity and be in the situation that I was in. Nothing was positive about our relationship. I couldn’t keep up with the theme of my blog with how things were going.
I was stressed af.
Stressed is an understatement. Imagine stress but times 300. I was in my second semester of school, the professors got strict with their grading. Assignments were coming out of my wazoo. My dog had died in October, and I was still trying to figure out how to grieve (he was the first family member/close being to me that had ever passed). Then, I was tested with how I handled death again when my Grandpa passed away unexpectedly and tragically. Little things began to trigger me into an anxiety attack and mental break downs. To top it all off, my financials have been disappearing with the ridiculous cost of gas, and the distance I had to travel to school
With all my assignments, and all the other wonderful things I was dealing with, writing blog posts was the last thing I wanted to do. I just couldn’t sit down to write anything.
But, I’m back.
Things with her are not good. However, I know that this cycle of good, bad, good, bad, will continue all through my life as long as I’m a Step Mom. Should I only have to write about the good things about being a Step Mom? Should I only be Polly Positive all the time? No, it’s just not logical.
My school year is over. I have the next few months to get a summer job, work on myself, and write some blog posts.
From here on out, it’s nothing but the ugly truth.
I wrote this post earlier about an experiment I did with my Twitter and Instagram polls. The results made me think more about my opinions, and changed them a little bit.
Do you believe in child support?
So, before these polls, I would have said no. However, I had a few conversations with classmates (one of which is a single mother), and family members. My original stance was one of a narrow view, and clouded by bitterness. It is also based on the belief that fathers should have their children 50% of the time, and therefore should not have to pay child support.
Now, I realize that not everything is as black and white as I had originally thought. There are fathers out there that don’t have 50/50 access, and need to financially provide for their children.
What should child support be based on?
I found the results of this question really interesting. For my Instagram poll, the options were either based on income or cost of child. Cost of child won at 60%. On Twitter, cost of child at 29%, and fixed income at 35%.
Basing child support off of income or cost of a child could be good or bad, depending on your financial situation. If you make great money, then paying based on cost of child could save you some money. However, if you didn’t make great money, paying based on cost of child instead of on income, it could be way too far out of budget.
I did not expect “fixed income” to have such a high score. But this begs the question: What would that number be? Would that number be high, or would it be fairly low?
Should Dads monthly expenses be taken into consideration when ordering child support?
The interesting piece about this is that they kind of are, but not really. The courts don’t look and say “Dad pays x amount on insurance, y on mortgage, z on all these other bills” and come to a reasonable amount based on what he can afford. Unfortunately, for a lot of fathers, which bills they can fall behind on.
On both polls, “yes” won by a fair landslide, and I would have to agree. Monthly expenses should be taken more seriously so that fathers can actually live.
Should child support be monitored?
I have absolutely no idea how the courts would effectively monitor the spending of child support. I have heard idea’s such as a “child support card”, where what is spent on that card can be watched. This sounds like a great idea. However, that is not to say that it is the most effective way to fully track how the money is being spent.
Do I think it should be monitored? In a way, yes. There are some mothers out there that have children in ill fitting and old clothing, but they themselves have a fresh set of nails and foiled hair.
Should 50/50 custody be automatic when in the process of settling custody?
Opinions of this matter was pretty 50/50 split on agreeing for both yes and no.
At first, I agreed that both fathers and mothers should have access to their children on even times during a custody battle. My logic comes from a space of being in the position where a good father had abuse allegations thrown around, and his time was very limited with his child. We found out the hard way that is very hard to prove you’re a good parent, especially when you don’t get to see your children. It’s very easy to claim and prove a parent is unfit than it is to prove one is.
Then, thinking outside of my experiences, I had to think critically about other situations. Some parents are trying to leave real abuse situations, high conflict, high crime, substance abuse, or simply an unfit parent. Giving both parents 50/50 could put another parent and/or child(ren) in harms way.
I’m not exactly sure where I stand on this, as it is so circumstantial. Not to mention, some parents use the “silver bullet” (abuse and assault allegations, sometimes that are untrue), which would ultimately just make the system work the way it works now.
Should there be a maximum number allowed to be ordered for child support?
The majority of the poll agreed that yes, there should be. And I strongly agree.
This is the question that really got me thinking. I was in my Legislation class in college, and we were reading about “Ontario Family Law in the News”. There were a few different news articles we had to read, and this particular one from the Toronto Star really caught my attention. The author of this article was clearly a Fathers Rights Movement activist, and they made some really compelling points. I’ll be paraphrasing here, as I don’t have access to this article anymore, but I had written down this point. “In Canada, the most amount paid monthly for child support was $65,000”.
THAT’S ASTRONOMICAL. The author of this article went on to say that child support has become spousal support in disguise, especially that of a relationship that never married. At what point do we say that enough is enough?
The family court system is corrupt, out dated, and broken. That is for certain.
I believe that good, willing, able fathers (and mothers) should be getting their children 50% of the time, and have an equal say about what goes on in that child’s life medically and educationally. A lot of these fathers are being forced out of their children’s lives by bitter mothers (and even mothers being forced out of their lives by bitter fathers), and in the end it’s the child that suffers.
Because I believe that children should spend equal time with both their parents, I believe child support is unnecessary. If a child is with each parent 50% of the time, then each parent takes up 50% of costs, and therefore no need to pay the other parent.
However, for fathers (and mothers) that either can’t, don’t want to, or shouldn’t have their children 50% of the time, child support is necessary. Parents are financially obligated to their child. That being said, some parents are being ordered an amount they struggle with.
Sometimes, child support gets in the way of the paying parent to be able to provide a stable, healthy, happy living environment for the children. Parents who pay child support can struggle to pay all their bills, so in return they have to sacrifice some essentials. This can also mean that the paying parent cannot afford a nice home for their child, toys, clothes and good food. I believe that child support needs to be more proportionate to the other bills a parent must pay.
Alright ladies. This might grind some gears, as I think my opinions might differ from others. However, I have adopted some of these opinions whilst learning about the family dynamics in one of my college courses.
You’re not their Mom.
Hard to hear, I know. First and foremost, you did not carry them in your womb, you did not give birth to them. It’s an obvious fact, but some of us want so desperately want to be their parent. Unless some unfortunate event happens where their mother dies, you’re a step mom and nothing else. They have a mom and a dad, they don’t need anymore. *This rule may be applied differently if Mom is an absent parent*
Dad is enforcer of rules.
Sorry. For some of us (definitely me, I can be a bit of a control freak) this is a hard pill to swallow. But, like I previously said, you’re not their mom or dad. Rules can be discussed between yourself and significant other before hand, but Dad needs to be the enforcer. This can be a bit tricky if Dad works while the kids are at home with you, but a general rule of thumb is Dad is the disciplinary.
Be their best friend.
Dad enforces the rules. Mom is their mom. What does that leave for us? Our role is to be their best friend. Be the person they go to when their upset, scared, or need advice. Be the person that their parents cannot be. Be the safe person to go to when they feel as if they are being torn between parents. The most successful step parents are less “parents” and more “best friend”. However, this doesn’t mean that you can ignore being a “parent” figure to them. You still need to set boundaries, and act as a role model.
Stay out of the court crap.
It is crap. I made the mistake in the past about putting my nose where it doesn’t belong. If your significant other wants you to be there when they are in court as emotional support, go for it. But in terms of making decisions, leave it between them (unless directly effecting you, example: you being the pickup and drop off person). I still have a problem with this one, and I’m not 100% sure I will follow my own advice if we go to court again soon.
No decision making.
I have a hard time biting this one too. But guess what? Again, not your kiddos. I like to give my opinion on a subject (sometimes not wanted). Depending on his mood, my boyfriend will either take what I say into consideration, or we have to talk about it later. It’s important on making decisions together. BUT, you cannot make sole decisions on your own, unless given instructions before hand to do so.
Don’t throw your help in his face.
I’m so guilty of this. Sometimes when we have had a disagreement, I will hang over his head all the things I have done for him and Little Boy. This isn’t fair. You choose to help. It’s not fair to use it as ammo against him.
Be there for your significant other.
Ultimately, you are the support system. Be the person he can go to when he needs advice, an opinion, and a shoulder to cry on. Supporting him will help him be stronger.
Take care of yourself.
I’m a huge advocate for self care. If you’re not running at 100% you cannot give your 100%. On airplanes, they always tell you to put on your oxygen mask before helping anyone else, and the same is true for (step) motherhood, and life in general. Practice self care.
Don’t beat yourself up!
You’re doing the best you can, don’t be too hard on yourself.