I am the step mother to three beautiful children. They are my partner’s biological children, but over the last year, I have come to see them as my children as well. In the beginning of our journey, the children and I tip toed around one another. We had to learn our boundaries and where we fit in the lives of one another. This is something I’ve never experienced before. With the help of my partner, I learned which boundaries to uphold, which lines to cross, which ones to not. Over these hurdles and through learning experiences I still feel like I’m learning every day. I believe that part of parenting is that you have to just be there, simply show up, and do your best. You don’t always get it right, all the time or every day, but as long as one continues to try and grow, you’re doing something right.
s(Photocredit: Media files)
Last weekend my partner, (whom I’m nicknaming Cee), had to go to work so I had to juggle and get the kids to some events and appointments. The youngest had to go to two birthday parties, one right after the other. I made the mistake in letting the youngest choose what she wanted to wear that day. Normally I would put my foot down and take away her tablet until she listened if she didn’t listen the first few times I told her to do something. That day I was tired, distracted by other things and didn’t put my foot down. So she went to the birthday party in a mismatched outfit (something I at times struggle with myself), and I went home.
Something that I’ve learned about parenting is that other parents will judge you on your appearance and the appearance of your step child. I should have had the forethought to this before, but I didn’t. About a year ago, before I got to Cee, she still lived in a heterosexual relationship, therefore she didn’t feel that she was being judged as harshly by the other parents except for the usual judgement that comes with being a parent from other parents. Once we became a couple, she felt that she had suddenly became judged 10x more harshly because she had a same sex partner and as a result, the youngest wasn’t invited to as many events or birthdays. The homophobia and judgement that comes with being in a same sex partnership isn’t every easy and it gets better once you find your niche in the community; However, with kids, homophobia is never fair as it affects them, whether they know it or not. As a result, some friends may not be able to come over, or the kids might not be invited to certain events or birthdays because the ideals the parents hold are ignorant or they lack open mindedness.
So when I came to pick up the youngest from the birthday party, I felt like I had all the eyes of all the children’s parents on me. My mind flew in a flurry as I tried to ignore the eyes and tried to be polite to the other parents and children. My hope was that if they saw a gay woman being polite and kind then ideals might change and the youngest wouldn’t have to face and repercussions for having two moms. Of course I could have slightly fubbed that up because part of being a good parent is that you set boundaries and tell the children what to do-that day, of all days-I had let that slide. Her hair was wild and curly and her outfit didn’t match. It wasn’t fair, but all I could do was realize my mistake and make a promise to do better the next time. That’s all that you can do when you’re a parent: learn, grow and try to do better next time, even if there is added judgement involved.