May 10, 2007

Step-Parenting: Tastes Great - Less Filling

Guest Post
by Jules
Canadian Telecom Consultant
Blogs: North of the 49th, Floobergeist

Childfreedom wasn't thrust upon me, and yet, I didn't take up the mantle myself all-at-once. It was a gradual process.
As priorities changed, perceptions changed, and careers changed. As I grew up and became more self aware, I began to realize the pieces of my life that were critical; and those that weren't were slowly shuffled to the back of the closet. Having my own children: Not Critical. Participating in a child's life: Important.

At the same time that I realized that I was a child-freebie, I fell in love with a man who had 2 daughters from a previous marriage. I squinted, I wrinkled my forehead in concentration, and I pictured myself in their lives. And it looked good. I could maintain the lifestyle I had built and the freedom I cherished, and add on a new dimension. I didn't need or want to go through the "baby-mother-delivery-give-up-everything, risk your marriage and your personal livelihood to procreate" process, and yet the idea of having a permanent relationship with children wasn't unappealing.

Fast forward 4 years: Every other weekends and every Wednesday night. I get a good, healthy dose of kiddos for 125 hours a month, in bite size pieces. I'm not really a step-mom, although the girls identify with that term more than I do. They're at a stage where everyone needs a label.
I'm just Jules. I'm the one who doesn't need to keep things equal, and the one who's allowed to have favourites.
Who doesn't crumble at the sight of small tears, who tells you to suck it up and get over it. I don't have to be the one who gets up at 3 am, unless I want to. I'm the one who's objective, and plays the devil's advocate. I'm the one who stresses independence and encourages creativity.

Playdates FREAK ME OUT. I involve myself in activities as *I* choose, or not. My goal is to influence, open doors, create opportunities for the girls to experience things they wouldn't normally experience with their parents. I'm their portal into the unexplored. I play on *my* terms, and sometimes not-at-all.
People ask me all the time: "when are you going to have your *own* children?"

My answer: "I'm quite pleased with the children I've got right now, thanks."
Their dad is just that: their DAD.

(cc)Flickr photo by Lorrie McClanahan
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LauraS said...

Great post Jules!
Before I met my happily childfree hubby, I wondered if I ever would find a guy who wanted to remain childfree.

I once imagined myself finding a guy with an older child (I never really felt comfortable with infants). Could I be a step-mom, I wondered?

I decided that I could, provided:
1) the child was over six years old.
2) The relationship with the ex was respectful and amicable (I didn't want to be in the middle of some major drama or power struggle).
3)The man wanted to be a father to his child and take on some financial and emotional responsibility. I don't think I could respect someone who didn't want to step up to the plate in that way for their child.

I imagined functioning as a step-mom much the way you describe your experience. Not trying to be a Mom to the kid. Just trying to be the adult who loves his/her father and a person who can love a child regardless of who birthed him or her.

Jennifer said...

I pretty much assume that if I EVER want to get married some day, at this point in my life (age 29) I'll have to become a stepparent. I mostly agree with your logic in the "at least this way I skip giving birth, the infant years, having to sacrifice my whole life" thing. That sounds appealing to me too.

On the other hand, my best friend's husband would probably beg to differ on the ease of stepparentdom, as would some other
people. I guess it depends on how lucky you get with the kids.

Though I've always thought that if you love the parent and can't stand the kid, the relationship is doomed. You should be able to like the kid on his/her own merits regardless of its parent in order to be a stepparent.

jules said...

I would think that my world would be completely different, if I didn't like, and even love the kids. You are completely right Jennifer, the relationship would be doomed.

Lauras, I think i managed to luck out with lucking into a guy who was able to manage all 3 of your points...



LauraS said...

Jules --
Wow, that's pretty special. I thought I was being a tad optimistic.

Robin said...

That is wonderful, I hope I can be in a similar place as you one day. My fiance has a daughter but she isn't in our lives but I hope she is one day. I like the idea of being involved in her life but not every day.

jules said...

Hey Robin!
125 hours a month is just the perfect serving. I can still nap when I want... do some fun kid stuff - things they normally wouldn't do with their mum and dad... and i've managed to hold onto my space! ;-)