I have to brag!
So, I know there is a lot of negativity on this site, and a lot of vented frustrations at the struggles of blended families, but I just wanted to take a minute to brag on some small victories I have had in the last few weeks regarding my boyfriend and his two sons. My boyfriend has 2 sons, 8 and 11, and they live with him full time. The BM is out of state, and while she stays in contact daily with the kids, she sees them maybe 10 weeks out of a year, mostly during the summer.
My boyfriend and I have been together about a year, minus a brief separation due to my grieving over a miscarraige. I adore his sons, and they seem to like me a lot too! BM is less than thrilled with me, claiming my age (13 years younger than my BF) is a problem, my involvement with HER sons is too much, I cross boundaries or take too much liberties with the kids.... whatever it is, she is not my biggest fan. However, my boyfriend has really been stepping up and making her aware I am around for good, and I will continue to be in all of their lives no matter what, so she either needed to get on board or get lost.
The past month since the kids came back from their summer with their mom, I have really worked on developing closer relationships with each of the boys, being intentional with the time I spend with them, together and individually. Wednesday nights, I stay with the youngest (SS8) while his brother and my boyfriend go to a martial arts class. The youngest has to sit out from all sports for now, due to a broken leg. So, I stay with him Wednesdays, and we typically make dinner together! He loves being in the kitchen, loves getting to help cook. Last night, he asked me to help him study for some tests he has coming up. So we went over his study guides in a couple of subjects, we made dinner, and we played Fortnite (of course!) together. I really enjoy my time with him one on one, and love that he is willing to let me help him with homework, love that he volunteers to assist me with dinner, and is generally a pleasant, rambuctious 8 year old that will talk my ear off!
Since wanting to develop and improve my relationships with both boys, the oldest is currently signed up to play soccer through a rec league. When the roster for his team was emailed, it stated there was no coach, and they were looking for someone to volunteer. My BF and I waited a week or so to see if anyone would come forward, but no one volunteered. We discussed it with each other, and then with SS11, and asked him how he would feel about me stepping in to coach, seeing as I played soccer for about 10 years growing up. My BF will be there assisting/herding preteen boys into listening... but I will ultimately be the coach. SS11 was SUPER stoked... excited he would get to have us as coaches, and excited to learn more about the sport, as he and I have practiced/scrimmaged around before, so he knows I can play pretty well LOL. His coach last year was less than stellar... so he is now super excited that Dad and I will be doing it.
Both kids have not shied away from interactions, and both seem to genuinely enjoy spending time with me, with or without their dad present. I make it a point to not discipline, but rather reinforce Dad's rules and expectations, and make suggestions that Ifeel would be beneficial, such as "Dont you think your dad would like you to have your laundry put up before he gets home?" or "Your dad asked you to make your lunch while he is at the store, so we better hop to it!" It seems to really go over well, because I am not lording over them, or doling out punishments. If either are disrespectful, I simply disengage, and talk to my BF privately, then he decides what should be done, and almost always both kids will apologize before anything else needs to happen. I know I am extremely blessed with great kids for potential step sons, and I genuinely think we could have a happy life together, all four of us.
BM has always been a bit of a wild card, as she changes her allegiences and opinions on a whim, and will tell my BF one thing and the kids something entirely different. She recently told the kids they shouldnt like me and shouldnt enjoy having me around, because I was taking away time with their dad.... Only to send a text to my BF a couple nights ago, in response to his informing (NOT asking, as the only people that mattered were all on board... didnt need her permission whatsoever) her I would be coaching SS11's soccer team. Her text basically sang my praises, saying how I have always stepped up and stepped in for her boys, and she thought I was a great addition to their lives, and how my BF and her should get me a nice coaching gift to show how appreciative they were for me supporting their kids. And that I had earned the right to be in all of their lives, she would do whatever she could to nurture and support their relationships with me, and that untless I did something drastically out of character, she thought I was a great influence, and did a great job of recognizing and trying to avoid crossing boundaries. It was a jaw dropper... Like, this is the same woman who basically pissed on her territory the last time I saw her in person. And the person who I have heard with my own ears downtalking me.... I seriously have no idea what her angle is now... its a little unsettling, but overall, I guess it's possible she realizes my BF and I are creating a happy, healthy, safe environment, and raising two little men to be gentlemen. What more could a mom want in this situation? I care about her kids, I consider their well being in everything. I have tempered my relationship with their father based on their needs at any given time. It is just puzzling why she is playing nice for now. My BF just shrugged it off, as she also mentioned in her message that she wished she could do more, and be closer, but that she was glad he had found and picked someone that cared so much about their kids, but didnt try to replace her just because she wasnt closer.
I just wanted to brag that Step-Kids can be great kiddos, even when it isnt a life they would have chosen for themselves. I am not saying we dont have our share of tears, hurt feelings, miscommunication, etc.... only that overall, there is a way to have a happy, healthy, fulfilling life with a partner who has kids! Find a partner who loves and supports you FOR YOU, not for what you can provide them, or NOT what you can do for their kids. Find someone who simply enjoys a life with you in it, no matter what you can or cant give, and the rest will work itself out. While my BF and I are not married, and do not *officially * live together, I am there daily, and spend almost every night there, so I gladly contribute to chores, wash clothes, cook dinners, mop/vacuum when needed... but only when I offer or feel like it. It is never assumed or expected of me to do those things. I think a mistake a lot of people make are unitentionally undermining the BioParent, especially when dating BioDads. When women come in and begin to take over the bulk of household obligations, especially concerning children, biodads often feel like we are insinuating they are incapable of caring for their own children. My partner is one of the most capable, loving fathers I have ever seen. He loves his kids, makes sure they KNOW they are a priority to him, stays involved and connected, even reads to both boys every night (it is really special to watch, and something I have always allowed to be just "their" thing), they both pile up in the bed with him, and he reads 30-45 minutes, then tucks each kid in - both kids still firmly and thoroughly insist upon it, even the 11 year old. I think it is some sense of normalcy they cling to, and it encourages me to strive for creating an even more stable and consistent environment for them.
I hope some of you StepMoms/girlfriends/boyfriends out there find some encouragement in this. Everyday is not amazing, but something amazing happens everyday, in some way or another. Take time to appreciate the small victories, as they make the tough days more bearable, in my experience!