How My Stepkids Taught Me To Be a Better Person
I remember it like it was yesterday: during the Christmas of my 28th year, I spent almost the entire two days of my holiday in tears. As 26, 27, and 28 had passed by me, with me still single, the thought of me spending Christmas alone, again, was just more than I could bare. I just kept asking, "God, why haven't you brought me a man yet?" Of course, I really did not want to be married per se, it was moreso the idea of being lonely and spending yet another holiday, alone. I decided that spring that this year would be different. I was going to actually give a nice guy a chance for once, if one came my way, and see how it would turn out. In February, I ended up satisfying a bit of the loneliness with a new lab puppy. In April, I met the man I would marry, who concidentally, also had a puppy, as well as two little kiddos. So, in the matter of two months, I had gone from being so alone and so lonely to having a boyfriend, two children and two puppies.
Careful what you wish for, right?
I was pretty excited at the idea of having kids in my life. No one in my family had kids yet, so this little four year old and seven year old boy brought so much joy. That first year, my husband and I were able to spend every other weekend with each other, then the rest of the weekends with the munchkins. I absolutely adored getting to be a part of activities again and see it through a kid's view. Activities like, Pumpkin Patches, Santa Claus, fireworks on July 4. I was their buddy, their friend, their playmate. They loved me so much and I loved them. I thought, "this stepparenting thing seems pretty easy, not sure why so many people find it so difficult!" Things, that first year, were pretty perfect.
It didn't take very long for that perfection to change to reality. In fact, I remember when it happened. The day of our wedding. My stepson had no interest in being a part of anything going on. He didn't want to wear his tux. He didn't want to pose for pictures. He refused to smile in pictures at all. To this day, I only have one picture of him smiling, and it's in a picture with his dad. I was so upset with him. I mean, really upset. I was offended. My feelings were hurt. "Why couldn't this child see how important this was to me?" My thoughts turned selfish and suddenly I saw my sympathy and understanding for him start to change to something else entirely. It wasn't until several months later that my mother-in-law told me that when we drove off, my stepson said, "I guess that's it, I won't see my dad again." Talk about a punch in the gut. That was the first of many times I would put my proverbial foot in my mouth with my stepkids over the years.
After we moved under the same roof, things began to get worse. Not so much with my direct relationship with the kids, we didn't fight nor did they start acting out. It was my attitude towards them, my expectations of them. As time went on, my husband and I fought more and more often about the kids. How to discipline, why did they say that to me, so and so needs to learn to clean their room, issue after issue. It seemed that no situation was off limits and my poor husband tried his best to make me happy. I started dreading my weekends with the kids. And they didn't dread their weekends with me at all, and they certainly loved to be around their dad. After a while, I knew things had to change. Not with anyone else, but with me. I prayed that God change my heart towards my stepkids and give me guidance and wisdom with how to approach things with them, from now on. I really wanted a different relationship.
I began to change my perspective. I was trying to raise the kids to be the people I wanted them to be, not the people they were. I have a biological daughter and I began to see that a kid is going to be exactly who they are, no matter how you try to make them different. I began to accept and love them for exactly who they were. I changed my expectations on how the weekends should be with them. I
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