I try to do my best every day. I am careful about how I interact with people, trying to add positive energy to seemingly minute interactions. I try to do the right thing in my work. I give as much if not more than I receive. I am generous and trusting with people, I believe in bringing out the best in people by expecting it. I am as loving and caring with my step-children as I am with my biological ones. They are all mine and none of them are mine. I say "yes" when someone needs help. I step up to the plate, even when the job is tough. I do the best that I can, not always succeeding like a super-mom would, but by trying and being willing to fail, rather than by not trying at all. My sister, Stephanie thinks I should write a book about how to be a good step-mother. She says that she uses me as an example of "how-to" with her friends who need some perspective into the world of raising someone else's kids. What I have is the perspective of someone who has been step-parented. I had (have) one stepmother and four stepfathers. I was a child born of the marriage of children. My sisters and I looked up to our parents, expecting them to be right and good, secure and strong, with full confidence that they were all of these things. We trusted our step parents to behave well too. We trusted them to love us, support us, support our relationship with the parent they were married to and the parent they were filling in for. In trust, we were frequently let down.
I learned how to be a good stepmother by remembering what it feels like to be a stepchild.
I hold my older girls' mother in very high esteem. I am willing to support her in any way that I can because I know how much I loved my mother and wanted her to be held in the highest esteem. There can be no rationalizing about why a parent is not a good one in the eyes of a child. Nature makes parents perfect people in the eyes of their children. All misdeeds are forgivable. And so, as a step mother, my job is to join my girls in the love of their mother (something I wish my stepmother had done for me).
Children are children for such a short time but carry the moldings of childhood into the solidification of their adult lives. Being loving, supportive, kind, nurturing, firm and trustworthy as a step parent is the right thing to do for the children in my care. I don't distinguish between the lines of marriage and bloodlines. In our family, I like to include my step daughters' sister from their mother's subsequent marriage in our important family events. I can so easily make her happy and provide her with great childhood memories, just by treating her as I would want to be treated. My father never included my sisters and me on a vacation with his new family. I do the opposite. I don't take a trip without ALL of my kids. As an adult my I also have been blessed by the example of my amazing step father who parents like I do. He loves my sisters and me and all of our children like we are his own. He treats us with respect, kindness and generosity and he adores our mother.
Step parenting comes with the bonus of having a big family without having to go through all of those pregnancies. I love being a part of a big crazy family. We fill all seven seats of the car, play board games, take big, memorable vacations where somebody inevitable complains too much about the food, or how boring it all was, but I truly truly love it. Whether they love me as much as I love them is not important. I am sure my work will show its value when it comes time for these kids to become parents. They won't have to resort to "just do the opposite". They will know just what to do to make the experience of being a family as precious as it can possibly be.