When you chose to date someone with children, you have two choices – keep them at arm’s length or embrace them and all that comes with that. I became a parent not by giving birth or adoption, but by moving in with a man I loved. When the evil twin and I first moved in together, not only did I move in with him, but he brought his (at the time) 8 year old son with him and his college aged son was in the mix as well. I suddenly became very aware of the amount of milk we had the house at any given time and Christmas took on a new and wonderful meaning. I mean really, is there anything better than waking up on Christmas morning with kids after Santa came?
It took me some time to become comfortable in my new role and I was hesitant to identify myself as a parent at first. I felt like a fraud since we weren’t married and the little one wasn’t here all the time. But after some time, I came to embrace it. I started to say I had a stepson without hesitation, I started to talk to other parents at the school, clearly talked parenting with my girlfriends and centered my whole life around what was best for the kids, even if were we sacrificing alone time as grown ups or postponing things we want to do or buy. I wouldn’t even consider moving because of how close our home was to the schools of the little one and his mother.
But then “we” became “I” and I was no longer a parent. I mean really, what do you say? I sometimes parent my stepson whose father I am no longer involved with? Although his mother and father have both said they want me to stay in his life, I know we will never celebrate Christmas again as a family, with all the joy of presents in jammies and me cooking breakfast while they look at their gifts and clean up the wrapping paper. I won’t go to the IEP meetings at school anymore. He will no longer have a room in my home. There will be no more Sunday morning cuddle “sandwiches” with his father and I in the king sized bed I once resisted buying. I now have a teenage pal that I look after sometimes and try to guide into adulthood, but I am no longer a parent in any traditional sense and it sucks.
No one talks about the loss of your family in this way. It’s so surreal. And I feel guilty for being so sad about this and talking about it like a loss because no one died; everyone is still here but the whole universe has shifted and will never again be the glorious way it was. I just need to find my role and place in this new world and move forward because the sun is still rising and setting, I still have to work, life goes on.