Not unlike most parents, my idea of what parenthood was going to be like was flawed at best. I had a strategy in mind (she scoffs), a grand plan in place (she laughs), of how I would parent my kids – whether they be birthed, adopted or married into my life, love rules all and all children shall be raised in the same manner (oh, the bleary view of this misguided woman, I look back and feel for her). My naivety was driven with good intentions but misguided and mostly just wrong.
A lesson I learned (not quickly enough) is that it’s near impossible to raise two individuals the same – my children ensure I get a refresher on this daily. My step-daughter and son are the lights of my life, I love them equally with all that I have to give (which some days is less than others) but their situations in life are very different.
My stepdaughter faces challenges that her brother doesn’t know, she travels back and forth between parental homes every other week to spend time with her father and his family as well as her mother and her family. She’s had to go from married parents to single parents to dating parents to stepparents and pick up half and step siblings, new extended families and other changes that have come along the way. My son experiences a life that his sister has little memory of, both parents living under one roof, without the need to constantly switch beds, houses, and environments on a regular basis. He loses his sibling for another part of her life which he does not yet understand and has yet to know what it’s like to wake up every day with his sister in the next room.
In part because of this, I felt as though if I did not make sure my children were raised in the same way, that one would feel treated differently, excluded, as though not a real part of our family. Maybe my son would feel as though my step-daughter was getting preferential treatment due to her constant transition, or maybe my stepdaughter would feel as though I didn’t treat her like she was my “real kid”. And while this may be the case one day and feelings of resentment might come up the truth is, they’re two different people who come from two separate lives.
I tried for years to treat my step-daughter as she were my own but have come to realize that I shouldn’t. And I can’t. I can’t make decisions on what social activity she should sign up for after school, or create disciplinary rules on my own without consulting her father, or expect her to come to me with issues she has at school or otherwise. Because I’m not her mother or her father. And that’s okay. She has both of those figures, very much involved in her life, and I am grateful. I’ll always feel a struggle with this, and it will always be a little painful to be on this side of the parenting. The wanting to be involved in everything and the hurt inside that comes from not doesn’t go away, just as the love I have for her never will.
Figuring out my parenting style is a journey I’m slowly navigating, trying to be patient with myself and my family along the way. The emotions and feelings I’ve experienced on this ride are scary, confusing, unpredictable and raw. I’ve accepted that my relationships with both my children will always be different since both their lives will progress in different ways and beyond my control. My constant in their lives I can provide, regardless of who they came from or where they are, is my unmeasurable and continuous love.
Author: Raschael Ash
Biography: As an alum of Concordia University (Montreal), Raschael combined her love of reading and passion for writing with her pursuit of education to obtain a BA in English Literature. Her mother fostered the importance of personal growth, life-long learning, and self-worth, Raschael continues to encourage the same at home. She runs a personal blog and contributes to a community food blog. When she’s not sharing fries with her dog Cash, you can find her out and about with her step-daughter and son or at home in the bath.
If you would like to see more from Raschael please click the #hashtag in the gray box below.