I dislike the term “Step” when it comes to blended families. Step is defined as “a flat surface, especially one in a series, on which to place one’s foot when moving from one level to another” or “to lift and set down one’s foot or one foot after the other in order to walk somewhere or move to a new position.”
Step vs Bonus
Jada Pickett Smith uses a term that I have grown to love. She refers to the Will’s child from his previous relationship as a bonus child. Children that come with a significant other are just that, a bonus. The word step usually makes me think of someone being above or below. I don’t want to associate that with the wonderful bundles I have in my life. I never want them to feel as though any child is above another, whether I gave birth to them or not.
Although I may be “stepping” into their lives, and them into mine, it’s not realistic. Blended Family is a better term for me, and after reading the The Smart Stepfamilies (which I think EVERYONE should read), I prefer Crockpot. The book refers to the blended family as a family being forced to mix with each other. When you put ingredients into a blender what happens? The ingredients are broken down by sharp metal until it mixes together. While when you mix ingredients into a crockpot, they slowly melt/mix together. They don’t always blend into one another, yet their flavors embrace each other.
I’ll be the first to admit I was terrified when it came to being a Bonus Mom. I didn’t know how the kids would respond to me. I’m a big believer in not pushing kids on people. Children have personalities and their spirits understand a lot more than we give them credit for. I didn’t want them to go running and screaming when they got close to me. I also had fears of their mothers and I not getting along, or being able to be at least cordial to each other. Let me be the first to say that I DO NOT have to deal with those problems. I love both children as they are my own whenever they are in my presence. When they are not in my presence I love them and would do anything I could for them.
Learn the best way to communicate with the other parent is important. Even if it’s just to help ease pick up and drop off times. At the same time, the common person sets the communication between the biological parent and the bonus parent. The parent that you are married to has to communicate with both separately before the two can communicate efficiently.
The one thing I did not realize when becoming a Bonus Mom, was the feeling of being alone. If the children were closer to where we leave or in the same city I could image it being worse. You sort of feel left out in the daily coming and going. You aren’t the initial contact when something goes on, whether good or bad. It’s not because they don’t like you, it’s just they really don’t have the relationship bond with you. You weren’t in the mix during the relationship when the child was born, so it’s difficult in some instances to let another person in the loop.
Adding a person to the group messages or via social media when the child does something isn’t something that comes to the mind of the parent. They don’t have to add the other parent let alone someone who is married to that other parent. You have to understand that although you may be a priority to the family you have built with your spouse, you aren’t to that other parent.