I never thought I would find myself in a position of being in charge of anyone other than my cat, Tchoupitoulas. As I’ve mentioned before, I never wanted children, but now I find myself becoming a stepparent to two wonderful kids, ages 10 and 12. They are at a perfect age—I never had to deal with diapers or potty training or spitting up. Instead, I get the company of two great kids who can bathe themselves, cut their own food (for the most part), and participate in conversations.
I won’t sit here and pretend it was (or is!) always easy, though. It is tough going from zero to family in 6.5 seconds. I didn’t have the normal preparations so I could see it coming and get ready for it. I wasn’t there for a lot of their memories, memories shared between them and their two parents. I don’t fully understand how and what they have learned—I frequently find myself using words and explanations that they don’t understand, but I think it is good at times to make them reach out of their comfort zones.
It is also just tough being a parent and adjusting to that new life. I used to work, work out, eat dinner, watch TV, and go to bed. Now on days we have the kids, life is a bit crazier. I have to try to fit my workout in without seeming like I am abandoning the family. It is also very important to me that we eat healthful meals, which means cooking most nights. I purchased a FoodSaver, which has been life altering. I now cook a big meal a few times a week and then freeze the leftovers. The other nights, we pull something from the freezer from a few weeks before and with the FoodSaver it is (usually) just as good as it was on night one. We then make lunches and get snacks ready, all while making sure everyone has showered, brushed their teeth, done all their homework, and done their reading (and understood what they read!). We are definitely in it together, but it is just so much more pressure than I had when I could go three days without needing to refill Tchoup’s food bowl.
All of the above has its rewards, though. I am cooking! Me! I used to buy groceries and act like I was going to cook, but then eat every meal out. Such a waste of food and money! Now I plan everything out and it really isn’t so bad. I’m much better in the kitchen since it isn’t so foreign to me, and I am saving time (not money, though—groceries for four definitely cost more than groceries for one) and being much healthier. I try to make as many snacks from scratch as I can, including granola bars, crackers, and one really bad attempt at fruit chews. This sometimes makes my weekends more stressful than I would like, but it is so rewarding when I know every ingredient we all eat—and everyone likes it!
I frequently have these moments where a little light bulb goes off—Oh! This is why people have kids! Everything from seeing A in a school play to getting breakfast in bed on my birthday to hugs before bedtime. My absolute favorite times are separate times with each of them in the evenings. A is a very good helper in the kitchen—she measures, pours, and stirs exactly how I show her to. We frequently make overnight oats together and it is a very special time. After she goes to bed, it is just M, Mr. B, and me. This is our “adult” time, since M is basically an adult, and it is nice catching up with each other and watching shows we all like. I always get a huge hug before he goes to bed, which is close to the best feeling in the world.
Everyone thought it was so funny when I ended up with someone who had kids, and I pretty much agreed with them. Being a stepmother has proven to be more rewarding than I could have imagined, though, and I can’t wait to see where we go from here!
Has anyone else stepped up to a role they never thought they would have?