When you are a parent, it often seems as if the entire world is hellbent on telling you how to raise your child. We hear a lot of “what kids need these days is a good sound ass whooping”. And on and on and on……. Anyone with a child knows they had preconceived notions of how they were going to raise their own children and not make the mistakes their parents and friends made or are making. About one month into the arrival of a new baby, you throw everything right out the window into the yard with the garbage cans. Sometimes its one day instead of one month. In my case, I gave birth via C-section to a 9lb 10 ounce 23 inch long baby. Five days later we went home from the hospital with explicit instructions that I was not to lift or carry anything 10lbs or over. Hello, single parent of a now 10lb baby. I had just turned 41. I promise that you do not bounce back at 41 like you do at 21 or 31. It’s an entirely different ballgame. Even my doctor laughed that she had just given me impossible instructions. What do you do? You get by as best as you can. You get creative in ways to get sleep when you’re exhausted and your baby needs to nurse every 2-4 hours for several weeks. Everything continues from that point onwards. The truth is that we learn to be parents with our children as they grow. We grow with them. My son is now 10 years old. I try my hardest not to say one single word to parents of teenagers. I already know that whatever I believe right now will be out there in the yard with the rest of what I thought I knew up until this point. I think that’s most parents.
Imagine being a step parent or significant other if you have never had children of your own. Imagine being a step parent or significant other to a child that you haven’t been around since day one and you don’t know even if you do have children of your own. Every child is different. It’s like reading a book only you started on page 200 instead of page 1. You’re probably going to be a little lost and overwhelmed at first as to what exactly you need to do. Some things you may see clearer than the parent because you are a fresh set of eyes to issues that slowly have grown and the parent doesn’t even realize they exist or to what extent they exist. It’s a lot to take on. It always amazes me how many people are willing to step into these roles and do them well. We should be encouraging and supporting people who step up. We should appreciate the things they do for our children and for us. Do they make mistakes? Yes, but then so do we. Do we disagree with them at times as to the correct course of action? Yes, but we disagree with the other biological parent many times too. If you’re a single parent and you find a person who is willing and able to step into this role effectively, you better treat them well and appreciate them. They’ve acknowledged that they aren’t just in a relationship or marriage with you but also with your child or children. That’s a person who is probably worth keeping.
Personally, I haven’t found the right person to be in a permanent relationship with my son and I. But I can guarantee you that if I do, I’ll be throwing all of my preconceived notions of my expectations of him out the window with the garbage probably about one day in. Hopefully, I won’t throw out my appreciation for his willingness to step up.