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Step-Parenting: A Work in Progress

By: Mary Targia

As young moms, after a relationship ends, comes dating moms and, potentially, step-parenting

When I decided to end the relationship with my BD (Baby Daddy in YUM terms, for those who are unfamiliar), my daughter was eleven months old. I knew that – if I was lucky – my daughter would have a step-father.

What I didn’t know was that being in a blended family would be so challenging…

My daughter and I were very comfortable being the dynamic duo that we were back in my singleton days. By day I went to work and she to daycare, and we spent our nights watching Dora the Explorer and Diego as we cuddled each other to sleep.  All was right with the world.  On occasion, when I had the good fortune of having a babysitter, I would enjoy a night out on the town with my single YUMs as my daughter slept, unaware. On one of these nights, I met my current fiancé, and although I didn’t know it then – life for Bri and I would never be the same.

My fiancé and I began by casually dating at first, seeing each other one evening a week for dinner and/or a movie.  At just under two years old, my daughter wasn’t old enough to understand the magnitude of meeting one of mommy’s prospects (thank goodness!), so things went smoothly enough.  Fast forward a few months as our relationship advanced to “weekend sleepovers” status and “smooth” might have been the last word to describe the state of affairs between the two of them, with “rocky” or “love/hate” being at the top of the list. My fiance’s inclusion in our weekend activities would sometimes be met with a warm reception, other times more lukewarm, but we kept at it.

Four years from our first meeting, my fiancé and I took the leap and moved in together.  We broke the news to Bri in celebratory fashion and she shared in the excitement. At this point Bri and his relationship had blossomed into a friendship, or frenemy-ship of sorts, and we figured that our co-habiting would only build upon that foundation and grow.

Well, the dust on the first box in the house hadn’t settled before our first fight ensued.

The fact that my hubby-to-be is stricter and more rigid than I am in general didn’t help, coupled with the fact that up until that point I attempted to over-compensate for being a single mother with a demanding career by being – well – not so strict.

Needless to say, the first year of living together as a family was a struggle, with my constantly feeling like the person in the middle.  I wanted my daughter to be happy and feel that nothing changed with our dynamic, but did that mean that I should agree with her at all costs?  I also wanted to support my fiancé and at times knew that he was right, but would agreeing with him make my daughter hate me and feel isolated?  If I sided with Bri, would my fiancé feel as though he could never effectively parent my daughter and that I would never give him my support?

It was a tough call, and I’m sure that I pissed both of them off numerous times along the way.

Three years, some family ground rules, and another child later, I would say that we have become the family that we set out to be.  We are a work in progress, but then again – what situation isn’t?  We have our disagreements, but we have way more laughs and love at the end of the day, and that’s what matters.

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