I am a custodial step-mom, but not exactly by choice.
Here’s my story:
Once upon a time, I met a handsome guy. We started dating and had fun going out together. We were quite different from each other, and it was exciting to have new experiences. I knew he had kids, but hadn’t planned on anything long-term, so I figured it didn’t really matter. At the time, I just wanted to go out and have fun. (For the record, he wasn’t looking for anything serious, either.) However, we got closer as time went on, eventually deciding to become exclusive.
He had 50% custody of his three older children. (Yikes!) I had no children. From what I could tell, he had an okay relationship with his nearby ex. She seemed a little odd and accustomed to getting her way, but overall, they didn’t seem to have too many big issues. Their situation was pretty established, since it hadn’t changed in the previous five years. She had even re-married already, so it wasn’t like I was rocking the boat.
When it came time to make a decision about being with this man, I had to do some serious soul searching. I was really hesitant about the whole kid part. Not so long ago I was single, and all of a sudden three kids were involved. It seemed like such a big undertaking and I wasn’t sure I could do it- or even wanted to do it. But something kept pushing me along; I really wanted to be with this man. I’d always loved children and I was great with young kids. (Keyword: young. His youngest was already nine.) I’d even considered a teaching career at one point. Throughout my entire life, I had always planned on becoming a mother one day. Yet, this wasn’t the type of family I had in mind.
I began bargaining with myself. Here’s how that went down: “I can do this. I love kids. I’m great with kids. I’m sure they’ll like me once they get to know me. He only has them half the time. And he only has them when he’s off work. He’ll be there whenever they are, and the rest of the time we’ll have our own family. Half of the time I’ll have the family I want. That’s not so bad. The ex knows about me and hasn’t really said or done anything, so…. no biggie. I can do this, right?” I was SO naïve back then and I didn’t have a clue what was coming!
A measly few months after we got married, the kids started saying they wanted to live with us. Not only that, but they started confessing things about how life really was at mom’s. That’s when shit really hit the fan! We had no idea what kind of abuse and neglect they were dealing with. (Granted, this is far from the worst case you’ve ever heard of, but it was still a toxic environment.) My husband and I became focused on removing them from that situation.
To make a veeeeerrrry long story short, CPS got involved, and this kicked off a nasty four-year custody battle in the courts. We saw our lawyer so often, I almost felt obligated to invite her to Christmas dinner. The judge was absolutely sick of seeing us. Anyway, once the dust settled, we had full custody of the two youngest. The oldest went to live with her mom (I’m still baffled by that).
So here I am. A custodial step-mom. (In the midst of all that I also became a new mom to a little girl of our own!) My husband’s work schedule seemed to get busier and busier. I had quit work so we could manage the kids. I quickly became the “mother” to these two boys, and the main adult influence in their life. I am with them more often than either of their parents are.
This wasn’t the scenario I had married into. I had never expected them to live with us full-time. Especially not that soon! It never really crossed my mind. When this all started, all I wanted to do was protect them. We were so caught up in dealing with the drama, that I never stopped to think about how this would affect my daily life. I was never asked if I was okay with them moving in. Nobody checked to see if I was on-board with becoming their full-time caregiver. I never got to weigh in on the possibility. It all happened so quickly. And to top things off, the once seemingly normal ex turned out to be CRAZY!!!
The irony of the situation is that I participated in making it happen, yet I still feel like I never got to make the decision for myself (as far as the custodial part goes). Needless to say, this sometimes causes feelings of resentment.
And that, my friends, is how I became step-fucked.
…stuck. I meant stuck. Step-stuck. 😉