I was recently talking to a friend about being a step parent and if it was difficult and what her experience had been thus far.  She began to unload how she was feeling and it was, to me, overwhelming.  She began to describe what I imagine a lot of step parents feel, and I wonder just what out reach programs there are to support them.  She was talking about how many activities the kids were involved in and how much time and money was put into the hobby.  She began to describe how many nights a week were crazy because of everyone in the family going different directions.  She described how it was impossible to schedule dates or one on one together time with her spouse because everytime they planned something to do together, a child activity came up.  Even an after dinner walk just to be alone for 15 minutes, turned into a family affair!   While that’s not wrong, every now again, she stated, after a busy work week of 12 hours days at the office, and jammed packed week of after school/work activities, a little 15 minutes of uninterrupted time with her spouse didn’t seem like that much to ask…Of course she knew her spouse would rather be with the children so she frequently gave up her plans so her spouse could spend the time with the children.   Even saying no to everyone tagging along a walk seemed a bit selfish to her… I asked why she did this, and was told that she knew the heart was truly with the kids anyway, so why fight it. Another friend chimed in and stated that when kids are involved you should ALWAYS BE AT EVERYTHING THEY DO, and as a step parent you should ALWAYS be there to support – the only exceptions, if you’re sick or working. 

I thought about this for a very long time and just don’t know how I feel about it at all. While I think, as a step parent you should love and support the kids, I do not believe that the entire universe should just revolve around kids and kids activities.  Every couple needs to be a “couple” at times and I believe that children needs to see their parents being a couple.  My first example of this, was my very own parents, who would try at least once a month, to be alone and just reconnect and rejuvinate what they had as a couple, and maybe, because of this, it’s why they have been married for 49 years. 

We also began discussingn the in’s and out’s of being the “second wife” or “third wife” as the case may be and knowing that you are not treated exactly like the first one.  When second wives go into their in-laws homes they are often faced with what the first wife did better, along with holiday and family photos, holiday traditions.  Knowing the in-laws always celebrated with the first wife and made her birthday special, doesn’t really fit well into the second wife life.  But as the case may be, sometimes it feels like a slap in the face and other times you realize it’s a part of you’re life too, but sometimes wish you were the first.

I guess as a second wife and step parent  – maybe it feels like sometimes you are the second choice, which could mean, second best.  Or maybe, you’re the best choice and you just had to wait a little longer to make your presence known.  I don’t know.   I think being a step parent when a divorce has occurred is harder then when the children’s father is deceased or just not present.  Being the second wife is truly difficult too.  You spend your whole life, maybe, comparing yourself, and being compared, to the first wife, and you know, you  are not the childrens parent, so you are faced, maybe, with knowing the first spouse has a special bond with your spouse you never will…CHILDREN.

Our mutual friend during this conversation went on to say, how it sounded like she was in “competition” with the kids.  Aren’t you?  As a second spouse, who doesn’t share the DNA of those kids, you know who will always come first no matter what.   As the second spouse you know your needs, and sometimes wants, however petty they may seem, are what like fifth in a long line of work, kids, family, etc.  As the one who shares no DNA with the kids, what exactly is your roles and how does one handle it? 

Just a little thing I wonder about.  I guess my problem is sometimes I try to see things from everyone’s point of view, and I never want anyone to feel the slightest bit hurt, sad, disengaged, unimportant.   I believe, if we truly made everyone feel like they count, like they matter, like they important, the world would certainly be a happier place to be.  But when it comes to couples, I think I’ll have to side with the old religious views on this one…it should be God first, Spouse Second, kids third…everything comes in a shiny fifth, sixth or seventh to being truly in love and having a Godly family….