This week I caught myself saying, “Boys! Turn on the light so you don’t pee on each other!” This is the life of an instant boy mom.
Those are the moments I laugh at myself and think, who am I? How did I get here?
Growing up, my many years of playing with dolls and pretend house never included taking care of kids that were someone else’s.
As I grew older, my teenage sleepovers playing truth or dare never involved moments of me confessing my deepest desire to marry a man who had been there and done it all before.
As a young adult embarking on my career and navigating the dating scene, I never thought about finding a home with someone for the first time that needed three bedrooms instead of one.
It wasn’t until I was in it, it wasn’t until I was chasing down a 2-year-old to put on his socks, holding a 5-year-old after he fell off his bike, accidentally wearing my dress inside out to school drop off, and laughing at little boy farts in the bathtub, that I realized I was made for this.
How I Became an Instant Boy Mom
My role in my stepsons’ lives has been seamless. You can often catch me saying it is some sort of miracle. The relationship between us has been one that I think little girls could dream as a fairy tale.
I walked into their lives at the young age of 2 and 4 and merely just met them as Dad’s friend. With a whole country between myself and my now-husband, long-distance video chats, movie nights over the computer, and car ride calls were all that I could offer them.
In some sense, that slow progress of becoming a predominant figure in their life was exactly what they needed.
When I would visit, I wasn’t a stranger, but I was an exciting element of their life that they were waiting for and building upon through technology. Those initial moments were warm and welcoming.
Morphing into Motherhood
As they turned 3 and 5, I was the one who was asked the infamous, “Wipe my bum!!!!”, the person who bathed them, and who dressed them in the morning. Those short visits together meant they snuggled with me every night and hung onto my neck extra tight when I had to say goodbye.
As stepmoms, we are usually the one who has to give up so much of our previous lives. Our partner has kids, often meaning he can’t move to us. He may have an established home that he cannot rip the kids from, or a custody agreement that does not allow the children to move out of the area.
In order to stay with the man we love, we compromise. We leave it all behind, broken-hearted, but in return, we gain so much more than we could have ever imagined.
You see as that little girl playing pretend house, or that teenager with unrealistic expectations of the world, we are in no way capable of understanding the magnitude of giving up a part of ourselves to gain so much more life.
Instant Boy Mom: The Big Picture
Not every stepparent situation looks the same, but no two bio, birth or “real” parents’ stories share exact timelines.
I never thought I’d spend an evening laughing at my stepsons as they asked where babies come from while eating cantaloupe around the kitchen island. I never fathomed that I’d be wiping boogers off the wall next to their bed, that I would be correcting them when they called nipples, “nickels,” or that I’d be happy to have my car smell like hockey gear.
I throw socks out regularly because somehow the bottoms of them are black, surfaces are always sticky, and I truly have no idea what they are talking about when they are with their friends. But this is my story, my timeline of becoming a parent—an instant boy mom—and it’s beautiful.
I’d give it all up over and over again to have this joy that I never knew was possible.
I often wonder where my joy would have come from if I didn’t get shoulder kisses before they jump out of the car and run off to the schoolyard.
Where else in life would I laugh so hard after my 7-year-old said he thinks he might “have puberty?” What would I do if I wasn’t doing endless amounts of laundry, or picking up a Lego and tripping over their bikes in the garage?
Life sure took me for a twist and turn. I did not birth these boys, but as I navigate through life with them I now realize how crucial they have been to me actually growing up.
They say becoming a parent is the most pivotal moment of your life, and I am confident now that particular moment does not necessarily mean when you give birth.
So, as I listen to myself saying things I never imagined saying, or doing things I never imagined doing as a boy mom, I wonder who I am and how I got here. I think how I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I was made for this role.
If only that little girl who once played pretend could truly know how full her life would be, she would be proud to call herself a wicked awesome wonderful cool stepmom and play out her wildest dreams.
P.S. If your transition to instant motherhood wasn’t as simple as mine, here is a no-nonsense guide to bonding with stepchildren. I hope it helps!
For more from Heather, follow her journey at Wicked Stepmom.