When you become a step-parent, or in my case a pseudo-step-parent as we aren’t married, you are thrust into a parental style relationship with a child who isn’t yours. You have no claim over them, no real rights over them, and are in an even newer relationship with them than you are with their parent, and yet you parent them when they’re under your care. You are there to love them, and put them as equal in value and importance as your own child whom you have spent years developing that parental bond with.
Miss Rose’s bio-dad doesn’t have much time with her, by his own choice. He has gradually lessened and lessened the time he spends with her, asked for no access rights in our divorce, and pays no maintenance. His involvement as a father in her life is, at best, sporadic. At worst, none existent. The Boy coming into her life took on that role and he does it well. He accepts responsibility for her, cares for her and helps raise her. He is in her life every single day and as much as he would be if he were her biological father. She is starting to call him Daddy.
Z’s mother is not the same as Miss Rose’s father. She did not walk away from him and stop bothering. Z’s mummy is active, loving, and responsible for him. My role is not that of “mummy”. My role is support, love, and maternal figure when he is under my care. It is a role I believe I am good at and Z and I have a good relationship. When it is me alone with the children he is equally happy and contented to when he’s with his father or grandmother. He often chooses to come with me rather than with anyone else when different things are happening. I give him cuddles and comfort, I tell him off when needed. I clean him, dress him, feed him. When he is under my care he is treated as if he were my own.
But he isn’t.
We see Z every day. He spends the week days primarily with his grandmother, and as Miss Rose and I both adore his grandmother, we spend a great deal of the week days with her too. Tuesday mornings I have the two of them on my own. Monday nights, Tuesday nights and Friday nights he sleeps at our house. Saturday mornings and Sunday mornings we have him. On the nights he doesn’t sleep at our house he comes for a couple of hours after The Boy finishes work. Basically, for several hours most days, Miss Rose and I are with Z.
We love him, he loves us.
But he’s not ours.
I am maternal towards him but I am not his mother. I help raise him but have no rights. I worry about him but have no say. I adjust our lives to accomodate him but don’t have him full time. Miss Rose often calls The Boy “daddy” whilst I will always be “Jude” to Z. It is a role that is unique in a child’s life.
It is a role I find in equal measures hard and rewarding.
On the plus side I love having him round, enjoy his company and he has a wonderful relationship with Miss Rose. I love being a mother and, even though I know I am not, being the maternal figure beside his father when he is here gives me joy. He’s a great little kid.
On the negative side, he’s not mine and all the hard parts of raising a child are still there, but with none of the consistency and natural bond that comes from raising a child of your own. I am effectively an outsider on the life of a child I live with.
I wouldn’t change it, unless I could keep him, but what we have is the next best thing and it’s pretty damn good. Miss Rose adores him, The Boy is a loving father, and Z gets the stability of his own mother with the added extra of time with us.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!